Page updated June 30, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to spread within our communities and governments move to mitigate the spread, the ACLU will be monitoring the government's response to ensure that it is no more intrusive on civil liberties than absolutely necessary and that any government measure is grounded in science and public health, not politics or xenophobia. And as each of us focuses on protecting the health and wellbeing of ourselves and the people closest to us, the ACLU will be working hard to advocate for the protection of people who are at high risk of being exposed to the virus and have the least amount of power to protect themselves. 

This page will continue to provide updates on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting civil rights and civil liberties in North Carolina and how the ACLU is responding during the public health crisis.

People in Jails and Prisons

People in prisons, jails, and detention centers are especially vulnerable to coronavirus. They are often in close quarters, have little control over their daily interaction with others, and do not have the ability to take preventive measures to protect their health. To limit outbreaks of COVID-19, state officials must take immediate action to protect incarcerated people, corrections employees, and the general public by reducing the use of imprisonment in North Carolina.

On April 8, we filed an emergency lawsuit asking Governor Cooper and DPS Secretary Hooks to take immediate action to protect people incarcerated from COVID-19. A Superior Court Judge has given Governor Cooper and state officials until May 8 to present a written plan on how they will protect incarcerated people and stop the spread of COVID-19 in state prisons. The judge ruled that our lawsuit is likely to succeed and has ordered the immediate stop of transfers in state prisons, testing, and advised consideration for more early releases. 

On May 26, we filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court to protect incarcerated people housed in Butner Federal Correctional Complex. A U.S. district court judge denied our preliminary injunction. 

Education Access and Equity

While the rapid movement towards remote learning during this crisis reflects a good faith effort to educate students, and we recognize the efforts state agencies are making to address the inequitable distribution of computer and broadband access. We are calling on North Carolina to meet its obligations to ensure that all students have equal access to the various technologies that make effective remote learning possible, and ensure that adequate and uniform privacy protections are in place to protect students when they are engaged in remote learning.