Helping the Victims
During my first term in office as the Pinal County Attorney, I reached out to the Arizona Public Safety Foundation and donated approximately four hundred thousand dollars of seized criminal monies to them to build a family advocacy center. The center brings together every agency used to investigate child abuse crimes. In part, included in that group, includes the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, all of the police agencies, Department of Child Services, psychiatrists and even Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
Now that everyone works in one center, all of the agencies can sit in a back room and watch, on closed circuit TV, a single interview of a previously victimized child. Without this center, every discipline conducts separate interviews, usually on separate dates and separate locations. This center decreased investigation of child abuse crimes from what took an average of 6 months and 12 interviews per child, down to 1 day and 1 interview.
During the first month of the opening of our San Tan Valley Family Advocacy Center we saw, and interviewed, 79 children. During the first full open year, in 2015, we interviewed 745 children. The center saw so much traffic that the carpet wore holes within the first year. Luckily, we received donated tile to replace the carpet.
Driven by a desire to provide the absolute best services to our Pinal families, I reached out to the National Children’s Alliance, based in Washington D.C. Seeking to know where we could improve, I sought accreditation. NCA flew out and reviewed our facility. NCA returned the highest accreditation offered, telling us that they had no recommendations for us to improve. This tells us that we are providing the highest level of service to our community.
Because of this, within just three and half years, our county went from one of the highest sex offenders per capita in Arizona, to the absolute lowest sex offenders per capita. The family advocacy center provided the means to decrease the investigation times of child abuse crimes. This in turn, set Pinal County apart as the safest environment in Arizona for our children.
First County Attorney in U.S. History
Lando Volyes answers some questions about is work with Pinal County Victims and his role in prosecuting the drug cartels.
Funds to Support the Community
The Pinal County Attorney's Office enjoys a 97% retention rate with our employees because our bureau chiefs and Chief Deputy follow this simple chart in supervising our employees. I learned these simple principles years ago and can't claim the invention. However, I've found it extremely effective to increase our productivity and personnel relations.
Safe Learning = Successful Learning
The national organization, School Safety Advocacy Council, provided both the Pinal County Attorney’s Office and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office their highest award, the National Anti-Bullying Recognition Award.
This award required numerous aspects of working against bullying. Some of the accomplishments recognized by SSAC, included the following:
1. PCAO, PCSO and the United Dance Crew (https://www.facebook.com/uniteddancecrewAZ/), all joined forces and brought entertainment and education to school assembly’s across the county, teaching children the effects of bullying and encouraging them to stop bullying.
2. PCAO created a truancy program to find the reasons why the truant children skip school. The goal focuses on encouraging children to attend school, rather than punishing them for not attending. Numerous schools signed up for the program, which uses seized assets to provide a pizza party for class with the highest percentage of attending students. We hope to continue rolling the program out until every school participates.
3. PCAO and PCSO worked to get legislation passed to help focus on the problem of truancy. For the children who enjoy learning, we hope that stopping bullying provides an enjoyable learning environment for them.
For those who prefer not to attend school, we hope that our children will recognize that their required attendance at school brings them an eventual love of learning.
Tough Prosecution Prevents Crime
In the following summary, by comparing and contrasting between horizontal and vertical prosecution, it should be apparent why our office uses vertical style prosecution. Our office now charges more cases that are submitted to us, than ever before. During the past 3.5 years, arrests dropped across our county, while the rest of the nation saw an increase in crime rates. Vertical style prosecution holds the deputy county attorney accountable to our law enforcement partners. Vertical style prosecution removes violent offenders from the street in record numbers.
A police officer or deputy brings a case to one of just a limited number of charging attorneys. The charging attorneys rotate days of the week when they accept cases to charge that are submitted from law enforcement. The charging attorney will not be taking the cases that they charge, to trial. Instead, they pass all charged cases to a trial attorney. The charging attorney makes one of three decisions: charge, turn down, or further.
Horizontal Prosecution Results in the Following:
Each deputy county attorney from my office is assigned to specific regions in the county based on their crime specialty. Patrol officers and deputies know each of the specialty assigned deputy county attorneys for their region. On larger cases, the deputy county attorneys get called to the crime scenes, which helps the attorney make charging decisions in the necessary 24 hours after suspects get arrested. The deputy county attorney gathers information and lets the investigating agency know what evidence would be helpful to charge their case.
The deputy county attorney who starts the case will be the trial attorney. This helps the trial attorney become very familiar with the case from beginning to end. More cases typically get charged earlier, taking violent suspects off the street quicker and keeping Pinal families safer. The vertical prosecuting deputy county attorney on the case makes one of three decisions: charge, turn down, or further
Vertical Prosecution Facts & Results:
If opponents say that this directly costs the county $5-6 million more per year, that’s false. If opponents say that this indirectly costs the county $5-6 million more per year, that’s false. If opponents say that vertical style prosecution isn’t a good idea, then they’ve never been a prosecutor.
Vertical Style prosecution cuts down on the number of victims because defendants don’t remain on the street to reoffend. Our conviction rate, the fact that arrests are going down and we are charging more of the cases brought to us by law enforcement, proves that vertical style prosecution helps keep Pinal families safe!
$760,000 under budget after the first year
The first full year in office, my office came in $760 thousand under budget. Our office, fights to remain within our budget. Further, we are committed to remain within the budget this next year, despite our office getting a million dollar budget cut.
It’s important to note that several people made bald face lies about how much money our office costs the county. Our office never increased the cost of the county budget. In fact, the board of supervisors increased the budget on their own accord.
In fiscal year 2012, the entire county spending from the general fund equaled $167 million. In fiscal year 2015, the entire county spending from the general fund equaled $170 million. That means that the county spending increased by $3 million over the past 3 years.
This gets better because the board of supervisors increased that $3 million spending in the following manner.
In fiscal year 2014, the board of supervisors gave a county wide raise equaling $2.2 million. In fiscal year 2015, the county spent almost $1 million in debt services, selling bonds to pay for their project with the courts.
Anyone preposterously alleging that the Pinal County Attorney’s Office increased or increases Pinal County spending by $5-6 million, should not be elected, or reelected, into any office because they cannot be trusted!