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Rep. Vernetta Alston and famiy - Black and white photo
Vernetta Alston with client who was exonerated and released from Death Row while she worked for the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission.

Foto: Jenny Warburg


Vernetta spent the next several years of her practice working at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation. There she represented death row inmates in a variety of appellate court cases and educated North Carolinians across the state about flaws in our criminal justice system. In 2014, through the work of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, one of Vernetta’s clients was exonerated and released from Death Row

In 2017, Vernetta continued her public service on the Durham City Council, where she served for two years. In 2020, Governor Roy Cooper appointed Vernetta to the North Carolina House of Representatives. She was elected to her first full term in the same year.


Vernetta (she/her) was born in Durham, NC and has spent her entire life in the Triangle. She and her wife, Courtney, are raising their children, Reese and Davis, in southwest Durham. When she is not chasing small kids around, Vernetta enjoys running, watching sports, and traveling.

Legal Career and Public Service

In 2004, Vernetta received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from North Carolina State University. Five years later, she completed her law degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Vernetta’s first job out of law school was as a staff attorney for the Racial Justice Act Study following the passage of the Racial Justice Act in the fall of 2009.  The RJA gave death row inmates a chance to have their sentences reduced based on statistical evidence of racial bias in the death penalty.

Vernetta Alston smiling at an event

As a member of the North Carolina House, Vernetta has been fighting for workers, renters, and small businesses hit hardest by the pandemic. She has built bipartisan support for statewide affordable housing research, transportation planning, gun violence intervention, and for the those who are incarcerated.  She continues to work toward long-term policy changes that will support our local governments, provide greater health care access, ensure housing stability in urban and rural communities, and create a justice system that reflects our values.

Vernetta will continue to work everyday for the people of Durham County and everyone in North Carolina.

Legislative Accomplishments

  • House Freshman Caucus Co-Chair;

  • Member of the Bipartisan North Carolina Legislative Working Group on Criminal Law Recodification;

  • House passage of HB 387, Flexibility in Filing Vacancies in Durham;

  • House passage of HB 378, Reduce Speed Limits in Durham;

  • House passage of HB 232, Legislative Research Commission Affordable Housing Study;

  • Worked with Governor Roy Cooper to recognize Gender Expansive Parents’ Day;

  • Secured funds for local hospital-based violence intervention program; and

  • Secured funds to install air conditioning in all North Carolina prison housing units.

Bill Highlights**

  • (note: this is not a comprehensive list of introduced legislation)

  • Important items included in the 2021-2023 State Budget:

  • overdue funding for North Carolina Historically Black Colleges and Universities;

  • raises for teachers;

  • $15 an hour minimum wage for non-certified state employees;

  • income tax exemption for veteran pensions;

  • secondary insurance funding for firefighters battling cancer;

  • broadband expansion;

  • expanded child care deduction; and

  • separation of juvenile justice and adult correction divisions.

  • HB331, Unemployment Insurance Reform**

  • HB705, $15 Minimum Wage for First Responders

  • HB772, Long Term Care for NC Veterans

  • HB964, Funds for NCCU Programs**

  • HB966, HBCU/HMSI Funds

  • HB968, DRIVE Recommendations/Teacher Diversity

  • HB670, Criminal Justice Debt Reform**

  • HB723, Reenact and Revise Racial Justice Act**

  • HB724, Repeal the Death Penalty**

  • HB343, Statewide Commuter Rail Study**

  • HB618, Pandemic Eviction Protection**

  • HB470, Medicaid Expansion

  • HB170, NC Crown Act**

  • HB450, Equality for All**

  • HB873, Repeal 2015 Law Relating to Monuments

  • HB452, Mental Health Protection Act

  • HB419, Disposition of Unclaimed or Seized Firearms

  • HB427, Firearm Safe Storage Awareness

  • HB370, No Veteran Left Behind Act

  • HB535, Firefighters Fighting Cancer Act

  • HB437, Fair Maps Act

**Primary Sponsor

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