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Criminal Sentence Reduction Reform

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

North Carolina is following a national trend in considering resentencing laws. Advocates have called for these changes in an attempt to decrease mass incarceration and address over-imprisonment of people of color. Per Nazgol Ghandnosh, Senior Research Analyst at The Sentencing Project, “There’s been a growing abundance of research showing that long sentences are ineffective and inhumane, and they tie up resources that could be far better invested to promote public safety.”

In North Carolina House Bill 625 was introduced on April 20, 2021, and if passed through the House and the Senate, it would become effective December 1, 2021. This bill would allow individuals to apply to have their sentence reduced if they have served at least 5 years of their term.

However, there are some exclusions to the eligibility that include: life sentences; if the individual is deemed a danger to others or the community and violent habitual felony charges that have been sentenced under Article 2B of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes (Two Class A through E felony convictions after July 6, 1967)

The proposed criteria that would be taken into account in deciding whether or not a sentence will be reduced includes: age of individual when the crime was committed, character and history of individual, behavior within prison, completion of any available educational or vocational programs, completion of behavioral health treatment or stabilization, recommendation from District Attorney, general behavior (maturity, rehabilitation, etc.), victim statements (or family of victim statements if the victim is deceased), any reports from physical or mental examinations done by a licensed medical professional, defendants circumstances during offense (trauma, abuse, or involvement in child welfare system), the extent of the defendant’s role in the offense, and any other information the court deems relevant.

Current status of the HB625 as of July 1, 2021: The bill has passed the first reading in the NC House of Representatives and was referred to the Committee Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House on April 22nd, 2021.

Researched by Scout Burch, NC-CURE intern

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