Candidate Q&A: Faris Dixon, district attorney
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Note: Following are questions submitted by The Daily Reflector to Pitt County district attorney candidate Faris Dixon and Dixon’s responses. District attorney is a countywide race in which all voters may cast ballots on Nov. 6 and in early voting, which is ongoing through Nov. 3.
Prior political office: None
Social Media: farisdixon4districtattorney - Facebook
Political Philosophy: I believe it is important to serve the public and provide honest and transparent leadership to the community.
■ Why are you running for district attorney and what distinguishes you from your opponent?
I am running for district attorney because I want to clean up the mess that my opponent and the current administration have made of the office. Glenn Perry is endorsed by District Attorney Kimberly Robb, and neither of them have provided leadership. They continue to contribute to the decline of the office and have no desire to improve it. Perry is unable to see those deficiencies and lacks the will and strength to clean up the office. As a well-balanced attorney I will bring back honesty, integrity and transparency to the office. I will take the politics out of the office and return it to the citizens of Pitt County.
■ What will your top priorities be if you are elected?
My top priority is to protect the citizens of Pitt County. I will ensure the victims voices are heard by assembling an experienced staff. I will improve domestic violence cases by making sure that the attorney has knowledge and understanding of the cycle of violence. I will form the first mental health court east of I-95 by utilizing partnerships and other resources in the community. I will petition the Administrative Office of the Courts and the legislature to get additional funding to expand the drug court and address the opioid crisis. I will petition the Administrative Office of the Courts and the legislature to raise of the age of juveniles from 16 to 18 years.
■ In recent years there has been discussion about the need to emphasize treatment over incarceration for people with drug additions. Is this the correct approach? What challenges are involved and how can you overcome them?
When it comes to drug addiction, we must understand that addicts are in a constant state of recovery; therefore, no one’s addiction or treatment is the same. We must take a multifaceted approach to address it: through education, rehabilitation and when necessary incarceration. One of the challenges involved is lack of funding for drug court. I will address funding issues by obtaining grants and renewing support from the legislature which will better serve our community. Perry and the current administration have had no desire to help.
■ The majority of people arrested, charged and prosecuted for crimes in Pitt County are black, perpetuating the conviction among many African-Americans that the justice system is inherently biased against them. How do you respond to constituents who hold that point of view?
I listen to the constituents as they address their concerns about the present administration’s biases. I inform them that the office will be transparent. All cases will be handled on an individual and factual basis regardless of socioeconomic status. I reassure them that honesty and integrity will be returned to the office.
■ What steps can be taken to address the reality of the disproportionate number of black people, young men in particular, commit crimes?
Statistically all races commit crimes at about the same rate. The initiatives I will put in place will work to reduce recidivism by linking young men with outreach organizations in the community. I will work with community resources to provide educational and or vocational skills to link them with opportunities to learn to acquire entrepreneurial financial skills.
■ Do you think it is appropriate for a monument to confederate dead to stand on the grounds of the Pitt County Courthouse?
The district attorney’s office prosecutes criminal cases that are determined to have violated the N.C. General Statutes. The district attorney’s office has no control over placement of the monument. The placement of the monument on courthouse grounds is determined by the state legislature, the Pitt County Board of Commissioners and the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office.
■ Should the district attorney’s Office reduce the number of times it lowers the severity of charges against criminal suspects in order to obtain convictions? How would that impact the efficient administration of justice?
The purpose of the district attorney’s office is not to obtain convictions but the administration of justice. Through the course of the administration of justice it is sometimes necessary to reduce the severity of the charges. However, there should be a limit to the number of times. The facts and the evidence must support the new lowered charges. By making sure that the facts, the evidence and the new charges agree should speed up the process. According to WRAL, currently the Pitt County District Attorney’s Office dismisses or reduces 51 percent of its felony cases. This should not be an acceptable practice.
■ A common criticism of the criminal justice system is that the same people continue to commit crimes even after they are convicted multiple times. How can the district attorney’s Office better address recidivism?
We can address recidivism by linking individuals with community programs that will assist them with understanding their behaviors, while providing alternative options. The expansion of drug court will result in more people entering the program. Through education and rehabilitation people will obtain a better understanding of their addiction and maintain recovery status. Through mental health court individuals will come to understand that their mental problems could be the underlying cause for their criminal behavior. By understanding this connection, it will help individuals maintain their equilibrium.
■ If there is an issue you would like to address not covered in the questions please address it here:
Candidate did not answer.