Archives by: Melissa Boughton

Melissa Boughton

About the author

Melissa Boughton worked as the Courts and Law Reporter at NC Policy Watch from 2016 to 2020.

Melissa Boughton's articles and posts

COVID-19 Law and the Courts News Top Story

Monday numbers: Incarceration and COVID-19

Last week, several civil rights organizations and incarcerated people filed a lawsuit seeking emergency help from the North Carolina Supreme Court. Conditions for battling the COVID-19 pandemic in prisons and jails are less than ideal, and they’ve asked justices to consider releasing to release as many incarcerated adults and youths as possible in the face of the rapidly spreading virus. Below are several numbers about incarceration and COVID-19 (numbers are current as of Sunday):

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts Top Story

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

Disease poised to spread like "wildfire" at overcrowded ICE detention facilities At Stewart Detention Center in southwest Georgia, 350 immigrants began starving themselves last week to protest the conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ana María Reichenbach, who used to live in North Carolina but is now in New York, spoke to Policy Watch last week about her friend who is being detained at Stewart, where immigrants picked up in North Carolina, as well as other states, are housed.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts News Top Story

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

The challenge of keeping kids and staff safe in juvenile detention facilities The needs of children in detention centers are almost identical to those of adults in jails and prisons, but their age and development can be an added challenge for officials to consider when responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. “They are uniquely ill-equipped to deal with this type of emotional and psychological strain that this virus is causing,” said Dawn Blagrove, Executive Director of Emancipate NC, formerly the Carolina Justice Policy Center.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts 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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