Massena police chief questions criminal justice system
Friday, March 8, 2013 - 1:54 pm

To the Editor:

What’s wrong with the criminal justice system?

Last week my agency arrested a male subject for a felony unlawful imprisonment and a misdemeanor assault.

A look at this individual’s criminal history can only cause a reasonable person great frustration with a criminal justice system that is not perfect, overburdened and often times underfunded. The time has come to hold some real dialogue about this.

Since 2006, this subject has twenty five (25) total arrest charges, eleven (11) of which are felony level and he is still on the streets?

Eighteen (18) of his cases are still pending, ten (10) of which are felony level.

On numerous occasions he has failed to appear in court.

It is important to point out that until the recent arrest all the other cases occurred in other counties.

This situation is not an anomaly as it has become far too common for people with a long history of criminal behavior to have numerous pending cases on the streets. Ultimately in most cases those several arrest get wrapped into one conviction to satisfy all the charges. How fair is that for all the victims?

Something has to be done to solve the problems with our criminal justice system.

I am not pointing fingers at anyone or at any agency or department, but enough is enough.

• The same names occur in the police blotter time and time again.

• Valuable local resources are being expended to arrest people yet there is little to no consequences being experienced by the defendant.

• Is jail time the answer? Does the punishment fit the crime?

In this county we send an average of 27% of our convicted felony offenders to jail.


• A visit to the Massena court on Tuesday or Wednesday would shock the average citizen.

What is the problem???

• Is law enforcement not providing quality cases to be prosecuted?

• Are we failing to prosecute these cases properly or timely?

• Are judges failing to put repeat and violent offenders in jail? We are only putting about 41% of our violent felons in prison or jail.


• Is probation or parole not working?

• Do we have far too many courts in St. Lawrence County and not enough resources to adequately protect our citizens and hold those who break the law accountable? Perhaps serious discussion about district courts needs discussion.

I wish someone could adequately explain why the system continues to allow defendants to commit numerous crimes before we decide to protect our citizens and punish criminals.

Like most citizens, I have grown tired of lip service and sick of excuses. I am sure there is enough blame to go around and I know solutions cost money, but I also know we need to have some serious discussion to include why those who commit serious offenses are not being sent to prison or jail.

If we cannot afford more resources, then we must find ways to utilize those we have more efficiently and effectively.

Every time a serious offense is committed the impact is broad. It creates more victims; cost us all money in terms of defending the indigent, enforcement, punishment, increased insurance rates and enhanced security just to name a few; and it tears at the very fabric of our society.

Crime is NOT a local problem. I talk with colleagues all over this state any many face similar problems and like we do; they have grown frustrated with the lack of success.

Someone needs to lead. Someone needs to stand up and bring the criminal justice agencies together and work toward making our communities safer.

Timmy J. Currier, Massena Police Chief