Court watchers upset man with multiple arrests back on streets again

Court Watch: suspect released free without bond

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Court watchers in Mecklenburg County say they're not happy that a 20-year-old man with multiple arrests, including gun charges, was recently let out of jail after his most recent arrest.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police arrested Jakieran Harris on February 1 for possession of a firearm by a felon, larceny of a firearm, and felony conspiracy. A magistrate set Harris' total bond at $40,000.

Harris was supposed to have a bond hearing Tuesday morning. Court watchers said they were prepared to go to court to monitor his case when they realized there was no bond hearing because Harris was already out of jail - and not because he posted bond.

"It's anger, because I'm tired of - not only as an organization but as a citizen - tired of being lied to," Marcus Philemon of CharMeck Court Watch said.

Court watchers are upset because  Harris got out of jail without posting bond.

At his first court appearance in early February, a judge referred Harris to a county program called PreTrial Services where case managers evaluate defendants to see if they're eligible to get out of jail.

"The biggest thing we have a problem with is community safety," Philemon said. "Taking community safety into effect before they release an individual."

Jail records show that Harris has been arrested 10 times since 2013. The charges include breaking and entering, burglary, gun charges, possession of stolen goods, resisting public officer, felony larceny, felony conspiracy, interfering with an electronic monitor and probation violation.

Despite Harris' criminal history, probation violation, and cutting off an electronic monitor, Pretrial Services concluded he could go home but must check in with case managers for supervision.

"That risk assessment will take into account risk of flight and danger to the community posed by each defendant," said Jessica Ireland, Program Manager for PreTrial Services.

Ireland said after defendants are referred to the program, case managers do an assessment and an interview to determine if "they meet our program eligibility and requirements."

Court watchers are asking one question: what about public safety?

"I understand that some may feel that, but again the risk assessment that we use looks at risk of flight and danger to community posed by the defendant, so that was certainly taken into account" said Ireland.

Philemon said he doesn't get it.

"He's had his hands on guns on more than one occasion, been arrested for that," Philemon said. "And two, when he's been given post supervision release in the past, he's not been able to abide by post supervision."

Ireland said Harris is in full compliance to date.

"[He has] to report to his case manager after court, he has to make weekly phone calls," Ireland said. "We know that he's working. We know where he lives. We have his contact information. We will stay in contact with him."

Pretrial Services says the program has approximately 280 clients and four case managers.

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