• 9 Investigates: Why some say it's getting easier for criminals to avoid jail time

    By: Glenn Counts

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Violent crime has soared this year in Charlotte and police say they are making more arrests than ever. But, some people say "the system" is making it easier for suspects to get out of jail -- or even avoid it. 

    Father Dale Johnson said his daughter was murdered by a man who was out on an ankle monitor. 

    [ALSO READ: CMPD chief addresses repeat offenders wearing ankle monitors]

    Alysia Johnson, 17, was shot and killed along Beatties Ford Road six weeks ago in a botched car-jacking. 

    "She wanted to work at the Levine Children's Hospital, just be around children she could help," Dale Johnson said. "It's just been hard, we wake up every day first thing on our mind is her."

    Dale Johnson said as tough as her murder has been on her family, there is something that makes it even worse -- one of the teens accused in her death was out of jail on electronic monitoring. 

    Andy Garcia was arrested in February for a violent robbery and attack on two women with a baseball bat, leaving one of them with a broken arm. 

    "You get angry in a sense. You're angry at the fact these guys was out here to commit the same crime," Dale Johnson said. 

    Cheryl Jones is with Courtwatch, a volunteer group that keeps an eye on the Justice System. The group and police have complained some suspects get out of jail too easily and they are pointing the finger at judges and magistrates. 

    (Andy Garcia, left, Juan Zamora, right)

    "Some of our judges just slap them on the hand and say so 'Now, don't do that again,'" Jones said. "There is a reason it's called the Criminal Justice System. That's because there is no justice for the victim, none." 

    One of the controversial ways people avoid jail is criminal summons. In effect, it is a ticket issued by a magistrate and a lot of officers are upset by this new process because people who would have gotten a jail cell, now get a piece of paper telling them to show up in court. 

    Public Defender Kevin Tulley said the changes to the bail policy have been in place since 2010, summons started last year, and electronic monitoring well before that. 

    He said during most of those years, crime went down and so it is not fair to blame the changes for this year's spike. 

    "It's not what it used to be and that's a good thing. What it used to be wasn't working," Tulley said. "Going back a couple years, we had a spike and then, last year, it came back down and there wasn't any change in terms of the policy we've been talking about."

    [ALSO READ: Man who has been arrested 63 times assaults three officers, police say]

    Bail Bondsman Jim Camp said he sees the accused every day and has conducted his own study and determined that those who are taking advantage of the system are not showing up for court in the numbers they are supposed to. 

    "Thousands and thousands of cases you have to go in and look at every individual," Camp said. "And now, it's up over 30 percent for the new bail policy." 

    [ALSO READ: DA: Charlotte could use more prosecutors, judges to help violent crime rate]

    For Alysia Johnson's family, it is not about paperwork being shuffled around, it is life and death and the knowledge that had the system worked, they might have had the chance to see her achieve her dream. 

    "I think for me, for the most park, that's what's really hurting me. Just to know my daughter needed me and I would have took that bullet for her. She had a future, she had a bright future," Dale Johnson said. 

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