Local News

Durham gives first-time offenders second chance

Posted October 23, 2013

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— A recent drug sting in Durham put nearly two dozen suspected drug dealers behind bars, but as police were rounding up criminals, they gave seven an alternative to jail.

Durham police say 28 people were caught selling drugs during an operation where officers made undercover buys, but Assistant Police Chief Jon Peter said investigators researched the backgrounds of each and found seven had no previous criminal history.

"We felt they deserved a second chance," Peter said. "They don't go to jail, they don't have a felony arrest and they are provided some resources."

Gudrun Parmer, director of the Criminal Justice Resource Center, which offers job, education and drug assistance, said two of the seven have already met with him.

When plausible, giving people an alternative to jail is a great strategy, Parmer said.

"When someone has a criminal record, it can be very detrimental to their chances of being employed, finding housing and even going to school," she said.

Durham Police Department generic Clean records for year puts drug suspects in clear

If the seven avoid any other drug-related or violent offenses for a year, their record will remain clean, and they'll spend no time behind bars. If any are arrested on another felony or serious misdemeanor charge in the next year, the charges from the drug operation will be activated.

At $98 a day to house each inmate in the Durham County jail, Peter said it's worth the effort to keep them out.

"If they're not a violent felon, it's worth giving them a chance," he said. "If they are a violent felon, we'll see them again, and if they change their ways, we have much less of an expense and burden on the community."

21 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Jack Flash Oct 25, 2013

    "Let's just hope that when you "see them again", it's not because they've seriously injured or killed someone innocent because you gave them a 2nd chance!!!"

    Yes, of course, but what then? Does it make it retroactively reasonable to lock people up longer for nonviolent crimes just b/c they MIGHT commit a violent crime later? That's not an acceptable alternative.

  • Wendellcatlover Oct 24, 2013

    "If they're not a violent felon, it's worth giving them a chance," he said. "If they are a violent felon, we'll see them again..."

    Let's just hope that when you "see them again", it's not because they've seriously injured or killed someone innocent because you gave them a 2nd chance!!!

  • Jack Flash Oct 24, 2013

    "I can not agree that selling drugs is the same thing as 1st degree murder. That is a big stretch right there."

    And you want to rage at me for being soft? Sounds like you think you're able to make nuanced distinctions, but no one else can.

    "Is there any wonder why this town is the way it is with these type of "exceptions?" Sad"

    21 of the 28 people arrested will be prosecuted according to state law. 7 of them will essentially get a "prayer for judgment" b/c they have no prior record. If they do it again, both charges will count. If they don't, we all win. What should we do instead, lock them up forever b/c maybe, maybe, maybe they'll move onto violent crime next? Really? They might, so we better go ahead and sentence them as if they already did? Are you serious? Giving someone a 2nd chance -- a REAL 2nd chance -- reduces the likelihood of recidivism b/c he isn't carrying his past w/ him forever, unforgiven, making it more difficult to break away from the temptation of crime.

  • Jack Flash Oct 24, 2013

    "If they stay out of trouble, it really doesn't bother me if they do go home laughing."

    And it is beliefs like yours that have criminals walking the streets and ruining the lives of hard working law abiding tax paying citizens. I can't wish this even on twisted left wingers but if you are ever effected by a violent criminal and/or a theif your tune will change.
    =======================================================

    The only belief I've shared here is that if they fulfill the terms of their 2nd chance, it means they stay out of trouble, and it therefore shouldn't matter whether they laugh about getting over on someone. It's like using reverse psychology to get a kid to eat vegetables: who cares if someone thinks they fooled you if you actually got what you wanted from them and for them?

    If my opinion changed as a result of being a victim, that would be a response based on emotion, trauma, fear, and my singular personal experience. That's not the best way to determine justice.

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 24, 2013

    "I am a big believer that the liberal judges in this country are WAY to weak. Murder someone get 10 years, rape 10 years and other sick and way light sentences. But I can not agree that selling drugs is the same thing as 1st degree murder. That is a big stretch right there."

    Well put, and not just big stretch but irrational.

  • ncouterbanks69 Oct 24, 2013

    Is there any wonder why this town is the way it is with these type of "exceptions?" Sad

  • ncouterbanks69 Oct 24, 2013

    "I'm not sure what the resources consist of, but separate of that, they can't get in trouble again. If they stay out of trouble, it really doesn't bother me if they do go home laughing."

    And it is beliefs like yours that have criminals walking the streets and ruining the lives of hard working law abiding tax paying citizens. I can't wish this even on twisted left wingers but if you are ever effected by a violent criminal and/or a theif your tune will change.

  • ncouterbanks69 Oct 24, 2013

    "In my opinion, anyone selling drugs puts them in the same category as someone committing 1st degree murder and should be executed or deported to Saudi Arabia."

    I am a big believer that the liberal judges in this country are WAY to weak. Murder someone get 10 years, rape 10 years and other sick and way light sentences. But I can not agree that selling drugs is the same thing as 1st degree murder. That is a big stretch right there.

  • autismawareness Oct 24, 2013

    and the other 21 were all given a second chance once too. how did that work out for them?

  • 1biblethumper Oct 24, 2013

    The first time caught doesn't mean it's the first time they've sold. How do you know they haven't already sold drugs that caused the buyer to commit a crime? itsmyownopinion

    Guess you just have to pull out your fancy crystal ball and look back in time to make sure before they are set free. Who knows, one of them might have even jaywalked or stolen a pencil in the past. No need to give anyone a chance around here! After all this is a Christian nation!

More...