ABC News reported on the growth and progress of Community Courts. I got the article from AnotherBoomerBlog – Marsha Graham. The idea, albeit quite new, is simply stellar. These are small local courts set up to deal with low level crimes – vandalism, drunkenness and prostitution.
Here’s the article link:
Instead of dolling out jail time in an already overcrowded and broken penal system, these courts encourage things like community service for drug offenses and painting walls for taggers.
And unlike the thousands of specialized drug courts across America, community courts are designed to provide quicker, cheaper justice while improving life in specific neighborhoods or police precincts. Defendants perform community service in the neighborhoods where they broke the law. Taggers must paint over graffiti. And shoplifters are required to help distribute clothes to the poor.
So far, over a dozen states have adopted the Community court model. And the results are starting to roll in. 4500 defendants have been tried for low level crimes in San Fransisco alone – alleviating a some of the backlog being dealt with by the traditional courts in the area.
Police officers say that since sentences involve counseling and treatment – rather than incarceration – recidivism is decreased, and so is their workload.
Police Captain John Garrity, whose district is served by the Community Justice Center, says his officers can focus more on serious crime because the court gets the lower level offenders into social services, where they leave less likely to reoffend than they are from short jail stints.
The point here is something that many of us have been saying for a long time. Treatment, therapy, social work and an ounce of compassion will inevitably do more for rehabilitation of offenders, than will harsh prison sentences, 3 strike laws and other even more draconian and cruel methods of punishment. As one who is no stranger to the criminal justice system – I can tell you – education and treatment go a lot further than steel bars and jump-suits.
Again, the link to ABC’s coverage:
- Novel courts handle low-level crimes across US (kansascity.com)
- Study Shows D.C. Community Court Program Lowered Reoffending Rates (legaltimes.typepad.com)
- Photos: Shaun White Arrested for Public Intoxication, Vandalism (abcnews.go.com)
- If Legislature Harms the Criminal Justice System, What is the Better Solution? (tralawlaw.wordpress.com)