DURHAM, N.C. — Durham business owners are expressing the frustration over crime in the Bull City. They have formed a task force that will work to make sure habitual criminals stay in jail.
Durham furniture store owner Matt Yarbrough said if customers do not feel safe, they will not shop. That is why his group, Durham Businesses Against Crime, formed what they call Court Watch.
"Crime raises prices for goods and services, crime raises taxes and crime creates a situation where we are uncomfortable going in certain areas," Yarbrough said.
Court Watch is made up of volunteers who will go to the trials of habitual criminals who commit crimes such as robbery and burglary.
"What they're actually watching is the way the criminal justice system handles these individuals. They're attending the trials and listening to the comments," Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough said Court Watch volunteers will try to make their positions known to prosecutors and judges. The goal is to see habitual criminals spend hard time behind bars, instead of being offered plea bargains with shorter sentences.
"There are individuals that we know by name who plague certain areas, and that's their garden, if you will. When those people are in jail, their garden areas flourish with business. When they're out, they're plaguing the area and the crime rate goes up," Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough hopes this effort will have the same affect on habitual criminals as MADD has had on drunk drivers.
Durham County District Attorney Jim Hardin said Court Watch is an excellent idea and has told his staff to work with the volunteers and answer their questions.