Letter: Washington County Worst In Area On Felony Convictions

Washington County Worst In Area On Felony Convictions

As a Republican candidate for Washington County State’s Attorney in the upcoming March 15th primary, I have seen first-hand that actions do speak louder than words. During recent conversations with several residents of our county, questions were asked about the number of felony convictions in our county last year. I took it upon myself to research some public information regarding those felony convictions and the results I found are extremely disappointing! For example, in 2014, Washington County had 85 felony cases that were resolved, but only 28 of those resulted in a felony conviction against the criminal. That’s less than a 33% felony conviction rate. In 2015, the felony conviction rate in Washington County was marginally improved to just over 34%.

These felony conviction rates for Washington County seemed quite low so I investigated the felony conviction rates for some of our surrounding counties and compared them to ours. Here’s what I found: In 2014, Perry County’s felony conviction rate was 52%; Jefferson County’s rate was almost 54%; Randolph County was over 57%; Monroe County’s felony conviction rate was over 68%; and Marion County’s 2014 felony conviction rate was a whopping 70.5%! That’s more than double the conviction rate here in Washington County that same year.

What happened in the other 66% of the resolved felony cases in Washington County in 2015 that did not result in a felony conviction? The sad truth is that the majority of those cases were either dismissed or the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor offense by the State’s Attorney. The criminals charged with felony offenses were frequently allowed to negotiate either a reduction or dismissal of the charges against them. Consequentially, the victims of these felony crimes were denied justice and were not given a chance to have their voices heard in court.

How did our wholesome county, with a great reputation for being a safe, friendly place to live, work, and raise a family, slip into such an abysmal state? Our current low felony conviction rate is a direct result of our chief law enforcement officer, the State’s Attorney, being soft on serious crime. In addition, victims of some of these serious crimes have openly complained of the lack of communication from the State’s Attorney’s office. Even local law enforcement officers are frustrated that their hard work and noble efforts to protect our community so often go to waste.

To be an effective State’s Attorney, I believe that appropriate charges must be filed at the outset of each case. Communication with the officers and victims must be paramount so that a united decision can be made. After proper charges are filed, it may be appropriate to make a reasonable offer to the defendant in an effort to resolve the case. However, once an offer is made to a defendant, continuous negotiations or excessive reductions of the charges should not occur.

A State’s Attorney who is not decisive, who cannot follow through on offers, or who bows to pressure, will ultimately weaken the criminal justice system. Such a person will lack credibility, will deny justice for victims, and will undermine the authority of law enforcement officers. Only criminals will benefit from a State’s Attorney’s lack of credibility.

When I, Daniel M. Bronke, am elected State’s Attorney by the voters of Washington County, I will conduct myself with credibility and integrity. I will keep the lines of communication between the State’s Attorney’s office, local law enforcements officers, and victims open and honest. I will use the knowledge I have cultivated over years of handling matters in various areas of criminal and civil law. I will use the experience I’ve gathered conducting both criminal bench and jury trials. I will use the common sense needed to reverse the current poor felony conviction rate of our community, and will work tirelessly to ensure our community remains a safe, friendly place to live, work, and raise our families. Knowledge. Experience. Common Sense. That is what our county needs. Please vote for me, Daniel M. Bronke, for your next Washington County State’s Attorney and watch my actions speak louder than words.

Daniel M. Bronke

Republican Candidate for Washington County State’s Attorney