News

ACLU requests transgender woman be moved to women’s prison

Kanautica Zayre-Brown

The ACLU of North Carolina has requested that a transgender woman be moved from where she is held among male prisoners at Harnett Correctional Institution in Lillington.

Kanautica Zayre-Brown is a 37-year-old transgender woman serving a sentence for insurance fraud and obtaining property by false pretenses. She and her husband Dionne Brown have been trying to get her moved out of confinement with male prisoners due to concerns she will be assaulted.

Though many transgender people elect not to have any surgical procedures related to their transition, Zayre-Brown has had her breasts augmented and genitals altered as part of gender confirmation surgery.

The state has not thus-far recognized her gender change and continues to use her male name, which she has had legally changed.

“Every day she is housed among men, forced to shower in group showers for men, and subjected to the constant indignities and threats to her health and safety that come with being stripped of her core identity,” wrote Sneha Shah, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, in a letter to the Department of Public Safety on Tuesday.

Zayre-Brown’s requests to be transferred have so far been denied. She was also initially denied hormone hormone treatment.

“These gross violations of Mrs. Zayre-Brown’s constitutional rights are putting her at great risk of serious harm,” Shah wrote.

The ACLU is promising legal action if discussions to resolve the current situation do not begin by April 1.

Department of Public Safety officials say they have received and are reviewing the letter.

ballot fraud, News, race, Voting

Elon Poll: In wake of Ninth District case, N.C. voters call election fraud a “major problem”

A new poll from Elon University finds more than half of N.C. voters surveyed consider election fraud a “major problem” in the state.

The poll was conducted this week in the wake of the dramatic hearings over alleged ballot fraud in the ninth congressional district,

“Now months out from the tainted 9th District election, North Carolina voters are broadly skeptical of elections in the state,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and associate professor of political science, in a statement on the results. “A majority of the electorate has clear concerns about the fairness of future elections and the extent of fraud.”

Read more

Education, News

Website organizes, publicizes opposition to UNC Board of Governors

A new website is organizing and highlighting the growing dissatisfaction with the UNC Board of Governors.

 

Launched late last week, the Reform UNC System Government site already boasts more than 1,000 people signing onto its message that the current board of governors has let politics and micromanaging drive away good leaders and create chaos throughout the system.

The group’s opening statement, featured on the homepage of the site:

The University of North Carolina is at a crossroads and its future is at stake.

The UNC System Board of Governors must refrain from meddling and micromanaging. It must let our leaders lead, our professors teach, and our students learn — for the good of the State of North Carolina.

The governance of our university system needs serious reform. We need less political influence and more civic responsibility.

We need a balanced and independent Board of Governors designed to outlast political transitions and comprised of members who have only one interest at heart: the success of our entire university system.

We must return to the standards of good governance that created the foundation for excellence at UNC, with appointments to the Board of Governors and campus boards of trustees shared by the Governor and the General Assembly and chosen from honorable, respected citizens.

UNC is our state’s greatest asset. It is our most crucial economic engine. We cannot afford to let politics undermine the future of higher education in North Carolina.

We are business leaders. We are community leaders. We have served as members of UNC campus boards of trustees across the entire state. We are faculty. We are alumni. We are students.

And we are voters.

The University of North Carolina is a treasure. It must be treated as such for the continuing benefit of every North Carolinian.

Signing on to that statement are some very prominent names, including former UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser and former UNC Board of Governors members Bob Brown, Frank Daniels Jr., Fred Eshelman, Paul Fulton and Phil Phillips.

Frustration by prominent alumni, faculty, staff and students has grown to a fever pitch since the abrupt exits of UNC System President Margaret Spellings and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt in the last few months.

Last week Policy Watch reported on a strongly worded column by Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, a prominent UNC alumna and president of the Association of American Universities. In the column, published by the Higher Education Works Foundation, Coleman expressed her “dismay” with the direction of the board and its impact on the system.

In comments to the News & Observer this week, UNC Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith dismissed the site and its sentiments as a “political temper tantrum” by a “small, vocal minority.”

News

Wednesday: John Grisham interviews Gene Nichol in Chapel Hill


A reminder for fans of legal thrillers both real and fictional: Best-selling author John Grisham will be interviewing UNC Professor Gene Nichol Wednesday night the Orange County Literacy Council’s 12th annual Writers for Readers fundraiser.

The pair will be talking about Nichol’s new book, “The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina: Stories from Our Invisible Citizens.”

You can hear him talking about the book with Policy Watch here.

Regular Policy Watch readers will remember Nichol, a law professor at UNC, was director of the UNC Poverty Center until it was shuttered by the UNC Board of Governors after butting heads with the board and the N.C. General Assembly.

Nichol isn’t any less critical these days. It’s a safe assumption there will be some discussion of why on Wednesday evening.

More information on the event (and tickets) here.