Pubdate: Fri, 20 Jun 2003
Source: Gainesville Sun, The (FL)
Copyright: 2003 The Gainesville Sun
Author: Ron Johnson


In response to The Sun's articles about the ever rising jail
population: The problem with the jail system is with the determination
of violent vs. non-violent criminals and our methods of dealing with

If the state has a (created) problem, then it must be addressed. And,
of course, the required solution is that we spend more money on the
problem. Big government loves these kinds of solutions. Libertarians,
and I believe most taxpayers, do not.

The courts benefit from nonviolent criminals. They represent no
threat, and they usually pay their fines. So, the courts are happy to
bring these "criminals" into the system. With our "zero tolerance"
policies, this task is easy.

A violent criminal has participated in the act of depriving another of
their rights, life, liberty or property. A nonviolent criminal has
done none of these acts.

He has only violated an arbitrary statute. He may have only harmed
himself. He represents no real threat to the public. But, he is a good
source of easily confiscated revenues and property.

A good example of a nonviolent crime is the student, who was arrested
for controlled-substance possession or use. Once depriving him of his
freedom, we place him in a cell with a violent criminal, who then
proceeds to violate him.

This is our justice system? We should never place the non-violent
criminal in jail.

To address the over-crowding problem, let's get a good definition of
our criminals in place. Then decide how to handle them. Let's get the
violent criminals off the streets to make it safe for the rest of us.

Let's take the non-violent criminal to the courthouse to pay his fine
or contest it. But, we need not detain him or further interrupt his
life with jail.

Or better yet, let's decide that we need not address these non-violent
crimes. For it is a waste of resources.

Ron Johnson is the Region 4 Representative
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