I remember, some years ago, listening to the comedian Dennis Miller. He had a bit about fighting hard drugs by having drug dealers sell them out of bouncy crack houses. Sure it was funny at the time and I had a good chuckle about it, but then sometimes life imitates art in ways that you did not imagine.   

Recently, a friend of mine told me about the new District Attorney’s plans for Sagadahoc, Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties. This friend, who happens to be in law enforcement, told me about a document that was circulating around the courthouse from Natasha Irving, the new DA. The plan detailed her agenda for the next couple of years. As I heard more about parts of the plan the more I thought it had to be a mistake.  

Fortunately, I was able to get my hands on a copy of the plan. Titled, “PD 6 Policy Update & Criminal Justice Reform Reference Materials”, the plan is a real head shaker. You remember the old line, “You do the crime, you do the time”, well that may not be the case in Sagadahoc, Knox, Lincoln and Waldo Counties for the next couple of years. 

The update comes right out of the gate proclaiming that, “the purpose of these policies is to effect a meaningful change in the way PD (Prosecutorial District) 6 seeks justice. The new DA wants the prosecutors on her team to, “meaningfully intervene in the lives of those we prosecute by funneling them into treatment instead of incarceration.” What does that actually mean though? 

Here are some of the goals right from the update. 

“The goal of the District Attorney is to see a reduction in the amount of charges that come through our office.” To meet that goal the DA, in part, will, “Decline use / possession of marijuana or alcohol offenses for 18-20 y.o. individuals…” Shouldn’t there be some penalty for living outside the normative bounds of society? Especially for a young person? 

Is there no better time to make an impression on person than when they are young and impressionable?  

The DA has a new take on bail. Again, from the update, “…cash bail should not be sought for non-violent crimes.” I am going out on a limb here, but I would imagine that putting some skin in the game, by way of bail, helps to keep someone on track after an intervention by the Man. 

When it comes to drinking and driving the new DA might as well ask for a pinky promise that you will not drink and drive again. From the text, “First offense OUI alcohol bail request should be a zero tolerance while driving and no drinking to excess (0.08) …” If the person was not drinking to excess they would not have been lugged for OUI in the first place. Zero tolerance while driving in this case is admirable but they have already messed that up. 

The DA also breaks drunk drivers into three categories. There are people who, “…made a mistake”. There are people who have substance abuse disorders. Still there are others who do not care about the threat they pose. If it is my loved ones that encounter these drivers on a darkened road somewhere on the coast it will not matter that the person made a mistake. That mistake could be very costly for the real victim and should be treated as such.      

The update takes on distracted driving too. If you have driven anywhere you have seen distracted driving. Someone is putting on makeup, or brushing their teeth or reading the newspaper, or my personal favorite, someone was shaving on their way to work.  

Getting pinched for distracted driving the first time can lead to a 6-month deferred disposition and community service. The second charge is really tough. You get a 12-month deferred disposition, community service and some counseling, maybe. It is only after charge number three that even a whiff of three hots and a cot may be in your future. But even that is a big maybe. 

Throughout the plan there are multiple mentions of restorative justice and working for positive outcomes for the person charged with offenses. The DA wants to treat the offender as the victim in these cases because their life may be negatively impacted. Never mind that there may be a real victim who was, most assuredly, negatively impacted by any offense. 

The men and women who patrol the roadways and waterways of Sagadahoc, Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties are good people who always have our backs. I hope that their hard work to protect all of us is not jeopardized by a well meaning but untested plan by the new DA. Only time will tell. 

I understand that there are limited resources to prosecute all cases, big and small, in the counties of Prosecutorial District 6. I understand that there is only so much that can be done. However, the people who live in those four counties and the people who travel through them count on the hard-working men and women of the DA’s office to be our last line of defense in a world that can be tough. I wish the DA would treat crimes, even small ones, as a big deal.    

Jonathan Crimmins can be reached at [email protected] 

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