Make An Informed Vote



I worked as director of counseling in one of Arizona's prisons populated only by inmates convicted of felonies determined to be drug-related or caused. The large majority of men and women assigned there were not addicts; but, they were certainly drug abusers and threats to the physical and economic safety of their neighbors.

A surprising number of them had resided in small towns. But, they had not been jailed much -- if at all -- in those towns, which is partly why they chose to live therein. They felt "safer" from law enforcement and intimidated anyone perceived as a threat by using phony charges to seek "protection orders" to keep people -- including family and landlords -- afraid to "buzz the fuzz" on them. If the people they falsely accused contested the charges, they just didn't show in court since they'd used an alias anyway!

And I never heard reports of local judges coming after them for court costs and legal fees of their hapless defendant(s). There should not be any such victims if judges are following statute-based procedural guidelines for discerning credible merit of any application for protective "restraining orders" given the potential dire consequences for the wrongly-accused having their accuser then falsely claim that they violated the order!

Most of the prisoners in the program had a significant record of "lesser" charges for which they'd received fines, which to them just meant more stealing and dealing. If they were jailed in towns for crimes like drunk or drugged driving or drug felonies, they always had plenty of bail available.

Significantly, and relevant to the area's JP election, those who had served more jail time on whatever offenses, tended to participate more in the program. (There was not reason to do so because it made no difference related to sentence length.)

There are reasons the non-incumbent candidates for JP are suggesting use of more creative ways of sentencing, more effective types of "counseling" and means of reducing repeat offender appearances. They are also suggesting ways to better give restitution for victims of crime, which in this area is so extensively "drugger" related. An easy Internet check of Justice Court records can establish the basis for the challengers' concerns.

The primary election is the only one this year for the office of justice of the peace in the Payson area, so make an informed vote count.

Rev. Maurice Simons, D.Min.

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