Local News

Special Program Offers Repeat Offenders More Than Just Prison Time

Posted February 3, 2004

— From Harnett to Sampson to Hoke counties, there have been plenty of stories about overcrowded jails.

A big reason for the overcrowding is new sentencing rules for repeat offenders. But, in one local county, convicted felons get more than time.

They also get a tongue-lashing.

Larry Wright said what he had to Tuesday. So did J.J. Jones.

They gave messages to repeat offenders.

"I'm trying to keep them from going to the next level and try to put in their head that they need to think," said Jones, the father of a murder victim.

The program is called Operation Ceasefire. Cumberland County started it eight years ago. It did not pick up full steam until this year, when Congress enacted Project Safe Neighborhoods.

Officers and victims take turns confronting people on probation.

"Today, I can tell them: 'I don't want to see you again,'" federal prosecutor Jane Jackson said. "'I hope I don't see you again. But if I do see you again, I'm going to prosecute you.'"

Operation Ceasefire also has a rehabilitation aspect. The offenders get help finding jobs, housing, and education.

Tuesday, there were 20 offenders on hand -- a captive audience in more ways than one.

Jones' son was killed two years ago. His killer has not been found.

"Your heart still is just, like, pounding for justice," Jones said.

One day, Jones may get to address the killer. Until then, he will settle for this group.

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