Albany County District Attorney David Soares, left and his Democratic primary challenger, Lee Kindlon, traded barbs about the past, present and future of the county in a Wednesday, Sept. 5, debate.
Photo by John McIntyre.
continued On several occasions, the defense attorney presented a proposal for a “rocket docket” program to speed up trials.
“Imagine if we had actually had a criminal justice system … that sets a strong message to the gangs, the thugs and the bullies. These things will not happen anymore in Albany County because they know the District Attorney’s Office is gonna come for them,” Kindlon said. “Imagine if we could cycle through fast enough, take care of those victims, witnesses, get to the point where we’re actually putting people in prison in less than five months.”
Soares scoffed at that proposal.
“Unless he’s running for judge, I don’t know who else controls our docket. It’s the judge that sets the calendar,” Soares said.
The county’s crime rate was also discussed at length. A recent study from the Department of Criminal Justice Services found that Albany County has the second highest crime rate in New York State. Kindlon said implementing the “rocket docket” plan would help steer the numbers in a positive direction. However, Soares said the emphasis needs to be placed back into “rebuilding partnerships with the community.” He also said his office has made it a point to target more serious crime.
“I’m not going to bore you with numbers, but Albany County violent criminals are going to prison and they’re going to prison faster at any point of time in the history of our county,” Soares said. “Violent crime is the area that we are most proud of.”
Kindlon at one point commended Soares for a public outreach effort, but in the next breath accused him of making “75 blocks in Albany” his only focus. Kindlon said he would provide a “more even distribution of prosecution resources out to these smaller communities” all over Albany County.
The internal machinations of the DA’s Office were also discussed. When asked about how to curb wasteful spending, Soares said he doesn’t “believe we have wasteful spending in the District Attorney office,” an assertion Kindlon laid into.