Ingham County Prosecutor - 4 Year Term - Vote For Not More Than 1

Ingham County Prosecutor - 4 Year Term - Vote For Not More Than 1

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  • Billie Jo O'Berry

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    Carol Siemon

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Biographical Information

What are your top three priorities for the department if elected?

What is the most critical issue facing your office?

What will you do in your first month in office?

How do you restore the integrity of the office in the wake of the criminal charges against Stuart Dunnings III?

What specific actions, if any, can the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and its assistant prosecutors take in addressing the growing problems of heroin and illegal prescription painkiller use?

What changes, if any, should be made to the juvenile justice system?

How should court fines and costs be imposed when a significant portion of defendants are considered indigent?

Are you current in all tax, alimony and child support obligations? If not, please explain.

Have you been disciplined by the state Attorney Discipline Board? If so, when and what for?

Hometown Mason, MI
Education Western MI Cooley Law School Michigan State University Lansing Community College Dansville High School
Family Married 42 yrs. to Rick O'Berry Daughter, Jolina O'Berry is an attorney Grand daughter, Grace Joelle O'Berry
Professional Experience Asst. City Attorney for Lansing 29 yrs. Vevay Township Zoning Board of Appeals W.M. Cooley Law School, Adjunct Law Professor Billie J. O'Berry, Law Office Ingham County Circuit Court, James T. Kallman Ingham County Grants Administration Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney's Office
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Review all the policies and procedures currently being implemented and evaluate them for effectiveness and efficiency. Also, look at staffing and determine appropriate assignments based upon experience and skill level. Schedule meetings with the townships, villages and cities in Ingham County to assess their needs and establish open communication to foster transparency in the Prosecutor's Office. Meet with neighborhood associations to seek input regarding proactive practices and establish partnerships with schools and churches to reach the young people. Meet with law enforcement and the courts to pinpoint areas for improvement in the processing of complaints in the County.
The credibility of the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office has been undermined by alleged criminal conduct of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer. The message will be conveyed that everyone is expected to obey the law without respect to social position, occupation, race, ethnicity, gender, age or sexual orientation. The Prosecutor's Office and all of its personnel must be held to the highest level of professionalism. As I have served the citizens of Lansing by being in the office everyday, I will continue to be on the job after 5 and on the weekends to get the work done. The public must know that their tax dollars are paying for service to of this community, not for anyone's personal agenda.
Allegations of illegal conduct by the Prosecutor has effected everyone in the office. Everyone who has worked with me knows that I expect professionalism in the office. My goal is to objectively review pending cases with the attorneys. I want to ensure that appropriate charges have been issued and that the office is focusing on serving this community. First, I will meet with every staff member to discuss with them their responsibilities and convey my expectations. Second, I will review statistics and logs to determine the number and type of cases pending in the criminal division. The initial focus will be on criminal prosecution in view of the allegations against the former Prosecutor.
I will be in the office. I intend to be a working Prosecutor, not a figure head. I will take phone calls and return messages. I will establish policies that foster openness and communication with the public. I will work with community programs to build a relationship between citizens and the Prosecutor's Office. I will attend meetings with civic groups, church groups, and school groups to give updates on activities of the Prosecutor's Office. I will be an advocate for this community for the protection of victims. I will establish guidelines for the use of discretion by the assistant prosecutors that allow them to look objectively at the evidence and circumstances of the charge.
The Prosecutor must establish policies that differentiate between addicts and those that manufacture and deliver illegal drugs. The focus must be on those who prey on others to make a profit. The public must be educated that use of heroin is not just occurring in the big cities, but addicts can be as close as family. Awareness and knowledge are critical in addressing the problem. I have seen a rise in the number of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of controlled substance charges which often are the result of over use or mixing prescribed medications. Law enforcement must be trained to detect these. Such cases must be prosecuted, but sentences should include treatment.
