Dr. Susan MacManus was commissioned to do a poll in our county. The poll asked various questions about what residents and voters felt about various topics. Obviously, the number one overriding issue was the economy and jobs. But was interesting to me is that crime was 3rd from the bottom at 3% and nearly 50% of respondents said that they absolutely did not favor a temporary tax increase for a new jail even though the current facility is at capacity.
During a recession as severe as this one, you might expect that violent crime would go through the roof. More people without money means more robbing, stealing, and gun play because people are frustrated over their situations. However, this isn’t happening. Overall crime in Charlotte County was down 27.4 percent. Its unemployment rate is 12.1 percent.
What is happening, however, is that our jail is filled with non-violent, victimless crime “offenders” who either can not extricate themselves from the “system” or have just said the heck with it at least I can get medical care and food here at the jail. We have turned our local jail into a debtor’s prison. Something the House of Burgesses did away with in 1619.
The system is not going to get any more money to build more jail space, so they have to deal with it. This is what should be done.
What the State Attorney should do immediately is inform law enforcement that he will not prosecute <20 grams of marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia arrests. These are both minor misdemeanors and this would certainly lighten the load on the court and the jail.
Shoplifting prosecutions under $100 should be suspended and a seminar should be done with store managers to educate them how to deal with this issue internally.
Also something has to be done with the innumerable arrests for no or suspended DL’s. I haven’t got an answer for this yet, but the fine, suspend, arrest, fine, arrest for contempt, fine and no collections on these “crimes” is idiotic.