Fayette County DA will seek 2nd term
Fayette County District Attorney Jack Heneks has announced he will seek re-election.
Heneks, a Democrat, is finishing up his fifth year as the county’s top prosecutor. He took office in 2010 to fill the unexpired term of Judge Nancy Vernon when she ascended to the bench and was elected to a full term in 2011.
Heneks said he wants to continue to pursue implementation of various programs.
“I still have a lot of energy, and there are a lot of programs we would like to implement to reduce crime and create the type of diversionary programs we need to both reduce recidivism, reduce the jail population and encourage people to get the type of treatment and rehabilitation they need,” Heneks said.
Heneks said such programs are a growing trend in criminal justice. They include programs that address drug and alcohol abuse, he said, with about 80 percent of criminal cases having roots in addiction.
“It’s a left and right approach,” Heneks said. “You give people treatment, and you make it cheaper on the taxpayer, because going to jail is more expensive.”
Individuals who have shown themselves to be dangers to society, he said, would not be eligible for such programs.
Heneks has 20 years’ experience in the district attorney’s office, serving as an assistant district attorney and special child abuse prosecutor prior to taking over as district attorney. He said under his direction, the office has achieved a 90 percent conviction rate for cases filed and has a 70 percent guilty verdict rate in jury trials.
Among those convictions, he said, was the 2014 death-penalty verdict for Patrick Ray Haney, who a jury found guilty of the 2011 beating death of 4-year-old Trenton Lewis St. Clair.
In 2012, Heneks convened the county’s first investigating grand jury in more than a decade. Among its findings, the grand jury was integral in bringing charges in a 40-year-old cold case homicide and recommended charges be filed in an election fraud probe.
Heneks directs the Fayette County Drug Task Force, which he said has quietly removed from the streets 1,841 pounds of narcotics, approximately 6,200 dosage units of various types of illegal drugs and 37,880 individual, illegally acquired prescription drugs.
“I have, and will always, believe that the Fayette County Drug Task Force works best under the cover of anonymity to protect those involved in the process of investigation, detection and apprehension of the drug dealers who do daily harm to our community,” Heneks said.
Heneks graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1973 and from Temple University School of Law with a juris doctordegree in 1978.
He worked as counsel to the Pennsylvania State Senate Finance Committee in Harrisburg from 1978 through 1981. He worked for seven years as a Fayette County public defender, starting in 1981.
Prior to becoming district attorney, Heneks maintained a private civil practice, where he handled cases that included domestic law, property and civil litigation.
Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.