Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chris Christie sounds good...but how is he on crime?

I caught the last half of Chris Christie speaking at the GOP National Convention last night. I am impressed with his willingness to be tough on government spending and to make real efforts to cut spending in New Jersey. 

He used to be a federal prosecutor; how does that affect him and his ideas about crime? Some call him smart on crime.
This legislation gives victims access to more information from prosecutors, assists victims of violent crime with medical expenses out of funds paid by offenders, and entitles victims to appear in court for all proceedings. Perhaps most importantly, the new law requires a judge to consider a victim’s statement before accepting a plea bargain. Moreover, the law gives victims a tool to enforce these protections, as it gives them legal standing to file motions to ensure that their interests are recognized.
I don't know enough about the New Jersey law here to have a solid opinion on this but I would rather see reforms that make plea agreements much less common and trials more common. Yes, I imagine a world where the defendant can exercise his Constitutional right to a trial, a world where the prosecution actually has to prove their case. Instead, these reforms sound like another heavy hammer for the prosecution.

Christie also is pushing the use of drug courts to keep drug law offenders out of prison. That sounds compassionate but there are plenty of questions about the effectiveness and fairness of those drug courts.

We must make our voices heard. The current focus on the need to cut government spending is a great opportunity to suggest reform of the current justice system. A reduction in the number of prisons and prisoners would save taxpayer money and it would keep productive members of society in society where they can remain productive. Fewer broken families, too. Fewer people labeled for life as felons or sex offenders...or both. Fewer asset forfeiture cases...the list goes on and on.

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