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How the justice system hurts, and helps, the homeless people in our community

In the past year or so in New Hanover County, we’ve seen public officials pushing back on the homeless population, even as it grows because of our housing crisis. As homeless individuals are pushed into the margins of the community, and into the woods, the justice system continues to interact with the unhoused.

On this week's episode, we’ll dig deep into the many ways the police, courts, and judges interact with the unhoused, in ways that help, and in ways that harm. It’s an exploration of the criminalization of homelessness, and the compassionate court systems that may offer a helping hand, and not just shackles.

Thank you our guests, Judge J.H. Corpening, Judge James Faison, Judge Lindsey McKee, Sergeant Ron Evans, Social Worker Katelyn Mattox, Court Supervisor Denise Smith, and Sam Bakto from the Urban Institute. Thank you, also, to the numerous other sources who spoke with WHQR for this report, including many other staff members and attendees of empowerment and drug court, Public Defender Katie Corpening, Liz Carbone from the Cape Fear Housing Coalition, and many, many sources in homeless outreach.

Related reporting:

Further Reading:

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.