WJTV News Channel 12 - Some question whether NC felons should get leave

Some question whether NC felons should get leave

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

A total of 149 convicted felons were on the streets of North Carolina in mid-June for a program called Home Leaves. A program Wake County's district attorney had never heard of until last week.

"The intention of the program was good," said Policy Analyst for CIVITAS, Angela Hight. "But the program has been abused."

According to the NC Division of Prisons, the purpose of Home Leaves is for inmates who are nearing their release to re-establish family relationships.

The program has existed for 30 years and the Department of Public Safety said every inmate in the program is screened and investigated thoroughly. 

But research by the CIVITAS Institute showed inmates in the program were released with out any warning to those who were victims of their crimes.

"It doesn't end the healing process. And it opens up another wound to these families," Hight said. "There's a bruise that just got dug into more."

But some, like defense attorney Joe Cheshire, think the program is necessary. "There's absolutely nothing wrong with a person whose been convicted and serving time demonstrating that they are good and worthy people," Cheshire said. "And are in a program that helps them reintegrate themselves into society."

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said if the program is going to exist, law enforcement and victims need to be included. "There may be some cases where it's appropriate," Willoughby said. "But you certainly should talk to the victims and they should be aware of it before it happens."

The Conference of District Attorneys has sent a letter to the governor asking the program be shut down immediately. The governor's office said they are reviewing the letter.

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