TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Two candidates vying to become judge of Superior Court 4 differ in their approach to dealing with drug addiction in the community.
The court sees a majority of the county's low-level felony drug cases, as well as evictions and small claims.
"I consider it to be sort of the front line on our community's war on opioids, meth and synthetic drugs," says Matt Sandy (R-candidate for Superior Court 4 judge)
Sandy practices criminal and civil law from his downtown law firm. He believes employment is the best path toward rehabilitation. He would also bring back the county's forensic drug treatment and problem solving courts.
"The best way you can get these people to rehabilitate is employment," he says. "It's my plan to work with the employment agencies here in town."
Sandy wants to require anyone using a public defender to actively seek a job. He also suggests inviting employment agencies to set up tables outside the courtroom.
"This court has a high volume of cases that are assigned to the public defender's office, which creates a burden on the court, on the community, and a very big expense on the county," he says.
Matthew Boulac (D-candidate for Superior Court 4 judge) is a commissioner in the county's IV-D court, which handles child support and paternity cases.
He aims to reduce the amount of people going to jail and redirect them to services in the community.
"I think it's a good opportunity there to address those issues, especially with folks who are having first-time run-ins with the law and try and offer them services, as opposed to jail time," Boulac says.
He adds that jail time isn't always the best approach for people struggling with drug addiction.
"If you are a low-income, low-wage worker and you go to jail, you lose your apartment, you lose your job and you come back out in three or six months with nothing," Boulac says.
He also wants Superior Court 4 to participate in proposed substance abuse and mental health courts.
"So it's really more about adding some additional things in that Tippecanoe County doesn't have right now and trying to expand that out and make it more of what I would call a problem-solving court," he says.
As News 18 previously reported, current Superior Court 4 Judge Laura Zeman is retiring. Both candidates say the court is well run and has an efficient case management structure.