Rethink criminal justice
by Scott Ballard District Attorney
United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced a new policy this week. No, this time he’s not supplying guns to drug cartels.
That was just plain stupid.
This time he’s a little more clever. He’s following the playbook liberals use in Georgia.
It goes like this. First, identify a liberal objective such as “let’s be more lenient on criminals.” Then gather support among fiscal conservatives by showing how we can save money as we accomplish your objective. The result is criminal justice reform.
Eric Holder’s approach was to direct that federal prosecutors hide from judges the amount of drugs involved in criminal activity (unless the crime involves gangs or major cartels). That way the additional penalties that federal laws require can be avoided. Fewer people go to jail. We all save money. Hooray.
I’m all about saving money. We need to save money.
But, when we “reform” the criminal justice system, we need to make it better, not just cheaper. I believe we can save money and punish crime at the same time. We just do one thing.
That’s right. Use the old noggin a little.
Here’s a reality we’ve ignored for too long. Way too many people actually improve their station in life if they go to prison. They eat better. They are safer. They have friends. They get the best medical care of their lives. That’s not punishment, but it sure is expensive to taxpayers.
Let’s change that. Let’s make them earn their keep.
First, if they were making money by breaking the law, forfeit their property to the state.
Next, while they are in prison, make them work. You and I work. They should, too. Wash cars. Paint. Cut grass. Collect garbage. Get dead animals off the roadways. Dig ditches. Bust rocks. Whatever.
Get up at dawn. Go to bed exhausted. It would be good for them and we don’t have to pay somebody else to perform those chores. Who knows? They might even consider following the law when they are released to society.
The worst thing we can do is what Eric Holder and like-minded people in Georgia advocate—let them continue to run free and break the law so we don’t have to pay for prisons.
That approach looks like is saves money. But, trust me.
The cost of freeing criminals who need to be in jail is far greater than the savings.
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