NC JUSTICE NEWS, May 19: Second Chances, Health Care, Education, Lobbying Training, HOPE Coalition

May 19, 2009

SECOND CHANCES: To promote public safety and reduce prison costs, we must address barriers facing ex-offenders
Gov. Beverly Perdue is to be applauded for her creation of a task force to examine barriers facing ex-offenders upon their return to society, writes Louisa B. Warren in this week's Legislative Bulletin. Further, experience in other states can offer a roadmap to second chances and safer communities.
The issue of ex-offender re-entry has become a bipartisan cause across the nation. Lawmakers are recognizing that helping former offenders transition successfully back into society reduces crime and saves money by reducing recidivism and prison costs.
"Now is an opportunity for us to think carefully about how to move forward. Experiences from other states offer a valuable roadmap," writes Warren. "Addressing barriers to re-entry is a bipartisan issue that can make communities safer, cut costs and offer those who have paid their debts to society a second chance. "
Among the policy options North Carolina should consider:
  • Ensure that criminal record databases are kept up to date and accurate. Expunging a criminal record does not always mean a clean start, since criminal records databases are kept by a variety of different government bodies and also by private companies. SB 262, introduced by Sen. Doug Berger, passed the Senate recently and is a good first step forward for addressing criminal record databases. This important reform now needs action in the House.
  • Provide vocational training and educational opportunities within prison and upon release to equip ex-offenders with job-training. In Texas, their study commission – led by Republicans – found that expanding capacity of treatment and diversion programs would lead to $451 million in projected savings over the next two years alone.
TOGETHER NC: Town Hall discussion in Elizabeth City this Friday follows Fayetteville, Asheville meetings on Monday
North Carolina's state government faces a large budget shortfall. It is critical that elected officials hear from folks in their communities about the importance of public programs and services so they can make budget decisions that support communities and families and do not undermine the state's economic recovery.
The institutions North Carolina families rely on -- education, health care, unemployment insurance, housing assistance, child care, just to name a few -- are in jeopardy this year. That's why Together NC, a collection of more than 60 non-profit organizations, service providers, and professional associations who have come together to promote wise choices that will build shared prosperity for all, are conducting a series of Town Hall meeting across the state about the importance of public investments.
The next meeting is Friday, May 22 in Elizabeth City.
WHEN/WHERE: Friday, May 22
9 a.m.-11 a.m.
Pasquotank County 4-H Extension Office
1209 Mcpherson St
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Local Sponsor: United Way
Other upcoming meetings will take place in Charlotte, Durham and Pittsboro. To attend, RSVP to
HEALTH CARE: Families USA report shows that even the insured face unacceptable expenses
A study by the consumer health care advocacy group Families USA shows that health care costs are out of control. Even for the insured, the report says, health care expenses take too much of a bite out of the family budget.
As the Asheville Citizen-Times reported: "In North Carolina, 2,343,000 people younger than age 65 are in families that will spend more than 10 percent of their pretax family income on health care in 2009, and 81.9 percent of those North Carolina families have insurance. Plus, 748,000 North Carolina families will spend more than 25 percent of their pretax income on health care this year."
HOPE COALITION: Hear Our Public Employees coalition hosts lobby day Tuesday, April 26
A coalition of North Carolina citizens and organizations calling for public employees' right to collective bargaining will hold a lobby day on May 26 at the state legislature. The Hear Our Public Employees (HOPE) coalition will converge on the NC General Assembly at 16 W. Jones St. from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
After a training and orientation at 9 a.m., the group will rally in Bicentennial Plaza, across Jones St. from the legislative building from 10-10:30 a.m. The day will alsoinclude a mock funeral that buries one of the last legal vestiges of the Jim Crow period. Rev. William Barber will give the eulogy that will highlight the other vestiges that have been done away with.
LOBBYIST TRAINING: Justice Center, Alliance for Justice sponsor training for nonprofit lobbyists
The NC Justice Center and the Alliance for Justice announce a one-day training for nonprofit managers, staff and volunteers. The Alliance's staff of attorney-trainers will present "Worry-Free Advocacy: Understanding the Rules of Nonprofit Advocacy and Election-Related Activity." The one-day training will cover such questions as: 
► What is the definition of lobbying and how is it different from advocacy?
► How much can our 501(c)(3) lobby?
► What are the disclosure and registration requirements for lobbying in N.C.?
► During an Election Year, can we produce a voter’s guide on our issues or invite candidates to speak at our events?
June 12, 2009
8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
North Carolina Justice Center
224 S. Dawson St
Raleigh, NC 27601
EDUCATION: Author of book about Raleigh schools to speak
Gerald Grant, author of a compelling study of urban social policy that focuses on Raleigh schools, will read and answer questions at an event this week.
"Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There Are No Bad Schools in Raleigh" combines field research and historical narrative, comparing schools in Syracuse (NY) and Raleigh.
May 21, 2009 7:30 p.m.
Location: Quail Ridge Books & Music
3522 Wade Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27607
Research & Publications: