State Attorney Circuit Two Contenders Talk Justice Disparity

Jul 22, 2016

Credit Florida's Second Judicial Circuit Website

For the first time in 31 years, the second judicial circuit will have a new State Attorney. The candidates are focusing on racial disparities in court.

Jack Campbell, Sean Desmond, and Pete Williams are running to replace Willie Meggs. The candidates discussed inequality in the justice system on Friday’s Political Perspectives show. Pete Williams says law enforcement handles racial situations well, but more minority offenders end up on trial than their white counterparts. He calls it a culture of favoritism.

Williams says, “The first thing that can happen is your charges can be dropped because either there’s no evidence or they’re innocent. Far more likely to be dropped if you’re white. The next stage would be your plea bargain, and again, far more likely that the African-American will be forced to go to trial with a higher plea bargain offer than a white defendant. For the same crime.” 

Sean Desmond suggests holding town hall meetings with the community to discuss complaints and keep accountable. But Jack Campbell wants to look at why people are committing crimes rather than focus on the disparate outcomes.  

“You gotta be able to decide not just who is committing the crimes, but why they’re committing the crimes. Is this something that we can get them away from? I’ve often said that if you want to get someone to stop dealing drugs, teach them how to do a trade,” says Campbell.

The three attorneys may have different plans for their prospective terms as State Attorney, but they all say ensuring a fair and impartial justice system is always a top priority.