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Durham Wants To Change Policy For Pre-Trial Release Of Violent Criminals

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DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham police officer is trying to change the notion that jail is a revolving door for violent criminals by changing the policy for pre-trial release.

Repeat violent criminals are arrested and brought to jail, but sometimes within days or a matter of hours, they are back out on the street.

"We are trying to reduce violent crimes while we're letting violent offenders out. That's a contradiction," said Lt. Col. George Hare, of the Durham Police Department.

Hare said the system needs to be fixed. He blames low bonds and lack of accountability.

"It's a factor in our violent crimes, a big factor," he said.

In Durham, bonds are set at the discretion of magistrates who don't always know a suspect's background or do not take it into consideration.

"We have a bond policy with guidelines to help put them in the ballpark," said Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson.

Hudson said he believes the system is working, but he admits it is not an exact science.

"The only way to prevent a defendant on bond from committing a crime is to lock them up. I don't think society or the Constitution would allow that," Hudson said.

For now, police plan to flag warrants to alert magistrates of dangerous repeat offenders. Hare said it is one step towards fixing a policy he believes has turned into a public safety problem.

"We're getting there step by step," he said.

In Wake County, magistrates must follow a standardized point system in determining bond for a suspect. Hare said Durham could benefit from a similiar system.


Julia Lewis, Reporter
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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