Senate Bill 747 is an omnibus election bill which seeks to disenfranchise the voters of North Carolina by making it more difficult to vote and have your vote counted. We signed on to a letter with 26 other organizations requesting Governor Cooper veto Senate Bill 747.
The NC Second Chance Alliance is a statewide alliance of people with criminal records, their family members, service providers, congregations, community leaders, and concerned citizens that have come together to address the causes of criminal records and the barriers they create to successful reentry. Forward Justice is a founding member of the Second Chance Alliance because we believe that it takes bold, collective action to create change.
We are back and ready to organize for the 2023 statewide lobby and advocacy day.
Through our work with the Alliance, we have advocated for legislation like the ‘Second Chance Act’ (NC Senate bill 562) that expands eligibility for expungement and access to expungement through automation practices, thereby removing barriers to reentry.
During the 2021 Virtual Day of Advocacy, we enjoyed music and performances from those directly impacted by the criminal legal system, heard from activists and community members from across the state about the work being done for reentry and demands we’re making of elected officials, discussed a policy agenda that centers the needs of people directly impacted by the criminal legal system, and shared stories about our experiences in our voices.
In 2022, FJAN and movement partners continued to “Expand the We” in “We in the People” by educating, agitating, and organizing low-propensity voters, particularly people with criminal records and their families, to participate in upcoming District Attorney and Sheriffs elections in targeted jurisdictions across the state. Building on our foundational work in 2018, Forward Justice, Durham For All, and Spirithouse spearheaded the c(3) and c(4) tables that resulted in the historic first-time election of Satana Deberry.
Since her election, Deberry has proven to be the most progressive prosecutor in the state. She has the largest number of post-conviction, emergency release motions related to the COVID pandemic and the largest amount of DA-initiated debt relief for people with outstanding fees and fines. Additionally, Durham has seen a reduction in the conviction-based prison population from the year Deberry took office in 2018 (954), 2019 (880), to 2021 (698).
In North Carolina, both the District Attorney and Sheriff are elected public officials who wield considerable power in the prosecution of all criminal matters. FJAN and our movement partners know the importance of these local elections towards fulfilling our long-term goals of organizing what FJAN Board Member Norris Henderson refers to as the “Sleeping Giant”, low propensity directly impacted voters committed to ending mass incarceration.
We implemented this strategy by engaging in voter education through report cards, mobilization, and issue-based advocacy in the District Attorney elections in Wake, Mecklenburg, Forsyth, and Durham counties.
We know that to hold and sustain what is possible in the state, we are already preparing for the needs of 2024. We know we will have to use every tool in our toolbox to advocate and organize a statewide political agenda that has the power to represent every North Carolinaian.