Criminal Justice Reform

The United States of America has the highest incarceration rate of its population than any other country in the world. On its face, that would make America the most crime ridden country, and I refuse to adopt that mindset. Having been an attorney in the Criminal Justice System and an Officer of the Court, I have heard stories that lead me to believe our laws regarding incarcerating of people needs to be addressed.

People are innocent until proven guilty. This is the Constitutional presumption everyone is guaranteed. Yet over 450,000 people remain incarcerated due to poverty and the inability to post bail. This is a system designed for the financially well secure and not based in equity.

While this is not the only issue relating to fairness in the criminal justice system, it is one that easily identifiable. Interfering with a persons ability to earn a living, provide for themselves and/or a family is cruel punishment for a non violent offender.

The ACLU in Phoenix addresses these issues with the community in a forum called “Smart Justice AZ”. This diverse culture represents people from law prior offenders, family with loved ones incarcerated and counselors just to name a few. Working together with input from different experiences will help bring constructive solutions to the inequality in our Criminal Justice System.

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Gene Smith

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