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Criminal Justice in the U.S. - What purpose does it serve, and should it serve?

PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE POST! A few statistics to ponder: The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate per capita in the world. More than 1 in 100 adults in the United States are in prison. The United States has 5% of the world's population and 23.6% of the world's prison population. The questions we'll explore are the following: What are the various reasons for prison - deterrence, punishment, public safety, etc.? When it comes to our criminal justice system, what do we do well and not so well? How can we improve it? While I expect that we'll touch on the question of capital punishment, this is NOT about the death penalty. I recommend that anyone wishing to participate attend this free lecture on Sept. 29 (I'll be there):
Zocalo Public Square - "Can Less Punishment Reduce Crime?" Additional reading:
"Trial by Fire: Did Texas execute an innocent man?"
"Kidnapping suspect's prison term raises questions" This should be a very interesting topic worthy of some robust discussion. I hope you can make it! I'm capping the RSVPs at 20, but may open it to 30 if the venue permits, so use the waiting list if it's full. THE LOCATION WILL BE COOGIE'S CAFE IN EASTERN SANTA MONICA:

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  • Todd K.

    Very much like the healthcare debate going on, the criminal justice system in this country is inherently flawed and only radical reform will change that. Unfortunately, it will require more political will than our leaders can muster, so we must reform it piecemeal.

    October 6, 2009

  • Scott

    I would have to ay that the criminal justice system in the U.S. follows a traditional, perhaps antiquated model- and there does not seem to be a general consensus among Americans whether or not prisons should indeed seek to rehabilitate prisoners or simply warehouse them. I agree with Norma (glad you signed up here btw!) that non-traditional methods of rehabilitation should be looked into. I think it is unfortunate that due to the polarized, oft-divided nature of our societal viewpoints, that a genuine consensus on so important a matter is so difficult a goal to achieve. The issue is one of extreme complexity and requires the nation to ask itself a few basic (albeit enormous) questions about the nature and function of crime and it's punishment.

    October 4, 2009

  • A former member
    A former member

    What is missing in our present Criminal Justice system is the investigation of what" subconscious idea( fears, angers, etc) "caused" a person to do what he did. After that is arrived at, then the system should custom make the kind of rehabilitation they will use so that it fits the misbehavior or crime, that is if the person can be rehabilitated. For example: some sex offenders can be rehabilitated but other's may not. Some burglars can be rehabilitated but others may not. In essence, using punishments just based on the "effect ( the actual violent action, that the person did without going into it deeper might lead the person to do the same violent act it did before never mind the days he spent in jail. Emotional/mental problems are behind all crimes.
    Norma Desofi

    October 4, 2009

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