AN ACT TO INCREASE JUDICIAL DISCRETION IN SENTENCING FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING OFFENSES.
Senate committee substitute to the 1st edition deletes the content of the previous edition and replaces it with the following.
Refers to amendments as "The North Carolina First Step Act." Amends GS 90-95(h), concerning drug trafficking, by adding new subdivision (5a) authorizing a judge to reduce fines, impose a sentence lower than the applicable minimum prison term provided by statute, or to suspend a sentence altogether upon finding and stating (1) substantial and compelling reasons for doing so, (2) imposition of the applicable minimum term would (a) result in substantial injustice to the defendant and (b) is not necessary for the protection of the public. Excludes from consideration persons determined by the judge to be an organizer or supervisor in a continuing criminal enterprise. Amends GS 90-95(h)(5) to add reference to new subdivision (5a) and makes one change to add a gender-neutral term.
Amends GS 90-95 to add new subsection (j) requiring the Administrative Office of the Courts to publish annually online a report of the number of sentences modified under GS 90-95(h)(5a) for the prior calendar year, beginning on December 1, 2020.
Allows a person serving an active sentence imposed for a violation of GS 90-95(h) or conspiracy to commit a violation under GS 90-95(i) committed before the act's effective date to file a motion for appropriate relief for a modification of the person's sentence. Directs persons currently serving an active sentence solely for a violation of GS 90-95(h) or (i) for drug trafficking or conspiracy to commit drug trafficking may seek a modification of their sentence by filing a motion for appropriate relief (MAR) within 36 months of the act's effective date. Requires courts to direct the state to respond within 60 days of the date of filing and to hold any necessary hearings within 180 days.
The above provisions are effective December 1, 2019.
Requires the Department of Information Technology (Department), Government Data Analytic Center, and the Administrative Office of the Courts to conduct a statewide study to identify the criminal justice data elements currently collected and maintained by jail, courts, and prisons in order to (1) identify gaps in data and accessibility of data for research purposes and for use by judicial officials and other stakeholders and (2) identify solutions for improving availability and accessibility of data to inform public policy through an integrated tool or other system. Allows the Department to seek input from specified entities and stakeholders. Sets out seven issues that must be examined in the study, including (1) the data elements currently being collected by each local and regional detention facility with regard to each individual admitted to jail and each facility's operation and the current system for collecting, recording, maintaining, and searching these data elements; (2) the data elements needed for policymakers to understand the criminal justice system, including the demographics, reasons for involvement, and outcomes for individuals involved in the system at the county and statewide levels; and (3) a review of best practices of other states that collect local-level criminal justice data and integrate them with data from the court system and other state systems. Requires a report to the specified NCGA committees by March 15, 2020.
Makes conforming changes to the act's titles.
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