Pollina stresses prevention over tougher sex offender laws

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(Host) Independent gubernatorial candidate Anthony Pollina says he’s not convinced that creating new and tougher sex offender laws is the right way to respond to the issue of sexual abuse.

Pollina says it’s more important to fully fund prevention programs and special investigative units throughout the state.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) After studying the issue for several months, a special legislative panel is backing a plan to create a new crime of aggravated sexual assault on a minor – it’s a crime that would impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in jail and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Speaking on VPRs Vermont Edition, Independent gubernatorial candidate Anthony Pollina said the proposal deserves closer scrutiny, but Pollina said he generally opposes the concept of adopting longer mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes:

(Pollina) "The idea of the creation of a new crime in a sense I don’t have a problem with I still have a problem with whether or not a mandatory minimum is going to result in the kind of conclusion that we want my understanding is mandatory minimums mean those people who are accused of crimes go to court they fight the crime differently or they fight the prosecution differently and they often end up not going to jail and I think that obviously is not the result obviously that we’re looking for."

Pollina says he wants to focus more attention on the causes of sexual abuse:

(Pollina) "Most importantly I want us to prevent these crimes from happening I’m not convinced quite honestly that putting someone in jail for a longer period of time stops the next person from committing a crime and in Vermont I want us to start engaging in a real thorough discussion about what we’re going to do to prevent men and boys from abusing and harming and frankly killing young girls and women."

Pollina acknowledges that it’s going to be a tough budget year to increase spending on prevention and law enforcement programs. He says he wants to conduct a top to bottom review of the state budget and he thinks there are places that should be cut to help pay for his priorities:

(Pollina) "I think we have to stop throwing money at programs that don’t work… people will think this is the wrong thing to say but under the Douglas Administration we’ve spent 200 million dollars on economic development and yet we’ve lost more jobs than we’ve gained practically even though those kinds of programs have to be looked at more seriously."

Pollina is also calling for a complete review of the state’s parole and probation system to make certain that people who participate in these programs are closely monitored.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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