Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Response from Mary Pat Carl, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Candidate

1. What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position? What experience/attributes do you have that qualify you for this position?

This role requires a seasoned prosecutor. I have more experience than all of the candidates combined. This experience also extends beyond the number of years in office. I have prosecuted almost every type of case including protecting our most vulnerable in Child Abuse and Sex Crimes. I also bring fresh ideas on how to extend beyond simply being tough on crime, but also smart on crime.

2. Why do you think you are the best person for this position? What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

I have more experience than all of the candidates combined. I’m “tough on crime” but also try to be “smart on crime” using alternative sentencing such as restorative justice and diversion programs that allow low-level offenders to repay their debt to society while receiving job training and educational opportunities.

3. What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)

The number one reason the Circuit Attorney’s Office cannot hold a violent offender accountable is because a witness won’t cooperate with prosecution. In most cases, witnesses are afraid to come forward. If we can’t prosecute the violent offenders, then they return to the same neighborhoods and the cycle of violence continues. I would establish a Witness Protection Unit to address this problem. This would allow people to feel safe and secure to stand up to violence.

4. Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.

I’m “tough on crime” but also try to be “smart on crime” using diversion programs that allow low-level offenders to repay their debt to society while getting job training and educational opportunities. I will focus on the most violent and dangerous offenders using state of the art technologies and measurement tools to determine which strategies are the most effective. I will work to expand diversion programs for non-violent offenders including programs for youth and those struggling with addiction.

I will work hand in hand with the Judges, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, and the Community, to address this priority. It is going to take all of us working together to hold violent offenders accountable and support alternative sentencing programs to prevent low level offenders from turning to violent offenses.

5. Do you support a special prosecutor request in officer-involved shootings?

I understand the concerns of the community in officer involved shooting cases. I appreciate the need for transparency in all cases, but especially in officer involved shootings. I believe the prosecutor examining the officer involved shooting must be free from conflict but I also believe he/she must be accountable to the community. In order to balance these two concerns each officer involved shooting case should be examined individually to determine whether a special prosecutor is appropriate.

6. Who are your 3 largest campaign contributors? Do you have a policy on accepting lobbyist gifts? Are there donors from whom you will not accept campaign contributions?

Jennifer Joyce
Eugene Benninger, Jr.

There really isn’t any reason for lobbyists to offer gifts to the Circuit Attorney, so I don’t anticipate this issue.

I won’t accept a donation from anyone who asks me to compromise my commitment to the voters, my oath, morals or values.

7. Since the shooting death of Michael Brown, the roles of prosecutors in our criminal justice system have become a topic of national discussion. If elected, how will you work to increase trust between our criminal justice system and the community, in particular low income communities of color? 

Having greater access to the Circuit Attorney, and those that work at the Circuit Attorney’s Office, will increase trust. Every individual wants to feel that their concerns are being heard. I would establish a standing Community Council where members of the community would meet with me on a regular basis. 

I would also institute programs that get Assistant Circuit Attorneys out of the office and into the community. We need to expand beyond neighborhood meetings. Not everyone is comfortable attending a community meeting and everyone should have the opportunity to meet with prosecutors.

8. The United States is the world's leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation's prisons or jails – a 500% increase over the past thirty years. St. Louis is not immune to this trend. In particular, people who commit crimes as a result of drug seeking behavior or have mental illness comprise roughly a third of the people in our jails at any given time. If elected, what steps will you take to decrease incarceration rates in St. Louis, especially for people with substance abuse and mental health issues?

I will support alternative sentencing programs such as treatment courts, mental health courts, veteran’s courts, and restorative justice.

9. Recently, a former aide of Richard Nixon admitted that the War on Drugs was fabricated to target low-income communities of color and people who were a part of the liberal left. We now have multiple Presidential candidates calling for an end to the war on drugs. As Circuit Attorney, what role will you play in ending the war on drugs?

As stated above, I support treatment courts over incarceration for drug offenses.

10. Some Circuit Attorneys are criticized for only prosecuting cases they know can be won in order to maintain a high conviction rate. As Circuit Attorney, how will you make decisions on what cases to prosecute?

Currently, there is a performance goal for every attorney to achieve an 85% conviction rate. I would eliminate this as a performance goal. I would evaluate attorneys on their commitment to the mission of the CAO of seeking justice.

11. As Circuit Attorney, how will you ensure that people who have committed crimes are able to have the opportunity to fully participate in society after they have done their time?

I support reentry programs both at the Missouri Department of Corrections and at St. Louis City Division of Corrections. I support ban the box legislation in nonviolent and non sex case.

12. What is your position on expungement, restorative justice, and diversion programs?

I will work to expand diversion programs for non-violent offenders including programs for youth and those struggling with addiction.

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