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On Display: "ACLU of North Carolina: Fifty Years of Protecting Liberty
Date: July 27 - Sept. 4
Location: Wilmington

Date: Sept. 9 - Nov. 30 (Opening reception Sept. 13)
Location: Chapel Hill

Memorial Honoring Slater Newman
Date: September 15
Location: Raleigh

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RALEIGH – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation is asking whether Governor Pat McCrory’s office is using any taxpayer dollars or other public resources to promote religion at an upcoming prayer rally in Charlotte. In a public records request filed yesterday, the civil liberties group asked for information regarding the governor’s participation in The Response: North Carolina on September 26 at the Charlotte Convention Center. The event’s website says the focus of the rally is “unashamedly Christian” and “the only name that will be lifted up will be the name of Jesus Christ.” Gov. McCrory is being advertised as the event’s main speaker.

“North Carolinians deserve to know whether Governor McCrory is spending their tax dollars to promote religion,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director for the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation. “Elected officials have every right to practice and discuss their faith, but they shouldn’t use taxpayer resources to promote their own religious views over others.”

Read the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation’s public records request to Gov. McCrory’s office here.

RALEIGH – A coalition of human rights groups today sent a letter asking the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the use of solitary confinement in North Carolina prisons. The letter comes weeks after President Obama ordered the Justice Department to review the use of solitary confinement across the country and criticized the practice in a major speech on criminal justice reform.  

The 15-page letter – signed by North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, the ACLU of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina School of Law Human Rights Policy Seminar, the UNC Center for Civil Rights, and North Carolina Stop Torture Now – chronicles the recent deaths of several inmates held in solitary confinement in North Carolina, as well as the mistreatment and horrific conditions suffered by countless more. One of those prisoners, Michael Anthony Kerr, a 53-year-old former Army sergeant diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, died of dehydration in March 2014 after spending 35 days in solitary confinement. In the letter, the groups document North Carolina’s failure to provide adequate resources for prison mental health services and explain how inmates with mental illness are disciplined for manifestations of their illness and often released directly to the community after months or years in isolation.  

“Understaffed, underfunded, and plagued by arbitrary standards, insufficient oversight, and inadequate resources for inmates with mental illness, North Carolina’s solitary confinement regime must change,” the letter reads. “However, governmental efforts and calls from the media and the public have resulted in little meaningful reform.  Every day that the status quo endures without intervention, North Carolina’s system for housing inmates in solitary confinement claims more victims to needless suffering and death.”

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A federal judge today dismissed a civil rights lawsuit filed against Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson by the U.S. Department of Justice, which charged that under Johnson’s leadership, the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office unlawfully targeted Latino residents for investigation, traffic stops, arrests, seizures, and other enforcement actions.

“Today's decision flies in the face of a mountain of evidence that Sheriff Johnson and the Alamance County Sheriff's Office engaged in discriminatory policing,” said Carolyna Caicedo Manrique, Staff Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC). “During the trial, the Department of Justice presented expert testimony that Latinos in Alamance County were seven times more likely to be stopped and cited than non-Latinos in the community. This profiling was no accident. According to witnesses, Sheriff Johnson repeatedly and explicitly instructed his deputies to target Latinos, at one point even telling them to ‘go get me some Mexicans.’ We urge the Department of Justice to appeal this miscarriage of justice in order to ensure all Alamance County residents can again have confidence in their Sheriff's department.”

The ACLU and other groups have been receiving complaints about Johnson, his deputies, and their treatment of Latinos for years. A 2012 statistical analysis commissioned by DOJ found that along three major Alamance County highways, ACSO deputies were approximately 4, 9, and 10 times more likely, respectively, to stop Latino drivers than similarly situated non-Latino drivers. The lawsuit listed examples of Latino drivers being followed by Alamance deputies for long stretches of time and then pulled over for little or no reason. Witnesses also testified about numerous incidents in which Johnson and other ACSO employees expressed prejudice against Latino residents.

RALEIGH – A coalition of human rights groups is urging Gov. Pat McCrory to veto a bill that would hide the source of lethal injection drugs used to execute prisoners on death row and remove the requirement that a qualified physician be present at all executions.

The groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, the Carolina Justice Policy Center, the N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, and the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, argue that HB 774 is a dangerous proposal that would make executions more secretive, increase the risk of botched executions, and ensure continued legal challenges to the death penalty in North Carolina.

“Less than a year after other states have botched executions as a result of using experimental drugs obtained in secret, it would be foolhardy for North Carolina to go down the same road,” said Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “This bill would increase the likelihood of a botched execution in North Carolina, hide basic information about executions from public access, and needlessly waste taxpayer dollars on the inevitable lawsuits that will follow. Governor McCrory should take a stand for transparency and accountability and veto this bill without delay.”

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