New State Task Force To Address Racial Equity In Justice System

Jul 10, 2020

Governor Roy Cooper said he wants recommendations from a new state Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice by December 1, in time for the start of the next legislative session.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

A new state criminal justice panel formed in the wake of George Floyd's killing had its first meeting this week. The North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice is charged with finding solutions to racial disparities in North Carolina's criminal justice system.

Governor Roy Cooper said he wants recommendations by December 1, in time for the start of the next legislative session.

"I want this task force not just to be thinking about the recommendations, I want you to think about the implementation of those recommendations."

The panel includes lawmakers, law enforcement officials and advocates like Raleigh-based social justice activist Kerwin Pittman.

"Hopefully we can tackle this issue of racist bias in the criminal justice system together," said Pittman.

State Senator Mujtaba Mohammed said reform needs to come in a number of different ways to uplift the Black community. He cited recently passed legislation to keep 16 and 17-year-olds out of the adult justice system and expunge the records of young offenders as examples of what could be done.

"We need to stop criminalizing poverty, and [countless] fines and fees," he said. "I believe that we need to do everything we can to genuinely build people in this country and the state instead of building prisons."

The panel will consider topics such as use of force, community policing, and pre-trial release.