Victims ask Mecklenburg County Judges how they punish repeat offenders

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police joined Mecklenburg County judges in a community meeting to discuss crime and violent repeat offenders. Victims in the audience had the opportunity to ask judges why repeat offenders sometimes get out of jail fast. 

As the city grows, crime is on the rise. Sixty-seven people have been killed so far this year. CMPD Chief Kerr Putney says Charlotte is on track to hit the highest homicide rate the city has ever seen. He continues to push for harsher punishments for repeat, violent offenders. 

"I think there is room for improvement in the current system especially as it relates to bond," said CMPD Chief Kerr Putney. 

Putney says he does not believe the system is broken but needs to be improved. He joined District Attorney Spencer Merriweather plus two Mecklenburg County judges and a public defender Thursday night at Queens University. The meeting was part of CMPD's Bridge the Difference series. 

"Swift justice is the best strategy for dealing with the repeat offender problem," said District Attorney Merriweather. "People are counting on witnesses to go away." 
The DA said the state hasn't increased the number of Mecklenburg county judges in the last ten year, slowing down each case as it moves through the court system. 

Judge Roy H. Wiggins said support for the victims in court often impacts his decision as far as punishment for the perpetrator: "When someone who is a family member shows up and talks about the impact of them, it has an effect on how I determine conditions of release." 

Community members texted in solutions how the city can reduce crime. Three of the biggest suggestions included faith, funding, and accountability. 

"We have good judges, we have good district attorneys, we got to learn to stand together and fight for our rights!" said one Charlotte neighbor.