#1 Priority: Domestic Violence
by Mark Rogers
Years ago when I was a public defender in Caddo, I was walking into court and two tough looking dudes were walking out. One elbowed the other and said, “Yo, you’re Mr. Rogers, right?” “Yes. Do I know you?” “You were my lawyer.” “Are you pissed off?” “Naw, man! I’m out of jail! I’m just paying the fine! We’re straight!”
“So you’re out of jail. Do you want to know how to stay out of jail?”
“Yeah man!” He elbows his friend, “How you stay out of jail?”
“Don’t drink, stay away from crazy women. You fellows do that, and the odds of you going to jail reduce by about 98%”
The guy slapped his buddy’s back and yelled, “I TOLD YOU MR. ROGERS KEEPS IT REAL!”
And right now we really need to change our approach on domestic violence. Really.
The criminal justice system is a big whirl-pool drain that sucks people in, and once they get in, they almost never get out. People drift in on misdemeanors, and once they get sucked down into the felony pipe, they are gone! As I see it, the two main areas we have to concentrate on to have any long term success in reducing incoming crime are: 1. Treating addiction as a medical issue; and 2. Treating family violence as a family issue.
We have a family crisis in Caddo. The biggest indicator of whether a person will become a defendant, is a missing parent, or two. That, coupled with no high school diploma almost guarantees one a stay in CCC at some point. We have to focus on family repair if we are ever going to slow the flow of future inmates.
Many of our families are fractured. And the thing that fractures a family worst is domestic violence.
Domestic violence, fractured families, absent parents are the biggest source of subsequent serious cases in the criminal justice system. Misdemeanor domestic violence records are all too common amongst people who later commit serious felony violence with serious injury up to murder. From the edge, to right down the drain….
What we really need is an entire court division of court to handle domestic violence misdemeanor and felony only, all day, every day. Calling it domestic violence court won’t work, so let’s call it what it should be: Family Repair Court.
Right now domestic violence is scattered among the four criminal divisions in Caddo District court. There is no consistency in anything from court dates to disposition and sentence. It’s a higgledy-piggledy mess. Sure sometimes subpoenas go out with the wrong date. The confusion and inefficiency in trying to get victims, defendants and co-defendants (who often come back, and sometimes swap roles), witnesses, experts, law enforcement, victim’s assistance, diversion slips, drop affidavits etc. into four different court rooms with four different judges, and up to 12 different prosecutors, and eight public defenders, and private attorneys and THEN add on the fact that there are usually ancillary divorce and child custody proceedings tied in pending in domestic court, this madness is a fault of the system, not the participants. We need ONE court, similar to drug court to handle them all.
If elected, I will work to make that a reality. I don’t even know if it’s possible or even constitutional right now, but if elected, I will give it my all. I can’t promise a final resolution, but that is my vision. We need clarity and unity, efficiency and ease, teamwork and resolve, to simplify and streamline the process. The end goal is to simplify and streamline.
On the “keeping it real” note, here is some real advice I give on a regular basis to individuals on how to avoid domestic issues. I’m divorced. I understand the psychosis of being angry at someone once dear. Family fracture will drive one crazy. A friend of mine once told me when he got divorced, his “cheese done slid off his cracker.” It happens to the best of us. Violence is no answer when one’s cheese begins to slide. My advice is, never communicate when mad, turn off the cell phone, turn off the computer, go outside, go for a walk, think about happy things, and stop wanting to “tell people the truth.”
The human mind has one great power; it can focus with great concentration for long periods of time. The human mind also has one wonderful limitation; it can only focus on one thing at a time. Therefore a mind that focuses for a long period of time on positive, happy thoughts can’t also think angry thoughts. A person who does this feels better, behaves better, and the emotional pain of a fractured family doesn’t have to become physical.
It takes work.
All of this is going to take a lot of work.
We need to focus our minds without distraction if we are to bring about a focused family repair court without distraction. We can’t fix family violence overnight, and I can’t even begin to try to address those issues intelligently without more information, but I believe we can sure put together a better way of handling it. We have to stop people from floating into the whirlpool. We have to stop flushing people’s family members down the drain, and risking them taking the family with them. We have to build a brand-new better machine tailor-made to handle this.
And I am willing to work on it.
This campaign of mine is evidence of how hard and how well I work. I am a committee of one, paid for by me, Mark Rogers. All the money I spent is my money, and it ain’t much. I do everything. I designed the website, the signs, the slogan, the logo, and I write my material. I go out, I visit, I email, I write, I call, I push myself into new places meeting more people. More people who are like me. And people who are different than me. People who want smaller government that is consistent, fair, and efficient. I have carried this campaign from a dream, to a whisper, to a murmur, up to serious talking points on difficult issues, with some people now shouting from rooftops! As a public defender I have seven years of experience of pulling miracles out of nothing. I’m doing it again in this campaign, and if elected, I can put these principles to work for all the citizens of Caddo Parish, my employer.
As an administrator, I believe in efficiency and consistency, Streamline the System and Cut the Nonsense.
I want this job, and I am ready to work.
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.