Sheriff McFadden ends first month with several controversial policy changes

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It has been one month since Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden took office and people across the area are conflicted over the changes he has made since starting the job.

McFadden's first big change was scrapping the 287(g) program.

[Sheriff McFadden begins tenure by ending ICE’s 287(g) program in Mecklenburg County]

This program let deputies run suspect's names through immigration databases to see if they were in the country illegally.

Immigration advocates said they were relieved the program ended because they said it helped ICE deport 15,000 people in Charlotte.

[RELATED: Immigration advocates voice opposition over 287(g) program]

When McFadden ended the program, he released 28 people who were being held.

Critics said they worry that, with the program ending, violent criminals are being put back on the streets.

The group Action NC held a press conference Monday to praise the decision. They said the immigration community can breathe a sigh of relief.

"Families now feel secure going to work, church, shopping and school. Children feel less fear of losing their parents or other loved ones, because of a reduced fear of profiling," said Hector Vaca, of Action NC.

A grassroots company called Court Watch, which tracks repeat offenders and issues with the criminal justice system, told Channel 9 that the Sheriff's decision to end the 287(g) program is a big public safety issue.

"I just think it's unfortunate that our sheriff has chosen politics over policing and the facts speak for themselves," said Marcus Philemon, of Court Watch."287(g) is just a biometrics, another way to keep track of individuals in this country illegally and it's a database to be able to solve crimes."

McFadden also changed policy to allow people to visit their loved ones in jail in person, instead of over video calls.

Critics said they worry that this new policy will open the door to contraband, but McFadden said that will not be possible because visitors are separated by glass walls that do not have slots.

The third big change McFadden promised he would make is ending solitary confinement. At last check, McFadden told Channel 9 the new policy is still under review.

[RELATED: Mecklenburg County inmates get in-person visits through end of month]

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