Raleigh, N.C. – The North Carolina House of Representatives approved more criminal justice reform on Wednesday. The North Carolina First Step Act encourages rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders by providing courts discretion in sentencing instead of imposing ‘mandatory minimums.’
The legislation is similar to landmark criminal justice reform of the same name signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2018.
In accordance with structured sentencing, mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking in North Carolina currently range from 25 months for a Class H felony to 225 months for a Class C felony.
House Bill 511: North Carolina First Step Act allows a judge to deviate from those minimums for a conviction of trafficking or conspiracy to commit trafficking if the court enters certain findings on the record.
Representative Holly Grange (R-New Hanover), the primary sponsor of H.B. 511, released the following statement:
“We urge the Governor to follow President Trump’s lead and sign the First Step Act to help judges rehabilitate nonviolent offenders based on the specific circumstances in each case instead of mandatory minimums sentences for everyone.”
State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said the First Step Act represents more landmark criminal justice reform approved by the North Carolina General Assembly in recent sessions:
“While strengthening victims’ rights in our state constitution, this General Assembly has raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction, offered many nonviolent offenders a second chance on their criminal records, and now has taken this step to let judges do their jobs, by reforming many mandatory minimum sentences,” Speaker Moore said.
“We are working together for a justice system that serves all North Carolinians by prioritizing public safety as well as rehabilitation.”