Police chief, Mecklenburg Co. DA say change is needed in how bonds are set for violent offenders
Low bonds for violent offenders is not a new issue in Mecklenburg County.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Low bonds for violent offenders is not a new issue in Mecklenburg County.
But it is front and center thanks to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings.
“I was astonished to see the bond results for Toddrick McFadden,” Jennings said in a video posted last month by the department.
In the video, Jennings ripped into the justice system after he says 32-year-old McFadden was given a low bond by a magistrate.
McFadden is accused of multiple crimes including shooting a CMPD officer on June 28.
Tuesday, Jennings reiterated his stance with an op-ed and posts on social media.
“On Monday, I had the opportunity to join @NC_Governor @NCAGO, and police chiefs from across the state for a discussion on current challenges in policing. I expressed my concern for our current bond hearing and setting processes and the need for bail reform,” he tweeted. “To change violent crime in our communities we have to hold these criminals accountable for their actions.”
Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather agrees with Jennings.
“The chief basically reflected the frustration I think many in the community have felt for quite a long time,” Merriweather said.
Both say change must happen.
Merriweather points to a solution he says he first pushed North Carolina’s general assembly back in 2020 to adopt. He says he’ll be making another plea.
“Renewing my ask today and will be renewing my ask the next time the General Assembly meets to consider preventative detention,” he said.
What is preventative detention? He says it’s already used in federal court.
“Preventive detention, basically says that we’re not going to mess around with the dollar figure and determine whether not someone stays in custody. We’re gonna say that if you are a danger to our community, you will remain in custody until your trial. And if you’re not, then you’ll be released,” he said.
Allowing violent criminals to bond out and walk the streets, he says, impacts cases.
“Time after time, after time, after time when people have been released after committing a violent crime, that has an effect on witnesses and victims who we are expecting to testify to keep our communities safe but if they see people walking the streets the very next day, that has an impact,” he said.
He was also asked about what message he would send to residents who feel officials aren’t doing enough.
“I think it’s a fair question for every single citizen in Mecklenburg County to ask why don’t we have this here? I think it’s a fair question for every single citizen in the state of North Carolina to ask why don’t we have preventative detention here as a possibility for people who are creating great violence in our community,” he added.
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