NC Criminal justice changes could mean more prisoner penalties


    RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina lawmakers have given preliminary approval to legislation that would prevent prisoners from using cellphones and make it easier for state crime laboratory workers to testify.

    The state House approved legislation Thursday that makes several changes to criminal justice laws, particularly by raising several penalties.

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    The bill would increase the punishment for smuggling a cellphone to a prisoner and makes it a crime for a prisoner to possess one. Now, prisoners are only subject to administrative penalties.

    The changes are in response to the kidnapping of the father of an assistant Wake County prosecutor. Authorities say the crime was initiated by an imprisoned gang member.

    The measure also allows forensic analysts to testify remotely by video. Supporters say it will give lab workers more time to solve crimes.

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