Drug charges and second chances among topics JeffCo DA candidates spar over

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Over 100 Alabamians, interested in faith and politics, filled Southside CME Church in Birmingham, Ala. Tuesday evening for the Alabama Faith in Action District Attorney (DA) Candidate Forum.

There, Jefferson County District Attorney Mike Anderton and his challenger Danny Carr addressed the crowd on several relevant topics.

Bail

Anderton: Will not recommend cashless bond, or release to court, for ALL cases.

Low-level property crimes, low-level non-physical injury kind of crimes… if the bond has been set up to $5,000 that individual can sign his name and walk out without a problem,” Anderton explained. “But you also have to look at what happens if someone steals a car and gets out on a cashless bond, and steals another car. That may not be substantial harm to the community, unless it’s your car. If it’s your car you want something done about it.”He continued, “I’m going to take a look at each and every case as they come through and judge it on the facts of the case. This is all about treating everybody fairly.”

Carr: “The number purpose of a bond shouldn’t be to punish that person,” said Carr. “The purpose of a bond is to ensure that person comes back and appears before that judge. If the bond’s sole purpose is to punish that purpose, it becomes punitive.

For low-level offenders they should get a bond…

Sentencing and diversion

Carr: “I definitely believe in diversion programs,” said Carr.

Carr suggested expanding diversion programs to some distribution cases. He also believe fines and fees for the programs should be waived where the person is indigent.

Anderton: I absolutely believe in diversion programs. I think they’re terrific. Because the whole idea that someone has a drug or narcotic issue, we need to get them off,” responded Anderton.

Anderton says for a small amount of possession, diversion programs make sense. But he does not believe it is appropriate for drug traffickers.

Failure to appear (FTA)

Anderton: “If I find out an individual has FTA’d because he wasn’t given notice, I’m not looking to lock him up. No, this has got to be fair. He can’t be expected to make an appointment he didn’t know about,” said Anderton.

“Once an individual has an attorney, we, District Attorneys office, is not allowed to contact that defendant. It is unethical for us to contact the client of a lawyer… we can’t do it.”

Carr: “We can agree on the part about a defendant — once they’re represented by an attorney, we can’t contact them. That would be unethical for us to call them up and say x, y, z.”

Carr believes in giving defendants a second chance to appear, if the lawyer believes they can be tracked down, rather than issuing a warrant from the bench, an FTA.

Anderton and Carr will face-off on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Watch the live-stream of the forum:

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