Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ideas For A New System of Reform - Part 3

Change... from inside ‘the System’ might make more sense than a government led program, as described in my last post(see HERE). But how would it look?


First, how about we find people “inside” the system who want to make a change AND have working ideas already going. An example looks like this...

  • Corrections Officers look for and identify inmates who want to change and show promise to continue on a path of long-lasting reform. We educate the staff to identify these prisoners, then train each over a period of time to increase personal and civic responsibility, a step-down decrease of incarceration & supervision, work along-side civilians on a work-release, and then show these men & women how to come along-side and support other inmates who are newly starting the program. (This summary is from a program I previously read of, yet cannot locate the source document. If you can find such a web-article, please notify me)

    • As the article wrapped up, the problem is most corrections officers/district attorneys/law-enforcement officers do not see ‘eye-to-eye’ on who should or should not be given such “special” treatment, if any. Often, the “officials” report only about 1% of those inmates incarcerated and serving currently want and are capable of making a lasting change, so any attempt is denounced as un-reasonable due to such few good candidates. In other words, they aren’t looking for the prisoners who want to make changes, so instead they disregard everyone.


Second, find working examples where “official-agencies” work together to bring victims justice, AND reform the criminals. Take this approach from a lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department:

  • The PSA would prevent first-time offenders from getting hardened and hardened criminals from getting worse. It would break the cycle of crime. Additionally, the system would provide far superior services at a fraction of the cost of the present system. The PSA would represent a complete transformation in how government provides justice and safety to communities across America. In essence, it would be a person-centered, not crime-centered approach to law enforcement.

  • Sworn officers, prosecuting and defense attorneys, emergency response teams, child and family services, social-welfare agents, community-service specialists, rehabilitation, job training, drug- and alcohol-abuse counselors, negotiators, psychological counselors, and probation and parole agents would all work together in the same building with the same mission.

  • The criminal’s family would be enlisted to create an environment that promotes rehabilitation, and there are working cases in progress now.

    • See the article - “How to fix America's broken criminal justice system” HERE. 


Third, let’s keep things simple. Many people now see the benefit of treatment for drug-use offenders, instead of prison time. What do you think? Can you consider a benefit worhty of this example:

  • It's been 20 years since the first U.S. drug court was established in Miami as an innovative way of getting nonviolent offenders out of the criminal justice system and into court-supervised drug rehabilitation programs. Since then more than 2,300 drug courts have blossomed around the country, credited with reducing crime and saving the cost of locking people up.

  • Despite that success, the specialized courts remain available to less than 10 percent of the 1.2 million drug-addicted American offenders. The Obama administration wants to boost funding so that hundreds more courts can begin work.

    • see the Associated Press National News article HERE 

  • Better results in long-term rehabilitation, saving my current state ~ $160 Million in health-care, foster-care, criminal justice, and victimization costs from 2001-2006.(see resource report HERE)


The end result: more opportunities for change to an ineffective system are already in place by those inside the system. Should we listen? Can we afford not to??


Next - Part 4: Can victims see a benefit for criminal justice reform?

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