I have invested a good part of my life in the Criminal Justice System.  This includes education from the University of Maine with a Bachelor of Science in Vocational Technology (Law enforcement), and a Masters of Public Administration and Masters of Justice Administration from Golden Gate University (The university would only give one degree, but I completed the coursework for two degrees). I am a graduate of a number of different schools from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

My experience includes head of private security at a college, working for the United States Department of Defense, Saco Police Department, Biddeford Police Department, York County Sheriff’s Department, Maine’s Judicial Marshals and as a College Professor teaching Criminal Justice. My specializations have included criminal investigation, youth aid, crime prevention, patrol officer, court mediator and supervisor.

The criminal justice system is made up of four parts: 1. Community 2. Police 3. Courts 4. Corrections. I have education and experience in all areas.  I have also observed things that are wrong with the system and need correcting. 

First:  You may have heard of “defund the police.” This is a foolish statement made by those who are uneducated and determined to be lawless. This would lead to chaos. Policing began in 1829 in England and was a response to the chaos in London. I do not stand with these folks. I declare that Police must be funded.

Second:  We have a good Criminal Justice System but it is composed by humans who are not perfect. There are changes that I would like to see, such as:

  • All patrol officers should be required to wear body cams.
  • When a complaint of police misconduct is received, it should not be accepted until after trial of the accused, because the accused holds it over the arresting officer. If it turns out to be false there should be a separate crime interfering with justice. However, accusations must be investigated by an agency other than the one the officer is working for. Furthermore, there needs to be a civilian review board made up of community members.  All investigations are to be private until released by the civilian review board and released to the chief or sheriff of the officer’s department.
  • We have invested in stun guns, but chemicals, like pepper spray, work better. They are less expensive and less encumbered.  The female officer that mistook her firearm for a stun gun would not be in jail today, nor a dead individual if these were used in Maine rather than stun guns.
  • “Escalation of force” should be the standard in Law Enforcement in Maine.
  •  Detectives should not be allowed, by their own discretion, to bring a case to the District Attorney. Proof of guilt and the existence of evidence must be there first!  Sadly, some officers feel they have enough and go forward into the courts without the proper review.  Thus innocent people become victims of the system.  I propose that this evidence must also convince his supervisor, Chief, and District Attorney before it goes to the grand jury.  Sadly, District Attorneys may not even look at the evidence until the day of trial!
  • When a person is summoned or arrested, his identity should be secret until the day of trial. We already do this for juveniles.  If not, the public assumes a person is guilty. He is then treated with abuse and still is innocent until proven guilty in court. Presently, news media may taint the jury pool.
  • A person has a constitutional right to a speedy trial. Yet, I know of a case where a person was arrested 5 years ago and he has not been to trial yet!  But his reputation in the community is “toast.” The system has abused this innocent person!
  • Crime of assault must be changed to exclude social norms. How would you like to be arrested for tapping a person on the shoulder to get their attention?  It has happened. How would you like to be arrested for giving a friend a “wedgie”? It has happened. Police Chiefs or Sheriffs should refuse to bring any cases forward that involves social norms. The District Attorney should have no authority to go ahead with a case the Police Chief or Sheriff has dismissed.
  •  Everyone must have direct access to the courts without the expense that it brings. There are issues that need solving without taking matters into their own hands. All court employees should aid in filings and not turn a blind eye. Some matters could be handled by law enforcement and never make it to court. Often as a Youth Aid Officer, I deflected many cases from the courts.
  • The Juvenile Justice system in Maine is broken.  Parents, in Maine, have lost control of their wayward child.  Until age 18, a child is the ward of their parents, not the state.  Laws need to be in place to ensure this.
  • The correctional system in Maine is broken. We are not deterring more criminal activity. Inmates should be put to work and not “warehoused.” The correctional system in Maine is understaffed.
  • We have released alcoholics and drug addicts into our streets.  It fuels the number of homeless people and deaths. Most crimes are committed by people under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The addicted need help, but they also must help themselves.
  • There was a time that we housed mentally ill people and treated them. But the wisdom was to release them into the community. How has that worked out?
  • The courts and lawyers must notify people in a direct manner and not assume communication actually occurred because of an email or message left on a phone.
  • Lawyers, who lie to the courts should be disbarred and sued for the damage they caused. The issues in our courts should be justice and truth, not money or setting the guilty free.
  • People who lie to the courts should be charged with a crime, and not let them slide. Presently this is hard to do, because the courts are judiciary and not under the executive branch. All lies in court should be investigated by the Sheriff’s Department and brought to the court for justice.
  • The Maine Judicial Marshals, who are under the Judicial branch, should be placed under the Executive branch. Presently this is a conflict!  The security of our courts should be placed in the hands of the Sheriffs.
  • If a criminal case also becomes civil, it should be handled by the criminal court. The victim should receive compensation from the hands of the criminal court and not be made a victim twice.
  • Sadly, we have crime occurring and people just watch or video the crime.  There is a way of thinking that says “call the crime fighters”. “No” I say; we are all crime fighters and all must do their part by jumping in to help the victim and arrest the perpetrator. The perpetrator must receive just and swift punishment.  Those stopping crime need immunity and the perpetrator should have no grounds for a lawsuit. In fact, if a good citizen is injured, the court should order the perpetrator to pay any and all damages. 
  • We need to change our thinking so that the police become the community and the community becomes the police.
  • In Maine there should be no duty to retreat, but stand your ground. Defend yourself and others!
  • Maine should have a strong “Castle Doctrine” that extends from your home to your car and place of business. 
  • Assault on a police officer, corrections officer, or anyone attempting to make an arrest should be a felony.
  • Harsher punishments should be in our laws and enforced by our courts for those resisting arrest.
  • Because of today’s technology, such as videos of a crime committed, the court process, conviction, and punishment phases should be done in a timely fashion!
  • Pregnancy caused by rape or incest should not be the responsibility of the mother or the state, but the responsibility of the perpetrator. The perpetrator has the responsibility to “man up” and be financial responsible to the child. 
  • Adoption laws must be simplified and the adoption process made less expensive.

I could go on but as one can see, there is a lot that needs fixing and we need to get started. It begins with electing someone who has lived in the system and knows how it works. Then that someone (myself) will engage others in the community to help write laws that will fix our problems. I do not claim to know the solutions to everything, but when we see wrong, together we can fix it. Will you help me fix our criminal and civil justice system? Vote David Corbett for Maine Senate!

Rev. David Corbett
Maine Senate Candidate

District 32 (Biddeford, Arundel, Dayton, Lyman, Hollis)

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