Pubdate: Sat, 18 Feb 2006
Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen (IA)
Copyright: 2006 Iowa City Press-Citizen
Author: Nick Maybanks
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


As a prosecutor, I know the county attorney can and should do more to 
ease jail overflow and spearhead a new method of processing cases 
through our system.

Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek bravely approached the Iowa Legislature and 
told them that we need to change the way we process low-level alcohol 
and drug offenses. Despite criticisms to the contrary, the sheriff is 
not proposing that we ignore laws against excessive drinking or use 
of illegal drugs. The sheriff has the best interests of the community 
in mind, as do I. I contend it is time we take a look at the way in 
which low-level alcohol and drug offenses are overwhelming our 
system, burdening our overcrowded jail and taking the focus away from 
more serious, violent offenders.

Since I announced my campaign for Johnson County Attorney, I have 
advocated for fresh ideas. Like Sheriff Pulkrabek, I believe that 
Johnson County ultimately needs a new correctional facility. This 
facility could include a detoxification or treatment center along 
with additional space for violent offenders. In the meantime, police 
should be encouraged to cite and release marijuana offenders on a 
promise to appear in court, and we should investigate alternate 
placement for non-violent intoxicated persons.

I also believe we should supplement jail diversion programs already 
implemented with court-diversion programs that permit low-level 
offenders to avoid incarceration and a criminal record by remaining 
arrest-free during a period of probation, seek treatment and perform 
community service. The community is safer from these offenders when 
we give them a stake in their own success, rather than the current 
"assembly-line" justice system that incarcerates, fines, convicts and 
forgets about them until they offend again.

Nick Maybanks