Truth be told, there are a lot of serious problems with the way we approach arrests, convictions and the appallingly high recidivism rate. Take a closer look, and you’ll see that the blindfold on Lady Justice is absolutely appropriate, but sadly, not for the reasons it was originally wrapped about her eyes. Between nonviolent cases overloading the courts, overcrowded prisons that lack programs to prevent repeat offenders, too many wrongful convictions due to inaccurate science and evidence, it’s easy to see how unjust our criminal system has become.
Nonviolence Isn’t Violence
Between 2008 and 2010, there were 8.2 million marijuana-related arrests in the United States. Of these, 88 percent were for nothing more than possession. Zero other charges. Zilch. Nada. That works out to well over 7 million individual cases requiring processing, court time, and stints in prison for a single, non-violent offense.
In addition, despite the fact the vast majority of DWI cases never result in accidents or injuries, lobbyists have cinched it so that anyone arrested for DWI in Texas cannot receive deferred adjudication. (Please note that this option is available for arrests as diverse as marijuana possession and manslaughter!) So the courts have no choice but to deal with and overload of run-of-the-mill DWIs that must result in a conviction or dismissal. And the DA’s office isn’t likely to dismiss DWIs, since their biased labs refuse to admit their tests are inaccurate. It’s DWI or nothing, and all at the expense of taxpayers!
Instead of focusing on small-time, nonviolent offenses, law enforcement and criminal justice resources should be going toward cutting crime off at the source. You do not reduce the number of drugs on the streets by incarcerating the little guys, like the mules and the dealers. You need to go after the kingpins, the men and women who run entire empires on blood and exploitation and, funny enough, oftentimes end up serving the exact same sentences as the lower levels of the hierarchy, since convictions are handed out based on amount possessed.
It costs taxpayers anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 per year (depending on the city) to keep a convict housed, clothed and fed. Imagine what could be done for society if that money wasn’t being wasted on nonviolent offenses and was instead allocated elsewhere.
Not Enough Rehabilitation
The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a study last year revealing that 67.8 percent of the convicts they tracked after completing their sentences reoffended within three years. The number jumped to 76.6 percent when extended to five years. Why?
It all ties back to education. The more one receives, the less likely he or she is to commit any manner of crime, be it violent or nonviolent. Effective prisoner reform programs provide inmates with vocational and academic training, and the resulting skills have practical professional applications on the outside.
We know for a fact that education and vocational training while in prison works. Study after study after study shows this to be true. So why aren’t we making the streets safer, creating a more robust economy, clearing up the courts, and freeing up more taxpayer money by investing in these programs? They are to everyone’s benefit – not just the formerly incarcerated!
Too Many Wrongful Convictions
As mentioned previously, the DA’s government lab will always try to rule against the defendant. In cases of DWIs, this means evidence can easily be fudged to say pretty much whatever the “scientists” want. It’s sadly common for many of these facilities to utilize out-of-date or otherwise broken equipment to create false reads.
Americans are guaranteed the right to a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment, but with the labs associated with the police force and other government agencies, this is hardly the case. A truly fair trial would utilize private, third-party labs without any bias. Preferably one that also constantly inspects and updates its technology to ensure the most accurate results!
Liberty and Justice for Houstonians
Thiessen Law Firm believes everyone arrested is entitled to the fairest trial. It’s not for nothing that Mark Thiessen has been named a Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters for three years running. As your defense team, we do everything possible to ensure Lady Justice remains blind. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.