Candidate Full Name: Dave Carlson
Office: Will County State's Attorney
Email Address: ElectDaveCarlon@gmail.com
Web Site: www.StandWithDaveCarlson.com
Campaign Name: Carlson for State's Attorney
Campaign Office Mailing Address: 116 North Chicago Street, Suite 301, Joliet, IL 60432
Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)
1. Do you support marijuana reform laws? Why?
Justice must always be tempered with mercy and a good State's Attorney must recognize and respond to the "real world" components of any case. I do see a need for marijuana law reforms.
I will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to the "supply side" of the drug trade. Those that wish to prey on the addictions of Will County citizens to turn a profit and dump poison into our community, be warned, I will come after you. Dealers and suppliers, all the way up the chain, will wear a bright target on their backs while I'm the Will County State's Attorney.
For those residents who are fighting addiction we must intervene and provide support so that they can get that monkey off their backs. I have a three-pronged program that will be unveiled before the election that will do just that. While those that break the law must face the consequences, there must be compassion for those that do it for reasons other than free choice. Even the nation's employers have come to the conclusion that help and intervention for drug and alcohol addiction is necessary prior to punishment.
While such an approach is morally the right thing to do, pragmatically it will also alleviate overcrowding in our jails and prisons while saving the taxpayers millions of dollars. Those saved millions can be used to prosecute the suppliers as well as other violent, dangerous offenders.
2. Do you agree with the General Assembly passing a bill and Governor Quinn signing it, to ban the death penalty in Illinois? Why or why not?
As a "law and order" candidate, I disagree with the law passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Quinn banning the death penalty in Illinois. It is my position that the death sentence is a fit sanction for those who have committed the most heinous of crimes. While I believe in the right to life for the innocent, I also believe that there are those in society who have forfeited that right due to the extreme nature of their transgressions, which includes robbing their victim(s) of that same right. And let us not forget that the ultimate penalty does have a deterring effect.
3. What have you done (or will do) to ensure wrongful convictions don't occur?
As a trial lawyer, who has been on both sides of the Bar as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, I have witnessed the pitfalls within our criminal justice system. These problems arise as a consequence of overworked and inexperienced attorneys who are asked to take on cases with inadequate evidence and resources. Most of all, prosecutions have too often been dictated by media attention, political considerations and the idea that being "tough on crime" means blindly prosecuting every case that comes across the desk.
The court of public opinion should not dictate prosecutions. It is a recipe for wrongful convictions and demonstrates an overall lack of faith in the justice system. Unfortunately, Will County has been a prime example of this under the incumbent's administration.
Prosecutors have to understand the role they play, not just in the courtroom but also in society as a whole. As the gatekeepers of justice they are charged with the responsibility to prosecute legitimate cases, not just sensationalized suspects or high profile "ratings grabbers." There has to be a philosophical change, with a rededication by the State's Attorney to seek justice, not simply a headline or media sound bight. Any other approach will only continue to harm innocent residents and tarnish their reputations with impunity, as has been the case with the incumbent administration.
4. If a defendant is accused of a non-violent crime and cannot afford bail, he or she is locked up, at taxpayer expense. Is this okay? Or would you prefer an alternative such as releasing suspects in non-violent cases on electronic monitoring?
This is an issue best considered on a case-by-case basis. There are many factors involved in the determination of a defendant's bond. First and foremost, incarceration is an option to ensure the safety of the public, the appearance of the defendant at trial and various other reasons. A blanket policy that allows release for classifications of offenses as opposed to the consideration of each defendant's criminal history, charged offense, ties to the community, etc., would potentially jeopardize the very reasons we have bail bonds.
That being said, I am absolutely in favor of exploring alternatives to incarceration when appropriate. The single greatest concern is the safety of the public. Current developments in the technology of electronic monitoring, including alcohol monitoring and location tracking, make it a very reasonable and appropriate alternative to costly incarceration. I am whole-heartedly behind the "out of the box" thinking that is necessary for the criminal justice system to keep pace with society.
5. Do you support some type of merit selection of judges as recommended by the Chicago Bar Association? Why or why not?
I support the current system in Will County by which one becomes a circuit judge or an associate judge. Currently there are 33 judges sitting on the bench in Will County: Sixteen Circuit Court Judges and seventeen Associate Judges. Circuit judges are elected by popular vote and when a vacancy exists, that vacancy is filled by appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court. The Associate Judges, in turn, are appointed by the Circuit Judges. This combination of judicial selection by popular vote and by appointment is a system that has served the citizens of this county well.
6. Given cuts to the public defender program, what will your office do to ensure those without means get a fair trial?
There have been no layoffs or cuts in the Will County Public Defender's office. In fact, the Will County Public Defender recently hired two assistants to fill vacancies that occurred when their predecessors departed for private practice. The Will County Public Defender's office, to date, has not suffered financial constraints that may be hitting other local governments across the state. To repeat: As things stand right now, the indigent in need of legal representation in Will County are as well served by that office as they have ever been.