Bryan Anderson, Associated Press, February 26, 2021
North Carolina civil rights groups struck a deal on Thursday with Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration to allow for the early release of 3,500 inmates in state custody over the next six months.
If the state abides by its commitment to trim about one-eighth of its more than 28,000-person prison population, the North Carolina branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People would dismiss its lawsuit alleging prison conditions during the coronavirus pandemic have violated inmates’ rights under the state constitution.
“What’s happening in North Carolina prisons is the convergence of two pandemics both fueled by racism and classism – COVID 19 and an unjust criminal legal system,” said a statement from Anthony Spearman, president of the NC NAACP. “Even as we celebrate this monumental step in our efforts through this lawsuit, we must acknowledge that a disproportionate number of those marginalized, oppressed, and put in harm’s way by being incarcerated during the pandemic are melanin-rich, working poor, or both.”
Under the terms of the proposed deal, the Department of Public Safety would have 90 days to release at least 1,500 offenders, and an additional 90 days to release the remaining 2,000. Those who have been given an early release since Feb. 15 would count toward the 3,500 total.