Launching new programs in Pitt County to review low-level drug offenses and allow individuals arrested for low-level drug offenses, including marijuana, to participate in treatment program instead of entering criminal court, thus reducing crime in the area.
The present opioid crisis has increased the need for the expansion of Drug Court. One of my priorities is to seek additional funding for options by applying for grants and expanding partnerships with businesses to support efforts to deal with this crisis. A great deal of crimes either directly involve drugs or are committed to obtain illegal controlled substances.
Dealing with the expansion of Juvenile Court
Faris has more than 8 years combined experience in handling Juvenile Cases in two different judicial districts. In December 2019 the age at which juveniles can be prosecuted as an adult will be raised from 16 years of age to 18 years of age. There are a host of issues that must be dealt with prior to that date to ensure that the transition is handled smoothly.
Presently Juvenile Court Counselor, the official name for Juvenile Probation Officers, supervise juveniles on probation. Juveniles are presently required to be in school until the age of 16. We must develop partnerships with Pitt Community College, local non-profits and businesses to provide educational opportunities and vocational training to juveniles in the community. This will give us an approach that equips them with the skills they need to become vital and productive members of society.
Mental Health Court
As an assistant district attorney and a defense attorney for the last 22 years, it is clear that mental health issues play a part in the commission of crimes. Since the destruction of the state mental health system roughly a decade ago many who would have been in facilities or working with a case manager are now in county detention facilities or the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections. Likewise, a lot of resources are spent on a few individuals, because there is not a coordinated effort by law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office and mental health officials. We spend a great deal of money on emergency services, instead of working together to be proactive and dealing with the mental health issues before additional emergencies occur
Conviction Integrity Unit
The purpose of the Conviction Integrity Unit is to increase, establish and maintain the trust of the public in the Pitt County District Attorney’s Office. I plan to restore the integrity in the District Attorney’s Office and create an environment of trust.
The establishment of a Conviction Integrity Unit is needed to enhance the current system. The purpose of these units is to review closed cases and ensure that there was in fact sufficient evidence to convict those individuals. Around the nation we have seen over 150 people exonerated in the past 18 years and released from prison for wrongful convictions.
These units started around the turn of the century with DNA Innocence Projects. The two that most people are aware of are in Dallas and Houston, Texas. There are only about 30 Conviction Integrity Units out of approximately 2000 District Attorney’s Office across the nation.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Create a Human Trafficking Response Unit to deter and shut down human trafficking operations in our county (sex and labor).
Network with the local Domestic Violence Centers to create one centralized place for services of victims of domestic violence.
Provide funding for additional support for rape victims.
Coordinate safety efforts with Pitt County Schools, Pitt County Sheriff’s Department, Trillium Mental Health Services, Pitt County Health Department, and Greenville Police Department to ensure all students are safe by being proactive.
Advocate for gun safety policies by improving our background check system and limiting access to guns by those who have been convicted of domestic violence assaults.