North Carolina brings to mind rolling green hills, Deep South, Nascar,
tobacco production, Richard Petty, and famous barbeque. This
Southeastern state also has a history that includes the first flight of
the Wright Brothers from Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk. North
Carolina is made up of 100 counties, with Mecklenberg as the most
populous, claiming nearly one million residents. Wake County comes in
at a close second.
Romantic songs have been penned about North Carolina, including James
Taylor's "Carolina on My Mind." As beautiful as the state is, its
residents have troubles just like everyone else. Crime is a problem,
and is often dealt with through the punishment of imprisonment. North
Carolina has an incarceration rate of 369 people per 100,000 residents,
which is below the national rate of 502.
North Carolina has current concerns regarding overcrowding of their
jails and prisons. Recent laws require county jails to house inmates
who previously would have gone to prison on certain offenses. Jails are
worried about the space issues this will cause for them, but the
program is voluntary on a jail by jail basis, and will allow jails to
shift prisoners from one jail that is crowded to another that has space.
In July 2010, Gaston County teenager Laura Fortenbury was hit and
killed by drunk driver Howard Pasour. Pasour had three prior DWI
convictions. Shortly after burying her daughter, Laura's mother
appeared on a live radio show and began actively pursuing harsher DUI
laws in the state of North Carolina. House Bill 49, better known as
"Laura's Law" was signed by Governor Beverly Purdue, and will go into
effect December 2011.
Laura's Law adds a new level of punishment called Aggravated Level One.
Those who are caught drunk driving with three aggravating factors are
sentenced as an Aggravated Level One and receive up to three years in
prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Additional punishments include
post-release supervision, which requires complete abstinence from
Level One sentencing will be required for anyone driving under the
influence with someone younger than 18 years old in their vehicle.
Aggravated Level One offenses will also require a minimum of 30 days in
Many states have some crazy laws on their books, and North Carolina is
no exception. Although the state has a lottery that has been run by the
government since 2009, one law continues to say that the mere
possession of a lottery ticket can result in a fine of up to $2000. It
is also against the law to sing off key in North Carolina, so you might
want to be careful about who hears you belt it out in the shower.
Elephants are not allowed to plow the fields (did you hear that
Dumbo?). Individuals in possession of illegal substances must pay taxes
on them! And last, but not least, all couples staying overnight in a
hotel must have a room with double beds that are at least 2 feet apart.