Don’t sleep on Nov. 6 election
Before you know it Election Day will be upon us — Tuesday, Nov. 6. Unfortunately, voter turnout in non-presidential elections is much lower than it should be. There are still some issues that have not been decided in the primary election last Sept. 4. Prominent among these is whether Rachael Rollins will be elected as the first woman to be Suffolk County district attorney.
Rollins emerged from the primary as a brand new political prominence. In a five candidate race she tallied 40 percent of the vote. Now the choice for the next district attorney is between Rollins and Michael Maloney. Voters who supported Rollins in the primary should not become complacent because of her outstanding primary victory. The novelty of the dramatic changes she proposes will mobilize her opponents.
Many citizens oppose some elements of the criminal justice system. However, as usually happens, lawyers and others have learned how to generate revenue from the procedures. The police get paid for half a day when they spend only a few minutes in court for a hearing before a judge that often results in a dismissal or a continuance without a finding. Public defenders and private lawyers get paid for minimal work at this point in the proceedings.
Rollins is especially concerned that the imposition of a criminal record creates a burden for someone accused of a petty crime. Prospective employers become reluctant to hire them and they become ineligible for assisted housing as well as education grants. Bail funds they pay deprive their families of financial resources. Imprisonment rather than psychiatric care or drug detoxification increases the rate of recidivism.
Be assured that those who want to lock up every miscreant and throw away the key will show up on Election Day. The Rollins reformers will have to vote in strength in order to win the election and improve the fairness and equality of the criminal justice system.