Updated July 2.  We aim to maintain a running repository of news coverage, court orders, filings, letters, and policy regarding North Carolina COVID-19 response in the criminal system. This resource collection was created by Deniz Ariturk, recent graduate of the MA program in Bioethics and Science Policy at Duke University. Please let us know (DukeCSJ@law.duke.edu) of any updates or additions that we can make.

  • Court orders:
    • June 9 ruling in NAACP v. Cooper that NC prison officials must establish a plan to test every inmate for COVID-19 and drastically reduce the number of inmate transfers between prisons.
    • April 2 NC Supreme Court order postponing court proceedings until June 1 2020 and extending the deadline for payment of fines and fees, and press release.
    • March 19 NC Supreme Court Order limiting court operations and press release.
  • Court filing:
  • Prison Policy:
    • NC DPS Policy and Case Tracker (updated June 18, 2020) about free employee testing, “incentive time” sentence reduction initiative, mass testing effort, releases from prison, medical screenings, new intakes, work release suspension, visitation suspension, and more. Includes daily updates on number of confirmed COVID cases in prison.
    • May 27 press release regarding resuming limited offender transfers to prepare for the reopening of the courts and the removal of the moratorium on new acceptances from county jails
    • April 13 announcement regarding transitioning offenders to serve remainder of sentence in the community.
    • March 13 press release regarding suspension of visitation.
  • Op-eds in North Carolina include:
    • March 24 News & Observer Editorial – “NC prisons could become a tinderbox for COVID-19. Move now to protect inmates and workers”
    • March 23 Garrett and Brinkley-Rubinstein op-ed in NC Policy Watch – “We must act now to prevent an epidemic in North Carolina’s prisons and jails”
  • Letters from advocacy groups include:
    • April 3 letter from civil rights leaders to Governor Roy Cooper requesting use of clemency power on behalf of inmates vulnerable to COVID-19
    • March 27 letter from public health experts to Governor Roy Cooper requesting early release for prisoners who are elderly, medically vulnerable, or have one year or less remaining on their sentence.
    • March 19  letters from coalition of NC advocates to Governor Roy Cooper, the NC Department of Public Safety, the NC Conference of District Attorneys, the NC Association of Chiefs of Police, and the NC Sheriffs Association urging officials to take necessary steps to protect the public health and human rights of people in North Carolina jails and prisons.
  • Media Coverage includes:
    • July 2 news story about COVID-19 putting pressure on an already fractured NC prison health system
    • June 18 news story about Governor Cooper and prisons commissioner Ishee’s announcement that all 31,200 state prison inmates will be tested for coronavirus
    • June 9 news story about Wake County Superior Court Judge ruling that NC prison officials must establish plan to test every inmate for COVID-19 and drastically reduce the number of inmate transfers between prisons (June 9)
    • June 1 news story about mass testing at a second NC state prison revealing 30 additional coronavirus cases
    • May 21 news story about prison nurse’s death raising questions about delayed testing at NC prison
    • May 18 news story about the Department of Public Safety’s response to judge’s request for information on pandemic-prevention measures
    • May 18 news story about state-funded COVID-19 tests for 20,000 prison workers amid outbreaks in 11 state prisons
    • May 13 news story about more than 500 of the over 640 offenders who tested positive for coronavirus being declared recovered and meeting criteria to be released from medical isolation
    • May 8 news story about 200 inmates being allowed to serve the rest of their sentences outside prison and the prsion population declining by 5% since mid-March
    • May 6 news story about first coronavirus-related death in NC women’s prison in Raleigh
    • May 5 news story about outbreak in women’s prison where inmates continued to be sent to work release assignments cleaning DPS office buildings after work release was officially suspended
    • May 3 news story about state judge who is considering lawsuit seeking the release of prisoners at high risk for COVID-19 and those near the end of their sentences ordering detailed information on NC prison conditions and accessible prisoner reentry programs
