^ omo NEWS^e Charlotte Thursday, November 9, 2006 Activists push for clemency Continued from page 1A LeGrande’s case has attracted additional attention from anti-death penalty groups because his prosecu tor, Ken Honeycutt, was accused of hiding a deal with a witness in anotiier murder case. Honeycutt no longer is in office. The claim was filed last year by the North Carolina State Bar with the state Court of Appeals. Honeycutt has denied the accusations, but the defendant in that case won a new trial. Robinson said LeGrande, who’s blact, was convicted by an all-white jury and was allowed to represent himself even though he believed near the time of his trial that Oprah Wnfrey and Dan Rather were speaking to him personally through television Parker said the county is nearly 90 percent white and blacks aren’t often on juries. LeGrande refused to let lawyers appointed to repre sent him participate in his defense and already believes Gov Mike Easley has par doned him, defense lawyer Jay Feiguson said. “He has always maintained his innocence,” Ferguson said. “He believes at this moment that he has been pardoned by the governor He believes that he is waiting for the pardon to come through and he will be paid a large sum of money” Ferguson said LeGrande has refused to meet with him in prison, leaving Ferguson waiting for government docu ments he won at a hearing last weds before he can file an appeal on LeGrande’s behalf “The problem is you have a mentally ill person represent- ir^ himself,” Ferguson said. “When his standby counsel asked the court to review his mental competeaicy the judge asked the defendant if he wanted to do that and he said no. His response was to tear up the paperwork. So you’ve got a mentally ill defendant making the call on whether his competency shordd be examined” Prosecutors said LeGrande killed Munford on behalf of her husband, who wanted to collect insurance proceeds and who received a life 3«i- tence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Robinson said during Wednesday’s news conf^ence that his group planned to meet with Easley about the case. LeGrande is scheduled to die Dec. 1. Melvin L. “Skip” Alston, a farmer head of the state chap ter of the NAACP, said he was “appalled” by the case, adding that it illustrated “unfair practices of the death penalty” Cljarlotte www.thecharlottepost.cx)m of hr-ihl' heh ■ Urgent Care • Schooi/Sport Physical • Sports Injury * Allergy Test ' Minor Trauma ' In-House Lab/X-Ray Study: Violent and juvenile crime on the rise By Lorinda M. Bullock NATIONAL NEWSPAPER PU6L/SHERS ASSOC/ATTON WASHINGTON - Although St. Louis and Detroit took first- and second-place “dis honors” on Morgan Quinto’s 13th annual Most Dangerous Cities list this year, crime prevention and law enforce- ;ment experts say American cities everywhere—not just the top 25—need to be con cerned with a growing trend of increasing violent crime. “For a number of cities across the country we’re see ing a significant increase in violent crime in three major areas: in robberies, in ag^a- vated assaults and in mur der,” said Chuck Wexler, exec utive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington-based law enforcement think tank. According to a PERF report released earh^ this year, “A Gathering Storm: Violent Crime in America,” 2005 numbers from the FBI showed the ‘largest single year percent increase in vio lent dime in 14 years.” Nationally, homicide increased by 3.4 pax*nt, rob beries (3.9 percent) and aggravated assaults (1.8 per cent). In 2005, more than 30,600 people were miu*- dered, robbed and assaulted than in 2004, the report said, “(For) A nrunber of the cities, we’re seeing those increases are five, 10, 20-year highs and in some places, all- time highs. This is signifi cantly different fium what had been a pretty stable peri od of either decreasing crime or increases that were not as significant as we’ve seen in the past 18-24 months,” Wexler said. Nearly 14 cities/metropoli tan areas reported they expe rienced those types of “crime milestones.” Orlando, Fla., Prince George’s County Md., and Trenton, N.J. reported being at an all-time h^ in violent crime. Wexler and other crime pre vention experts agree an increase in juvenile crime along with other social prob lems happening particularly in low income communities and conummities of color are at the root causes of these current dime trends. “Those are the communi ties where the schools aren’t up to par. Those are the com munities with the highest amoimt of luiemployment. Those are the communities with tlie least amount of gov ernment services, (and) tlie slowest responses even fium the police,” said Ronald Hampton, executive director of the National Blade Pohee Association. Hampton, a retired officer of 24-yeai's Sum Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department remembers Washington’s toughest years in the 1980s when the crack- cocaine epidemic devastated the majority-Black Capital city making Washington often at tlie top of the nation’s crime lists. Tliis year, Washington was nimiber 19 on the hst, dropping fium 13th place in 2005 and the sixth most dangerous dty in 2004. Hampton beOieves part of Washington’s decline on the list is because of a recent influx of White professionals tired of commuting from Northern Va. and Md. and buying homes and condos in historically Black neighbor hoods, there is a greater police piresence now. He’s even skeptical of recent crime prevention tac tics when the dty dedared a crime emergency earhd' this year to address crime wave of violence and robberies. City officials quickly approved street surveillance cameras, curfews for young pieople and increased px)lice presence. Even though Wexler applauds the dty’s efforts, Hampton said with elections on the horizon, local politi- dans had no choice. He said recent sweeps reminded him of crime sweeps in the late 80s early 903 whOT. the pjolice boasted the arrests of more than 53,000 j>eople. But Hampton said it was merely a “feel good” tactic because most of the arrests were misde- meanora suicl not feloniea assodated with the violent crimes that held the dty hostage at the time. “That didn’t have anything to do with stoppir^ crime,” Hampton said of the sweeps both then and now, “But it was sold and the reason why it was sold was because everybody who had some thing to do with it just about was running for office.” , In D-C., Weder said 42 p)er- cent of robbery arrests last year were juveniles. He said dties like Iffinneapolis and Boston are among many U. S. dties dealing with juvenile crime and an increase in gang activity In comparison to 2004, murder arrests of juveniles climbed 20 percent in 2005. Although yovmg pjeople are increasingly getting involved in criminal activity Wexler said they are only one part of the problem. ‘Tn the 90s a number of people went to prison in record niombers and I think we’re seeing them mming out of prison now some 10-12 years later. So you’ve got an increase in juveniles and an increase in the ptopulation that is in many cases coming out of prison not any better educated or prepared for the workforce,” he said. “So they’re older. And if they are not able to find a job and they don’t have the necessary skills, regrettably the chances of them becoming involved in crime again are higher.” Wexler’s organization stud ies these trends and also organizes events like the ‘'\Tolent Crime Summit” that took place this summer where more than 170 mayors and pohee chiefs fix)m aU ovei- the country and Canada came to share ideas. Douglas Palmer, Trenton’s first Black mayor was one of the mayors in attendance. He is also the vice president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. According to this yeai’’s Morgan Quinto list, Tienton is the 14th most dai^erous dty in the nation, but Palmer said tile dty is makir^ great progress despite its national ranking. ‘1 don’t measure our crime by other dties or where we are on a list. I measure our crime by what we’re doir^ in 'frenton each and every year and how those niunbers change and if we’re more aigaged and if we’re using approaches that wfil help us reduce crime,” Palmer said. “Since 2003, our crime has been reduced by nearly 43 p)ercait. And firom last year’s statistics even to this year’s we’ve reduced crime 23 pter- cent. But we recognize that we have to continue to do more because we still have too much crime.” By doing more, Palmer means creating a “holistic” menu of programs ran^ng from ex-ofiender employment Please see VIOLENT/6A 877 CALL SUN SUNCOMOIOSI^y^M '