Electing Strong Law-and-Order Judges

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Electing Strong Law-and-Order Judges

Issue Spotlight: Accused murderer in Milwaukee released on signature bond, flees

On October 24, 2017, U.S. Marshals working in conjunction with Milwaukee law enforcement captured accused murderer Dwayne Chaney after a 48-hour manhunt that left the city on edge. This was the second manhunt for Chaney in less than three years. In 2015, Chaney was accused of shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend and subsequently fled the state. After being on the run for 18 months, Chaney was finally arrested by U.S. Marshals in Kentucky.

Shortly after the start of his murder trial, Mr. Chaney was able to flee from justice again after being released on a signature bond by Judge Carolina Stark. A signature bond is a promise made by the defendant to appear in court under threat of monetary penalty. Chaney was also ordered to wear a court-issued tracking bracelet to ensure he would not flee again. Shortly after being released on signature Bond, Chaney cut off his ankle bracelet and was on the run once again.

Due to Judge Stark’s indefensible decision to release Dwayne Chaney on a signature bond during his murder trial, law enforcement officers were forced to track down this violent criminal a second time. This was a risk that law enforcement officers should never have had to take.

Holding Lenient Judges Accountable

As the Dwayne Chaney story illustrates, the efforts of police officers are futile without strong law and order judges. Low bonds and light sentences, especially for individuals accused of violent crime, do nothing more than put dangerous individuals back into the community. As a result, police officers are often forced to confront and arrest the same dangerous offenders repeatedly, offenders who should not have been let back into the community in the first place.

Unfortunately, local judicial elections are often uncontested, making it difficult to elect stronger judges. Citizens are also largely apathetic to issues concerning their local court systems. Regardless, cities across America are in dire need of strong criminal justice officials who take violent crime seriously and punish offenders accordingly. Sentencing by lenient judges only feeds crime problems, thus putting police officers at higher risk on the job

As citizens, we have a duty to hold lenient judges accountable and that means becoming informed and engaged in judicial elections in our communities. To combat crime and keep police officers safe, we must stop electing judges who perpetuate the problem of crime with their leniency.