On Friday, February 1st at 10pm/9c, Dateline NBC will give viewers an uncensored look into the lives of two narcotics detectives -- both trained to take down drug dealers – given the formidable task of rehabilitating low level criminals through a controversial drug intervention program. For one year, Dateline went inside the program, capturing the dramatic personal journeys of the heroic detectives struggling to work with criminals instead of against them; of the criminals who are trying to reform; and of a working class neighborhood that is trying desperately to save itself.
The city of North Charleston, standing just ten miles from beautiful historic Charleston, is a gritty, blue collar city that battles the demons of drugs, prostitution, and crime. In 2011, in effort to transform North Charleston, 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 in the area. The program took a two-pronged approach. First, the neighborhood’s most stubborn and violent dealers were arrested and given bail too high for them to make. Then, rather than sending the low level drug dealers to jail, STAND used intense intervention with education, employment and counseling to transform them — from law-breakers to law-abiding citizens — for good. The purpose of the program is to stop the revolving door created by the justice system and to use the police officers who know the neighborhood best to save it.
At the center of if all are two narcotics detectives: Charity Prosser, a 39-year-old mother and wife, and her partner, Jamel Foster, a Navy veteran and father of four. Both reluctantly join the program they derisively call “Hug a Thug,” but during a remarkable year they come to help, and even love, the eight would-be criminals who they put under their wing.
Dateline cameras roll as a SWAT team storms through the community on the hunt 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. It is a year of surprising successes, disappointing failures, real heartbreaks, and ultimate victories. Viewers witness the shocking transformations of both dealers, and of the detectives trying to save them, as both sides learn to trust and help each other, and themselves.