There may be a growing bi-partisan appreciation in the U.S. Congress regarding the skewed system of criminal justice now existing in the country. The system works on a model that encourages mass incarcerations, teaches the imprisoned the values of hardened criminals, and then releases them into a society that refuses to give them jobs or any form of rehabilitative assistance. Meanwhile, a culture of law enforcement in Arkansas and other states still thrives on concepts like the “war on drugs,” which demand arresting and imprisoning people on all forms of drug crimes.
Those who are being imprisoned could be learning new values in educational and rehabilitative programs far less costly than cost of imprisonment. Right now the prisons are filled with: (1) the elderly; (2) nonviolent offenders; (3) nonviolent first offenders; (4) marijuana violators; and (5) a disproportionate percentage of African American men. The upside is that President Obama’s budget for 2016 contains provisions for alternatives to incarceration, community policing initiatives and expanded pretrial diversion programs.
In an odd congruence of similar goals, both parties may be coming together to pass reform measures in this area. These will attempt to cut down on the massive budgetary output of funds for maintaining the incarceration of thousands of people who would be doing much better by not being in prison, on both the local, state and federal levels. Reversing the trend will not be easy, because various law enforcement and administrative entities are now dependent on the glut of funding put into maintaining a huge population of prisoners.
When the most divergent forces in Arkansas and every other state can agree on a policy direction for the criminal justice and penal systems, it is hoped that active reform is not far away. For those who may be snagged in the present system of arrest and enforcement of drug crimes, the best choice continues to be acting early to obtain professional legal defense assistance. A law firm that understands the dynamics at work can provide a stronger, more focused defense where necessary and can engage in fruitful negotiations more advantageously.
Source: foxnews.com, “Criminal Justice Reform: It’s time to tackle America’s jail problem”, Marc A. Levin, Mar. 2, 2015