'These recommendations mean justice': Racial equity task force wraps up year with numerous proposals

Akilah Davis Image
Saturday, December 18, 2021
Criminal Justice Task Force wraps up year with new recommendations
`The recommendations include legislation such as Senate Bill 300, which strengthens community policing practices.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Efforts to eliminate racial disparities and inequities in the criminal justice system are a reality. The Criminal Justice Task Force wrapped up the year with 125 recommendations.

"To the everyday person, these recommendations mean justice, fairness and equity in the unequitable criminal justice system we currently have," said Kerwin Pittman, a task force member and an activist. "I myself being directly impacted by the bias baked into the criminal justice system, I know what it's like, so I will make sure this is not a task force that is all task and no force. The proof will be in the pudding."

The recommendations include legislation such as Senate Bill 300, which strengthens community policing practices. The measure requires law enforcement to intervene and report another officer who uses excessive force. It also requires that law enforcement agencies have early warning systems that monitor officer actions, including the use of force and citizen complaints.

Senate Bill 207 takes a closer look at the school-to-prison pipeline by raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 10 years old. It also gives prosecutors flexibility to charge 16- and 17-year-old as juveniles instead of adults.

House Bill 608 protects pregnant women in jails and prisons by prohibiting correctional officers from restraining them during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum in the recovery period.

Taskforce members including Attorney General Josh Stein said they believe these recommendations will create a more equitable criminal justice system for Blacks and other ethnic minorities in North Carolina.

"The recommendations are going to set a very useful roadmap for how we can attack the problems with our law enforcement system so that it better serves the people of North Carolina no matter who they are," said Stein. "We see it in terms of how many traffic stops there are disproportionately affecting African-Americans for no reason. Just broken taillights kind of things and the number of arrests that happen for marijuana possession."

Stein admits there's still more work to be done but said he is satisfied with the recommendations and called them reform.

"We have a long road ahead of us. Just like the bias and racism in the criminal justice system wasn't built in a day, it won't be demolished in a day," said Pittman.