When Circuit Judge Marc Long took over the bench in Floyd County last year from interim judge Joseph Canada, courtroom watchers wondered if the trend towards stronger prison sentences imposed by Canada would continue.
Those worries have vanished because Long is proving to be a tougher judge than even Canada.
Long routinely hands down stiff prison sentences in drug cases and imposes often-lengthy times behind bars for those who violate probation.
Under Long, Circuit Court is now held weekly instead of the previous twice-a-month schedule and those who do the crime often find themselves doing the time — and much more than they anticipated.
Long often delivers the sentences with a strongly-worded lecture from the bench. He castigates wayward defendants for “blowing it” and is particularly harsh on those who manufacture and sell drugs — a practice he calls a “scourge on the community.”
For Commonwealth’s Attorney Stepahnie Shortt, Long is welcome on the bench. Defense attorneys, however, often cry fowl when their odds of cutting a plea bargain that avoids jail time is curtailed.