    • May 3 news story about the early release of inmates due to COVID-19
    • April 30 news story about conditions inside NC prisons during pandemic, includes interviews with and affidavits from inmates
    • April 30  [April%2030%20news%20story%20about%20third%20NC%20prison%20inmate%20death%20due%20to%20COVID-19]news story about third NC prison inmate death due to COVID-19
    • April 27 news story about outbreak at NC women’s prison
    • April 22 news story about first coronavirus-related death of an inmate in a NC state prison
    • April 21 news story about inmate who escaped Butner federal prison due to fear of catching the coronavirus surrendering after 18 days on the run
    • April 21 news story about inmate who escaped Butner federal prison facing new charges
    • April 20 news story about coronavirus cases rising at state women’s prison in Raleigh
    • April 20 news story featuring interview with inmate who escaped Butner federal prison
    • April 20 news story about temporary closure of Johnston Correctional Institute to allow for relocation of correctional officers to Neuse CI where outbreak continues to grow
    • April 18 news story about growing outbreak at Neuse CI and 350 of 770 inmates testing positive
    • April 17 news story about 149 inmates testing positive for coronavirus at Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro one day after state implements policy to test all inmates
    • April 14 news story about the spread of coronavirus to six state and federal NC prisons in The Charlotte Observer
    • April 13 news story about 500 inmates being considered for early release in the Charlotte Observer
    • April 12 news story about NC’s Butner federal prison having the highest number of coronavirus cases of any federal correctional complex in CNN
    • April 12 news story about the first inmate death in NC prisons at Butner federal prison in The News & Observer
    • April 9 news story about Durham DA and judge approving release of convicted drug traffickers over COVID-19 concerns
    • April 8 news story covering outbreak at Neuse prison facility and 35 inmates having tested positive
    • April 8 news story covering the NAACP petition asking the NC Supreme Court to release inmates who are elderly, medically vulnerable, close to their release date, or approved for work release
    • April 9 news story about escape of inmate in the midst of coronavirus outbreak at Butner prison
    • April 7 news story about Butner federal prison stepping up early release of inmates as coronavirus cases spike
    • April 6 news story about the suspension of new intakes from county jails for two weeks
    • April 5 news story about seven NC inmates having tested positive.
    • April 3 news story about court order granting relief for court fines and fees in NC Policy Watch – “NC Chief Justice provides relief for people with court fines, fees in new COVID-19 order”
    • April 2 news story about state’s response to the first two cases of COVID-19 in NC prisons in The Daily Record – “State considering early inmate release amidst COVID-19 pandemic”
    • April 2 news story about Goldsboro prison protest – “Inmates organize protest at Goldsboro prison after 2 test positive for COVID-19”
    • April 1 news story about state’s consideration of early release in News & Observer – “Should NC prisoners be released? The state is now considering options”
    • April 1 news story about first reported COVID-19 cases in NC prisons in the Charlotte Observer – “In NC prisons, five employees and four inmates have now tested positive for COVID-19”
    • March 31 special report by Melissa Boughton in NC Policy Watch – “COVID-19 pandemic poses dire threat to NC prisons and jails”
    • March 22 news story on suspension of prison visitation in The Daily Record – “Prisons tighten security measures in COVID-19 pandemic”
    • March 20 news story on inmates working in plants during pandemic and update about the state’s subsequent suspension of work release in The Charlotte Observer – “Following story about inmates working in plants, NC prisons suspend work release program”
    • March 20 news story on Triangle area jail releases in News & Observer – “Triangle counties releasing non-violent jail inmates at greatest risk for coronavirus”
    • March 20 news story on different counties’ responses to COVID-10 in Richmond County Daily Journal – “Coronavirus raises health, legal concerns for NC jails”
    • March 18 news story on Mecklenburg county jail releases in The Charlotte Observer – “Mecklenburg begins releasing jail inmates to avoid cellblock outbreak of COVID-19”