Image depicts Kerwin Pittman (left), standing behind Governor Roy Cooper as he signs SB 300 into law on September 2, 2021.

On September 2, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 300: Criminal Justice Reform into law, aligning with some of the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice (TREC). Emancipate NC Organizer Kerwin Pittman is the justice-impacted representative on TREC.

Among other measures, it includes:

  • Promotes recruitment of officers with diverse backgrounds and experiences and improves training so that officers are better equipped to be successful
  • Requires early intervention mechanisms to identify and correct officers who use excessive force or other misconduct
  • Furthers independent investigations of police-involved shootings
  • Limits local laws that criminalize poverty
  • Requires a first appearance in court within 72 hours of a person being arrested.”

Kerwin was present for Cooper’s signing and made a statement:

These bills, that are slated to be signed into law — it is not the end all and be all for re-imagining public safety in the State of North Carolina and creating a more equitable system in the State of North Carolina. But most important, these bills speak to what we all know to be the truth, and that is, all lives in the State of North Carolina cannot matter, until we make sure that Black lives in the state of North Carolina and the most marginalized groups in the State of North Carolina lives matter, and these Bills speaks to that. I like to thank Roy Cooper for his leadership, I like to thank all the bi-partisan support and heart that went into these Bills, and I like to thank you for showing up here today.

Watch the video of Kerwin’s statement.

We know this bill makes important strides for first appearances in misdemeanor cases, but do not do everything we need to create equity or advance accountability for law enforcement. The fight continues.