Sunday, August 01, 2010

Melanie Ford incumbent county attorney answers The Hillsider questions

1. Why are you running?
I am running for re-election because there is still more to do to make St Louis County a safer and more just place to live, work, and play. Already I have made good on my promises to try to stop crime before it happens, to reform how we approach domestic violence, to rethink alternatives to handling juvenile delinquency, to improve relations with the community, schools, and law enforcement, and to hire a more diverse staff. System and culture changes take time, and I don’t want to lose the momentum that is underway with so many community partners.
2. Juvenile detention
The county attorney can (1) recognize that a problem exists in our juvenile justice system and (2) work with partners in the community, the schools, and the justice system to put reforms into place. This is exactly what I have done. Upon seeing the inequities for our youth of color, I gathered community and system-wide support for reform, and secured funding to put reforms in place. I put together a team of leaders from around the County, and together we created a mission and vision for the way we treat all children who come into contact with the legal system. Now in its second year, this task force has already made an impact: those in the justice system are changing policies and practices to make sure that the right kids are in detention for the right reasons.

I also recognize that there are alternatives to putting juveniles into detention, and that these alternatives can keep our children from reoffending. We have two active committees working to create alternatives that will provide better outcomes for our children, keep the community safe, and save taxpayer dollars. With continued support from the community through my re-election, I will ensure these reforms are completed and long-lasting.