Lets start with Judge Brannen. When his challenger, Gwen Forston Waring made reference to her goal of stopping the revolving door of justice, Brannen responded by saying he sends convicted people to state prison by the boat load - but Governor Purdue lets them out early and sends them back to our community. Further, the Judge says that Purdue doesn't even tell us when he lets them out early so when they revolve back to Savannah he is as shocked as anyone. It is clear there seems to be a correlation between length of service and the capacity to blame someone else, or, the longer you serve the less innovation you manifest.
While there may be some truth to this notion, the Judge missed Ms. Warings point that "more effective sentencing innovations coming from the other superior court judges" could make all the difference particularly in the long run.
Then came Sheriff Al St Lawrence. His opponent did not show up but then never accepted the invitation to begin with either. Oh well. At these forums, questions keep coming up about jail over crowding which drives the need for more very expensive jail expansion. What I keep hearing from this salty old school career politician is, "I ain't gonna tell you again, I run a pre-trial facility and I got 1810...." If I have heard that once I have heard it a hundred times. Al just seems to think his entire job is to keep people locked up. In my opinion that is the minimum a Sheriff should do.
I would think a smart sheriff would start asking and caring about why his jail is always full not just for the sake of those incarcerated but how about for the tax payers who have to pay through their teeth to keep building additional jail beds at a cost of $143,000 per bed? Hello, are you listening Al? I know it's late in the game and all but since you are "the highest law enforcement officer in the county" couldn't you use your position to put a little pressure on the others who actually do have some control over our crime levels? This would require a "proactive" and "integrated" approach to the problem.
Ergo: If schools would teach students (resulting in a higher graduation level than 50%), if the courts used more effective sentencing options earlier in first time offender cases, if the business community started paying people a real wage (hospitality industry are you listening?) and if parents would for God's sake start being parents for a change (that means first setting a good example, being home to help with homework, joining PTA) then we might one day stop building new jails. I'm sorry but Al St Lawrence just never modernized his thinking about jailing. It's not 1956 anymore Al and, yes, you run an extremely secure facility however taxpayers would like you to not lust over larger and larger jails. In fact, that should be somehow written into the job description for the next sheriff.
Tomorrow I will comment on the DA candidates and my close encounter with the anachronism, Pete Liakakis.