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Justice Denied

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"If we are to right the ship, the Judicial Branch will need sufficient investment from this General Assembly to ensure that we adequately fund the basic operations of the court system. . . . If we cannot pay for these basic services, we cannot conduct timely trials. We all know that justice delayed is justice denied."

These comments were delivered by North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin on March 4, 2015 during the first State of the Judiciary address to the North Carolina General Assembly in 14 years.  The Chief Justice was referring to years of cuts to the Administrative Office of the Courts and he sought increased funding to make sure the judiciary could function at full capacity and resolve cases quickly and appropriately. 

While the Chief Justice accurately laid out the critical needs of North Carolina’s court system in 2015, he could not even begin to address the dire needs within the rest of the justice system during his speech.  As recently as last month, Commissioner David Guice, head of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice within the Department of Public Safety, spoke publicly regarding the mental health crisis in our prisons.  Commissioner Guice told the News and Observer, “Emergency rooms, jails, and prisons have become the de facto mental health hospitals,”and said he was calling on lawmakers to provide more funding for treatment for mental illness within prisons.  Commissioner Guice understands that in most cases, those behind bars are eventually released and everyone would be safer if their mental health concerns could be addressed in prison.

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RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Public Safety yesterday announced plans to end the practice of placing youthful offenders in solitary confinement by September 2016. North Carolina is one of two states in the country that still charges 16 and 17 year olds as adults and places them in adult correctional facilities.

As of June 7, there were 67 children under the age of 18 in North Carolina prisons, 16 of which were segregated from the general population in some form of solitary confinement. Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced that it would end the solitary confinement of juveniles in federal prisons.

In 2015, a coalition of human rights organizations sent a letter asking the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the use of solitary confinement in North Carolina prisons.

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NORTH CAROLINA — American singer-songwriter and former Eagles’ guitarist Joe Walsh announced he will give a portion of the proceeds from two upcoming shows in North Carolina to the ACLU to support its lawsuit fighting the anti-LGBT law House Bill 2, which removes protections for LGBT people and prohibits transgender people from using facilities that correspond to their gender identity.

Net profits from Walsh’s June 30 show (with Bad Company) in Charlotte and August 9 solo show in Raleigh will also go to Equality North Carolina. Both groups will be on site at the show to engage with attendees.

ACLU of North Carolina Policy Director Sarah Preston said the following in response:

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In the wake of this weekend's tragic attack against the LGBT community, we join together to protect the rights of LGBT people and to celebrate our freedom to live openly and without discrimination.

We stand in solidarity with the LGBT community in Orlando and across the country and send our thoughts and sympathies to everyone who has been impacted by this horrific act of violence and hate. 

The ACLU of North Carolina has worked for decades to counter laws and rhetoric that harm and marginalize LGBT people, and we are proud to continue that work today as we represent LGBT North Carolinians in our ongoing legal challenge to the odious and discriminatory House Bill 2.

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