The N.C. Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice

By Shana Fulton

This blog post summarizes some of the recent activities of the newly formed North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice (“TREC”) chaired by N.C. Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls and N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein. The TREC consists of 24 individuals representing policy makers, civil rights advocates, judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors and law enforcement officers. The full membership can be found at the TREC’s website at

The TREC has had two meetings and one public comment session. The first meeting on July 10, 2020, included an introduction by Gov. Roy Cooper. Justice Earls and Attorney General Stein explained how the TREC would accomplish its work. The members then each shared what they hoped they could contribute to the TREC and what perspective they hoped they could gain from the TREC to share with their organizations and to encourage and enact further meaningful change to the criminal justice system.

During their second meeting on July 24, N.C. Attorney General Stein announced that the TREC will have four working groups: (1) Law Enforcement Management; (2) Policing Policy and Practices; (3) Court-Based Interventions to End Discriminatory Criminalization; and (4) Advancing Racial Equity in Trials and Post-Conviction.

The July 24 meeting also included presentations by Professors Jessica Smith (Director, UNC School of Government’s Criminal Justice Innovation Lab) and Kami Chavis (Director, Wake Forest University School of Law Criminal Justice Program) to aid the TREC members in their policy discussions. Prof. Smith presented information on arrests and court outcomes in North Carolina. Prof. Chavis presented information on racial disparities in policing. The NCCJ also presented on how TREC members can share their perspectives, work together and reach consensus on policy determinations.

The TREC’s final report on its work is due to Gov. Cooper by December 2020. However, the TREC intends to make immediate recommendation proposals before then, including the following three which were made at the July 24 meeting:

  • Requiring law enforcement officers to intervene and report when they see another officer abusing a person in custody or using excessive force;
  • Prohibiting the use of neck holds by law enforcement;
  • Recommending that the state Supreme Court require that judges consider an individual’s ability to pay before a fine or fee is ordered.

The TREC Working Groups will meet during the weeks of August 3 and August 17. The full Task Force is scheduled to meet again on August 28. Another Public Comment Session is scheduled for September 4, 2020. Written comments can be submitted at the TREC’s website at

The TREC presents its meetings live on YouTube at Information about future meeting times and dates and materials related to the TREC’s work is available at