LETTER TO EDITOR 

The local Sheriff makes some good points in his August 1st letter to the Editor. Public Officials love to hear from their voting public.   

But please allow me to play the unpopular devil’s advocate briefly.

First our Supreme Court and Judiciary are not subject to bi-partisan election tactics on purpose, in order that they can remain independent and above  “local partisan wars”. Mainly in respond to concerns by the trial Judges and the Missouri Assoc. of Prosecuting Attorneys, they have modified the original rule and delayed most of its more stringent implementations for an additional 6 months. 

Locally, other than the mandated “7 day rule” the new Supreme Court Rules will effect no additional changes in Douglas County and the 44th Judicial. Circuit. Our local P.A. and Judges, whom I would not label in any way as” pro-accused”, were already ahead of the curve on this process by a good 2-3 years.       

The Missouri Supreme Court is under pressure from the American Bar Association and the US Supreme Court to minimalize pre-trial detainment, due to the fact that these detainees are “innocent” persons whom have not been convicted by a judge or jury, and these indigent accused persons can often serve over a year in the county jail and never end up being convicted of one crime.

One obvious fix: speed up trial dates for accused persons. An old judge once wisely told me that if a person was out on bond, the public deserved a speedy trial; and if the accused was unable to make bond and was detained, then the jailed person was entitled to a speedy trial. 

The rule changes, I think, were meant to accomplish 3 things: 1) eliminate the unnecessary middle-man, the bail-bondsman, out of the process; 2) lower the high cost of pre-trial detainment; and 3) ultimately save the rural Missouri counties from bankruptcy in having to construct and maintain and staff new jail facilities with local administrators, medical staff, and guards.          

These arguments remind me of the same ones used against the implementation of Drug Courts over 2 decades ago. When I would appear and make a spiel before the local Rotary Club invariable one elderly women would voice her opposition to Drug Courts; by supporting the incarceration of all drug offenders.       

I would gently respond by asking her if she was willing to pay more taxes for more facilities. “No Way!”.    

Part of the reason that Drug Courts became mandated was to solve the revolving door policy of drug offenders. No, they are not without their issues.  Long term studies reveal  a 60% non-recidivism rate versus a 10% non-recid rate for people  without the benefit of a treatment court.  In 2005, the cost for drug court supervision was $ 5300 and the costs for state incarceration was $ 28,500  for one year. The reasons that treatment courts (drugs, mental health, alcohol, and veterans) have become so popular with the Courts and the Legislature is not only do they work better than prisons; they are a heck of a lot cheaper.

Anyway, I hope that I am wrong and will probably be long gone, and new sheriff offices and  jail were probably necessary, but in 8-10 years, Douglas County will likely experience severe financial pain over this once new 50 bed facility.  In my opinion  they are fairly easy to build, but very expensive to staff and maintain.

And as for the new editor being “shocked” that the school board can’t agree on a new transportation agreement with the local bus drivers, don’t be! 

I have finally reached the conclusion that the country is  divided 50-50 over almost any issue put before it.  In fact if I offered a jury of 12 persons a free dinner tomorrow, we would be lucky to get 4 or 5 people to even agree as to where to go eat.

Roger Wall