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  • luciwelsh72

Let's Talk About... A Plan!

Over the last 7 years, I have been issued hundreds of warrants for the courts. Currently, I am one of the only Certified Constables approved to work for the courts of Columbia and Montour Counties. During this time, I have been issued stacks and stacks of warrants. I have always done my best to serve them as they are issued to me, but at some point, the warrant load became overwhelming. I just could not, single-handedly, conquer the huge number of warrants in my filing cabinet, in file boxes, in my clipboard, and on my desk. I am here to tell you that Columbia-Montour Courts are absolutely backlogged with outstanding warrants. Many of these warrants have been issued to the Sheriff’s Departments, whose deputies are also overwhelmed with work.

I have heard the promises to have “those with outstanding warrants brought to justice, and off our streets”. This is a great “tough on crime” selling point for a campaign. I can already picture the voters fist pumping and hollering “Yeah! Go get ‘em!” So, on one side of me, I have an opponent with no idea how he is going to accomplish bringing everyone to justice, and on the other side I have an incumbent who has proven to sit on his hands and simply wait for people to show up at his court.

The words “open communication” are often used by politicians that have no concrete plan. They like to say “I plan to keep the lines of communication open” or “What we need is better/open communication between the parties”. You are going to hear a lot of this talk about communication during this campaign. It’s code for one of two things: A) “I have no idea what I’m doing.” or B) ”I don’t really plan on communicating with anyone because I get paid anyway.”

This is what politicians like to do. They like to TALK.

What our communities need is ACTION. I have knocked on doors. I have walked the streets of these neighborhoods, not just my own. I have met the defendants, their families, their parents,

neighbors and business owners. I have heard their stories. I have listened to their concerns. I know what they want. They want to know why the guy across the street with multiple felonies is not in jail. They want to know why no one has done anything about the drug dealers they reported two months ago. They want to know why no one is doing anything about the crime in their communities, why it seems to be getting worse and not better. They want to be heard, and they want someone to do something!

First of all, the courts cannot function without Constables. There are trained, outfitted, certified, bonded and insured Constables that want to work.Unlike, the Sheriff’s Department, they DO NOT COST THE TAXPAYERS A DIME, and their server rates are less. If I am elected, I plan on implementing the services of Constables by creating a warrant task force to address the growing number of unserved warrants that are currently collecting dust in the court!

Second, I will refuse to take “No” for an answer when it comes to incarcerating someone who has proven to be deserving of jail time i.e. repeat offenders, felony warrants, violent criminals.

Third, I will bring back mandated community service programs, where non-violent offenders can contribute to society, and have the opportunity to develop valuable job skills by working off their debt.

Finally, and most importantly, I will model my court after many highly successful Community and Problem-Solving Courts with the same ideals and values. Community service, counseling and treatment programs can be mandated, and individuals can be linked up with the appropriate non-profit programs that suit their immediate needs. These programs will include, but not be limited to, non-profit programs that cover the needs and subjects of mental illness, addiction, disability, health and psychological wellness, domestic violence, and job training and acquisition.

My goal is not to simply be “tough on crime”. Every defendant who comes into the courtroom is entitled to due process and respect. My intent is to be fair, impartial, and to hear each case as it is presented to me. With power comes great responsibility, and discipline is best dealt with care. When you fail to get to the root of the problem, recidivism rates never change. I think it’s a judge’s responsibility to ask, when someone appears before the bench, “How did this person get here? And Why?”

When your plan is to simply “lock people up”, you’re just keeping the vicious cycle turning, and no one really benefits. The victim, if there is one, gets no restitution, the taxpayers of the community foot the bill for incarceration, and the offender, failing to get the help they need, just ends up repeating the pattern. No one wins. Sometimes, good people are governed by their situation. They are forced to make bad decisions because they feel they have no other option. They have lost all hope. If we can meet them halfway, and get them the services they need, they have a chance of becoming productive members of society. If we can accomplish this, everyone benefits.

I will speak more about my “Problem-Solving” Court plan at a later date!

Thanks for reading!

- Luci


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