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The web is, of course, full of thoughtful pieces (and not so thoughtful pieces) about Friday’s tragedy.

Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times was a definite keeper.

IN the harrowing aftermath of the school shooting in Connecticut, one thought wells in my mind: Why can’t we regulate guns as seriously as we do cars?

The fundamental reason kids are dying in massacres like this one is not that we have lunatics or criminals — all countries have them — but that we suffer from a political failure to regulate guns. Read More

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The North Carolina NAACP renewed its call for gubernatorial pardons in the infamous “Wilmington 10″ case again today and the evidence they advanced in support of the demand was disturbing and compelling.

The following is from a release that accompanied this morning’s press conference:

RALEIGH – Newly discovered racist jury profiling by the Pender County Prosecutor Jay Stroud, shows shocking racial hostility toward prospective Black jurors. In his first effort to select a jury to convict ten young activists who had been charged with burning a Wilmington store, District Attorney Stroud ended up with ten Blacks and two Whites. Stroud felt “sick,” and asked for a mistrial. The judge agreed, and the trial was rescheduled for Pender County. Stroud got a list of about 100 prospective jurors, and he wrote racial comments beside most of their names.

 “We rarely get such direct evidence of prosecutorial racism in jury selection,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina NAACP. Read More

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Good for the ACLU for calling attention to this ongoing injustice:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 25, 2012

ACLU: U.S. Attorneys are prolonging the incarceration of wrongly imprisoned people:

ACLU urges Justice Department to take immediate corrective action to release or provide relief to those wrongly incarcerated in North Carolina, as officials had promised  

RALEIGH – U.S. attorneys have still not taken all promised steps to provide relief to potentially hundreds of federal inmates in North Carolina whose convictions or sentences have since been found improper, the American Civil Liberties Union and its North Carolina and Massachusetts affiliates wrote in an Oct. 12 letter to federal officials. The letter comes more than a month after the U.S. Department of Justice vowed to take “concrete steps” to provide appropriate relief. Read More

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The idea of cutting costs in the criminal justice system seems like it would be a common sense idea that would appeal to conservatives and progressives alike. In recent years, one of the most effective tools in advancing this objective has been the rise of alternatives to the “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” approach of the “war on drugs” years.

Put simply, some smart people finally figured out that it’s a heckuva lot cheaper and more effective to help drug addicts escape the clutches of their health crises than it is to merely throw them in jail. Hence, the eminently sensible and highly effective concept of “drug courts” that seek to effect just such an outcome.

Yesterday, New Jersey’s conservative Republican governor, Chris Christie, signed a bill that makes his state the first in the nation to mandate drug treatment rather than jail time for drug-abusers convicted of nonviolent crimes. Good for him and good for New Jersey. Let’s hope their program is an off-the-charts success.

Now, if only conservatives running the North Carolina General Assembly could see (or remember) the obvious wisdom in this approach. Read More

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If you want to get a glimpse of just how crazy and extreme things are getting at the General Assembly during the session’s hectic waning days, check out the debate surrounding this bill from the bail bonds industry that has been sliding through under the radar. It is premised on the truly cockamamie notion that publicly-supported pretrial release programs somehow constitute “unfair competition” for bail bondsmen. We are not making this up.

Over the weekend, the Wilmington Star News had a solid editorial on the topic that ought to be a “must read” for anyone following the subject.

North Carolina taxpayers don’t owe bail bondsmen a living, but a bill that’s making its way through the General Assembly would fatten their wallets at the expense of a pretrial release program that is well regarded by judges and court officials. The Honorables should lock up this legislation in a safe place and throw away the key. Read More