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Charged with nonviolent crime in Durham? DA says she won’t ask for bond

May 28, 2019

Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry said Tuesday that she is implementing a pretrial release policy that moves away from calling for people charged with nonviolent crimes to post bond.

“Research shows the cash bail system disproportionately impacts lower-wealth people and people of color. Setting high money bail doesn’t ensure that dangerous people remain in jail, it ensures poor people stay in jail,” Deberry said in a statement. “This policy removes wealth from the equation to the extent possible under North Carolina law, instead making public safety the determining factor in pretrial release recommendations.”

Judges set pretrial release conditions, but Deberry said prosecutors in her office won’t recommend bond in most cases involving misdemeanor charges or low-level felonies, except for domestic violence cases.

“In the American justice system, people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. This office believes people should only be detained prior to trial if they pose a flight risk or they are a danger to themselves or others,” she said.

The new policy has already cut the number of people held in the Durham County Detention Facility by 15 percent, saving local Durham taxpayers money and freeing up more resources for serious crimes, she said.

“This policy is part of a larger effort to rethink when and why we impose incarceration and to reduce unnecessary prosecution of individuals facing charges that often arise from poverty, mental illness, and substance use,” Deberry said.

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