Prison overcrowding. All across the country prisons are busting at the seams. In my home state alone, prisoners are being let our after only serving a fraction of the time sentenced. Paris Hilton’s recent jail sentence is just one example of prisoners being let out early because of “good behavior”. In that particular jail, prisoners are credited one day for every four days of good behavior. It isn’t an incentive program to make prisoners behave it is simply because there isn’t enough space to house everyone.
One would think the reasons for such overcrowding is a rise in crime rates. I am not going to say I disagree with that. Violent crimes are on the rise. However with the current prison situation these people will only serve around a year to two years for a normal ten year sentence. These criminals aren’t stupid. They know when they get out they can go right back to their violent lifestyles only to serve maybe a year more. I strongly believe people are learning to use the system. That only proves our system is broken.
The reason for a majority of our prison overcrowding is prosecuting attorneys just like Baltimore auto accident attorney. The blame lies with them. I have sat in on numerous court dates. I have watched prosecuting attorneys plead out violent crimes while the “blue collar” criminals sit in jail. A 19 year old girl sat in jail for 14 days awaiting a court date. Her crime? Forgery, which in this state is anything from forging someone else’s check to writing bad checks on your own account. While she was in jail another female shared came into custody. Her crime? Cooking meth. This young girl, we will call her Stacey. The prosecuting attorney refused to lower bond. On the other hand the PA let the meth cook out on an OR bond. When finally in court the judge lowered this girl’s bond. Later in court proceedings the PA offered a deal of 5 years probation. Stacey was finally released to probation and parole. Eights months later Stacey was arrested due to the fact that the PA claimed that she did not report to her probation officer. She sat for another 4 days after being denied bond once again. She went to court.
The judge agreed that she in fact did nothing wrong and released her. Four months past. The PA again filed a motion to revoke probation. Stacey sat for two weeks after being denied bond only to be released once more by the judge. Stacey was ordered to make payments toward her fines. She was of course fired from her work due to being in jail. She asked for two months to retain employment. Two months and one day later the PA issued another warrant. Stacey retained a lawyer to try to get the warrant dropped. The PA refused once again to drop the warrant even after having the receipts for payment. Her case is still pending.
I am not defending Stacey’s actions. She deserves the punishment. However, she never once violated her probation. She reported every month to her probation officer, sometimes every week. She never failed a drug test. She retained employment. She retained residence. Every hoop they made her jump through she jumped.
I watched PAs let off people who are on probation and then get as many as nine new charges. While those who are trying and those who do what they are supposed to sit in jail. They sit without bond only to be released by the judge. PAs have too much power. You have PAs in small communities who are trying to make a name for themselves. These people only want to get their records up.
If we want to reduce crime rates, if we want to reduce our prison population we need to think about how our system works. We need to find the flaws and correct them.