Archives by: Melissa Boughton

Melissa Boughton

About the author

Melissa Boughton, Courts and Law Reporter, joined N.C. Policy Watch in September 2016. She covers local, state and federal courts and writes about key decisions that impact the lives of North Carolinians. Before joining the project, Melissa worked the crime and courts beats at The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.; The Winchester Star in Winchester, Va.; and The Kerrville Daily Times in Kerrville, TX. While reporting in Charleston, she covered the Emanuel church shootings and the police killing of Walter Scott. She was part of the team that was named a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in breaking news reporting for coverage of Scott’s death.

melissa@ncpolicywatch.com
919-861-1454

Melissa Boughton's articles and posts

Top Story

PW special report, Part Two: COVID-19 pandemic poses dire threat to NC prisons and jails

Advocates, family members plead with Gov. Cooper to to take action "before it's too late" About seven years ago, a Buncombe County man stole a piece of metal from a dumpster and then sold it at a scrap yard. He needed money, because as a chronic substance user he had relapsed after his wife miscarried their child.  The man was charged with larceny and selling property under false pretenses, but because he had previous drug charges — set aside when he graduated a court-ordered substance use program — prosecutors resurrected those charges as part of his sentencing.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts Top Story

PW special report: COVID-19 pandemic poses dire threat to NC prisons and jails

Criminal justice advocates and family members of incarcerated individuals have been warning state and county officials for weeks about the potential for COVID-19 to ravage the populations of jails, prisons and other detention facilities. Their pleas, however, have mostly been ignored.  Citing the public health and safety of North Carolinians, Gov. Roy Cooper has closed schools, expanded unemployment benefits and ordered residents to stay at home. His administration, though, has been silent on issues facing some of the most vulnerable individuals in the state: incarcerated people and detention facility staff. 

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts News Top Story

Health pandemic leads to numerous reports of price gouging across NC

Just three days after Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Joannie Valencia paid $42.90 for two bottles of 70% isopropyl alcohol at a mom and pop pharmacy in Charlotte. She was in a panic; she had kids at home and had driven all over the city looking for any kind of disinfectants to keep her family safe, but her search had been futile. She knew the price was high, but she paid it. When in stock, the same 32-ounce bottles of rubbing alcohol cost $1.99 a piece at Target and $2.39 at CVS.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts Top Story

Special PW update: North Carolina sheriffs are continuing to carry out evictions during pandemic

Should North Carolina sheriffs be evicting people during the COVID-19 pandemic and thereby place the public health at further risk? That's a question that's front and center in the state public policy debate this weekend. Advocates say that people evicted from their homes could end up on the street, doubling or tripling up in crowded homes with family or friends or congregating with crowds at homeless shelters. It doesn’t bode well, they point out, for the larger social distancing directive and other recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect the public from the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts Top Story

Left behind: Immigrant communities try to navigate COVID-19 with language barriers, lack of resources

On the day Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it would limit enforcement action amid COVID-19 concerns, agents threatened to break a man’s truck window in a Cary parking lot to take him into custody. Mariano Rosario-Rios and his daughter locked themselves in their truck Wednesday morning and called Siembra NC’s 24-hour ICE detention hotline for help while agents surrounded them and ordered they get out of the truck. They were in a shopping center parking lot.

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COVID-19 News Top Story

Special update: The latest on COVID-19 in North Carolina

State leaders provide updates, announce a series of actions to address rapidly evolving health crisis Gov. Roy Cooper warned North Carolinians that COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, is going to get worse here before it gets better. “We need to do everything that we can to work to prevent the spread of the virus and also to mitigate,” he told the Governor’s Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force this morning. “We know that lives are at stake. We also know that all of our lives will change in some way over the next few weeks and months.

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News Top Story

Governor, bracing for long-term coronavirus impact, declares state of emergency for NC

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency today as health officials continue to prepare for the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. There have already been seven people in the Triangle who have tested positive for the virus, which appears to be highly contagious. They are all doing well and have been in isolation, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which is continuing to work on finding and notifying their close contacts.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

N.C. immigrants, allies vow to resist ramped-up ICE enforcement actions

North Carolina immigrants and their allies are making it plain they will not go softly into President Donald Trump’s dark night when it comes to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tactics that they say have sown fear in their communities and separated children from their parents. Since January, ICE has increased its presence to target immigrants in 12 counties across the state of North Carolina: Alamance, Chatham, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Randolph, Rockingham, Surry and, as of last week, Durham.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Greensboro event fuels movement to reform criminal justice fines and fees

Not everyone in North Carolina understands the implications of court fines and fees and how expenses from minor traffic violations and criminal charges can cause a person’s life to spiral out of control. The North Carolina Fines and Fees Coalition and the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program kicked off a campaign last week at Bennett College in Greensboro to change how people think about the burden court debt can pose, particularly to people who are poor.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

PW profile: Deputy Juvenile Justice Secretary draws from painful personal past to help kids in the system succeed

When Billy Lassiter was 12 years old, he sat in the front row of one of his seventh grade classes surrounded by about 30 students who had their sights set on picking apart their substitute teacher’s strange dialect.

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