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Funding and Effects – Criminal Justice System

For a brief description of the problems, including assurance of protection of civil rights, see this missive from the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office on August 2, 2016. However, this is hardly a newly discovered problem in the mainstream media and in academic scholarship (e.g., NYT August 2, 2016): Public funds are necessary to provide an abundance of goods and services that the private sector will not provide alone. The expression that you get what you pay for has relevance. Where public funds are not provided in support of public services such as inspection and oversight of the criminal justice system, injustice unsurprisingly often follows. Cf. where public funds are not provided in support of safe water.

The idea of not adequately funding units essential to the criminal justice system is especially cruel in light of the public funds generally used to fund the judiciary, public prosecutors, police, etc. Being tough on crime should require a little more than providing the functional equivalent of a nuclear arsenal to the offense and the functional equivalent of slingshots to the defense (though I’ve heard that this could work: Cf. David and Goliath), where the goal is something more than ‘lock ’em up and throw away the key.’ Error rates (e.g., the wrongly convicted) and failures in sense of proportion (e.g., excessive punishments for crimes without immediate and direct victims) are among the results of unenlightened toughness focused on those least able to defend themselves in a court of law.

As I noted in a prior post: There are good things and bad things to say about a federal conviction rate that routinely exceeds 90%. Public funding is essential for a just society: Austerity is not an evenly applied public policy.

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