We believe that in order for Guilford County to flourish, we must have real safety and justice for all of us who call this place home. Guilford County can become a place where we can get our basic and fundamental needs met safely in a legal economy that makes room for everyone. We must end to violence in our communities and have skillful solutions to interrupt harm outside of the police force. We want everyone in the Greensboro and High Point police departments and the Guilford County Sheriff’s offices to treat all of us like human beings, no matter if we’re Black, an immigrant, experiencing homelessness, or trans. We need a court system that proactively works for regular people just trying to survive, not just the wealthy few.
WHAT OUR NEIGHBORS TOLD US
“I say those things because for one, there is a lack of opportunities for these gentlemen, ladies too. Once they feel like they have committed a crime or they become a statistic, they have a criminal history – jobs are not looking for them. Even jobs for felons, it becomes slavery, not just work. Cool, we get a job, but we get whatever we can get. ‘You’re going to do this job, or you’re not going to have a job.’ And that’s not fair. A lot of these guys want to change. A lot of guys want to get into an apartment and have the ability to change their lives, but don’t have the opportunity to start or know what to do. There is not enough direction, and instruction for people who don’t know where to go and find things. If you tell someone to apply online, and do this, that, and the third, some people aren’t going to hire them. We want to guarantee some jobs, we want to know no matter what – this person will have the opportunity to get a job ….Some people say ‘Okay, bet. I did what I did, I paid my time, now let me live. You wanted me to do this amount of time, and it’s hard for me to come back to society to change. Y’all don’t want me to.’”
STOP VIOLENCE AND INTERRUPT HARM
- Our elected leaders should fully resource violence interruption programs like Cure Violence, which employ civilian responders in the neighborhoods they serve, and pay them an adequate wage that accounts for the risk. They should be adequately funded to help people returning from prison access housing, counseling, job training and other needs.
- Our elected leaders should fully resource a Behavioral Health Crisis Mobile Response program that is separate from the police, accessible to anyone experiencing or observing a mental health crisis, is staffed with trained de-escalators, can perform wellness checks without police, and adapts the CAHOOTS model to Guilford County as laid out in the Behavior Health Crisis Mobile Response Team Act.
- Our elected leaders should start and implement a restorative justice program to give people an opportunity to make amends for minor harms or inconveniences to other people, and settle conflicts without giving people criminal records or putting people in jail.
- Our elected leaders should fully resource a County Jail mental health team that is external from the Sheriff’s department and works with inmates diagnosed with severe mental illness, do discharge planning to connect incarcerated people to services, and stabilize those on psychiatric medication.
- Our elected leaders should make sure that there is faster emergency response to Black and working class communities in Guilford County without increasing the police budget, adding more police, or building more police stations.
MAKE IT EASIER TO MAKE A LIVING WITHOUT BREAKING THE LAW
- Our elected officials should resource a summer jobs program so that young people in Guilford County can work, get experience to build their resumes and strengthen their college applications, and divert youth from gangs, with an hourly minimum of $15.
- Our elected leaders should ensure that our cities and county provide fully resourced high-quality recreational programming (free activities, for our young people through funding parks and recreation departments in Guilford County staff can create high-quality recreational programming providing free activities, sports, and hobbies to local youth.
- Our elected leaders should support an Employment Assistance Program so workers in temporary jobs can be connected to full-time, living wage employment. The outreach to the program should target communities that are disproportionately impacted by violence.
- Our elected officials must commit to ensuring equal access to public jobs by offering positions to people with felonies and/or without degrees and high school diplomas.
- Our elected leaders should create a fully resourced expungement program, staffed with attorneys and a community outreach coordinator, so people with records can get free legal assistance with expunging their criminal records.
MAKE THE POLICE TREAT US LIKE HUMAN BEINGS
- Our elected leaders must work to stop law enforcement officers from being violent with us by passing a local law that requires the police department to always maintain a use of force policy that restricts officers from using deadly force unless all reasonable alternatives have been exhausted. Officers should be required to use the minimum amount of force with specific guidelines for the types of force and tools, intervene to stop other officers from using excessive force and report the incident to a supervisor, use de-escalation tactics, and immediately render medical assistance to anyone in custody. The local law should also ban chokeholds, strangleholds, hog-tying, and transporting people face down in a vehicle, the use of force for talking back or as punishment for running away, and the use of sound cannons and chemical agents on people engaging in civil disobedience.
- Our elected leaders must ensure that our city and county require police and sheriff’s departments to get our written consent before they search us without cause. 82% of people who are searched without cause in Greensboro are Black. In Durham, the overall amount of searches Black people experienced dropped dramatically after implementing written consent.
- Our elected leaders must require that our sheriff’s and police departments implement Standard Operating Procedures for officers when interacting with trans and gender non-conforming people that ensures officers treat trans, intersex and gender non-conforming people in a manner appropriate to their identity which may be different from the sex they were assigned at birth or is listed on their government ID, and search people following departmental procedures based on their gender identity. Additionally, they must require officers to go through trainings on those Standard Operating Procedures led by trans and gender non-conforming people.
