LETTER: Blank best qualified to make smart decisions
To The Telegram Selecting our next judge is a critical community decision. The question is how to make the best decision. What qualities do we want for our next judge? Absolute minimum qualifications include a person who will be fair, without bia...
To The Telegram
Selecting our next judge is a critical community decision. The question is how to make the best decision. What qualities do we want for our next judge?
Absolute minimum qualifications include a person who will be fair, without bias, and follows the meaning of law. But do we want more? I suggest that we must want more if we want the most effective judges.
Historically, criminal justice professionals have focused on reacting to crime through arrests (police), prosecution (district attorneys), adjudication and sentencing (judges) as well as punishment and treatment (probation, parole and correctional officers).
One of the most significant trends in American criminal justice over the last 20 years is the involvement of members of criminal justice in the prevention of crime. This means that justice agents are proactive, working with community members as well as other professionals to lessen the probability of people starting or staying in criminal careers.
Throwing the book at law violators doesn't always work. In fact, research suggests that formal processing can actually strengthen criminal careers and decrease community safety.
Scientific findings indicate that a more tailored approach, one which is careful with using the full weight of the justice system will have more success. Community prosecutors focus not only on judicial processing of offenders, they are community leaders helping to prevent crime from occurring, restoring victims and empowering citizens. Community judges have been in the forefront of developing new types of specialized courts, ones that partner with community members and other professionals. Community judges also take the lead in resolving many difficult criminal and civil matters without having to breach the courthouse door. These judges have made profound differences in the well-being of their communities.
As a criminal justice educator and researcher since 1970, teaching at state universities in New York, Maryland, Missouri and Wisconsin, I ask myself who is best qualified locally to fit the role of judge.
What is stunning about Daniel Blank is that he is very much the model of a community prosecutor. For more than a decade, I have served with Mr. Blank on various community initiatives dedicated to lessening the incidence of crime and delinquency.
We have worked together on Children's First, Douglas County Partners Against Violence, Douglas County Initiative on Restorative Justice, Peer Justice Teen Court, Douglas County Domestic Violence Coordinated Community Response Team, Douglas County Criminal Justice Team, and Men as Peacemakers.
In each setting, Mr. Blank has demonstrated his devotion to diminishing crime problems without an undue reliance on criminal court processing.
I believe Mr. Blank will bring his years of legal and community experience to applying those effective problem solving tools that are available to judges.
We will have an opportunity to elect someone who knows how to make smart decisions both in and outside the court room, decisions that enhance offender accountability, fiscal responsibility and community safety.
-- Gary Keveles
Professor of Criminal Justice
University of Wisconsin Superior