I read with disappointment the grossly misleading article, “Fumble costs vet 90 days, taxpayers $57,000.” The article references a procedural misstep of a later-entered order finding a compelling state interest in two cases which was characterized as a “fumble” from this office, but the reality is that the Judge had already found and ruled a compelling state interest existed. Thus, the author grossly overstated the issue in an attempt to tarnish this office’s otherwise exemplary reputation and performance over my terms.
Coupling a minor procedural issue with a statement that it cost the taxpayers money intentionally misled your readership and demonstrates that the reporter assigned to cover our office has a clear bias found more often in national news and not local coverage. In fact, neither defendant served any time in the jail that they would not have otherwise served.
Further, the author suggests that the county, or even the court, was aware that one of these individuals had gone through treatment in California. This was information not conveyed to the court or the state and obviously the state is not permitted to question the defendant in a criminal matter. Either the author was unaware of that fact or elected to further mislead her readers.
What is more troubling and unfortunate is that this reporter, and frankly the paper, failed to present the real issue for the readership and that is that the Legislature has attempted to remove all access to mental health services and restoration processes from the counties for misdemeanor offenses. The result will be untreated mentally ill individuals in our communities without any ability to order treatment or prosecute them for their law violations. This serves no one, least of all the mentally ill defendants, their victims, or our community.
Moreover, this office created the first mental health diversion program which serves to release mental ill defendants to treatment rather than jail. Our record helping those with mental illness is well established and our efforts to innovate are long demonstrated.
EDITOR'S NOTE: We are delighted to share the Pacific County prosecutor's views on this matter, which he was asked to provide prior to publication of our stories. We stand by the accuracy and objectivity of what we reported.