Lowe gave an example from 2012, when a multiagency investigation of an illegal gambling operation resulted in the seizure of $2 million in assets for the county, specifically in new technology.
“I think we need to use our resources to attack criminals through their money,” Lowe said.
In response, Mitchell explained that today’s criminals are sophisticated with carefully calculated methods.
“I think here in Anderson County that our biggest challenge is the just and proper prosecution of these criminal cases,” she said. “And I mean not giving away fine-only cases for burglaries of a vehicle, resisting arrest… fine-only for DWI, and fine-only for DWI second. That’s not just and proper punishment.”
Mitchell posed the question to attendants of what message that sends to members of law enforcement and offenders.
“If we can send a strong message to these burglars, we will hopefully send a strong message to the drug users,” she said, “because drugs are the root of the burglaries; drugs are the root of the thefts.”
As for how she’d handle repeat offenders, Mitchell called it a “rough situation,” explaining that both those using the drugs and those supplying them must be dealt with.
“You have to absolutely make a statement with them, and you will not make a statement when you do what has been done in the DA’s office, when you give drug users a fine-only offense,” she said. “This summer, deals were made with defense attorneys for fines only on dangerous drugs and on the possession of marijuana cases. That’s not the solution.
“You’re not held accountable under the thumb of probation,” she said. “We have to send a message to them that the citizens of Anderson County are not going to tolerate their repeated behavior.”
In response, Lowe elaborated on what drugs do to a person, and how probation often doesn’t cut it.