This 96th edition of Justice For All is a review of the last four years in the Clayton County Attorney’s Office as my second term in office concludes and my third term begins.
Prosecuting methamphetamine cases has been and continues to be a top priority. We have seen a significant decrease in the amount of meth labs in the last four years (2015-2018) as compared to the first four years (2011-2014) of my time as county attorney. Despite that fact this deadly drug remains a problem as a recent study in the Journal of American Medical Association reports that amphetamine related hospitalizations have increased 245% from 2008 to 2015 with a cost to taxpayers of $2.2 billion dollars in 2015 alone. In 2017 approximately 10,000 people died of a meth related overdose according to the federal government. Add to this the many ruined lives that meth causes and you can see why it’s so important for everyone to do their part to stem the tide of devastation that this drug causes.
Maintaining a good working relationship with law enforcement has also been a focus in my second term. As in the first term, I continue to conduct trainings and provide legal updates to the Clayton County Law Enforcement Association (“CCLEA”). Earlier this year the CCLEA presented me with an Award of Excellence but the true excellence is in the dedication and professionalism that the peace officers in our county as a whole show on a daily basis.
Two new developments in my second term, one positive and one negative, are the criminal fine collection program and the increase in vehicular homicides and serious injuries by vehicles.
In 2015 my office began a collection program to help defendants who owe money on fines, surcharges, court costs, and restitution pay off those obligations. In exchange Clayton County is allowed to keep a percentage of the money collected instead of everything going to the general fund in Des Moines which is what otherwise would have happened. I’m proud to report that under the leadership of Assistant County Attorney Zach Herrmann our fine collection program has generated over $100,000 of revenue for Clayton County. Very much a positive development!
An unfortunate development in the last four years is the increase in vehicular homicides and serious injuries by vehicle. Four people, three who were 16 years old and one who was 22, have died as passengers in vehicles driven by an intoxicated driver. Two of the three drivers of those vehicles were 20 years old and the third was 23. There was also recently a person who was seriously injured as a result of his vehicle being struck by a 25 year old driver who was operating while intoxicated. I don’t see the ages of the drivers as a coincidence and I will continue to speak to students about the very real dangers and consequences of drinking or doing drugs and driving.
Finally, I continue to write “Justice For All” every month. 96 months and 96 editions published on schedule. I have received very positive feedback from the public about JFA and plan to continue to produce what I hope are brief, interesting, informative, and helpful glimpses into our justice system in Clayton County. Thank you to all the readers of this column for your interest and support over these momentous years as we begin the next chapter of justice for all.