Editor: As a concerned citizen of Hernando County, I feel obligated to respond to the ongoing discussions regarding the way in which County Judge Peyton Hyslop treats the defendants who stand accused before him.
As the recent letters suggest, there are many people who feel he is too easy on criminals because he chooses to release many on their own recognizance or on lowered bonds.
While, unfortunately, there are some people who inevitably take advantage of our legal system and habitually reoffend, our legal system is set up to protect the innocent. It is a commonly held tenet of our legal system that we would rather allow nine guilty men go free than allow one innocent man to be wrongfully imprisoned.
Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that unreasonably high bonds are unconstitutional, yet a bond of just $5,000 to someone who is both incapable of paying the $500 cash and who does not possess the collateral to obtain such a bond is, in effect, a jail sentence.
I am sure the previous letter writers are aware that the purpose of a bond is to protect society from dangerous people and to ensure that the accused does not flee the jurisdiction of the court and returns to face his accusers.
The fact that we are innocent until proven guilty is consistently disregarded when an underprivileged person is forced to remain in jail until his case is heard because of his inability to pay a bond; and when that person is the primary bread winner, his family now faces undue hardship, not because they have been proven guilty, but instead for being poor.
Some judges choose to follow a predetermined fee schedule when applying bonds, regardless of the circumstances; whereas Judge Hyslop attempts to apply his experience and discretion upon the individual merits of the case in setting bonds.
I would like to personally thank Judge Hyslop for the compassion and understanding he attempts to bring to an otherwise cold and uncaring system. He balances the scales of justice with wisdom and mercy.
Patty Washington, Spring Hill
No professionals needed
in firefighters' case
Editor: This letter is written by a person who has 34 years experience in the civilian personnel area.
First, since the criminal investigation of the three firefighters' alleged rape has been dropped by the state attorney, all that remains is administrative determination as to whether Spring Hill Fire and Rescue's policies and procedures have been violated.
Second, any intelligent human being can review the department's policies and procedures and determine if a violation has been committed. You don't need a licensed investigator to do this.
Third, the skill comes in when it has been concluded that a policy and procedure has been violated, to come up with a fair and equitable punishment. It should be done by someone who has personnel experience. Walter Dry has that experience.
Remember that an investigator merely collects facts and data and leaves it up to someone else to apply any sanctions. Even the state attorney merely investigates each case, a judge or jury takes it from there.
So, let's cool it, realize the kind of determination that has to be made and let qualified people pursue the matter.
Hiring a professionally licensed investigator will cost a lot more of taxpayers' money.
Nick Morana, Spring Hill
Some are getting away
with evading taxes
Editor: Due to a situation created by the Hernando County government, many people have discovered how to pay far less in real estate taxes.
In fact, by law, the tax collector cannot collect more than seven years of unpaid back taxes. Therefore, taxpayers, especially in Units 2-5 in Ridge Manor Estates with assessed values of less than $5,000, are finding out it can be possible to hold title for 10, 15, 20 or even 30 years and not pay more than seven years' taxes. This has become possible because the county does not apply for tax deeds on such tax certificates they own. This simply cancels taxes due every seventh year.
Another situation involves properties where Code Enforcement has placed liens. People have learned to ignore paying real estate taxes on such properties, knowing that for many years the county has not foreclosed on liens. Regular buyers of tax certificates are now avoiding the properties when Code Enforcement and Building Department liens exist. With no purchase of the tax certificates by private investors, the county ends up owning the certificates on which they fail to apply for tax deeds.
These situations are not in the best interests of the citizens of Hernando County and especially to those paying their taxes year after year.
At the same time, can we blame those taking advantage of this government's inefficiency?
Louis F. Mlecka, Brooksville