|The majority of North Carolina’s incarcerated population is black, making it one of 12 states where more than half of those behind bars fall into this demographic.|
RALEIGH – A recent report from the Sentencing Project reveals that North Carolina is one of 12 states in which more than half of the prison population is black.
Advocates of criminal justice reform say barriers to reintegration often mean people of color find themselves behind bars.
Yolanda Taylor, a former legal aid lawyer with the Wilson North Carolina office, explained that for one in four North Carolina residents with a criminal record who has served their sentence, many are unable to support themselves and to those of their families.
âAnd we see how the majority of our clients are African Americans, who have had past interactions with the justice system and are now barred from obtaining employment or housing,â Taylor said.
Taylor noted that legislation such as the Second Chance Act, enacted by Governor Roy Cooper last year, will help more people get back on their feet after incarceration.
As of December 1, the law will allow certain misdemeanor and felony charges that have been dismissed by the court to be automatically struck out, so individuals will not have to file strike motions to remove the dismissed charges from their case. .
Taylor added that the criminal justice system had a disproportionate impact on the poorest black and brown communities.
âPeople who earn less than 150% of the poverty line are 15 times more likely to be charged with a crime,â Taylor said. “Which by definition results in a longer sentence, as we know, than people earning above that threshold.” “
The report calls on states to eliminate mandatory sentences and end arrests and prosecutions for minor drug offenses.