FAMM worked in North Carolina in 2019 and 2020 on sentencing and prison reform. In June 2020, the state legislature passed two criminal justice reform bills, HB 511 and SB 562. You can read more about the reforms below.
HB 511: North Carolina First Step Act:
In June 2020, the state legislature passed the North Carolina First Step Act (HB 511). HB 511 creates a “safety valve” that allows courts to depart from the mandatory minimum for some drug trafficking offenses, and instead impose a sentence that is within the state’s structured sentencing guidelines based on the classification of the offense (e.g., Class C, D, etc.). The bill was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly on June 17, 2020, and takes effect on December 1, 2020. The safety valve is not retroactive and does not help people sentenced before December 1, 2020. However, it does allow some people already serving mandatory minimum sentences for the smallest drug amounts that trigger those sentences to file motions in court for sentence reductions, if they meet certain criteria. Please read our summary to understand who qualifies for a safety valve under HB 511.
Stories from Affected Families: Kenneth “Graham” Stanley
SB 562: The Second Chance Act:
The Second Chance Act (SB 562) was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in June 2020. The new law allows people to petition the court for an expunction (also known as an expungement) of North Carolina state criminal charges that were dismissed, or for which they were found not guilty. It also allows for expunction of some North Carolina state juvenile convictions and “nonviolent misdemeanor” and “nonviolent felony” convictions. An expunction removes a criminal charge or conviction from a person’s criminal record. Please read our summary to understand who qualifies for an expunction under SB 562.
How you can advocate for sentencing reform in North Carolina
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Connect with Reform Groups
- ACLU-North Carolina
- Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform
- Forward Justice
- North Carolina Justice Center