Anthony M. Salerno

Attorney At Law

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Anthony M. Salerno

Attorney At Law

Should crime deserve a punishment

The foundation of our criminal justice system is that punishment should be doled out to those who commit a crime. The assumption is that the defendant made a poor choice in committing that crime and therefore needs to be deprived of their freedom to choose.

Now a psychologist challenges this paradigm. In a recently published article, he points out that 85 percent of those released from prison are arrested again, and these are only the people who are caught committing a crime. He goes on to call the $1 trillion tough on crime initiative a failure.

Some hard facts about those charged

The fact is that punishment is often not the solution to the root of problem, which is the reason for the crime and not the crime itself. These reasons include:

  • 80 percent of those in the justice system have substance abuse issues
  • 60 percent of them have a mental health disorder
  • 60 percent of inmates and 50 percent of those on probation have experienced a traumatic brain injury

Nearly all offenders face such disadvantages as having little education, coming from poverty, having limited employment options, experiencing homelessness and other extreme circumstances.

Treatment instead of punishment

He goes on to point out that our prisons have turned into large mental health facilities for the mentally ill and cognitively challenged, yet few of the staff are trained to handle it. The solution is to train or find the right staff and start treating these people for their diseases and issues rather than simply locking them up.

Attorneys can help

A good attorney defends their client’s rights in court. However, looking after the best interests of their client, they can also argue for sentencing that reflects the nature of the crime and the accused. Treatment instead of jail is a start. Smarter drug laws are another. Arguing on behalf of the client, they can propose a workable option that is actually best for all involved.

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