For the past three years, Emancipate NC has partnered with the Vera Institute of Justice, the NAACP of Wilson County, and CAPE, to transform Wilson County by reducing jail populations. Our lens is child welfare, and the way in which pretrial detention of a parent impacts children in the home, interrupting home placements, school placements, and food stability, and imposing great trauma on families.

We work with stakeholders throughout Wilson County, including the public schools, law enforcement, social services, legal aid, court system actors, and activists. Since 2019, our partnership has educated thousands of people on topics including, trauma, restorative justice, abolition, racial bias, alternatives to incarceration, diversion, peer support, and reentry challenges. 

Last week, our partners at Vera visited Wilson. At the meeting, law enforcement partners shared that they robustly invoke their authority to cite, rather than arrest, for misdemeanors, when there is no public safety risk. They also use their authority to use ankle monitors for child support violations, rather than jail. 

When we began this project, the Wilson County jail was near capacity – 305 beds – and today, the population hovers from 140 – 160.