COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- As you saw ONLY ON 3 last night, in the last four months, hundreds of people in Columbus County, including some with violent charges, have been issued unsecured bonds. The judge responsible for the new bond policy spoke to WWAY this afternoon to defend the policy.
Columbus County Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser says though it may *seem* alleged violent criminals are running free, the system is running smoothly and according to plan.
"Listen, I live in this community. I have family. I have friends. I don't want to be unsafe," Sasser said.
Tuesday WWAY obtained copies of hundreds of unsecured bonds all issued after May 1 in Columbus County. Among the charges are drug trafficking, sexual battery and assault on a child under 12.
"There may well we some charges that you would not normally see an unsecured bond on, but I would say probably take a little closer look and see if there's some extenuating circumstances," Sasser said.
Judge Sasser and Judge Jerry Jolly drew up the new bail policy for Columbus and Bladen Counties.
"It was actually just an attempt to bring it back up to date with what these current statutes provide," Sasser said referring to state laws governing bonds.
Under the policy to issue a secured bond, magistrates must fill out a three-page questionnaire on each defendant, making it a more cumbersome process. Sasser says he does not know of any other districts in the state who have a worksheets for a secured bond, but he says it is beneficial.
"I want them to take the extra step to jot it down in writing and make it available to myself, to the district court judges, whoever could possibly hear this case down the road," Sasser said.
Sasser said he trusts the magistrates to make the right decision in determining what kind of bond to issue.
"These people aren't bleeding-heart liberals," he said. "They're not trying to turn these some of these people loose on the streets. They're trying to make this place safer."
We also spoke with District Attorney Jon David. He said he plans to speak with other officials to see if changes to the bail policy need to be made.