Q&A with Jackson County State’s Attorney Michael Carr

By Madison Taylor, Staff Reporter

Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted on Sept. 24

Michael Carr was elected as the Jackson County State’s Attorney in November 2012 and in 2016, he was reelected for a second term.

He received his bachelor’s degree in government from SIU and his Juris Doctorate from SIU’s School of Law.

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The Daily Egyptian spoke with Carr about his plans if reelected. 

DE: What are your goals if you’re reelected?

Carr said he wants to continue the tactics and principles he’s used over the years to focus on serious offenders and remove them from the community. 

“We have to have a prosecutor’s office that takes serious crimes seriously [and] removes those people from our communities, so that people feel safe,” Carr said.

Carr said he wants a supporting and safe environment that results in someone not losing their opportunity to a criminal prosecution.

“When I came here, Jackson County had filed 760 felonies that year [and] by the end of 2019, the felony filings in Jackson County went down to 537. That’s a 30% reduction, and that’s a result of focusing on the most serious offenders,” Carr said.

Carr said he wants to focus on and prosecute serious crimes and repeat offenders.

“[We want to] focus on people that have continued to commit serious crimes and those people, many of them have recently been released from prisons. Focusing on the most serious offenders means using our precious resources, but basically focusing on trial work and cases that we actually want to use our resources on,” Carr said.

DE: What are some policies you advocate for?

Carr said one of his policies is to file cases off of a good faith basis, meaning that they can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and still be able to get more evidence.

“There has to be a good faith basis that we’re going to be able to prove this case at trial; that’s one of the principles of prosecution,” Carr said.

Carr said another policy he advocated for is cases that require a minimum mandatory sentence, like murder or sexual assault, will not be negotiable. 

“If we have that kind of case which carries a mandatory minimum sentence, because [we know] majority of our violent crimes are being committed by people who are already involved [in serious offenses], we are not going to answer into negotiations that would go below legislation,” Carr said.

DE: What are your strengths and weaknesses compared to Joe Cervantez and how will you use those to your advantage?

Carr said some of his strengths are that he has been a prosecutor for over three decades and has lived in Carbondale the majority of his life.

“My opponent moved to Carbondale so that he could say that he’s from Carbondale. He doesn’t work in Jackson County, he doesn’t live in Jackson County, his family doesn’t go to school in Jackson County,” Carr said.

Carr said he respects that Cervantez is an attorney but the county needs someone who has prosecuted murder cases.

“My opponent has never done that; they [Jackson County] require somebody who has processed seriously violent crimes. Before that, my opponent was handling juvenile cases,” Carr said.

Carr said he is well versed on the history and the challenges of the community, a knowledge that can’t be obtained living in Carbondale only for a little while.

DE: With the controversy around the Molly Young case do you have any comments about her father campaigning against you and telling people to vote for Cervantez?

Carr said he cannot speak on that case because he’s been recused from that case.

“I just can’t talk about it. It’s a core responsibility to separate that [and] not to associate a campaign with the promotion of a particular case. Of course that doesn’t prevent people that want to promote a candidate from doing that, but lawyers have an ethical responsibility that the public understands that they can’t campaign. I’m recused from the case and it would be improper for me to comment,” Carr said.

Staff reporter Madison Taylor  can be reached at  [email protected] or on Twitter at @taylorm08. 

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