The Herald Sun reported this week that Durham and several other cities across the state are moving previously untested rape kits into the evidence analysis process in an effort to clear North Carolina’s significant backlog of untested kits. Asheville has submitted the most kits for testing, followed closely by Durham and Winston-Salem. The article says that Attorney General Josh Stein has asked for additional funds for the State Crime Lab to provide more capacity for testing. Last year, a statewide inventory found that North Carolina had the largest backlog of untested kits in the nation.
We’ll return to blogging on Tuesday following the Memorial Day holiday. Keep reading for more news.
Correctional Officer Retention. WNCN reports that the North Carolina Department of Public Safety is grappling with a high vacancy rate in correctional officer positions and that officers leave their jobs at about the same rate as new officers are hired. The article says that the vacancy rate is about 20% and that in 2018 DPS hired 1,812 correctional officers while 1,742 left the department. DPS has launched a recruiting campaign and is looking into increasing pay for some employees and providing sign-on bonuses.
Riley Howell Foundation. WLOS reports that a new foundation named for UNC Charlotte student Riley Howell has been established and intends to support organizations that help families affected by gun violence. Howell was killed earlier this month in a shooting on UNCC campus where he tackled the shooter.
Longest Serving Inmate. The News & Observer has a story this week about the longest-serving inmate in the state prison system. John Phillips is 85 years old and has been in prison for 66 years after being arrested as an 18-year-old in 1952 on sexual-assault charges.
Abortion Bill. As NPR reports, last week Alabama passed a controversial bill that makes it a felony to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, unless a woman’s life is threatened or there is a lethal fetal anomaly. There is no exception to the prohibition for cases of rape or incest. A woman is not subject to criminal liability for having an abortion under the new law.
American Taliban. As the New York Times reports, a man who was nicknamed “American Taliban” in the early 2000’s , John Walker Lindh, was released this week from federal prison after serving a 17-year sentence for supporting the Taliban. Lindh, who is from California, was captured during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and was held at a prison where CIA officer Johnny Michael Spann was killed in a revolt, the first United States casualty of that war.
Loan Scheme. Federal prosecutors in New York announced this week that a Chicago bank chairman, Stephen M. Calk, had been indicted on a bribery charge for allegedly issuing $16 million in loans to Paul Manafort in exchange for Manafort’s assistance in obtaining a post in the Trump administration. Hoping to be appointed to an ambassadorship, Calk is alleged to have emailed Manafort a document entitled “Stephen M. Calk Perspective Rolls” – he was not offered any position.