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Overwhelming Problems Confront an Underwhelming System: Reforming American Criminal Justice
By Adam Diamond
In undergraduate and graduate classes across the country, students learn
that two major purposes of the criminal justice system are to
rehabilitate offenders to become positive contributors to society and to
protect citizens from dangerous individuals. Statements by politicians
from both sides of the aisle reflect a growing acknowledgment in the
political arena that the current system is failing on both counts. Sen.
Jim Webb of Virginia, a Democrat, stated, “As a nation we spend $68
billion every year just to lock up people, many of whom are non-violent
offenders. … We lose billions more in lost productivity due to
ineffective re-entry programs. The high costs of incarceration divert
scarce financial resources from the very programs that help police fight
Conservatives have also issued a call for reform. Rep. Ted Poe, a
Republican representing the 2nd District of Texas, said, “Prison serves
one purpose, primarily, to separate that person from the
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