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Should the criminal justice system including sentencing be reformed?

Updated on November 6, 2015


There is some merit in reforming the criminal justice system but with that said the content of the reform measures must make sense not only for the individuals but for businesses and the country. One of the proposal aspects is the requirement to ignore the criminal background of individuals applying for jobs at least until later in the interview process. While some criminal activity may not have any impact on job performance it can have an impact on the safety and security of employees working at companies. Companies must have the option to know the background of job applicants and some reasonable possibility that the criminal activity will not reoccur.

It is understood that there are those in prison that do not qualify them for confinement but the way the justice system currently works is that cases are evaluated and the length of sentence decided. In the past there were minimum mandatory sentences for specific crimes but Eric Holder while he was Attorney General made the decision to ignore minimum sentencing requirements. The decision is left in the hands of judges and juries. Changes of this nature should be left to Congress to make not the Department of Justice or the President. Both have sworn to enforce the law not circumvent the laws in place.

Reforming the justice system has been in the works since July 2015 and there is legislation in both houses of Congress to make some changes. What is questionable is why the media did not cover this story to the extent it deserves. Apparently until President Obama released 46 prisoners it was not a news event. Activity to reform the justice system deserves coverage. Changes of this nature need to be carefully evaluated to make the right changes.

There are a lot of questions regarding sentencing of those who have broken the law some have been met with questions as to the minimum sentences imposed. There is no question the justice system needs some changes but should the changes give judges more power or should the changes be such that judges have strict requirements regarding sentencing. It has been the requirement that ex-felons have lost their right to vote and the proposal to give back these individuals the right to vote are wrong. When they have committed a crime considered to be a felon not a misdemeanor they have surrendered their right to vote. This aspect has been in place a long time and should not be changed in any reform of our justice system. Those who commit felonies know this from the start. If an individual breaks the law at this level why should they be allowed to vote on any laws or changes to our way of life which sometimes involves changing laws in place or accepting new ones. While there may be some exceptions, felons should not have the right to vote in any circumstance.

The annual correction budget is $80 billion and this seems to be the focus for wanting to change the system. One of the statistics cites the fact there are more individuals in prison in this country than in any other. While this may be true we should not compare our country with others as a reason for making changes. Many proposals involve comparing our country with others and why we need to make changes. Situations in our country and any proposals to make changes should be based on the merits of the change not


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