New laws to better track purchases of meth ingredients and help ex-offenders avoid repeating their crimes will make North Carolina safer, Attorney General Roy Cooper said.
House Bill 12 and House Bill 641 were both signed into law Friday, June 24, by Governor Bev Perdue.
Fighting methamphetamine labs
Under House Bill 12, North Carolina retailers will participate in an electronic tracking system to log all purchases of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient needed to make meth. The system, called the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), will let the retailer know if the buyer has already reached the limit for pseudoephedrine purchases under the law and the store will stop the sale.
“Being able to block illegal purchases of the key meth ingredient is a significant step in our battle against this highly addictive drug,” Cooper said. “This new tool will help us zero in on criminals who make meth so we can rid our communities of dangerous drug labs.”
The tracking system will allow State Bureau of Investigation agents and other officers to identify buys made to supply meth labs. Once the law takes effect on January 1, 2012, the SBI will get weekly updates as well as real-time access to track pseudoephedrine purchases. Tracking purchases will be especially helpful in cutting down on criminals who travel from store to store and even across state lines to stockpile meth ingredients.
Helping ex-convicts stay out of trouble
After offenders have served their time and returned to society, it can be difficult for them to find work that will help them stay out of trouble. Under House Bill 641, certain ex-offenders could petition the court for a Certificate of Restoration of Rights, easing some of the barriers that can keep them from getting a job.
“Stopping repeat offenders makes all of us safer, and helping ex-convicts become productive citizens is one of the best ways to stop them from returning to a life of crime,” Cooper said.
The certificate can help people get the occupational licenses necessary for certain kinds of jobs and can also serve as proof of their determination not to return to a life of crime. To be eligible for the court-issued certificate, ex-offenders cannot have been convicted of higher than a Class G felony, must have completed their sentence, and must be gainfully employed, in school, or seeking work, among other conditions.
The bill was recommended by the Street- Safe task force, a group co-chaired by Cooper that examined ways to reduce the number of ex-offenders who commit crimes after their release from prison.