Previewing the Ingham County Prosecutor's race

Posted at 10:21 PM, Jul 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 07:40:31-04

 All four democratic candidates agree the Prosecutor's Office needs a new leader and they're hoping for your vote this Tuesday.

Brian Jackson worked with the Eaton County Prosecutor's Office and as an Assistant City Attorney for Lansing.

He's currently a defense lawyer and tells us he's got some "fresh ideas" from his experience that he's hoping will turn the office around.

One of the first things he'd do is go to jail for a day.

"I think that we should realize what we're doing when we're putting people away," Jackson said. "But I'd also implement a restorative justice diversion program that concentrates on investing back into the community into the victim to make him or her whole again, but also into the offender. So that he or she is less likely to re-offend."

Carol Siemon is also hoping to decrease recidivism rates.

Siemon has a long list of experience having spent 11 years as an Assistant Ingham County Prosecutor.

During that time, she developed the first child abuse training program for prosecutors, police officers and Children's Protective Services.

She's also worked on legislation and for the State Court Administrative Office, a division of the Supreme Court.

Siemon tells us her focus is on things like sentencing reform.

"In parts of it I'd have a direct impact, in other parts it'd be more as a community leader," she explained. "So it would mean looking at our charging decisions first, how the case is issued, does it get issued as a warrant , does it go to a diversion program? Are we going to recommend specialty court?"

Patrick O'keefe spent ten years as an Assistant Prosecutor in both Kent and Ingham Counties; but he left in 2013 to form his own criminal defense firm.

O'Keefe tells News Ten that experience on both sides gives him a unique perspective and sets him apart from his fellow candidates.

If elected, he'd run the office like a law firm and bring Michigan's incarceration rate down.

"We've got to sentence people more intelligently. Michigan ranks 4th highest in our incarceration rate in the nation. To me, that's unacceptable. I believe that we can bring down our incarceration rates, while also keeping the community safe, while also enforcing law and order in our community," O'Keefe said.

Thomas English is the only candidate not originally from the area.

He was born and raised in New Mexico, where he enlisted in the Army and served as a State Police Officer and Homicide Investigator, while attending night school to get his law degree.

English eventually became a Federal Prosecutor and Federal Social Security Judge.

He moved to Ingham County ten years ago and tells us his outside experience is what the office needs.

"The issue with integrity is to make sure that everyone in the office deserves the respect of the public and returning that respect back to them," English said. "I've taken over offices in many different situations. I'm very accustomed to coming in and finding out what's broken, what needs to be fixed and what's not broken and what does not to be fixed and left alone."

We'll have a look at the two Republican candidates running for the position Friday night.