Prosecutor candidates: Diversion, intervention should be focus for youth offenders

 

Candidates for Lowndes County prosecutor, from left, William Starks, Steve Wallace and Corky Smith, field questions from the audience during Thursday's Columbus Exchange Club meeting at Lion Hills Center.

Candidates for Lowndes County prosecutor, from left, William Starks, Steve Wallace and Corky Smith, field questions from the audience during Thursday's Columbus Exchange Club meeting at Lion Hills Center.
Photo by: Slim Smith/Dispatch Staff

 

 

Slim Smith

 

 

There may be three candidates for Lowndes County prosecutor, but there appeared to be one prevailing perspective on the job during Thursday's Exchange Club luncheon at Lion Hills Center. 

 

The candidates -- Corky Smith, William Starks and Steve Wallace -- were invited to make their pitches for the job during the Exchange Club's series of candidate forums leading up to the November general election. 

 

Each candidate emphasized the job -- which argues the county's cases in justice and youth court -- should focus of finding positive outcomes rather than simply punishment. The candidates were given 10 minutes each to explain their positions. 

 

"I think it's important to let the community know that we are not the enemy," Smith said. "There are resources out there that can break the cycle of addiction and the cycle of violence we often see in these courts. I want that to be known." 

 

Starks said finding positive outcomes is particularly important in the county prosecutor's role in youth court. 

 

"It's vital," he said. "We have youths who are neglected or have become delinquent. How we deal with them determines their paths and futures. Through the youth court, we need to direct them in a positive manner to recover from whatever missteps they have taken." 

 

Wallace said his work with a youth mentoring group organized by pilots at Columbus Air Force Base, along with a vigorous drug court that serves as a diversion program, are important tools to put people back on the right path. 

 

"In youth court especially, if these young people are not turned around and taught something better, we're going to see them in justice court and then in circuit court, facing serious felonies," Wallace said. "My experience has taught me that there are many more ways to skin a cat than one. There is help out there and we have to look and find it for these folks." 

 

Starks and Wallace cited their background as experienced public defenders as qualifying assets for the position. Although Smith has not served as a public defender, he said his experience as both a county and city prosecutor in 2010 makes him uniquely qualified for the job. 

 

Smith and Wallace will face off in a Republican primary in August. The winner will face Starks, a Democrat, in November's general election. 

 

The current prosecutor, Hal McClanahan, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors in December to hold the job on an interim basis after county prosecutor Allison Kizer was elected to serve as county judge in November. 

 

The position pays $45,700.

 

Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]

 

 

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