News Roundup

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The ABA Journal reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has filed an amicus brief in a Georgia civil class action asserting that the use of money bail violates arrestees’ due process and equal protection rights when there is no meaningful consideration of their ability to pay and alternative methods of assuring their appearance at trial. The plaintiff in the case is a schizophrenic man who was arrested for public drunkenness and could not afford $160 in bail. Unable to make bail, the man was held for six days in the local jail. The challenged system differs from North Carolina’s pretrial release procedure which, in many cases, expresses a preference for unsecured or non-monetary conditions of pretrial release. Keep reading for more news.

Adopt-A-Cop. WRAL reports that Johnston County 911 dispatcher Joi McLamb has started a new program that allows community members to show their appreciation for law enforcement officers. Community members who sign up for the newly created Adopt-A-Cop program will be connected with an officer and then will write the officer a note of appreciation and give the officer a gift. The WRAL story has more information about signing up and says that similar programs exist in the eastern part of the state.

Exonerated Man Receives Settlement. The Hickory Daily Record reports that the Hickory City Council voted unanimously this week to approve a $3.2 million settlement agreement with Willie James Grimes. Grimes was exonerated by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission in 2012 after spending more than two decades in prison for rape.

Jail Food. The News & Observer reports that Durham County has hired a new vendor to provide meals at the jail. The story says that “Sheriff Mike Andrews asked the National Institute of Corrections to inspect the jail in response to community concerns,” and that one recommendation arising from the inspection suggested that the jail food “may be lacking in flavor and variety.” Apparently there is discussion of introducing locally produced food to the jail at some point in the future.

Jail Fight. NBC News has a story that describes the “long road to redemption” travelled by Dwayne Marion Stafford on his way to making bond on assault and robbery charges in South Carolina. The story indicates that Stafford seized upon a “stroke of serendipity” involving botched inmate handling procedures to sneak out of his cell and assault Dylann Roof, the white supremacist charged with killing nine African Americans at a prayer service last year.

Campus Carry Conflict. Wednesday was the first day of class at the University of Texas and some students strolled the Austin campus carrying concealed weapons while others carried sex toys. As the Daily Texan reports, students and faculty gathered to protest a new state law that allows concealed carry on campus. With the stated goal of fighting “absurdity with absurdity,” protest organizers distributed sex toys for students to carry around and led creative chants.

FBI Makes Child Pornography Website Faster. As the News Roundup previously noted, the FBI took control of a child pornography website last year and kept it online for a few weeks in order to apprehend users of the site. Gizmodo reports that the FBI didn’t just keep the site online, it actually made the website run faster and more efficiently. During the time the FBI controlled the site, it is alleged that the average number of weekly visitors increased from 11,000 to approximately 50,000.

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