The New York Times has a new feature called “Room for Debate,” which invites outside contributors to discuss current news events and issues facing the culture. This week, Craig DeRoche, former House Speaker of Michigan and now Director of External Affairs at Justice Fellowship, contributes his first column on A Failing Criminal Justice System.
DeRoche writes that the goal of criminal justice in America should be to “keep communities safe, respect and restore victims, and return offenders who leave prison to be self-sufficient and law-abiding. What the system has become a monumental failure that our states and nation can no longer afford.”
America has 1 in 31 adults under correctional supervision. When DeRoche says “the nation can no longer afford…” he’s concerned not only with budget issues, but also with what he calls “cultural decline” in the US. We must consider the breakdown of the family with such a broken system.
Correctional control rates differ drastically along demographic lines. Data from The Pew Center on the States reveals that 1 in 11 black adults are under correctional control in America. DeRoche makes clear the fact that minorities are unfairly targeted “goes beyond decriminalizing marijuana or a handful of petty crimes.” He writes:
…trolling for low-level law breakers has distracted the public from demanding justice where it is most needed. For example, Chicago solved only 30 percent of the murders committed in 2011. Comparing this to a Brookings employment study for 2011, getting away with murder was easier than finding a job for the unemployed in Chicago.
Read more on our efforts to reform the criminal justice system at Justice Fellowship.