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Jacobsen challenging for Renville County judgeship

OLIVIA -- Glen M. "Jake" Jacobsen, assistant county attorney for Renville County, is challenging Judge Randall J. Slieter for the Eighth Judicial District judgeship in Renville County.

"I don't feel the current judge is adequately serving the people of Renville County," Jacobsen said, adding that he has been considering running for the bench for several years.

Those convicted in the county are not getting strong enough dispositions, which he says is more than the "strong punishment" of jail time.

Jacobsen said that Slieter does not order those convicted of impaired driving to attend MADD panels or driver improvement classes.

As for release conditions, expectations placed on those charged while their case is in process, prosecutors ask for electronic alcohol monitoring, but the judge does not order it. Random drug and alcohol testing is ordered, but there is no program to ensure testing is actually completed, he said.

"There are a number of mechanisms that are not used," Jacobsen said.

Overall, Jacobsen wants to see a "larger and broader response" in both the punishment, of which more may be needed in some cases, and the treatment, there are plenty of options for alternative sanctions, ordered upon those coming before the court.

The Eighth Judicial District includes 13 counties in west central Minnesota who are served by 11 judges. Voters throughout the district vote for all the judges, and most of the judges serve more than one county. The only contested race this year is for the judgeship seated in Renville County.

The attorney wants to address how fines are imposed on driving while impaired convictions. Now, it's $400 for all convictions in the county, he says, even though state law allows judges to order higher fines, including a $1,000 fine on any conviction on a blood-alcohol level concentration of 0.20 or more. The funds are to be appropriated to law enforcement for impaired driving enforcement. "It's a vast disservice to law enforcement, to not have that revenue," he said.

Jacobsen, 50, of Bird Island, has been assistant county attorney in Renville County since 2002. From 1997 to 2001, he was the chief deputy county attorney in Mower County. He served as a municipal prosecutor, an attorney hired by Twin Cities suburbs to prosecute cases, and as a private attorney from 1987 to 1997. He earned his law degree from the William Mitchell College of Law in 1987.

Jacobsen also wants the bench to spend more time on juvenile cases, both those involving juvenile delinquency and cases for children in need of protection. Giving time and attention to young people may forestall the child from further involvement in crime, he said.

He also wants juvenile offenders to face stiffer community service work orders. Ordering 10, 15 or 20 hours is simply not enough time to have an impact on the young offender, he said. Proving that someone actually works at community service is also an issue. Now, if community service is ordered, a person sets it up on their own, with any nonprofit agency, with no one in charge of the program or verification.