First Step Act: NC Lawmakers Pass Sentencing Reform Bill, Heads to Governor Cooper for Signature

RALEIGH – There is quite obviously a lot of attention being paid to the issue of policing and minority communities of late. Far from abolishing the police, as some locales have incredibly pursued, state lawmakers in North Carolina have approached the issue from a far more sensible and bipartisan angle in passing a sentencing reform bill.

House Bill 511, or the North Carolina First Step Act, gives judges more discretion in sentencing for drug trafficking offenses. Now, ‘drug traffickers’ may sound serious, but these are hardly Pablo Escobars we’re talking about here.

These mostly Joe Blows found guilty of the possession of drugs over a specific, arbitrarily determined amount, not Tony Montana. The legislation would allow a judge to consider many factors in adjusting the sentence to better reflect the actual circumstance of these victimless crimes. And they must be victimless.

There were no votes against this bill in the legislature, which is saying something in this era.

Criminal justice reform has actually been a bipartisan issue among honest brokers for quite some time. Particularly when it comes to the violations of drug laws, minimum sentence requirements and three-strike conventions result in a sentencing and recidivism paradigm that becomes self-perpetuating. It’s been a target of a coalition of groups that straddle diverging party lines, and it actually speaks to some of the root causes of perceived systemic racism being charged by the radical Left today.

The dirty little secret is that such “systems” are not racist in that the State can and does screw over anyone, regardless of skin color, with these laws. That doesn’t mean a bad system doesn’t weigh more on impoverished groups than others, of course; a reality we all observe everyday. The reasons why cannot be ascribed to those posited by Left’s popular, demonizing narrative, but to it’s actual welfare state agenda that incentivizes retained poverty and permanent dependency.

2020, in many ways, is a status check of Johnson’s Great Society. It’s not great; is it?

When it comes to common sense reforms that speak to real issues of criminal justice, though, this act is a good First Step for state lawmakers.

Now do civil asset forfeiture, and no-knock warrants next?

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