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Broken Criminal Justice System

After 25 years as a law enforcement officer, I continue to see what shocked me when I first entered this profession, the alarming number of repeat offenders. I often hear, why can’t you all do something about them or him?  Usually we have, over and over and over and over.

A few weeks backs I did a survey of our current inmates and found a third of them had been in jail 10-37 times. That was just this jail and many of them had been in numerous other jails. Remember, most of these people are in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties.  Considering they can’t come to jail until they are 18, this is a shocking re-occurrence.  The one who had been here 37 times was 31, meaning he had been to jail 37 times in 13 years and the system was trying to figure out what to do with him.  Now for a basic thinking person, I don’t believe that is too hard of a decision.  This individual is not going to obey the law and he should be put where he cannot victimize innocent people.

The criminal justice system in America will allow you to kill at least one person before it knows what to do with you. Of course the system is based on a criminal history score and the courts are the score keepers.   High scores relate to problem offenders, to get a high score you have to stay out of jail, it is like a game, the longer you can play, the higher the score you get. Once you get a high score we can send you to prison.  This is nearly always present when one commits a crime that shocks the consciousness of people, they have a long criminal career, or criminal history.  The recent news in Kansas had that common thread, a life of multiple arrests and before we could act on that person, we have multiple people killed.  How do we get to a score that says “game over” before people die?

 We are now seeing people being sent to treatment after ten years of progressive violations.  I always wonder when I see that, if treatment is so good, why did we wait 10 YEARS?

At a time when law enforcement is being heavily criticized and complained about, the bulk of those complaining about heavy police presence are generally the same folks that demanded it in the first place. They not only have demanded it, they demand it on a constant basis.  My jail staff says it is extremely rare someone is booked they do not know.  We are in the recycle business, but we are recycling criminals.  There is little emphasis on removing the criminal from society but, rather how to get them back into society.

There are those who are suggesting more gun control. I believe it is much simpler than that, why not try something like this.  If you commit a crime with a firearm you will go to prison for 5 years minimum.  If you kill or injure someone with a firearm during the commission of a crime you will die in prison.  I realize I have always thought in simpler terms, but I am quite sure that would have an impact on crimes committed with firearms.  However that creates a big problem as we would have to build more prisons, which has a cost.  It seems America has taken the cheaper course of action and that is, we increase the number of victims on the streets, while we keep the number of offenders in prison low.

I hope I am not the only one who thinks people should be held accountable for their crimes in a way that has an impact on the repeat offender. The criminal justice system is a joke, however the only ones in the system laughing, are the criminals. Enough is enough!