Florida conservatives organize to end the death penalty

Though the death penalty was long embraced by both major political parties, that has changed in recent years, with the national Democratic Party last year adopting a platformcalling for its abolition. As a result, the administration of capital punishment has become strongly associated with Republicans over the last decade — especially in the GOP-dominated South.

Since 2007, Southern Republican governors have been responsible for carrying out 70 percent of all U.S. executions. Meanwhile, high-profile death penalty cases have focused attention on GOP-led states in the region, such as the recent controversy over Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s decision to execute eight men in 11 days before the state’s lethal injection drugs expired, with four of those ultimately carried out…

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Facing South

New criminal justice data initiative improves transparency at local level

In Collier County, Florida, from 2009 to 2013, 6.4 percent of people charged with misdemeanors faced resisting arrest as their only charge — almost double the rate for the rest of the state.

In Mitchell County, North Carolina, less than one-half of 1 percent of felony cases were resolved in trial over the same period, with only two out of 531 defendants deciding not to take a plea deal. The statewide rate is 1.9 percent, the lowest among the six states with available data…

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Facing South

DATAVIZ: Sanctuary city bans in the South

As debate around immigration and “sanctuary cities” has flared, Southern states have led the country in enacting policies that ban such local efforts to limit involvement with federal immigration enforcement.

Proponents of sanctuary cities argue that local law enforcement agencies are better able to build trust with communities and promote public safety when their officers are not seen as immigration agents. Opponents of local sanctuaries, whose cause has been taken up by President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have sought to crack down on sanctuary cities and force localities to get embroiled in federal immigration enforcement.

[Story by Allie Yee, Map by Jordan Wilkie]

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Facing South

Texas’ draconian ‘sanctuary city’ ban draws protests, lawsuits

Hundreds of immigrant rights advocates from around the country converged on the Texas Capitol on Memorial Day to protest the state’s new anti-sanctuary law, Senate Bill 4. Protestors lined the galleries on the legislature’s final day and chanted, “Hey ho, hey ho, SB4 has got to go,” disrupting the proceedings until they were removed by state troopers.

The bill, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on May 7, is the crest of a wave of state laws spreading throughout the South that prohibit local governments from passing so-called “sanctuary policies” — local ordinances that limit police cooperation with federal immigration enforcement…

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Facing South

A new chief in town

Durham Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis said that building a better relationship with the community is at the root of public safety.

“Community raised me,” she said. “We all search for family somewhere. If they don’t have it at home, young people may look for it on the streets.”

After taking the oath in June, Davis became the Durham Police Department’s first African-American and female police chief…

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The Durham VOICE