It is an important function of the prosecutor to seek to reform and improve the administration of criminal justice. When inadequacies or injustices in the substantive or procedural law come to the prosecutor's attention, he or she should stimulate efforts for remedial action.

#1

End Over-Prosecutionof victimless offences

Johnson County’s current criminal justice system prosecutes many people for victimless drug and alcohol offenses. These charges burden people with unnecessary criminal records and divert the system’s resources from protecting people from real crime.

If elected, John will end prosecutions for petty victimless crimes like having marijuana for personal use and public intoxication.

Certainly, if someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and drives while impaired, or if they harm someone, damage property, or break some other law, they will be prosecuted accordingly. But otherwise, public intoxication and possession of small quantities of marijuana should not be processed by the criminal justice system.

With harder drugs, those with abuse problems will be directed to mental health and substance abuse treatment as an alternative to criminal prosecution. Social services, non-profit organizations, and other local agencies are better suited to produce desirable outcomes for these situations.

#2

Review All Chargesfor seriousness, fairness, and supportable evidence

Currently, many cases get prosecuted in ways that most reasonable people would consider too severe. In addition, the current practice is to prosecute every person the police arrest.

If John is elected, prosecutors will screen all arrests carefully and immediately regarding whether the case should be in the criminal justice system at all. Every case comes out of a context and that context will be taken into account in making that evaluation. Cases that don’t pass that test of reasonable justice will be dismissed.

A similar test will apply to specific charges and to recommended sentences. All decisions by the prosecutors should reflect a balanced sense of justice.

#3

Redirect Resourcesto solving serious crimes

The core purpose of the criminal justice system should be to protect people from serious harm from others. The criminal justice system has limited resources. Removing petty and unnecessary cases from the system will allow resources to be focused more fully on its central mission. Of special priority will be aggressive prosecution of domestic violence and sexual assaults.

A particular problem currently is that sexual assaults by acquaintances are under-reported and under-prosecuted. Devoting more resources to prosecuting this most serious of crimes will lead to more convictions. That, in turn, will encourage more victims to report because they will know that reporting will likely lead to the conviction of the perpetrator.

#4

End Racial Profilingby dismissing racially-motivated charges

Currently, Johnson County has a racial-profiling problem. From juvenile arrests to low-level marijuana prosecutions to the population of the county jail, African-Americans are over-represented to the extreme.

Moving toward being one community in which all people feel equally part requires that these racial disparities be addressed aggressively and ended wherever they are unfair. No one should be in the criminal justice system because of the color of their skin.

If John is elected, prosecutors will screen all arrests of people of color. They will ask the question, “Would this person have been arrested if they had been white?” If the answer is, "Probably not" or "No," the case will be immediately dismissed and the arresting officer will be noted.

Police officers are directly responsible to their local jurisdiction rather than to the county attorney. But officers will want to avoid being on the list of those suspected of making race-based arrests.

#5

Unclog the Jailby ending unwarranted pretrial detention

If elected, John will end pre-trial detention through bond of those who are neither serious flight risks nor serious dangers to the community.

Over three-quarters of the people in the Johnson County Jail have not been convicted. Rather, they have only been charged, but are unable to pay the money that would get them out on bond before trial. A large number of these people (who legally are still innocent until proven guilty) are there for either misdemeanor-level or non-violent charges.

Our justice system is supposed to ensure that only those found guilty are punished with incarceration — after they've had a fair trial. That is still how the system works for people with money. Those who are poor, however, are too often jailed without even having a chance to put up a defense.

The presumption of innocence should not depend on the size of a person’s bank account. Therefore only in special situations should money be required to be free before trial.

This approach will have the added benefit of reducing the number of inmates in the overcrowded Johnson County Jail.