Hamilton County’s top prosecutor pins blame on judges amid rash of shootings

‘Judges can make a difference. Judges can make our community safe.’
Hamilton County prosecutor offers perspective on recent violence
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 5:55 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Hamilton County Prosecutor Melissa Powers says local courts are partly to blame for the recent spike in gun violence.

Nine shootings happened in Cincinnati over the weekend, and juveniles are being targeted more than in the past.

“There are community that are high risk, very vulnerable communities, that really need a lot of support and help,” Powers said Wednesday.

There have been 32 juveniles shot in Cincinnati so far in 2023, including a 7-year-old girl who was hit in the stomach over the weekend while playing outside in North Avondale.

“They should not be concerned that, if their child is playing in a courtyard of their apartment building, that they have to fear that there’s going to be a drive-by shooting,” Power said.

The county’s top prosecutor says there’s no single solution to gun violence. Still, she remains confident in the work being done by local law enforcement and her assistant prosecutors.

But Powers says too often judges release known criminals either on low bonds or without any serious consequences.

She points to a SWAT incident that lasted several hours on Sunday. The suspect, 49-year-old, Paul Mitchell, was arrested on a weapons charge in December and had previous drug charges but was still released on a $250 bond.

“He didn’t mind losing that $250. It wasn’t enough to keep him in,” Powers said. “He posted it, and he put people at risk and in danger. Thirty shots were fired at SWAT officers. It’s a miracle, an absolute miracle that no one was hurt during that incident.”

Powers says she understands judges don’t have crystal balls. But she believes they do have an obligation to public safety and that they need to consider the risk to the community.

“When there were opportunities to prevent someone from re-offending in our community and those steps were not taken, there’s a failure there,” she said.

“Judges can make a difference. Judges can make our community safe. That’s just one piece. I’m not saying it’s a root cause of many things. There are many causes. But what I am saying is that it’s all-hands-on-deck. Everybody has to provide solutions to this.”

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