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The major issue facing Boone County today as it relates to prosecution remains the drug epidemic.

Out of 28 indictments handed down by the grand jury in September, 24 cases have some nexus to drug use and abuse. Eighty–five to ninety percent of felony offenses are related to drug abuse, whether it is those charged with selling drugs, those stealing to support their habit, or those committing violent crimes against others. The same percentage likely holds true for every child that gets removed from a parent through the abuse and neglect process. Sadly, it is early October, and we have filed to remove some 130 children this year alone.

Over the past 10 years, I have placed an emphasis on prosecuting those dealing and those committing violent crimes due to their drug use. I assigned one assistant to handle all drug dealing cases until his position was cut last year due to the declining budget. We worked closely with our task force members to increase the number of drug dealing prosecutions. In addition, we have worked closely with our counterparts in the U.S. Attorney’s office to ensure certain defendants were prosecuted in the jurisdiction leading to the most prison time possible.

We have also used asset forfeiture proceedings to address the drug problem. Each forfeiture requires our office to file a civil action in Circuit Court. Over the last 10 years, we have seized some $250,000 to $300,000 worth of cash, vehicles, and one home from those selling drugs in Boone County.

Following a lengthy investigation in one case arising out of Prenter, I instituted a highly regulated, extremely technical legal process called a state “wiretap” to pursue a Detroit drug dealer selling his poison on Big Coal. That proved successful, and we were able to remove some 14 drug dealers, including the main target from Detroit, from the community with the help of the U.S. Attorney. Sadly, within days of removing the Detroit dealer, two dealers from Charleston quickly moved into the area to support the demand.

As for violent criminals, we have successfully prosecuted multiple people to life sentences for murder over the last ten years. Again, all of those cases had drug addiction or drug use as a part of the case. In addition to the multiple murders, there are other violent criminals serving lengthy prison sentences for robbery and other violent crimes prosecuted over the last ten years.

No single person will ever “solve” the drug problem. I would never suggest I have that ability. What I do have is the qualifications and experience to lead this office for another term. No other candidate in this race can match my five-plus years in the State Police and over 14 years in prosecution.

If re-elected, I will continue to use every avenue available to address this most pressing problem.

Before you submit your ballot, make sure you know your candidates so that you can determine who is the most qualified candidate — qualifications to serve do matter.

Keith Randolph is the Democratic candidate for Boone County prosecutor.