Mecklenburg DA Takes Questions On Policy, Approach

16 hours ago

Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather fielded questions Monday night on transparency, diversion programs, and setting bail. The forum was hosted by the Mecklenburg County chapter of the NAACP.

Merriweather said this community is fortunate to have a courthouse looking at ways to improve the bail system.

"If someone’s committing such a low-level crime and you know they’re coming to court and they’re not a threat to the safety of the community, then why are we assigning a dollar amount to that that increases the likelihood of inequity?" asked Merriweather.

He said changing the bail system is extremely difficult, but pointed to New Jersey, which eliminated cash bails last year.

The forum also featured lawyer Benjamin Crump who has represented families of victims in a number of highly publicized killings of African Americans. He said cash bails serve a purpose, but too often courts set bails that are unreasonably high for poor people of color

About 130 people attended the forum at Little Rock AME Zion church in uptown Charlotte. 

We'll have more coverage during Tuesday's All Things Considered.