Ruth Sheehan is right in “Not jailing people who don’t need it saves money” (Apr. 11). North Carolina’s unjust cash bail system wastes taxpayer dollars by locking people up not because they are a threat to public safety or have been found guilty of a crime, but simply because they cannot afford to pay for their freedom before trial.
This practice has created a two-tiered justice system in which those who can afford bail can go home, while those who can’t stay in jail. Risk assessment tools, such as the one in Mecklenburg County, can be a step toward a better system that actually assesses public safety and flight risks in deciding whether to detain someone before their trial. But such programs remain vulnerable to racial bias and can perpetuate racial disparities in the justice system by disproportionately subjecting people of color to court monitoring and other penalties.
Risk assessment data should be publicly available and reviewed regularly in order to assess its effectiveness and possible racial bias. Officials should take urgent action toward these and other reforms – such as making it easier for people to show up to court – with the goal of ending cash bail entirely.
Senior Policy Counsel
ACLU of North Carolina
Take statues down
Regarding “Confederate statue billboard on I-40 features Silent Sam” (Apr. 7): I’m a Southerner, a veteran and a Raleigh resident, and I do not support the Confederate statues on our public grounds.
As a Southerner, I do not support the Confederate statues because they are a constant reminder our shameful past. In light of our growth, honoring such figures on our public grounds is a disservice not only to the descendants of the African-Americans they fought to keep enslaved, but also to the thousands of other accomplished North Carolinians more deserving of such space.
As a veteran, I do not support the Confederate statues because they’re an affront to the values that make our country great. Had our Confederate ancestors won, they would have dismantled our Constitution, emboldened racist institutions and changed the course of our history for the worse.
Lastly, as a Raleigh citizen, I do not support the message our Confederate statues send to businesses and residents outside of our city. By memorializing divisive figures on our capital grounds, we are implicitly embracing the ideas they stood for.
It’s only a matter of time before we become the next Charlottesville or Stone Mountain; picturesque landscapes marred by controversial memorials, civil unrest and extremism.
NCPIRG at UNC-Chapel Hill reached a huge milestone for college affordability last week by acquiring the 200th professor’s signature on their textbook affordability pledge. By signing and abiding by this pledge, professors promise to make efforts to research and consider more affordable options for course materials, such as open educational resources (OERs).
OERs are faculty-written materials published under an open copyright license which are proven to be as effective, if not more effective, than traditionally-published textbooks. Best of all, they are 100 percent free. According to the UNC office of Scholarships and Aid and the College Board, UNC students pay an average of $1,604 a year on books and supplies, which is well above the College Board National average of $1,250.
These high textbook prices are hurting students’ wallets and GPAs. Sixty five percent of students reported they have skipped buying or renting an assigned textbook due to cost. Ninety four percent of them realized this would impact their grade.
Access codes are the predominant cause of the increases in textbook prices. The access code is supplanting the place of a traditional textbook. While being framed as a newer and cheaper solution, the codes continue to cost students exorbitant amounts. Course access codes lock up all supporting educational material for a course behind a paywall. After being informed of the exacerbating effects of access codes, faculty members are much more inclined to assign OERs or other very low cost courseware.