Brent Ackerson’s answers to KFTC’s candidate questionnaire:
Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.
Please tell us about yourself, your references and experience answering why you believe you are the most qualified person to be in charge.
I have been a Metro Councilperson since 2009, which includes a progressive policy record of supporting raising the minimum wage, supporting labor, supporting Fairness, supporting the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and supporting economic and justice equality. As a litigation attorney for 17 years, which includes having a criminal law experience, my law practice is focused on civil litigation involving employee rights, discriminations, government whistleblowers, and injury matters.
I am not a prosecutor, but rather a policymaker, who will approach this office from a new perspective. With the new challenges we face, I recognize that we need a 21st century approach to the way we operate, both in the criminal and civil divisions. If you are happy with the way Louisville’s present legal system is working, then I’m not the candidate to vote for. If you want someone willing to bring effective changes, then I ask for your vote.
I have been a metropolitan councilor since 2009, which includes a register of progressive policies to raise the minimum wage, support work, justice, the Fund for Easy Access to Housing and support for equity in justice and the economy. I was a trial lawyer for 17 years, that includes experience with laws on crimes, discrimination, complaints against the government and personal injuries.
I am not a Prosecutor specifically, I am a formulator of laws, whose objective is to give the office a new perspective. With the challenges that we face today, I understand that we need a more modern way to operate, both in our criminal division and in the civil division. If you are happy with the way the system and the legal representative of Louisville are working, then I am not the candidate for your vote. On the other hand, if you want someone to make effective changes, I invite you to vote for me.
Given caseloads and financial resources, what role do you think prosecutors can play in reducing jail overcrowding?
According to the amount of processes and financial resources, what role do you think the prosecutor can have to reduce prison overcrowding?
At present, it is predicted that Kentucky’s jails and prisons will be at maximum capacity in mid-2019. That’s a social and economic crisis. We must abandon the mentality that we can do our way out of our criminal justice problems. We need a more holistic mindset for the minor crimes that the County Attorney’s office handles, including a more restorative justice approach to how our prosecutors handle minor cases and avoiding convictions with more diversion programs to help offenders turn their lives around. Jailing for minor offenses neither helps the overcrowding situation nor does it help reform the offender. Our prosecutors need more discretion to deal with matters on an individual case by case basis, taking into account the totality of the issues and circumstances,
Currently, Kentucky prisons and prisons are projected to be at their maximum capacity by mid-2019. That is a social and economic crisis. We must abandon the mentality in which we think that all our judicial problems are solved with jail. We need a more holistic view, modifying the attitude toward minor crimes on the part of the County Attorney’s Office, that includes an approach to more restorative justice, thinking about how our prosecutors handle minor crimes, modifying sentences for a diverse range of programs that help offenders to return to social life. Imprisoning for minor offenses does not help to overcome the situation of overpopulation in prisons and does not help reform the aggressor either.
What role can the county attorney’s office play in reducing caseloads?
What role can the County Attorney have in reducing the processes?
The County Attorney’s office has over 400 employees, including over 100 attorneys. It handles matters ranging from traffic cases, to misdemeanor crimes, to juvenile cases, to child support, to domestic violence, to civil litigation, to providing legal advice to the Metro Council and various Metro departments. It’s a large and diverse office. Reduction of caseloads would need to be done in varying ways depending on the area of practice. Traffic cases and non-violent misdemeanor cases need to be to fun programs to help the offenders. Resources need to be shifted to areas of backlogs, and staff needs to focus on more than just one area of the law. The office needs a full independent audit to ensure that we are maximizing the resources and funds expended.
The County Attorney’s office has about 400 employees, including more than 100 attorneys. They handle all matters ranging from trafficking, misdemeanors, juvenile cases, child support, domestic violence, civil litigation, providing legal aid to the Metropolitan Council and several departments of the municipality. It is a wide and diverse office. The reduction in the processes must be done according to the practice area. Trafficking processes and non-violent minor crimes must be sent to various programs where the aggressor is helped. Resources should be focused on areas such as dammed work, and the work team needs to focus on more than one area of the law. The office needs a complete independent audit to ensure maximum use of funds and resources.
How can the county attorney actively pursue justice when high caseloads encourage plea bargains?
How can the County Attorney achieve effective justice when the processes promote applications for penalty reductions?
We need to encourage plea bargains, not avoid them, especially in cases when we can avoid plaguing a person’s record in a manner that keeps them from getting to job or qualifying for housing. Violent offenders and career criminals need to be locked up, and jail space needs to be kept available for such persons. However, nonviolent and minor level offenders need to avoid jail and be placed in situations to help them and encourage them to get their lives back on track. To achieve success in dealing with our new crime problems, we must embrace new diversion programs and new restorative justice models. We must let prosecutors have discretion in handling their caseloads, which includes helping people who have committed minor crimes due to their circumstances.
