The New York Times has a nice editorial on recidivism with a call for the New Jersey Legislature to address factors that serve only to marginalize those convicted of crimes. The piece can be found here. Thanks to Sentencing Law & Policy for pointing it out.
“…the nation as a whole needs to do much more about laws that marginalize former offenders — and often drive them back to jail — by denying them voting rights, parental rights, drivers licenses and access to public housing, welfare and food stamps, even in cases where they have led blameless lives after prison.”
As we move into a new year and a new decade, we have an opportunity to move beyond retribution where millions of Americans are alienated from mainstream society. It is beyond time to exercise mercy and compassion in our system of justice. The “business as usual” mentality of America’s prison system is costing taxpayers millions of dollars without addressing the collateral consequences or causes of criminal behavior.
The situation is further aggravated by the propensity to regulate life and the imposition of criminal sanctions. It is time to stop and think about what we are doing as a society. There are countless opportunities for us to exercise mercy and accountability through accountable decision-making.
I invite everyone to join me in this quest for a rational discussion on crime policy and sentencing reform. It is time to deal with the problems by actively seeking community based solutions. We have an opportunity to begin healing the relationships damaged by crime, an opportunity for compassion and discretion where individual defendants are treat with dignity and respect.
As a side note, Sentencing Alternatives has received a makeover and I would appreciate your feedback on the new design.