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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Two Ways to Immediately Improve the Justice System-Removal of Minor Offences and Reversing Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

Our nation has a crisis of confidence in the Justice system. We know the system is designed to protect society and in turn we continue to support it with our tax payer dollars and good faith. However, over the decades we keep getting tougher, harsher and more removed from societies needs with the use of maximum minimum penalties and long retained records for minor offenses that make it difficult for young people to get back on track. Smoking a joint can ruin your life while white color and other crimes not displayed on CNN go unpunished. We can improve the justice system by having judges think about what their essential purpose is, removing mandatory minimum sentences, and ensuring that minor offenses don't bar young people from getting back on track. 

The judge is like the wise man/woman in society that must make decisions for the best interest of all. Over the years they have been required to have mandatory minimum penalties and show they are tough on crime. I feel sad that we haven't come up with a better way to help our youth. 

The problem is that such decisions are short sighted and does more to harm to society than good. Where counseling would have been helpful they put people away for years. When they could have taken a different approach they "threw the book" without tossing and turning in their beds.

Can we trust judges that aren't able to reason on their own, take the bigger picture into mind or get increasingly tough on things they probably did when they were young?

Mandatory minimum penalties are not the best solution in all cases. There may be places where they do make sense but certainly not in the petty everyday things that people do. Where a stern talking and some community service makes sense they instead opt for prison time.

I've seen people do some pretty bad stuff and because it wasn't on a video or because it required a little investigation and effort not much happened. In turn, I have an old friend who needed help and while he may have dug his own hole he kept getting in more and more trouble for alcohol use. He could have received help for the pain in his life while the criminals who intentionally harmed others walked with nothing. 

What is more concerning is that when it comes to the use of wisdom it seems that many of the judges are allergic to reasonableness and empathetic decisions. The judges job is not to punish but to "judge". Meaning they have a responsibility to use their cognitive reasoning and good judgement to make the best decisions for everyone involved. 

Once a decision is made it no longer makes sense to put minor offenses on people's records for decades in a way that blocks from contributing to society. As an example, a woman who was a victim of a serious crime and gets caught a year later with a little baggie of weed should not have her life further ruined by the nearsightedness of the legal system.  I don't see the justice in that.

We have social unrest and I'm a big time supporter of police but I'm not a supporter of ignorance, "throwing the book" at people, or skipping over the wider context of why things happen just because the justice system didn't take the time to investigate. I am for holding people accountable, getting people the help they need, and helping our youth take charge of our country in the near future. That won't happen with mandatory minimum sentences and sticking short sighted "judgements" on our youths records for decades to come. Restoring faith in our system means thinking before we act and protecting the public through wise legislation and decisions that are in the best interest of society.

I'm not a supporter of the use of drugs or excessive drinking....but I am a supporter of using wisdom and justice in the Justice system. We have an entire demographic of kids that may not be able to fully engage society because we have not kept the justice system closely aligned to the needs of the people. It has become increasingly aligned to an upper class of people who are far removed from the issues of the average American. 

Brain Storming Recommendations: 

1. Review minimum mandatory penalties to ensure they make sense.
2. Allow people to earn the removal of minor offences from their records for employment purposes. 

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