News Roundup

Published for NC Criminal Law on October 01, 2021.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that four North Carolina prisons and a drug addiction treatment facility are being renamed because of historical connections to racism or slavery.  NC DPS has a press release about the name changes here.  The new names take effect on Monday.  Keep reading for more on this story and other news.

Prisons Renamed.  As the AP report and DPS release in the lead explain, Morrison Correctional Institution in Hoffman now will be known as Richmond Correctional Institution and DART Cherry will become DART Center.  Near the end of the 19th century, former Governor Cameron Morrison led a white supremacist group called the Red Shirts, and former Governor Gregg Cherry advocated dropping civil rights issues from the Democratic party platform in the 1940s.

Caledonia Correctional Institution in Tillery now will be Roanoke River Correctional Institution, Polk Correctional Institution in Butner will be Granville Correctional Institution, and Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women in Black Mountain will become Western Correctional Center for Women.  The name Caledonia refers to a former slave plantation on the prison’s property, and Revolutionary War officer William Polk owned slaves.  Swannanoa’s name is connected to the construction of a tunnel in Asheville that caused the death of many Black prisoners who worked on it in the 1800s.  Commissioner of Prisons Todd Ishee noted that prison staff had input in the renaming decisions.

Wrongful Arrest Settlement.  WRAL reports that the City of Raleigh has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by 15 Black men who alleged that they were wrongfully arrested between December 2019 and May 2020 as a result of a conspiracy between a Raleigh Police Detective and an informant to make fraudulent controlled drug buys.  The News Roundup previously noted the issue here.  The detective currently is on administrative leave and the SBI is reviewing the situation.  District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said that the investigation has not revealed evidence that the detective knew that the buys were fraudulent.

Unequal Coverage.  Last week the News Roundup noted that the disappearance and murder of Gabby Petito had become a national news story.  This week the PBS NewsHour had a story highlighting the long-running disparity in news coverage of disappearance cases involving white women, such as Petito, and cases involving indigenous women and other women of color.  Abigail Echo-Hawk, director of the Urban Indian Health Institute, told the News Hour that systematic racism contributes to both under investigation and under reporting of cases involving indigenous women and other women of color.

R. Kelly. In another story last week, the News Roundup noted that singer R. Kelly was on trial in federal court on charges of racketeering and sex trafficking. A jury found him guilty on all charges this week.

Mobile Police Station.  The western part of the state has been hit hard in recent weeks by heavy rain and flooding.  WLOS reports that significant flooding at the Canton Police Department destroyed nearly all of the department’s electronic equipment and has forced it to set up a mobile facility using camper trailers.  Interim Chief Scott Sluder said that despite the challenges officers still have been able to respond to calls for service and provide security for flooded areas in the community.

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Topics - Courts and Judicial Administration