Judge, challenger debate records on crimes against children
Sun Mar 26, 2006 20:19

Judge, challenger debate records on crimes against children
Mar 24, 2006

When it comes to elections for judges and prosecutors, competetion is a beautiful--and extremely rare--thing. One of PROTECT's most important roles is shine the sunlight of accountability on public servants who should be protecting children. Yet, every once in a while, judges and District Attorneys surprise us by doing it themselves. Voters in Rock County, Wisconsin were very fortunate this week, when a debate between judicial candidates turned to the subject of how seriously the candidates take crimes against children. Deputy District Attorney Perry Folts, who is challenging sitting judge James Welker, criticized the incumbent for being soft. "Folts... criticized Welker's sentencing record for child sex offenders," reports the Beloit Daily News, "saying the vast majority were placed on probation rather than being sent to prison." Vast majority? According to the paper, Judge Welker had a charge of his own. Welker said "there were about 16,000 felonies in 2005... yet the district attorney's office tried only 13 cases. The rest were plea bargained."

"There are criminal defendants walking out of the courthouse, thumbing their noses at the judges, thumbing their noses at the police officers," said the judge. "That's a major problem." It will take more than one newspaper article to get to the truth of the matter and force real accountability in Rock County. In the meantime, voters who don't demand the truth in this election will just have to settle for the usual platitudes: "It's time that we look out for our children," says Folts. "They are our most valuable asset."


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