Name as it appears on the ballot: Nancy (Lorrin) Freeman
Campaign website: FreemanforDA.com
Years lived in Wake County: 25 years
1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing the District Attorney’s Office? What are your top three priorities in addressing these issues?
My top priorities are the continued improvement of our criminal legal system to ensure the fair administration of justice for all our citizens, holding accountable those who violate the public trust, and maintaining public safety especially for the most vulnerable in our community. If re-elected, I will continue to organize and lead efforts, such as expungement and drivers license restoration clinics, to assist individuals as they re-enter the community following involvement with the justice system, expand programs that provide the opportunity to divert behavioral health issues away from the courts, and support programs that prevent acts of violence.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be an effective district attorney? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
Over the past twenty five years I have served our community including six years on the City of Raleigh Human Relations Commission, two terms as the elected Clerk of Superior Court and most recently for two terms as the elected District Attorney. I have successfully led major agencies within our court system through major challenges including chronic underfunding of the courts and a pandemic. As District Attorney I have worked diligently to hold those who abuse their position accountable and to keep our community safe, while also increasing the opportunities for low level nonviolent offenses to be diverted away from the criminal justice system.
3. If you are challenging an incumbent, what decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with? If you are an incumbent, what in your record and experience do you believe entitles you to another term?
During significant challenges including insufficient resources in the courts and a pandemic, I have effectively balanced the need to keep our community safe and hold people accountable for violating the law while continuing to find ways to improve the fairness of the court system.
4. Recently, Wake County lowered the minimum bond for some offenses to reduce the number of people in county jails awaiting trial but some say bonds remain too expensive for many people sitting in county jails. Do you believe the bail reforms go far enough?
Over the past eighteen months, I chaired this study into pretrial practices here in Wake County in conjunction with the national leader in pretrial reform Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research (APPR). The six recommendations that came from this effort are geared to help meet the objective of releasing people who should not be in custody. They expand our pretrial release program, provide counsel at first appearances, and establish the use of a pretrial assessment risk assessment tool, among other things. These changes are being monitored to determine their effectiveness. If we can make additional changes under the law without jeopardizing public safety, we will.
5. Recently, gun violence has proliferated in communities across the nation, including in Wake County. How should the DA’s office focus resources to addressing violent gun crime and prosecuting offenders?
Violence disrupts our community and cannot be tolerated but addressing violence cannot be only about aggressive prosecution. Despite a recent increase in homicides, Wake County continues to enjoy a remarkably low per capita violent crime rate compared to other urban communities in the State and nationally. The District Attorney’s Office plays a critical role in keeping our community safe. Over the past two years I have formed an aggravated violent offense unit to ensure these cases are receiving priority attention. Our office has resolved by conviction twenty homicide cases since the beginning of 2022. At the same time, I have worked, to substantially expand mental health resources in our community by chairing an advisory collaborative committee to the Wake County Commission. Most recently I have been working with the Raleigh-Apex NAACP and others in support of starting a comprehensive violence intervention program.
6. Do you support the expanded use of citations as an alternative to arrests? Under what circumstances do you believe citations should be issued?
I fully support the use of citations in lieu of arrest in any situation where doing so does not jeopardize public safety.
7. What do you think is the most effective way to deal with low-level drug offenders? What are or what would be your policies regarding plea bargaining in drug offense cases?
Substance use non-violent offenses that do not involve sale should be directed towards education and treatment and not handled through incarceration. For over twenty years, our office has provided the opportunity to participate in a substance use deferral program as a way for first time offenders to earn a dismissal of these charges. As District Attorney I have expanded these options and recently joined in a proposal for grant funding to start a pre-arrest diversion program for opioid use offenses.
8. In terms of juvenile justice, what do you believe can be done to prevent delinquency and gang involvement?
Youth that are at risk for becoming involved in the legal system or with gangs are in need of opportunities and access to behavioral health resources. As District Attorney I have worked diligently to push to expand behavioral health resources in our community.
9. As DA, how have you dealt with fatal use of force by local law enforcement officers? If you are a challenger, how well do you think the incumbent DA has dealt with use of force by local law enforcement officers? When do you think law enforcement officers should be prosecuted for use of lethal force?
These fatalities are tragic. Where evidence supports that a use of force has been illegal, officers must be held accountable. It is important these cases be independently investigated and that as the elected District Attorney, accountable to the people of our community, that I review and make decisions, based on the evidence and the law about whether law enforcement officers should face criminal prosecution. I also believe that transparency with the community in these matters is important. For this reason, I do not oppose the release of bodycam or other video of these incidents, and I issue detailed summary reports on these decisions after meeting with the victim’s family. On multiple occasions when law enforcement officers have abused their authority, I have sought indictments and prosecuted them.
10. It has been more than a decade since North Carolina executed anyone. Do you support capital punishment? Under what circumstances would you think it proper to seek the death penalty?
We have not declared a case capital since 2017. The death penalty should be reserved for only those most egregious murder cases, and only as long as it continues to be North Carolina law.
11. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some points with voters.
Over and over again as District Attorney I have been required to make decisions in cases where there is strong public sentiment often on competing sides. Always I set aside personal or political expediency and evaluate the evidence and apply the law to reach these decisions. My commitment to the people of Wake County has always been, and continues to be, one of doing that which is right.