- Our elected leaders must ensure that law enforcement officers treat people who have lost someone or who are reporting an assault tenderly with a focus on not retraumatizing people, blaming their loved ones for their murders, or blaming survivors for their assaults.
- Our elected leaders must stop asset forfeiture by requiring officers to returning items that have been taken from people, including their money.
- Allow the Police Community Review Board (PCRB) to hold the police accountable.
- Do not threaten members of the PCRB with financial penalties or jail time.
- Do not require complaints to go through Internal Affairs before being reviewed by the PCRB.
- Pass a resolution in support of the State of North Carolina authorizing PCRBs to have subpoena and investigative powers, and to remove barriers to reviewing footage from complaints.
- Once the PCRB gets subpoena and investigative powers, keep the board accessible to people who aren’t associated with law enforcement or are lawyers by providing any necessary training on subpoena power.
- PCRB should be able to recommend that an officer be fired, and escalate that recommendation up to the City Council, not only the City Manager.
WE DON’T NEED TO ARREST PEOPLE FOR EVERYTHING
- Our elected leaders must ensure that our law enforcement departments no longer engage in “Broken Windows Policing,” or profiling/arresting people for small offenses, some of which could be handled through restorative justice and pre-arrest diversion programs, connecting people with resources, or leaving people who aren’t hurting anyone alone.
- Our elected leaders must direct law enforcement to stop using the scent of marijuana as a reason for stops, searches and seizures and comply with the North Carolina state law that legalizes hemp and CBD products, and makes the appearance of their possession an illegitimate cause to search an individual or test a substance.
- Our elected officials should pass a local law requiring the police to not arrest people for begging for money or sleeping in cars. The law should forbid police to deliver “move-on” orders to make law-abiding people move when sleeping in public spaces or begging for money. Homelessness is not a crime.
COURTS THAT WORK FOR THE PEOPLE
- Our elected leaders should fund and implement a pre-arrest diversion program that provides people with the opportunity to do community service and to access wraparound services for mental health and substance use treatment, housing, education, and vocational needs. In Durham, 94% of participants did not have any arrests afterwards.
- Our elected leaders and city workers should erase juvenile convictions through a mass expungement filing for people who are out of prison.
- Our District Attorney should give people their licenses back and get rid of excessive fines and fees for all drivers not endangering others on the road. Allow courts to consider people’s financial situations before imposing a fee, and get rid of excessive court fines and fees. Durham’s District Attorney cleared thousands of people’s debt to make it easier for them to get jobs and live their lives. Guilford County’s DA should do the same.
- Our elected leaders should ensure that our court system treat people the same, even if we’re not rich by:
- Get rid of cash bail, including secured bonds. Instead, people who have been arrested for nonviolent offenses should be able to use sight release to go home.
- Add more funding and positions to the Public Defenders’ Office to make sure people who can’t afford an attorney get better legal representation.
- Resource the courts, district attorneys and magistrates’ offices to track data so that we can have transparency around who is being prosecuted, sentenced, evicted, charged fines and bail to track trends over time.
MORE FAIR PROSECUTION
- Elected leaders like District Attorney’s (DAs) should stop charging people as “Habitual Felons”, which carries more time than the crime they actually committed and is a way to incarcerate people based on their past behavior.
- DAs should stop charging people as felons for committing multiple misdemeanors. Courts can send people to prison with hefty sentences when DAs charge people with multiple misdemeanors with a felony.
- Elected leaders like judges and DA’s should stop requiring domestic violence survivors to testify in person. A written statement, video, or audio testimony should suffice.
- Our elected legislators at the state level should get rid of mandatory minimum sentencing for state charges and end the requirement that convicted persons serve 85% of the time they are sentenced for.
- Our elected legislators should end the death penalty. The death penalty disproportionately kills Black people, and it’s impossible to have this punishment be guaranteed error-free. The state should not be killing people.
- Our elected leaders should create an independent oversight board for prosecutors in order to address disproportionate sentencing, over-sentencing, and coercion.
- Our elected leader should stop financing our court system by charging incarcerated and arrested people and their families thousands of dollars that they cannot pay. End restitution and court fees and charging for services in jail.
SANCTUARY FOR ALL
- Our elected leaders should resist all state and national legislation to force sheriffs to comply with ICE. We need local, state and federal elected officials who are willing to resist legislation that forces our sheriffs, jails and other law enforcement to turn over undocumented people.
- Our elected leaders should ensure that we don’t deport our neighbors as punishment.. The Department of Public Safety should stop turning parolees over to ICE.
- Our elected leaders and government officials should allow undocumented people to get Drivers’ Licenses. Undocumented people should not be prohibited from getting driver’s licenses. The state legislature needs to make it legal for undocumented people to obtain drivers’ licenses.