Two crime bills raise concerns
There are two alarming developments in our state legislature involving suggested changes to the criminal code, i.e., House Bills (HB) 1006 and 1022.
The News and Tribune article on HB 1006 (May 6) contains quotes from several politicians on the potential impact of the bill, which would shift the financial burden from the state to the counties to house the expected increase in prisoners.
The scariest comment was not about the monetary cost but, rather, the implicit admission by Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart that our criminal justice system is corrupt. Corruption isn’t just about money; it’s also about the failure to follow constitutional mandates and the erosion of our rights. In disputing the financial impact feared by the local county sheriffs, who administer the jails and their budgets, Stewart stated that he and his colleagues would decide who gets jail and who does not. According to Mr. Stewart, “Any participant in the criminal justice system has to be aware of the current population of our jail and that means that everybody we’d like to see in jail can’t be in jail, and there will be some decisions made about bail for pretrial detainees and some misdemeanor offenses, anyway.” Some hard decisions will have to be made, short of putting them in the local jail.
Translation: Whether a person is jailed will be determined by available space, political connections, financial status, race/ethnicity and other improper factors to an even greater degree than it is already. That is unacceptable. The only other alternative is to build more prisons, but the Assembly’s GOP majority has already ruled that out because it would require spending the necessary funds.
It’s bad enough that our system already favors the wealthy and well-connected. Does anyone reading this actually believe that they would receive the same legal courtesies shown recently to certain city and county officials who landed in trouble for alleged DUIs or “financial irregularities?”
Allowing unfettered discretion to prosecutors or anyone else is the very definition of arbitrary and capricious. This short-sighted proposal would not just encourage favoritism and corruption — it would require it.
The other proposal of concern is HB 1022, sponsored by state Rep. Tim Neese. Neese’s bill would upgrade the current misdemeanor charge of a simple or offensive touch of a police officer, or even their designated helpers, to a class D felony akin to aggravated assault on an officer, which carries an average prison sentence of 10 months.
The current law requires an actual serious assault to raise the incident to that level, as it should be.
Anyone who’s ever seen traffic or criminal court proceedings knows that judges rarely, if ever, fail to side with a cop regardless of how many lay witnesses testify differently. That is way too much power in the hands of someone who already literally holds the power of life and death over us and way too much temptation to abuse this proposed law to settle scores, punish perceived disrespect or to nail someone they think got off too easily for something else
It happens every day in our country because police are human and subject to mistakes and petty behavior, just like the rest of us.
If either of these proposed amendments to existing laws concerns you, contact your state representative and senator to voice your objection.
— Joseph Moore, Georgetown
A salute to military personnel
This is for all of the children too young to put words down on paper but old enough to reason in their minds what war means. And to those also old enough in years to know that the men and women serving in the military give to serve and protect our country.
In writing for the little children and myself, writing this short letter, I say God bless all that serve in the military and especially to the men and women that lose their lives at to early of an age in war times.
Praise one and all of you from myself and the children of this great country of ours — the good old U S of A.
— Stephen Espy, Jeffersonville
Reader urges increased traffic enforcement
I am a resident of Jeffersonville and have been since 1986. I now reside at 3183 Utica Pike.
My neighbors and I have written our mayor numerous times asking him to use his authority to put a stop to the large number of speeders on Utica Pike. I have lived here two years and my neighbors much longer. A large number of drivers who drive between Jeff Boat and Port Road literally fly down our road in both directions. We are a city road with a 40 mph speed limit. We ask the mayor, the council and the police chief to do something about this.
Also, if you drive out Utica Pike you’ll see numerous signs posted with a weight limit of 8 tons. Yet, we have to deal with constant semi trucks speeding down our road because this is a shorter route to Interstate 65 than Port Road.
Won’t it be nice when the new park at the Big Four Bridge is finished and the folks coming to enjoy our town have to deal with semis turning from Market Street onto Mulberry? This is the route they take.
We are not asking for any new regulations — just enforce existing ones. We ask the people in charge of this to please make our road a safer place for all of us who live on Market Street and Utica Pike. It would also benefit the city by the revenue it would produce.
— James Herndon, Jeffersonville