by Lee Harville
I am an only child, the product of divorce. I was a latch key kid, raised by my mother. My father was absent. Not by choice – he loved me dearly – rather, due to his 100% mental disability connected to his service in the United States Air Force.
I was that child that others in the criminal justice system point to as a statistic in the making. I had all the ingredients to become what we all fear. My parents had only high school diplomas and one of my grandparents had not graduated from high school. My resume read like any number of persons incarcerated today.
However, that is where the statistics lost. They lost to hope. They lost to a loving, devoted, and caring family that wanted me to be my best. They lost to a devoted community of friends, teachers, and neighbors who wanted me to be as much as I could dream.
Today, our criminal justice system, while the best around, is broken. It is broken because we have lost hope in it and in ourselves. We see a system that jails too many, too long for non-violent crimes and drug offenses. We see a system overwhelmed by those with mental illness.
Victims are faced with a system that drags along, fails to make us safer, and at times jails the innocent, leaving the criminals free to hurt others.
Police officers’ time is wasted in court. Police are reviled by many. Their good deeds go unnoticed, their contribution to our safety, society, and criminal justice system is downplayed, and their mistakes are magnified. They believe there is too much “hug-a-thug” and that too many arrests lead to dropped or reduced charges. The officers are given short shrift by this broken system.
In essence, we have lost hope that the system can work and that it can get better. More importantly, we have lost hope in OUR community. We seek solace and find comfort only in our insular groups. We have become the rich, the poor, the good guys, the bad guys, the police, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the abused, the victims, and the scared. All disparate factions with very little overlap into other groups.
The right District Attorney will share his or her hope that the system can and will work and can and will get better. He or she will have a history of fighting for what is right, not what is popular and certainly not just for what is the right answer politically. The right District Attorney will have a history not only of fighting for those they are like but also for defending the rights of those they are not like. He or she will have a history of making sacrifices in the short term to seek long-term gain. Most importantly, the right District Attorney will have experience on all sides of the criminal justice system, to know what works for the different groups that find themselves as willing or unwilling participants in the criminal justice system.
The right District Attorney will know that OUR community must be just that, OUR community. No longer can justice be seen in black or white. No longer can justice be determined by income, race, where you live, or whom you know. No longer can justice be seen as a battle between good and bad as defined by this group or that group.
The right District Attorney will serve as the bridge in OUR community. United by the right District Attorney, law enforcement, the prosecutors, and the defense attorneys will act to ensure that all of OUR community is treated equally and starts in the same, level field. These entities will ensure that the abused, the victims, and the scared know OUR criminal justice system is there for them. The accused will know that these groups will investigate, prosecute, and defend cases on the facts and the merits. The guilty will know that punishment will be had, and that it will be fair, measured, and reasonable.
When I am District Attorney, we will give OUR community equal justice for all. All will start on equal footing. Those who endanger any member of our community will be jailed, regardless of their community stature, affiliations and connections. OUR system of justice will be willing to give a second chance to those that are willing to take ownership of their wrongs and are deserving of a second chance.
When I am District Attorney, we will use OUR community resources – rather than tax-payer funds – to give this second chance. We will use faith-based and community-based programs that provide hope, value, guidance, leadership, education, and support to those who most need it. No longer will we be driven by winning through increasing conviction rates or by increasing the number of citizens in jail. We will be driven by what increases safety, respect, and hope for all in OUR community.
It is time to allow everyone in OUR community to start on the same level. It is time to foster an environment where everyone has a chance to be their best. It is time to give everyone a chance to be all they can dream. Not all will take advantage of this, but Justice demands that we give all in OUR community that chance. [Campaign website]
This is part of a continuing educational series of articles allowing all candidates space to explain their reasons for running for office as well as addressing questions voters should find valuable. This link will appear at the bottom of all articles in this series and allow easy access to previous articles. Limited to ONE (1) article per week per candidate.