Editorial roundup

The Blade, Dec. 10

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles want to wrest ownership of the logo that members of a motorcycle group use on their helmets and jackets, believing that if the logo disappears, the group itself will fade into obscurity.

It is an innovative and laudable way of employing federal forfeiture laws, which allow the government to seize assets — such as money, boats, cars and houses — associated with criminal activity. Not surprisingly, the Mongols biker club is fighting the effort.

The government believes that identification is what gives the Mongols standing and that taking the logo would be like cutting the head off of a snake. How would the group stay together? Who else would want to join? They’d practically be naked, the laughingstock of the biker community.

Forfeiture laws are intended to deprive criminals of assets that sustain or reward illicit activity. If the Mongols are a criminal organization as the government alleges, the logo may be the group’s biggest asset, and it should be taken.


The Canton Repository, Dec. 7

Earlier this fall, when voters were considering whether to approve a constitutional amendment that would reclassify some drug offenses, with the stated goal of reducing the state’s prison population, the five judges who preside over Stark County Common Pleas Court visited the Editorial Board en masse.

In making their case for an endorsement against State Issue 1, the judges presented pages and pages of data as evidence the language in the bill held the potential for serious unintended consequences. They argued strongly in favor of retaining “judicial discretion” — the ability to make decisions in the best interest of the defendant and the community when imposing a sentence — at risk if Issue 1 passed.

With that in mind, we celebrated the news this week that the Multi-County Juvenile Attention System is on pace to use only about half of its 141 beds on a daily basis this year — a sharp decline from its previous five-year average of about 62 percent filled each day.

Less incarceration typically means saving taxpayer dollars — a key point pro-Issue 1 advocates made in support of the amendment voters ultimately rejected Nov. 6. In defeat, though, proponents expressed optimism they had jump-started a conversation about effective adult sentencing and the greater availability and use of alternatives to prison.

In essence, that’s what Stark County Common Pleas judges said they needed: the ability to work with offenders on an individual basis.