A settlement has been reached in NC NAACP v. Cooper. This is in regards to the lawsuit challenging the conditions of confinement in North Carolina’s state prisons amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This settlement will result in the early release of at least 3,500 people in state custody. This set release will make it among the largest prison releases in the country achieved.
On June 16, 2020, the trial court ordered the state to examine population reduction measures and push safer testing and transfer practices. The 3,500 early releases required under the settlement would be in addition to the 16% reduction already achieved since the lawsuit was filed almost than a year ago. The current population of 28,659 is the lowest state prison population level since the enactment of Structured Sentencing in October 1994.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the state has 180 days to release 3,500 people currently in its custody. This will begin once the trial court grants a request to stay the case during that period. The parties jointly filed the stay request earlier today.