Local courts a revolving door

We need to erect billboards at all major roads leading into Eau Claire: “Welcome to Probation City, USA. Come do your crimes here.”

If you read the daily “court reports” and “regional roundup” in this newspaper, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

If not, here are just a few crimes that failed to garner even one day of jail time: possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, illegally obtained prescription drugs, possession and delivery of marijuana, fraud against a financial institution, issuing worthless checks, retail theft, vehicle theft, burglary, bail jumping, false imprisonment, strangulation and suffocation, recklessly endangering safety, victim intimidation, obstructing an officer, battery to a law enforcement officer, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct, felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, multiple-offense drunk driving, operating vehicle after license revocation, etc.

None of the above “minor” offenses are victim-less crimes. Yet every one of these resulted only in a stern lecture and the proverbial wrist-slap by our local judges. Many of these probation sentences were sweetened with a promise to expunge their criminal record.

There appears to be only one way to get any jail time in our fair city. We see these headlines weekly: “Teen gets prison for violating probation,” “Repeat offender gets prison for drug conviction,” “Eleva man jailed for sixth OWI-related arrest,” “Eau Claire man gets prison for probation violations,” “Altoona man gets prison for probation violations.”

Perhaps we wouldn’t have so many repeat offenders if our local judges would sentence these so-called “petty criminals” to at least one day of incarceration, in addition to their two or three years of probation ... just to get a sense of what it would feel like if they were ever arrested again. That’s called “deterrence.”

David Hanvelt

Eau Claire