Pubdate: Sun, 28 Sep 2003
Source: Times and Democrat, The (SC)
Copyright: 2003, The Times and Democrat
Author: David Pascoe
Note: David Pascoe of Calhoun County is first assistant solicitor in the 
5th Judicial Circuit. He was the Democratic nominee in the 2000 race for 
the 1st Circuit solicitor's position.


This letter is written to support many of the sentiments of the Sept.
21 letter, "Breaking the law has consequences." In that article, the
point was made that any dealing of crack cocaine is a crime and should
be prosecuted. It stated that probation and treatment are an option
for some first-time offenders. However, beyond that, we need to seek
appropriate prison sentences to keep drugs away from our community and

The reason this is so important to me is that I live with my wife and
three young children in St. Matthews. For the past 10 years, I have
been prosecuting some of the biggest drug dealers and violent
criminals in the state. Having tried over 100 violent crimes, I have
found that at least 75 percent of those crimes were connected to
drugs, particularly crack cocaine. From my experience, I estimate that
at least 80 percent of all crimes are in someway connected to alcohol
or drugs. Crack cocaine, compared to all other drugs, shows the
greatest connection to violent crime.

My solicitor's office handles drug cases in a similar manner as the
1st Judicial Circuit. For first-time drug offenders of a small
quantity, we will try to use probation and rehabilitation. On a second
offense, particularly distribution, we will seek a prison sentence.
The philosophy behind this is that we have tried to correct the
behavior through lesser means, and we now owe our children and
community protection from drugs. For distribution cases, we should
almost always seek a prison sentence, regardless of whether it is a
first offense or not. I think that someone who is distributing any
amount of drugs is too much of a danger to leave on the streets.

As was stated in the Sunday editorial, professional prosecutors do not
"shake hands and pat each other on the back" because "someone's
father" is going to prison. I sincerely hope that a father would be a
better parent to their child than being a three-time drug offender.
Many prosecutors are parents and active members of our community. The
verdict handed down by our fellow citizens (i.e. jurors) is always
bittersweet, regardless of who wins. A prosecutor's role in the code
of ethics is not to win at all costs, but to seek justice. If the
prosecution wins, it provides some vindication for the victims, but
cannot completely take away the pain of the crime.

I believe most prosecutors, regardless of party affiliation or
judicial circuit, feel the same way about drugs. Drugs are a danger to
our community and particularly to our children. We can try to help
someone who has made a one-time bad decision and wants to be
rehabilitated. However, our first priority is protecting our children
from being led down the dark path of drugs and crime.
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