Criminal justice reform is about money, not justice or reform

March 18, 2019

 Dear Zenith News:

 

I’m writing to you today in response to the column in December 4, 2018 [“Olly Olly In Come Free”] by Leslie Dollen, about criminal justice reform. To start off, I am going to be right up front. I am a ex-offender, sexual offense. I am also a state representative for “NARSOL,” the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see that there are things being looked at to lessen the amount of criminals being locked up or on probation or

 

having lifelong permanent records. But I think there are some things that need to have a second look. When it comes to laws being made, we all know that they go through a process. That process starts because someone did something that someone else thought or felt was wrong.

 

What I took from this article is that it takes a long time for the wheels of justice to do anything (unless it’s some issue that is pushed to the front or believed to be of priority). Really, it takes 20 years for people to see what has been happening for 100+ years. So if charging someone with a crime has been looked at as being detrimental, then why is it that the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office does it, and in a big way? If you get charged in St. Louis County with a crime you are charged with several offenses, all related to the primary reason you’re being charged. This is a known fact that the county attorneys do to have bargaining room, or to still be able to find a person guilty one way or another. This system is not about reform; it’s simply about guilt and innocence.

 

I have learned through my own offense that the cost of taking a case to trial is at a minimum $12,000, depending on the case. So don’t be fooled by the diversion programs. These are ways the criminal justice system is trying to lower its costs. If every person were to do what the U.S. Constitution allows, and first and foremost invoked their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and then actually took every case to trial, this criminal justice system would break down fast. You would see backups of years.

 

Even the defense attorneys are part of this process. They play bait-and-switch with cases. They tell you one thing and then come back to you and say, “Well, you’d be better to take a deal,” i.e. a diversion program, not necessarily telling you what will happen if you don’t complete their program, other than, yes, you’ll be found guilty of such-and-such crime and serve such-and-such time. It’s what’s in the small print that you, as a defendant, are not told. You find out later, if convicted of the crime, what the small print was.

 

So we have special programs for those who commit drug crimes, drunk driving crimes, theft crimes, and even more special programs if you are a veteran and commit a crime. I find all these programs interesting. As I read the statutes of several of these crimes, I see nothing in the sentencing section that says anything about “diversion“ programs being a part of the sentence. So I question the legality of such programs. If the legislators planned or wanted these programs included in the statute, then they would have included them in the statute. It would seem to me that the local county, city attorneys and judges are out-of-bounds in using these programs. If the prosecutors charge a crime, then they better be able to find you guilty. That’s the law. Anything else is the judges and attorneys manipulating the laws. If a person is found innocent or acquitted at trial, then immediately that charging information should be deleted, before there is any Internet release of that information, because, as we all know, that’s never going away, even though in the State of Minnesota, statutes state that public information disappears from your record after 10 years for most crimes, and others after 15 years. Some, such as sexual crimes, never are removed. I find this interesting, as if you believe that all these other criminals can change if given the chance, why then does that not hold true for sexual crimes?

 

The other issue I have is with using “evidence-based decision making.” This is yet another way of the people who are charged with the prosecution of or arresting criminals are manipulating the laws. There should be no other information considered when a policeman stops a person for an offense. They have to see the offense themselves or have a witness that a crime has been committed to stop a person. They have no choice but to charge a person with that crime; again, that’s the law. It does not state in any law I have read that a policeman or prosecutor has the authority to decide to charge or not. If a crime has been committed it must be charged. That’s their job, pure and simple. To take other circumstances or information into consideration, then they are not following their charge as law enforcement offices, and if judges are allowing these things, they to are out of bounds.

 

Nowadays every person knows the difference between right and wrong, whether taught or just a feeling the person has. We as humans are given the ability to choose to do or not do. As a child I felt that when I was sexually abused at eight years old by a family friend that it was wrong, but I did nothing about it as I was getting what I felt was much more from my allowing this behavior to continue. This thought process is the same whether it is a theft, drunk driving, or drug use. “I feel good, I got away with it, I’m free” all play on gratification. So people who complete the program are not charged with the crime. This is an injustice to all of society, and a slap in the face to the lawmakers who took the time and tax dollars to make the laws in the first place. Would it not make more sense to teach in school basic human skills and what is right what is wrong?

 

Timothy Davich

Duluth

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