CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mecklenburg County's new district attorney says dealing with violent repeat offenders will be a "top priority" following an NBC Charlotte investigation.
Last month, an NBC Charlotte Defenders investigation found that recidivism is a major problem. According to the National Institute Of Justice Study, within three years of release about 67 percent of released prisoners were rearrested.
Now, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather is looking into it. After seeing NBC Charlotte's investigation, Merriweather said it will be a top priority for his office.
“I’m just as frustrated as members of the community are,” said Merriweather.
The Defenders team revealed more than 800 people charged with violent crimes in each of the past two years had been previously arrested for other criminal offenses, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
“We need to do better,” Deputy Chief Coerte Voorhees told NBC Charlotte at the time when asked if it was acceptable.
“I think Deputy Chief Voorhees is exactly right,” said Merriweather. “We’ve got to do better and we’re beginning to do that now.”
Merriweather said that dealing with violent repeat offenders is a top priority and he will be dedicating resources to help speed up the trial process.
“We believe we can do this quicker and we can do this right,” said Merriweather. “Now, I’m not going to sacrifice right just for quick, but the fact is I think we can do both.”
It comes just a month after NBC Charlotte highlighted the case against Derek Adams, who was charged with 10 armed robberies earlier this year. Court records show he’s already been in and out of jail at least three times in 2017.
“These individuals are going to go out and victimize someone else,” said Cheryl Jones of Charmeck Courtwatch, a volunteer group that monitors repeat offenders through the court system.
Merriweather said it's important to earn the trust of community members who don't feel safe.
“We’re not generally in the habit of giving people a second opportunity to be violent,” he said.
On Tuesday, Merriweather also announced the creation of a violent crimes unit, which will focus on crimes like armed robberies and felony assaults.