By Glenn Langohr
The criminal records system California relies on to stop child abusers from working in schools, and violent felons from buying guns, is so poorly maintained that it routinely fails to alert officials to a subject’s full criminal history. The other side of this issue is that a list of possible matches appears, denying work or gun ownership for those without a criminal history, or one that has been expunged. Imagine trying to get a job, in an already depressed economy, and the background check returns a bunch of possible arrest and convictions, that aren’t even accurate.
Information from millions of records buried at courts and law enforcement agencies has never been entered in the system. This overwhelming amount of information is then haphazardly rushed into possible matches and isn’t accurate. Tough on crime platforms have destroyed the criminal justice system because for a District Attorney seeking to climb the ladder or enter politics a soft on crime look will stain their reputation or get them fired. In Orange County, California, a ninety nine percent conviction record is where the bar is set but look at the fact that six out of ten convicted cases that reach the Supreme Court are overturned for reasons like ineffective councel, leading the nation. This means justice has been thrown out the window and the right to a fair trial and the right to adequate defense is no longer viable. In other cases brought before the district attorney, police officers are trained to charge the suspect of a crime with as many possible charges relating to one charge as possible to make it easy for a plea bargain, also helping keep that ninety nine percent conviction ratio. Imagine just being released from jail or prison after not being defended properly or over zealously prosecuted, and now you are trying to find employment and the background check the employer runs shows a list of possible crimes not even committed!
Are we creating laws faster than good sense provides in the interest of tough on crime political stances? Are all these new laws creating a police state and only beneficial to people who have government jobs and unions to push even more law and early retirement benefits? When considering that unemployment in California is leading the nation at approximately ten percent and then realize even those numbers don’t show the percentage of released prisoners who aren’t even on the radar. The unemployment numbers are actually much higher and the result of too many petty laws putting too many people in jail or prison and completely forgetting about redemption or rehabilitation.
“I went from obsessively pacing my cell to realizing that if I find a way to write what’s in my head, I can find a way out of this hole.” — Glenn Langohr
- California pot decriminalization correlated to lowest youth crime rate in recorded history (boingboing.net)
- Viewpoint: Hiring ex-offenders is a step toward restoring the community (mlive.com)
- Treatment is the best way to fight crime (jsonline.com)
- Wisconsin: Cutting state prison population in half worth considering (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- Marijuana arrests plummet 90% countywide (utsandiego.com)
- Former Dallas officer headed to prison for Crime Stoppers scam (star-telegram.com)
- Breaking the cycle of criminality: Rethinking state jail sentences (kens5.com)
- Background Checks Can Be Risky Business (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Overcriminalization and Reliance on Incarceration Is Not Effective, Say Criminal Justice Experts (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- Boy Scouts resisted background checks on leaders (sacbee.com)