Common Sense Justice Reform
As a former member of law enforcement (deputy district attorney) with more than 25 years’ experience in the criminal justice system, I’ve had the opportunity to see the formative years that have led to the recent protests. Having also taught a college course on race since 2008, I’ve long maintained there is no mystery what could be done to reform the way we mete out justice. Some suggestions.
- End the blue wall. If a cop does something bad other cops should identify and testify about it. They serve and protect us not each other. Stop allowing them to behave like the mafia.
- Demilitarize the police. We only have SWAT teams because of the war on drugs. End it. Get rid of the macho equipment and attitude. Are there some times that the cops wish they had tanks? Probably. But don’t build an entire system around the once in a career circumstance. Its ok to walk away from conflict if it’s too dangerous. You can get them the next time. You’re the police.
- Reform probation. Probation officers sit with the district attorneys in court and act as if they are an arm of law enforcement. They work for the judicial system. They should be social workers first. I tell clients to call their probation officers daily and demand help finding jobs, housing, etc. They should help keep people away from crime by helping people get straight. Don’t expect someone who has never been taught to show up on time or pay bills to miraculously know how to do it. Teach them. Help them. And disarm the probation officers so they act like social workers.
- Create a large force of actual social workers to help respond to events that don’t require a gun. The police would get on board with not having to arrest people for crimes that simply require mental health intervention.
- Get out into the community and know people. Walk a beat. Once you get to know someone it’s hard to hate them. You’ll know more about crime before it happens. The police are like the rest of us ¾ concerned citizens that care about others. At least, like the rest of us, most of the time. We mostly agree who the bad people are and mostly agree who should go to prison. Let’s legislate from this middle ground.
The times they are a changing. We need to all change with them together.