Repeat offender list draws discussion

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Chief Rodney Monroe plans to create a list of chronic repeat offenders and give it to the District Attorney's Office for tougher prosecution.

Police and prosecutors have targeted serial crooks before, but this time the Chief says they will be handled differently.

The issue of repeat offenders is item #2, on the County's Justice and Public Safety Task Force. The task force was newly created to deal with crime in the community.

Member Cheryl Ellis said, "I have a hard time believing that if you are committing crimes over and over again...we can never build a case against you."

District Attorney Peter Gilchrist says it boils down to evidence. The threshold to arrest someone is much lower than the threshold of evidence to convict, leading to a lot of cases dismissed.

Essentially, his office only picks the strongest cases they feel like they can win.

One of them, against Jerry Lennell Belk, a career criminal just convicted last week. He'll go to prison for 11-14 years, over a series of break-ins. Gilchrist says police and prosecutors worked together on that case to bring a good conviction.

But for every Belk, there are many more repeat offenders who seem to slip through the cracks.  18-year-old Shea Roseboro has been arrested more than a dozen times in two years. We found one drug conviction on his record, for which he got probation.

Now Roseboro is charged with trying to kill another teenager earlier in September. He's out on bond under Electric Monitoring.

Police know Roseboro's history well, but with one conviction -- it's hard to prove he's a repeat offender in the eyes of the court.

"There's a disconnect, there's definitely a disconnect and that's what we're working on," said Ellis.

Ellis supports the idea of a court designed just for chronic offenders, and a Public Safety Czar to oversee accountability.

The Task Force will report back to County Commission in three weeks on final recommendations.