Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Progress on Drug Courts - NJ Law Journal Editorial Board

Gee, Officer Krupke, we're very upset;
We never had the love that ev'ry child oughta get.
We ain't no delinquents,
We're misunderstood.
- lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Sometimes change comes from surprising places.  Since West Side Story's Jets sang "Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke, You gotta understand, It's just our bringin' up-ke That gets us out of hand. ..." Republicans have long led the 'tough on crime" charge.  Democrats were portrayed as softies, social workers too eager to "explain" rather than punish.  Democrats got tough too and prison populations swelled.  Finally Republican skepticism about government has led to open doubt about our incarceration strategy.  Groups like Right on Crime make the conservative case for alternatives to incarceration.  In New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie has advanced the cause of "drug courts" reliant on treatment and rehabilitation. - gwc

Progress on Drug Courts: New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board

Progress is hard to come by in today's political climate. It has been especially hard in matters of criminal justice, where for many years the fear of being "soft" on crime drove politicians to compete on the toughness scale. The ratchet drove sentences up, never down. With 5 percent of the world's population, we now hold 25 percent of the world's prisoners.
But we are seeing now some progress toward lowering incarceration rates. After years of being branded soft on crime, Democrats have become timid while Republicans have had greater freedom to think through the problems created by three decades of increase in jail populations. It has burdened state budgets and devastated minority communities. (In Louisiana, the most punitive state, one in 86 adults is doing time, nearly double the national average. Among black men from New Orleans, one in 14 is behind bars and one in seven is either in prison, on parole or on probation.)
Like fellow Republican governors Tom Corbett (Pennsylvania) and John Kasich (Ohio), Gov. Chris Christie has championed reductions in incarcerations and greater use of treatment and rehabilitation for nonviolent drug offenders. In July, he signed, S-881, amending the drug-court law, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14, to increase judicial discretion and reduce prosecutors' ability to block rehabilitation treatment for drug offenders. No longer may a prosecutor block admission to a treatment program instead of prison, even if the defendant has two or more separate prior convictions for non-violent crimes of the third degree.

'via Blog this'

No comments:

Post a Comment