News Roundup

Last week the North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced the creation of a new Youthful Offender Program and the elimination of the use of solitary confinement for offenders under the age of 18 who are confined in adult facilities.  An article from the News and Observer indicates that W. David Guice, Commissioner of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, has said that solitary confinement doesn’t result in positive behavioral change and that prison officials have been reducing its use even with adult inmates.  The mission of the Youthful Offender Program, which will be operated at Foothills Correctional Institution, is to “identify criminogenic risks and needs, and address those areas in order to promote public safety and enhance youth outcomes through education, behavioral, health treatment, life skills, and family/community reunification services.”  Keep reading for more news.

School to Prison Pipeline.  While we’re on the topic of young people and prison, it’s worth noting that LaToya Powell has a post this week on the SOG’s On the Civil Side blog that discusses a session she recently taught to district court judges about the School to Prison Pipeline.  Check it out here.

General Assembly Approves Use of Online Legal Documents. WRAL reports that last week the General Assembly unanimously passed a bill that allows online services like LegalZoom to offer interactive software that generates legal documents without running afoul of the prohibition against the unauthorized practice of law.  The legislation requires services providers to register with the State Bar and pay a fee.  The ratified version of the bill, House Bill 436, is available here.

General Assembly Considers Sex Offender Legislation. WRAL is also reporting that legislators are considering a bill that, among other things, “would offer more specificity to the places from which sex offenders are banned” in an effort to fix provisions of G.S. 14-208.18 (sex offender unlawfully on premises) that a federal judge found to be unconstitutionally vague and overbroad last year.

Naloxone Legislation Passes.  Last week the News Roundup noted that the General Assembly was considering legislation that would make the opioid-reversal drug naloxone available statewide without a prescription.  The bill passed this week, and more information is available on this Department of Public Health website:

ALE Seizes Sweepstakes Video Gaming Machines.  The Asheville Citizen Times reports that the ALE’s seizure of hundreds sweepstakes video gaming machines last month has set off a complicated legal battle.  Prosecutors in the 29th and 30th Judicial Districts and local business owners say that they would like the Supreme Court or the General Assembly to provide some clarity about the law regulating the machines.    

Voting Rights for Prisoners.  An article from Politico argues that prisoners should have the right to vote.  Acknowledging that the position isn’t popular, the article suggests that allowing prisoners to vote could help address mass incarceration and could improve the prison system.  For reference, the article says that the number of Americans in prison or jail exceeds the population of Rhode Island.   

Kagan Shortens Link, Blows Minds. Fortune reports that Justice Kagan, the Supreme Court’s young techno-savvy Justice, is hip to the jive of link shortening and used a Google-shortened link in her dissent in Utah v. Strieff.  It was the Court’s first use of a shortened link and a tremendous technical achievement for a court that, by Kagan’s account, is still coming around to email.  The Fortune report has some interesting information about the sad state of the links in the Court’s opinions, and says that in 2014 nearly half the links were broken.  

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