A recent column by my opponent highlights our different perspectives about the nature of the job of district attorney.
He cited a statistic that ranks State College as a safe place to reside. He then linked this to Penn State's unrelated ranking as a party school.
While we are all pleased to see State College's rank as a safe city, Penn State is not all of State College, and State College is not all of Centre County.
A district attorney always should engage in community outreach to prevent crime. Still, no DA is due all the credit for safety.
A successful DA respects the high quality police work, strong community groups, quality educational system and other factors that exert positive influences on life in the area.
These factors, with heavy emphasis on our exceptional police, are due most of the credit for this safety ranking.
The DA's office is the voice for victims of crime. The job of the DA is to make sure justice is vigorously pursued after a crime has been committed. The true success of a DA's office can best be measured by a review of specific case handling, not by a general statistic from 2008 that applies to only part of the county. The scoring of that performance is the report card that matters. When I assign those grades, frankly I do not feel safe today.
A properly managed DA's office will naturally produce a successful prosecution record. An experienced DA with a well-trained staff will be properly prepared to obtain justice for victims and protection for the public while making good use of the scarce resource that is the taxpayer dollar.
Making the tough calls upfront as to what the appropriate charges are, being able to analyze strengths and weaknesses of a case, being able to anticipate the defenses and the relative success of those defenses and knowing when to go to the mat - these decisions, when made properly, spell success.
This can be accomplished by smart prosecution - matching office talent with the cases at hand, leading by example, staying involved and being accountable.
The success of the DA's office literally affects your family's safety.
When defendants leave the courthouse without being held accountable, they go down the street into a house next to you and me.
That most definitely does not make me feel safe. We must continue to reinvent ourselves as our communities change, and we must remember that a variety of circumstances exist around the county.
Stacy Parks Miller is a candidate for Centre County district attorney.