Dateline NBC aired an hour-long description of an effort by North Charleston, S.C., to battle problems of drugs, prostitution, and crime. In 2011, U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles created a year-long experimental program, called STAND (Stop and Take A New Direction) in effort to combat drug crime. Similar to projects elsewhere led by David Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, STAND arrested violent drug dealers, set high bail amounts, and used intense intervention with education, employment, and counseling to transform them from law-breakers to law-abiding citizens.
Two narcotics detectives, Charity Prosser and Jamel Foster, reluctantly joined the program they derisively call “Hug a Thug,” but during the year they came to help, and even love, the eight would-be criminals who they put under their wing. Dateline recorded SWAT teams hunting for drug dealers; as neighbors show up in court to confront the drug dealers; and as eight low-level dealers are guided towards a life without drugs and prison. Several of the program’s targets were re-arrested, but others used STAND to turn their lives around.