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Convicted: Mugshot Round-Up & Prosecutor Interview 9/25

 

Each week The River City News talks with Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders about his weekly e-newsletter that highlights who was sent to prison or got probation in the previous week. At the bottom of this post you can find a link to that newsletter. Here are this week's questions and answers:
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RCN: Can you explain some of the inconsistencies in sentencing, particularly involving drug possession versus trafficking charges? You have one guy here with a recommended sentence of three years for possession of cocaine but another guy convicted of trafficking a controlled substance near a school is only facing a possible 18 months. Are there certain outside factors that contribute to the desired sentence and do certain drugs carry a harsher penalty than others?
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SANDERS: Both prosecutors and judges are very mindful of consistency in sentencing recommendations. The judges, individually, are fairly consistent. Collectively, that is not always the case but each judge has his and her own philosophies and beliefs. Each is also individually accountable to the voters so if the public is not happy they can address it with the judge at election time. In terms of our recommendations, the variations can sometimes come from facts of a particular case being more egregious, however, heftier recommended sentences usually are based on defendant's criminal history. For example, as a matter of policy, we do not recommend probation for defendants who have previously been convicted of a felony. I view probation as a last chance, not a right. If someone does not learn their lesson from the first felony conviction, in my mind, there is no reason to think probation will discourage them from committing additional crimes in the future. At that point I think prison is the best deterrent.
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RCN: What is the felony diversion program and do you see much success from the people who go through it, in lieu of prison time?
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SANDERS: Felony diversion is functionally equivalent to felony probation in terms of what is required of defendants to avoid prison.  A defendant on felony diversion reports to a probation officer, is required to maintain employment, is required to complete drug treatment or other counseling when appropriate, is subject to random drug testing and home visits, etc.  The probation officer also monitors the court computers to make sure defendants on felony diversion do not commit more crimes.
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The difference between probation and diversion is what happens once a defendant successfully completes their term of supervision.  A probated offense stays on a defendant's criminal history forever.  A diverted offense results in the charge being dismissed.  Once the charge is dismissed, it is also possible to have it expunged so it won't show up on a records check.  Obviously this can be a big benefit for a defendant when it comes to finding future employment.
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I don't know what the stats are when it comes to the success rate but I would assume it's about the equivalent of probation since they are essentially the same program.  
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RCN: Every week there is always so many young faces on this list of people convicted of felonies. On a personal level for you, outside of prosecuting the actual crime, is there ever any feeling in you of disappointment in a young person that has thrown at least part of his or her life away for something stupid? 
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SANDERS: I sometimes run across individual defendants who are particularly disappointing, usually because he or she came from a background that provided opportunities most of the people we deal with never had.  There is really no excuse for anyone to commit a felony. They are not hard to avoid.  But when you see someone with a college degree that threw away a good home, a good job, and let their family down, it's especially sad and often infuriating. 

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Most defendants I deal with treat a trip to prison like I do a trip to the dentist.  It's not something to look forward to or enjoy but just a fact of life to deal with and move on.  These defendants are responsible for the large majority of all crime.  The only way to keep our community safe from these criminals is to lock them up till they get old and are tired of life behind bars.  It's a point I refer to as "criminal menopause" when a defendant finally realizes life is too short to spend years of it incarcerated.
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See who was convicted in Kenton County Court last week, including their mugshots, charges, and recommended punishments at the link:  http://myemail.constantcontact.com/This-Week-in-Kenton-Circuit-Court.html?soid=1101862056273&aid=K-tFQp87mO8This Week in Kenton Circuit Court