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In case you missed it, Dr. Silva Mathema of the Center for American Progress has authored a brief but scathing report of the new law targeting immigrants that Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to sign this afternoon in Greensboro. According to “North Carolina’s Dangerous Stance on Immigration Threatens Community Trust,” House Bill 318 has the potential to do enormous damage:

“The bill, known officially as the “Protect North Carolina Workers Act,” includes two provisions that would damage trust between the state’s extensive immigrant community and local government agencies, including law enforcement. H.B. 318 would prohibit North Carolina cities from passing community trust policies, known as sanctuary city ordinances, that seek to build trust by limiting local law enforcement’s cooperation with the federal government over civil immigration matters. The legislation would also prevent law enforcement and other government agencies from accepting identification cards issued by foreign governments, an option many law enforcement agencies use in their routine policing.”

The bill is, according to Mathema, of the same ilk as Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 of a few years back:

“The country has been down this road before and has seen the results of similar legislation in a number of states. In 2010, Arizona passed S.B. 1070, which authorized local law enforcement to check an individual’s immigration status during routine policing and raised concerns over institutionalized racial profiling. As a result, Latino businesses began to leave the area, and trust between law enforcement and the immigrant community eroded. A 2010 report by the Center for American Progress estimated that Arizona lost at least $141 million in revenue from conference cancellations in the first year alone. The Supreme Court struck down much of S.B. 1070 in 2012, and lower courts have followed suit by striking down similar laws in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Utah.

Although distinct from S.B. 1070, North Carolina’s H.B. 318 poses similar dangers, including having a chilling effect on immigrants and their loved ones. Local law enforcement officials rely on all residents for information to solve crimes; policies that weaken this relationship dissuade individuals from cooperating and ultimately make law enforcement more difficult. Given North Carolina’s history of active participation in programs that entangle local law enforcement in efforts to enforce federal immigration law, the state’s immigrant communities know all too well the harmful impact that these policies can have on their communities. Local government and law enforcement agencies have spent many years building positive relationships within the growing immigrant community; H.B. 318 would severely undermine these efforts.”

Dr. Mathema’s bottom line analysis: Read More

Commentary

From the good people at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation

“Death penalty advocates say executions are needed to puni:sh a small handful of the “worst of the worst” criminals. However, a new report from the Center for Death Penalty Litigation finds that the death penalty in North Carolina is being used broadly and indiscriminately, with little regard for the strength of the evidence against defendants — and putting innocent people at risk of being sentenced to die.

On Trial for Their Lives: The Hidden Costs of Wrongful Capital Prosecutions in North Carolina is the first study in the United States of cases in which people were charged or prosecuted capitally but never convicted. The study finds that 56 people since 1989 — about two a year — have been capitally prosecuted in North Carolina despite evidence too weak to prove their guilt. The wrongful prosecutions happened in 31 counties in every region of the state.

The report comes on the heels of the exoneration of Henry McCollum, North Carolina’s longest serving death row inmate. It exposes another facet of a capital punishment system that targets innocent people with the death penalty. Considering that only 40 people have been executed in North Carolina in the time period the report covers, more people have faced the death penalty and not been convicted of a crime than have been executed in North Carolina.”

Commentary, Justice for McCollum and Brown

McCollum BrownThe failure of Governor Pat McCrory to grant pardons to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown after more than eight months now borders on the farcical.

The editorial page of the Fayetteville Observer is the latest to weigh in with an exceedingly polite editorial entitled “Unjustly convicted, these men deserve justice.” Here is the conclusion:

“Eight months ago, a Robeson County judge reviewed the evidence and ordered the two men released. Since then, they have lived with their sister, near Eastover. The two are adjusting to the 21st century, learning about the Internet, cellphones and other integral parts of modern life that arrived while they were in prison.

But they are still in limbo, still not completely free to resume a normal life. Because of their rape conviction, they were ordered to registered as sex offenders before they were released. Their convictions are still on their records and a serious impediment to finding work.

By law, the state owes them $50,000 for each year of their improper incarceration, up to a maximum of $750,000. And even more important, the governor owes them a pardon – which rightfully should have come as soon as the men were cleared of the crimes. Three decades of their lives were unjustly taken away. There is no compensation large enough.

We hope the governor and his staff move quickly to clear McCollum’s and Brown’s records and get them the compensation they are due. They’ve given up more than anyone ever should.”

Commentary, Justice for McCollum and Brown
Henry McCollum listening to evidence of his innocence. Photo by Jenny Warburg / Courtesy of North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Henry McCollum listening to evidence of his innocence. Photo by Jenny Warburg / Courtesy of North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Monday marks the 228th day that Governor Pat McCrory has refused to grant a pardon of innocence to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, the two Robeson County men who both spent 31 years in prison for a rape and murder they did not commit.

McCollum and Brown, both mentally disabled, were freed September 4 of last year after the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission found DNA evidence that proved another man had committed the crimes.

The two men need the pardon from McCrory to be eligible for financial compensation from the state for the years they were wrongly incarcerated. McCrory received the petition September 11 of last year, 228 days ago.

The Red Springs Citizen reported Friday that the local prosecutor’s office and the SBI are conducting further investigations into the case before McCrory grants the pardon, despite the in-depth investigation by the Innocence Inquiry Commission that resulted in the exoneration of McCollum and Brown.

So after spending 31 years behind bars for a crime they did not commit, the two men find themselves again waiting for justice.

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Commentary, Justice for McCollum and Brown
Henry McCollum listening to evidence of his innocence. Photo by Jenny Warburg / Courtesy of North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Henry McCollum listening to evidence of his innocence. Photo by Jenny Warburg / Courtesy of North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Thursday marks the 224th day that Governor Pat McCrory has refused to grant a pardon of innocence to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, the two Robeson County men who both spent 31 years in prison for a rape and murder they did not commit.

McCollum and Brown need the pardon to receive the financial compensation available from the state for the years of their lives that were taken from them.

There’s still no explanation from McCrory about why he hasn’t granted the pardon. He received the application for it from McCollum and Brown last September 11—224 days ago.

Today instead of granting the pardon McCrory was near Charlotte for the dedication of a visitor center at Lake Norman State Park.

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