I would agree with changing the definition of juvenile to those under the age of 18. The public generally does not realize that a 17 year old is currently considered an adult for criminal prosecution. Putting juveniles in jail for status offenses such as not attending school, curfew violations, smoking and drinking alcohol, is expensive and not effective. Early intervention is necessary and housing youths for minor offenses with those who have committed serious crimes is not productive. However, It should still be possible to charge those under the age of 18 as adults for violent and criminal sexual conduct if very specific criteria are established.
An opportunity should be provided to those who owe fines and costs to the court to volunteer for community service. The courts also currently refer many cases to collections where payments are set based upon ability to pay.
I have never been ordered to pay alimony or child support because I have been married for 42 years.
Hometown Lansing
Education Lansing Eastern High School 1974 Michigan State University: BA 1978 Suffolk University Law School: JD 1981
Family husband: Thomas Fruechtenicht
Professional Experience 11 years Ingham County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney; Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, Legislative Service Bureau; MSU School of Social Work, Office of Children's Ombudsman, State Court Administrative Office, MDHS, Public Policy Associates
Political Experience While this is my first time as a candidate, I have been an active Democrat and volunteer on political campaigns since the 1970s.
1. Address the opioid/heroin epidemic and focus prosecution on criminals who profit from addiction and death. Partner with law enforcement, the courts, service providers, and community groups to expand treatment for addicts instead of incarceration. 2. Maximize diversity and race equity in our community through prosecutorial hiring practices, charging policies, training in explicit and implicit bias issues, and working with our law enforcement and community partners to promote fairness, justice, and equality in Ingham County. 3. Vigorously prosecute crimes of violence and exploitation of vulnerable citizens while exercising prosecutorial discretion to avoid unnecessary incarcerations.
We need to look at some injustices that are built into the system and how we can work together to rectify the injustices. Whether it’s poverty, mental illness, or the fact that persons of color make up a disproportionate share of those in jail, prison, and juvenile facilities- these all mean that America has not yet lived up to its promise of “justice for all.” Recent and ongoing national headlines underscore that beneath the issues of gun control, mental health, and violence is a deep and pervasive yearning for an end to the politics of bias and resentment that pit Americans against one another and deny millions of us access to quality jobs, education, and health care.
1. Review and assess the current practices and policies of the office by meeting with staff, judges, police, community groups, and others to determine what changes and actions may be needed. 2.Develop and build relationships with community leaders and engage in the difficult and sustained conversations necessary to create progressive changes in the criminal justice system. 3. Listen openly to citizen concerns about past and current prosecutorial practices. 4. Explore training options and evidence-based practices to move Ingham county to being a state and national leader in prosecutorial best practices.
While the charges against the former Prosecutor are very serious, I believe that the system is stronger than any one man. I support Prosecutor Whitmer's internal review of the office during the transition process. I don't expect the voters to believe any candidate's pronouncements about how much integrity they have. I think our citizens are looking for leaders who display integrity on a day-to-day basis. If I'm elected, I pledge to serve every day to the best of my ability.
Work with police to focus resources on dealers and others who may be driving the amount of drugs available; collaborate with service providers, community groups, legislators, philanthropic organizations, and more to assess what treatment services are needed and how to address service gaps; support state budget appropriations, millage, potential federal funding, and other resources to pay for the increased services we need; conduct public forums bringing together citizens, professionals (including medical and mental health), and groups such as Families Against Narcotics to have meaningful discussions about needed changes; training on best practices about substance abuse disorders.
The juvenile justice system was created over 100 years ago with the recognition that juveniles have different capabilities and needs than adults. I would move away from the harsh, punitive policies of "do the crime, do the time," "zero tolerance," and high numbers of juveniles handled in the adult system we've seen the past 25 years. We need to look at the underlying causes of the "school-to-prison pipeline" to reduce the disproportionate impact on youth of color. Most critically, as a community, we must strive to prevent future criminal behavior by working with our communities to provide hope and opportunities for young people and others who may not get a fair start in life.
The Michigan Supreme Court’s recently adopted new court rules that prevent people from being jailed simply because their financial situation precludes them from paying fines and costs. New subchapter 2 provides under what circumstances fines and costs should be suspended or waived for a defendant or other respondent . While fines and costs are an important part of the legal process, I support the equitable assessment of a defendant's or other respondent's ability to pay to avoid the jailing of persons simply due to poverty or inability to pay.