Revisiting Eve's Law: Suggestions for Improving the North Carolina Anti-Gang Statute

Beverly Petersen Jennison, The Catholic Univerity of America, Columbus School of Law


When state social policies and social realities conflict, state legislatures need to focus upon the problem to try to fix it. Gang activity in a community is such a problem. Since 1998, the Governor's Crime Commission in North Carolina has studied the problem of gang proliferation and gang violence within the state. The state legislature did not act. Then, in the spring of 2008, Eve Carson, the president of the student body at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was brutally murdered. Calls were issued from the bench urging state legislators to act on the gang issue. The state legislature finally passed anti-gang legislation in the summer of 2008.

This Article focuses on the anti-gang statute enacted by the North Carolina legislature that summer in the wake of the Eve Carson murder. After briefly reviewing the legal status of the two individuals arrested for the Carson murder, and the current anti-gang efforts in North Carolina, the Article interposes the circumstances of the Carson murder with the provisions of the statute to predict whether or not the statute would have been effective in that particular situation if previously enacted. The Article suggests that the North Carolina Street Gang Prevention Act would not have been an effective deterrent or effective from a punitive standpoint after the fact in that particular case. As a result of that conclusion, the Article looks to statutory enactments in other jurisdictions to provide some suggestions for improving the current anti-gang legislation, concluding that the North Carolina law needs additional revision in order to be an effective piece of legislation.