Below are the notes and speech of Republican candidate for McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally.
Welcome to everyone and thank you all for doing me the honor of attending.
Begin by acknowledging every past and present member of law enforcement in this room. Please stand up.
While it seems self-evident, these days we unfortunately have to say it.
These men and women who daily risk their lives for our safety and freedom from insecurity are heroes and model citizens.
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Kenneally said he looked forward to a close relationship with Sheriff Bill Prim.
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Thank also to all the employees of the states attorneys office.
We have the best staff in the State.
In the last two years, we have tried over 35 felony jury trials and lost only two.
I’d put that record up against any other office in the Country.
[Thank guest speakers]
So Lou has made the highly questionable decision of hoping to leave me in charge.
Kenneally Criticizes Criminal Justice “Reform” Movement
Beyond that, the way things are going, how prosecutors and especially police are being portrayed, I have concerns about our future.
It’s become clear to me that this hostile criminal justice “reform” movement that has hijacked policy discussions has fundamentally shifted the landscape facing law enforcement in ways Lou could not have imagined 12 years ago.
Some in this cynical group of reformers seek to re-imagine everyone involved in the criminal justice system as somehow in someway willing contributors to a broken, corrupt, even racist system of justice that has become weary and insolvent by its insistence on imprisoning all of these non-violent “drug offenders” we’re constantly hearing about.
We hear that prosecutors are more self-promoters than ministers of justice.
Seeking to win at any cost.
We hear that prosecutors are a mere extension of the blue wall of silence.
Using their legal know-how to provide cover for police misconduct.
We hear that high-profile, newsworthy instances of police and prosecutorial misconduct are not exceedingly rare exceptions.
Rather, they are examples of the curtain being pulled back to reveal the hidden truth deliberately concealed from public view.
Well, I believe that this now fashionable crisis of faith in law enforcement and prosecutors stems not from widespread or systemic misconduct, but poor PR and one-sided reporting.
I’ll say this.
Thousands may hate police and prosecutors for what they think do, but not a hundred hate police and prosecutors for what they actually do.
Let’s talk about prosecutors.
Who are we?
What do we do?
Why do we do it?
I can assure you, it’s not for the money.
The average debt of a lawyer coming out of law school today is about $140,000.
The starting salary for a prosecutor in McHenry is about $50,000. The average starting salary of a recent law school graduate in the private sector is $84,000.
It’s not just throw people in jail, at least not in McHenry County.
In McHenry, 0.001% or 1 thousandths of a % of our population resides prison. [As commenters pointed out, the correct figure is 0.10%. Kenneally writes, “In 2012, there was 100 per 100,000. I screwed up decimal place. That’s why I went to law school and wasn’t a math major.’]
This is on par with if not less than countries held out to us as models for moderate sentencing laws, such as France, Belgium, Germany, and South Korea.
Just so I’m clear, no minor or first time drug offenders are ever being sentenced to prison.
It’s a myth, it doesn’t happen.
We seek prison only for the excessively repetitive, violent, sexually dangerous offenders.
We, as prosecutors, are not covering up police misconduct.
We recognize the special danger posed by lawless acts on the part of those people entrusted to uphold the law.
Over the last twelve years, this Office has prosecuted those police officers for violating the law and will continue to do so.
The reason there have been so few prosecutions is not because of cover-ups, but because these instances are so rare.