Those who advocate for criminal justice reform are nationally right.
Too many lives have been ruined by overzealous and inflexible mandatory sentencing requirements.
But the liberal policies over the past thirty years have been a total failure.
The answer is true civil reform against injustice, not blindly releasing thousands of violent prisoners into our neighborhoods.
Across America, good criminal justice reform is happening with Democrats and Republicans.
Decriminalizing certain offenses, which are not harming anyone in society, for example.
Or sentencing someone with a misdemeanor instead of a felony for a violent crime, because a felony record can ruin a person’s life, as well as the person’s family.
Overcriminalization hurts all of us.
But California’s Prop 57, “Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016”, Governor Jerry Brown’s latest attempt to curb prison overpopulation, is not a good example of criminal justice reform.
This proposition claims that only criminals who have committed “non-violent” crimes would be eligible for early release. That sounds good. The bill defines violent crimes within a class of only 27 criminal acts.
The truth is that California would be allowed early release for these crimes:
- Rape by intoxication
- Human trafficking
- Possession of an explosive
- Discharging a firearm on school grounds
Instead of letting thousands of violent felons go free, and instead of permitting violent acts to go unpunished, criminal Justice reform needs to focus on the following:
- End mandatory minimum sentencing
- Divert juvenile offenders to counseling
- End severe penalties for victimless crimes, like gambling or recreational marijuana use
- Provide job training for parolees so that they do not end up back in jail
- Mens rea requirements in state criminal codes, i.e. a criminal act cannot be punished unless the offender had criminal intent in the first place
Criminal Justice reform received more attention in the latest Republican Party platform, which emphasizes:
- restorative justice to make the victim whole
- reforms to put offenders on the right path
- Modifications to mandatory minimum sentencing, especially for persons with drug, alcohol, or mental health issues, and should require disclosure by the courts of any judicial departure from the state’s sentencing requirements.
What do you think? How should we reform our criminal justice system to protect our citizens and save money? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org