11/25/05 — Your turn, Judge: Enforcement officers have done their jobs

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Your turn, Judge: Enforcement officers have done their jobs

Wayne Sheriff Carey Winders, his deputies and area police officers are to be congratulated for impressive crackdowns on drug operations and a recent epidemic of felonious break-ins.

These include arrests of a number of people accused of dealing in hard drugs and the confiscation of an enormous amount of illegal dope, paraphernalia and cash.

In more recent days — and especially disturbing — have been the arrests of at least eight teenagers for alleged involvement in more than 20 felonious break-ins and thefts in northeastern communities of the county.

Under our judicial system, all those charged must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. That is as it should be.

But while embracing that concept, the citizens of our county should also admonish the courts that any individuals found guilty of any of the crimes should be dealt with firmly. The drug traffic is the greatest nemesis to society today. It is the root not only to the misery of addicts but to the crimes they commit to feed their addictions.

So, in the end, the innocent victims of those crimes bear the greatest financial burden.

Could drugs have been an element in the recent rash of break-ins? Perhaps the upcoming trials might shed some light on this.

But let’s speculate for a moment on those cases. If — and that should be a capitalized IF — any of the defendants are found guilty, we can expect much to be said about their youth. And invariably in such cases, it is emphasized that the ones convicted are “first offenders.”

The courts should be mindful of the potential difference between a first offense and a first conviction or the first time caught. This should be especially true if a person is convicted in a single court session of involvement in a number of felonies.

A person going on a crime spree or periodically breaking into homes or businesses or hauling off material from the property of others does not fall in the category of one who might yield to a one-time temptation to break the law.

The public should demand hard time for hardened criminals. And they can come in all ages, sizes, shapes and sexes.

Published in Editorials on November 25, 2005 8:58 AM