North Carolina 2024 Public Defender Expansion

In 2023, the North Carolina General Assembly approved funding to create eight new public defender districts. The eight new districts will cover twenty-two counties. Once they are in place, sixty of North Carolina’s 100 counties will be served by a public defender. Seven of the new districts were fully funded starting January 1, 2024; for the eighth, full funding is effective July 1, 2024. Because new public defender offices need time to hire and train staff, they will not start taking cases right away.

Read more

New Projects in Policing & Responding: Evaluating the Impact of Alternative Responses to Crisis Calls

In partnership with the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police and local stakeholders, the UNC School of Government Criminal Justice Innovation Lab (the Lab) is conducting two evaluations of North Carolina alternative responder programs over the next two years. These programs reduce or remove law enforcement’s role in responding to certain crisis calls—such as those involving behavioral health issues or homelessness—and connect people to services to address root causes of behavior. The first project is an evaluation of an existing program in the City of Burlington. The second is an evaluation of a pilot program in Orange County.

Read more

New Project Supporting & Evaluating Implementation of Holistic Public Defense in North Carolina

In a new project launched in January 2024, the UNC School of Government Criminal Justice Innovation Lab (the Lab) is partnering with the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS) to support stakeholder interest in using social workers as part of a holistic public defense team. The project has two components: a workshop for Chief Public Defenders and an implementation study.

Read more

New Online Court Appearance Toolbox

Looking to solve court appearance issues in your jurisdiction? Find tools that work for you with the Court Appearance Toolbox! This new, online resource from the UNC School of Government Criminal Justice Innovation Lab has off-the-shelf tools to promote court appearance and improve responses to missed appearances. You’ll find implementation guides, videos, templates, fact sheets, and much more.

The Toolbox includes examples from North Carolina and across the country. Its resources can be adapted for any jurisdiction.

To learn more about the Toolbox and how to use it, join the Lab’s FREE 30-minute webinar on Friday, December 8th at 12:30pm. Register here.

Read more

August 22nd Webinar: Reimaging Police Crisis Response

On August 22, 2023, from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm EST, the UNC School of Government Criminal Justice Innovation Lab (the Lab) will host a FREE webinar, Reimagining Police Crisis Response. In many communities, law enforcement officers are first responders to calls for service involving social issues like homelessness and mental health and substance use … Read more

Survey: Pretrial Supervision & Services in Your Community

The UNC School of Government Criminal Justice Innovation Lab frequently gets questions from stakeholders about the scope of pretrial supervision & support services across the state. We are hoping to compile information about the availability of different pretrial supervision & support services, including programs like GPS monitoring, case management, completing risk assessments, and more. Please … Read more

October 28th Webinar: Promoting Court Appearance & Improving Responses to Non-Appearances

On October 28, 2022, from 12:30pm to 2pm, the UNC School of Government Criminal Justice Innovation Lab will host a FREE webinar, Court Appearance Matters: Promoting Justice & Efficiency by Addressing the Problem of Missed Court Dates.

Missed appearances contribute to system-wide inefficiencies and case backlogs, use additional law enforcement resources, inconvenience victims and witnesses, and can result in collateral consequences for the person charged. However, data and experience suggest that most missed appearances are for low-level offenses and may be due to systemic barriers, such as lack of transportation or inability to take time off from work. Deliberate policies can address these barriers, ensure public safety, and improve efficiency.

Read more

New Report Shows Positive Results in Forsyth County Bail Project

In January 2020, stakeholders in North Carolina’s Twenty-First Judicial District (Forsyth County) implemented a pretrial reform initiative designed to reduce unnecessary detentions of individuals charged with the lowest-level offenses. Specific attention was paid to those detained solely due to an inability to pay bail and not because of their risk to the community. To address this issue, local leaders developed and implemented a new structured decision-making tool for magistrates and judges to use when making bail decisions. Key elements of the tool include:

Read more