The Champion

August 2010 , Page 28 

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HOPE for the Criminal Justice System

By Judge Steven S. Alm

America spends more money to incarcerate more people than any other country in the world. There are currently about 2.3 million people in local, state, and federal incarceration and about 4.3 million adults on probation in the United States. As a judge and former prosecutor, I know that some offenders are violent and dangerous and need to be in prison to protect public safety. Many other offenders, however, do not belong in prison and can be safely supervised in the community. It has been said, and rightly so, that judges should send to prison people we are afraid of, or who will not stop stealing, not people who have made us mad.

How can we protect public safety and reduce the prison population? One way is by fixing the probation and parole systems, particularly for those with drug and alcohol issues. Typically, probation violations — positive drug tests, missed appointments, refusals to attend or complete treatment — are met with a scolding by the probation o

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