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Stoddard County prosecutor pledges crackdown on persistent drug offenders
BLOOMFIELD, Mo. -- Stoddard County's new prosecuting attorney promises to take a strong stand against drug crime.
Oliver said he has taken a "hard line" on people with two or more previous drug convictions. State statutes, he said, allow for penalty enhancement for prior offenders.
Class B felonies, such as manufacturing methamphetamine or distributing prescription pills, reportedly can be enhanced to a Class A felony, which has a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of probation or parole.
The minimum sentence, Oliver said, would be 10 years without parole for those with two prior drug convictions.
"I think those involved with the drug trade will pay attention to that and know there are other counties that don't file those enhancements, and that we will every single time we have a chance," said Oliver, who expects more jury trials as a result.
That is a task "we're willing to take on, and I think that the systemic benefit from this policy will pay us dividends down the road," Oliver said. "If we can push those involved in the drug trade out of the county, we'll have fewer addicts committing burglaries [and] fewer child endangerment cases of kids living in the squalor of a meth house."
Oliver believes it is "definitely worth our effort."
In addition, Oliver said, a significant effort is under way into streamlining the office and trying to create a paperless system.
The change, he said, will reduce the need for additional office staff for filings and will save the county on personnel, but it has to be balanced to make "sure the savings doesn't cost the quality of service that we're providing to our citizens."
Born and raised at Puxico, Mo., on his family's farm, Oliver had been practicing law about three years before being elected prosecuting attorney.
A graduate of Puxico High School and Southeast Missouri State University, where he majored in political science and philosophy, Oliver attended law school in Kansas City before returning in late 2006/early 2007 to Stoddard County, where he joined Tweedy Law Office at Bloomfield.
Oliver said he practiced with Jim Tweedy for about a year before opening his own practice in Bloomfield.
Growing up, Oliver said, he always had seen himself farming until his junior high English teacher "convinced me my senior year of high school that I was selling myself short, and I needed to go to college."
Once he decided to go to college, Oliver said, it was law school "from the word go. ... I pretty much had my sights set, and I wasn't slowing down."
Oliver said he decided to run for prosecutor after he saw "things that didn't set well with me. I have a daughter, Emma, who is 3 ... to be able to look her in the eye, I felt like there were things I had to do and running for prosecutor was one of them and to make the county a better and safer place for her to grow up in."