Judge increases bond amounts for gang members

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KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – A new policy for Lenoir, Wayne and Greene Counties is upsetting some community members and local attorneys.

The new Bail and Pretrial Release Rules took effect on July 15th and means if you’re a gang member and are arrested; your bond will be up to 5 times higher than normal. Some community members say the new policy is pushing the limits; others say it will help reduce crime in the area.

“It’s just making it harder for them to get out,” explained Tiani Clark.

Superior Court Judge Paul Jones is taking matters in his own hands. In a memo, Judge Jones described his reasoning for the order saying quote, “…This will protect the community from further violence and prevent harm and the intimidation of prospective witnesses and victims.

Some community members say it isn’t right, especially because a lot of gang members are young kids. “All they are doing is filling the jail with people doing useless crimes instead of trying to help them which I think would better America,” Clark explained.

We reached out to Attorney Dustin Pittman with Strickland, Agner Associates. He says this policy has been going on for a while in Lenoir County and it isn’t right.

“We do have specific laws about gang activity and we do have laws about gang violence. We should use those laws not putting someone in jail with a check mark saying you are a gang member.”

Pittman says this type of a policy could become unconstitutional.

Pittman explained, “Are we talking about just anyone that a police officer walks in, well I think he is a gang member so here is times five on his bond?  Is that what we are talking about, because that I think without any proof behind it is where we get into it being unconstitutional.”

Some community members in Lenoir County say they like the idea of holding people accountable and say it would make gang members think before they commit a crime.

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