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Justice group underscores an arrests-gone-wrong national problem

Criminal law researchers might understandably grow numb to some of the data they unearth in their studies. We know that such does not generally hold true for the general public accessing their work, though.

The inside position our deep criminal defense legal team commands at Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry in St. Louis informs us otherwise. We are routinely reminded from working aggressively and passionately on behalf of diverse and valued clients that legal realities confronting them are anything but numbing.

More accurately, the individuals relying on our help often find them flatly shocking, especially for the draconian nature of their penalties and related downsides.

The status quo of American criminal law from a prosecutorial perspective stresses harshness and, frequently, punitive outcomes.

That is far from being a subjective view. Indeed, it is something that one national justice organization underscores in a recent report.

Here’s just one tidbit applicable to a recent year that is spotlighted in research findings released by the Vera Institute of Justice: For every 100 arrests made nationwide in 2016, an eye-opening 99 individuals were formally processed and ended up in jail.

Vera laments that, as we know legions of individuals and reform advocates across Missouri and the rest of the country similarly do.

Many of those arrests are simply “unnecessary,” stresses the institute. The “expressway to jail” is an overly direct road that wastes money, depletes resources better employed elsewhere and exerts undue pressure on judges and courts.

And it unfairly punishes many people who are guilty of only minor offenses. Vera states that high numbers of those individuals simply have “mental health or substance abuse issues or are homeless,” and can be more wisely responded to by arrest alternatives prominently marked by diversion strategies.

That seems increasingly obvious as time goes on and the nation’s lock-up facilities grow exponentially stuffed with bodies.

Justice officials need to respond to that, stress the authors of Vera’s report. They must “chart a new course in American policing.”

 

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