We need to incentivize requests for rebates, not avoid them, especially in cases where we can avoid affecting the registration of a person in such a way that they can get a job or qualify for a house. Violent offenders and career criminals must be insured, and we need space available in prisons for those people. However, minor and non-violent aggressors could avoid jail and be placed in situations that help them to get back on track in their lives normally. To reach the goal of dealing with new problems that come with new crimes, we must welcome new and much more diverse programs and new models of restorative justice. We must allow our prosecutors to have discretion in the management of their processes,
What circumstances do you think prosecutors should consider in making recommendations to judges about setting bail or bond?
What circumstances do you think prosecutors should consider when making recommendations to judges on bail and arrest?
At present, Assistant County Attorney prosecutors are instructed to object to any and all bond reductions. This model of handling things hurts the system, in that when you object to everything then the sincerity of the objection is lost when the objection has a legitimate basis. I believe that the requirement of bonds in minor nonviolent offenses makes the situation worse, in that it often requires persons of limited means to come up with money that could be better used for their circumstances or their family needs. If they are unable to come up with such funds, then the limited jail spaces and resources get used, when they are better reserved for other persons. I believe that most non-violent or minor offenses should not require a bond.
At the moment, the assistant prosecutors of the County Prosecutor’s Office are instructed to object to each and every one of the arrest reductions. This way of handling things hurts the system, because in this way any sincerity is lost when it is objected with a legitimate basis. I believe that the requirement of arrest in minor cases or non-violent aggression makes the situation worse, sometimes it means that people with limited resources have to look for money that could be better used for the needs of their families. If they do not have those funds, then the limited spaces and prison resources are used with them, when these should be reserved for other people in serious cases. I believe that most nonviolent cases or minor offenses should not require an arrest.
What circumstances do you think prosecutors should take into consideration in making recommendations to judges about alternative sentencing?
What circumstances do you think prosecutors should take into account when making recommendations to judges about alternative sentencing?
Alternative sentencing should be what is strived for whenever possible and in most cases of misdemeanors and / or nonviolent offenses it should be the presumed path, unless something would require traditional paths of sentencing. There are a number of factors that should be considered in making recommendations for alternative sentencing, including the type of the offense charged, the impact upon a victim from the offense, the chance for helping the charged party, make amends for the crime, and helping the charged party to resume being a productive member of our community.
The alternative sentences should be what is sought as long as the crimes are minor and / or are non-violent offenses, I think that should be the way. Unless something requires using traditional sentencing paths. There are a considerable number of factors that should be considered when making recommendations for an alternative sentence, which include the type of charge imposed on the accused party, the impact of the offense on the victim, the opportunity to help the accused to amend the crime and the way in which the accused party is helped to become a productive member for our community.
What reforms or steps do you believe the County Attorney’s office could institute that would improve police accountability?
What reforms or steps do you think the County Attorney’s office could establish to improve police accountability?
When officers are being investigated by the Public Integrity Unit, a policy needs to be implemented that a resignation by the officer does not conclude the investigation and allow avoidance of possible filed charges against said officer. Additionally, information known that reflects poorly and negatively upon an officer’s character or fitness to serve in law enforcement needs to be made public to avoid situations where an officer resigns from one law enforcement agency, due to problems with character or fitness, is able to be hired by another agency which lacks knowledge of the problems related to that officer.
When police officers are investigated by the Public Integrity Unit, a policy must be implemented so that the officer’s resignation does not end the investigation avoiding the charges against said officer. Additionally, information related to the bad or negative character of an officer that does not fit to serve in the forces of the law must be made public; In this way we will avoid situations in which an officer renounces any of the forces of the law for those reasons and is still able to enlist in another agency without knowledge of the problems related to that officer.
Do you support the restoration of voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals who have served their full sentence?
Do you support restoring the right to vote for individuals who have been incarcerated and paid their sentence total?
Yes, I support the restoration of voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals.
Yes, I support that the right to vote is restored for individuals who have served their sentence.
What is your stance on the ordinance recently passed by the Metro Council that clarifies immigration enforcement guidelines?
What is your position on the ordinance recently passed by the Metro Council that clarifies the guidelines for compliance with the immigration law?
As a Metro Councilmember, I voted for the Ordinance. I do not believe that it is our community’s job to enforce federal law and even the appearance that we are, sends the wrong message to our immigrant populations, regardless of their legal status.
As a member of the Metropolitan Council, I voted for the ordinance. I do not believe that it is the work of our community to impose a federal law and although we apparently do it, we send the wrong message to our immigrant population, regardless of their legal status.