Once again, for purposes of full disclosure, I’ve been providing regular campaign counsel to Spence’s state’s attorney opponent, Jamie Mosser, but I have not, and will not, receive one thin dime for those efforts.
I’ve chosen to help Mosser because not only is she’s one of the best candidates I’ve ever advised or managed, but Bob Spence unequivocally believes the criminal justice system is a weapon to be used against minorities, the economically disadvantaged, the mentally ill, and non-violent drug offenders.
He’s a throwback to a not-so-distant time when anyone charged with a crime was guilty by default, conviction rates were paramount, discretion was for sissies, and the judge was nothing more than a second prosecutor disguised in a black robe.
Considering a slew of current events, Spence is singing a more liberal 2020 campaign tune, but make no mistake, that’s not nearly who he is. He’s certainly not afraid of speaking his mind when he believes he has a sympathetic audience.
And that starts with an unsolicited declaration he whispered into a high-ranking Illinois law enforcement official’s ear at a justice system conference – “Mass incarcerations work!
Please think about that for a minute or two.
Bob Spence wasn’t the least bit shy about admitting that locking up minorities and the mentally ill, the bulk of our current prison population, was a reasonable means to the criminal justice system end.
This, of course, begs the question, “What kind of country do we really want to be?” The one that’s jailed 30 percent more of its citizens than China and 250 percent more than Russia, or the one that believes compassion and redemption still play a vital role in a civilized Christian society?
And speaking of the c-word, in a similar setting, Spence proudly told a group of perceived admirers that “there’s no room for compassion in the law!”
You mean we can’t show the slightest sympathy for someone who, through no fault of their own, suffers from the kind of mental illness that inevitably leads to criminal behavior? We can’t provide the least bit of mercy to child born to a drug addicted inner-city mother who, after being shuffled between more questionable foster homes than a stray golden retriever, commits a crime?
We can’t put our drink down long enough to see the humanity in the neighbor, who through a series of misfortunes, becomes an addict and starts selling drugs to pay for that habit? \
Yet somehow, Bob Spence purports to be the right man run the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office?
It doesn’t always happen, but in most criminal cases, the prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge get together for a pre-trial, or 402 conference. The point of that parley is to work something out before incurring the time and expense of a trial.
The prosecution presents their side of the story and sentencing suggestion, while the defense offers any mitigating circumstances and what they believe to be a fair finding. Then, having heard both arguments, the judge determines what the sentence will likely be if the defendant pleads or is found guilty.
As you might imagine, the judge’s thoughts typically fall somewhere between the prosecutor and defense attorney proposals.
But a number of local attorneys told me that when Spence was a 16th Circuit judge, he regularly violated the spirit and intent of those conferences by forcing defendants to take the State’s offer. If the prosecution asked for three years and the defense wanted probation, Spence would threaten a six-year term if a deal couldn’t be reached.
That completely undermined the process by forcing defendants to accept the State’s offer, and when prosecutors caught on to this judge and jury dynamic, their “offers” suddenly got a heck of a lot worse. But what would you expect from a man who so arrogantly believes that “mass incarcerations work?”
What Judge Spence fails to understand is, we don’t all begin the race at the same starting line. Some manage to make it to that more distant finish despite enduring the most horrific disadvantages while others never get there despite a 50 yard head start. Life may not be fair, but fairness is exactly what we expect from our judges, and if those judges pass judgement on people simply for the “sin” of being charged, they’re part of the problem and not the solution.
Put more simply, Bob Spence is the last man who should serve as our Kane County State’s Attorney.
Thankfully, we have a choice, and I would encourage you to read up on Ms. Mosser, because her ideas and proposed diversion programs offer a stark and hopeful contrast to the bleak worldview of a former judge who sees everything through a weary prosecutor’s eyes.
And I’d much rather live in her world than his.
In light of the $33,500 annual cost to house an Illinois inmate, please consider that every non-violent offender we divert into a rehab or job skills program saves the taxpayer an inordinate amount of cash. And if, by providing that lifeline, we prevent their reentry into the criminal justice system, those savings grow tenfold.
Put more simply, I’m voting for Jamie Mosser.