The individuals and organizations that work for us to ensure the public safety and administer justice are vital to our community: Democracy demands that we have safe and secure streets, schools, and neighborhoods.
Our criminal justice system includes our courts, law enforcement, prosecutors, defense counsel, correction facilities, and offender programs.
We must be smart on crime, our approach being distinguished by differently addressing those we are simply mad at vs. those we are truly afraid of—that is, offenders who can be rehabilitated as opposed to those who must be jailed for the community’s protection.
As a community, we must continue to work together to address repeat offenders, provide meaningful opportunities for rehabilitative programs, institute and expand problem-solving courts, prevent additional crimes, and support and ensure justice for crime victims, as the cancer of crime infects victims physically, emotionally, and often financially.
As part of our work, we must enhance our restorative justice approach for the betterment of our community and state.
These are the tenets of restorative justice. It is, as stated by Mark Umbreit of the University of Minnesota, “a victim-centered response to crime that provides opportunities for those most directly affected by crime—the victim, the offender, their families and representatives of the community—to be directly involved in responding to the harm cause by the crime.” Restorative justice, Umbreit continues, “emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities for more active involvement” in the following areas:
- Offering support and assistance to crime victims;
- Holding offenders directly accountable to the people and communities they have violated;
- Restoring emotional and material losses of victims as much as possible;
- Providing opportunities for dialogue and problem-solving among interested crime victims, offenders, families, and other support persons;
- Offering offenders opportunities to develop competency in needed skills and reintegrate themselves into productive community life; and
- Strengthening public safety by building a sense of community.
Simply put, restorative justice reaches out to victims to heal their wounds to the extent possible. It encourages individuals who are tax burdens to become taxpayers. It increases public safety through less recidivism and saves the citizens money. We should always be mindful that hope is the anchor of the soul: For the victim, it is the hope of healing; for the offender, the hope of rehabilitation; for society, the hope of restoration.
Early in my career, I was honored to serve as an agent with the FBI for three years. My training and education in law enforcement is central to my belief that those enforcing our laws must do so effectively and fairly. Public trust is paramount to their ability to do their job, and they must honor that trust every day.
Additionally, for three years, I served as the chief law enforcement officer in Douglas County. As Douglas County Attorney, I was responsible for prosecuting all felony cases, domestic violence misdemeanor cases, and representing the County in all civil cases.
While I am proud of my law enforcement background, I am also proud to work hard in private practice on legal matters for both paying and indigent clients. The right to fair and strong representation when accused by the government of wrongdoing is fundamental to our system of justice, and allows me to be a champion of the constitution in another context.
My background and work life have provided me the unique skills to work on all sides of public safety and justice issues, and I will aggressively, and fairly, do so as your senator.