Friday, 18 June 2021

Lerman: Krones is the right choice

This is in response to Steve Buchholz’ letter regarding sentence bargaining.

Unfortunately, the opinions he shared in his letter are based on sentencing laws from the past. Since Mr. Buchholz retired from his job at probation, the entire landscape of criminal sentencing has changed.

As a former senior deputy district attorney, I practiced criminal law in Lake County during these major changes. State legislation and voter initiatives (such as AB 109, Penal Code section 1170(h), and Propositions 47 and 57) have made prison sentences less likely, less lengthy, and more likely to be served locally in our county jail.

It is important to note that probation departments across the state – including Mr. Buchholz’s former office – have adopted “evidence-based practices” that afford offenders more opportunities to stay on probation and out of prison, often even after probation is violated.

Mr. Buchholz implied that the District Attorney’s Office has the final say as to a defendant’s sentence when, in fact, it is the judge who ultimately decides what a sentence will be. If the judge finds that a proposed sentence is unjust under the facts and circumstances of the particular case, then the judge will reject it, and the case will proceed to trial.

For years, sentence bargaining has been practiced in most counties in California. This is because failure to do so results in a waste of local resources and causes unnecessary delays and continuances.

Mr. Buchholz seemed to suggest that a district attorney's refusal to enter into a sentence bargain would result in a maximum sentence, but this is incorrect, as the judge still must consider the factors of each case (assuming a conviction is won at a trial). A just sentence bargain allows for certainty of the sentence, which benefits victims and advances public safety.

Susan Krones has been a working Lake County prosecutor throughout the changes in sentencing laws. She is well-versed in the current laws, and she has a demonstrated record of ensuring public safety within the bounds of those laws. Susan Krones is the right choice for your vote for district attorney on June 5.

Sharon Lerman is a former Lake County deputy district attorney. She lives in Lakeport, Calif.

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