A Crime and Justice Wish List for 2011

by Diane Dimond on January 3, 2011

Thinking of Ways to Make a Safer and More Just World

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the commandment to “Love Thy Neighbor as Yourself” was the only law we needed?

Strictly adhered to that would be enough to curb crime in a big way. There would be no murder, assault, fraud, burglary … well, you get my drift.

But as this New Year dawns we all understand that we’re way past biblical pronouncement at this point. Today society must have laws and rules and regulations. But I often heave a big sigh and wish they worked better to get crime under control!

In years past I’ve used this first column of each New Year to list my wishes for the crime and justice system. For 2011 the list is pretty simple …

Sheen: Poster Boy for "Green Justice"

First, I wish Americans had more faith in our system. That they don’t can be blamed in large part on the system itself. When manipulating lawyers help someone famous get away with a serious offense without punishment it only goes to foster contempt. If someone in, say, New Mexico gets a prison term for holding his wife at knife point while threatening to kill her, shouldn’t actor Charlie Sheen get the same punishment if he commits such a crime in Colorado?

And if a judge sentences someone to ten years in prison why are they often out in five and a half? I wish our laws were more uniform state-to-state, that they were applied more evenly and that a sentence reflected reality instead of giving convicts the feeling that they can play the system.

I wish that in 2011 no judge releases a criminal who will repeat his or her crime. I know it will never come true.

Prisons Don't Create Good Citizens

I hope we launch a Manhattan Project type effort to figure out how to safely reduce our prison population. First on the agenda, I would think, would be to identify and treat debilitating addictions. Think how many fewer prisoners we’d have to house if drug and alcohol addictions could be curbed!

I wish we’d explore that along with legalizing marijuana. It could cause our prison budgets to plummet.

And, don’t get me started listing my wishes for changes in our immigration situation. Our decade’s long lackadaisical attitude on illegal immigration has added to our overcrowded prison problem and massively increased the possibility that terrorists have sneaked in to plot against us on our own soil.

Maybe the folks at the new Manhattan Project could ponder this problem too.

Smart Arriving to Give Testimony

I wish that in 2011 all victims of sex crimes could be as brave as Elizabeth Smart was when she recently testified against the man who kidnapped her and held her for 9 months. Brian David Mitchell said he was commanded by God. I hope that in the year ahead – and beyond – the public and law enforcement comes to completely understand the pervasive criminality festering nationwide in the name of religion and that we finally figure out a way to deal with the perpetrators who hide behind the doctrine of separation of church and state.

I wish I’d never get another e-mail from a desperate person looking for help in locating a missing family member. But I know I will.

I wish to abolish reality TV shows that mindlessly highlight criminal activity as in TLC’s “Sister Wives” polygamy program. Especially sickening are those TV producers who exploit the young children of spotlight-clamoring adults.

DNA Tests STILL Waiting to Happen

As in years past I will again wish that this will be the year we finally process the backlog of hundreds of thousands of DNA rape kits sitting in crime labs all across the country. Get that information into a national data base! Since a single rapist can victimize dozens of people the sooner we can identify, convict and put away these predators the better. Why don’t we make this a priority?

I wish every Governor would set aside serious time to look at the stack of potential pardons in their in-box. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has just decided to vacate the life sentences for two African American sisters I wrote about earlier this year. Gladys and Jamie Scott have been in prison for 17 years. They always maintained their innocence but they were convicted for a 1993 armed robbery that netted a paltry eleven dollars.

For that they were sentenced to an unbelievable two life sentences each among rumors that the local former sheriff had a long standing beef with their father.

An Injustice Finally Righted

Gladys’ release is conditional. She can get out of prison only after she donates a kidney to Jamie who requires daily dialysis to survive. I’m sure she’ll be glad to do that.

I also wrote about the citizen revolt sweeping several American cities as voters got fed up with corrupt politicians and called in the cops. I fervently wish for this trend to continue.

I also hope this year brings an uptick in doctors who have their licenses yanked for deliberately over-prescribing narcotics. It’s not just the Michael Jackson or Anna Nicole Smith types who can overdose and die. It’s your elderly parents, your kids or your spouse.

As I write this I think about the difference between wishes and hopes for the future and the courage and conviction needed to actually change things.

A wish is a dreamy bubble you optimistically release into the universe. Courage is often wrapped in the pessimism of suspected failure and is rare to find. In the field of crime and justice we can’t afford not to back up our hopes with the courage to change the way we do business.

Look, I’m no Einstein. I don’t know how to make all these wishes come true. I only have enough courage to write them all down, put them out there – leading with my chin and bracing for the inevitable criticism – and hope those smarter than me will lead us.

Diane January 3, 2011 at 9:30 am

ABQ Journal Reader George Holly writes:

“To start out, I loved what you said and how you stated the content in your article.
I read all that you put in the Albq. Journal and most of the time, 98% of the time and today you really nailed it. If all people followed the ten commandments or the golden rule, what a society we would be living in. Of course to many people feel the use of the commandments or golden rule would be out of bounds; but I wonder just how many people really think that way.
I have never read or heard just how many people are against prayer in school or any other form of coming together in a warm and respectful way.
I and many others feel that our countries government is being run by the minority and not the majority. So many times in casual conversation, the topic turns to politics and what a sham it has become.
Look at any level of government. No matter the topic, subject, issue; you name it. People have had enough with the lies and corruption. I love this country and have spent time in the military and would not want to live any where else but the USA. I attended a civics class while a sophomore in high school, 1956. I have never failed to bring up various topics from that class and offer that knowledge to others and most of the time it receives a deaf ear. Maybe its because I’m getting up in years and most of the discussions I try to initiate are with younger adults.
I talk at length so I think for now I will close with this thought. As your article stated; marijuana should be legalized, sold and taxed as we do with cigarettes, booze and countless other items sold across the country. Would we have abuses of this product, no more that we have with the others.
Take all of these people out of prison that were convicted of possession and we could definitely reduce our prison population. Thanks for listening and please keep up the good work and words. Sincerely, George Holly.”

Diane January 3, 2011 at 9:32 am

ABQ Journal Reader Richard St. John writes:

“Criticism? One for the chin, Ms. Dimond,

Just kidding- I have no significant criticism of your 1 Jan 2011 editorial, except I am disappointed to see “snuck” as an accepted past tense of sneak. I used a critical-sounding subject to get you to read my e-mail, or perhaps to delete it.

I certainly agree with you it is time to legalize marijuana and perhaps other street drugs, and put their distribution under government control. We can tax it enough to fund meaningful social programs and reduce the attendant criminal activity. Some European countries do this and their societies have not collapsed. It bothers me that we have such a large prison population; I guess I feel it is probably due to our drug laws and appetites. We need to get our drug problem under control while Mexico still has a significant population.”

As you say, we have many problems to face, and I too hope we have people to address them.”

Diane January 3, 2011 at 9:34 am

Dear Richard:

I will immediately correct the action I attributed to those potential terrorists crossing our borders illegally from “snuck” to sneaked. Thanks for catching the mistake! ~ DD

Diane January 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Linked In Friend Samantha Wilson:

” Samantha Wilson • Great list Diane. Wish vs. Hope…I’m not sure there is much difference between the two, but I agree with them all.

I also wish that there was less fear in the world.

Fear clouds peoples judgement and gets in the way of making rational decisions. The warning signs, that good is about to go bad, are crystal clear if you know what to look for. But if people are afraid all of the time, they won’t see them.

After witnessing some of the most horrific crimes in my life as a cop, I know one thing for sure ( which speaks in part) to each of your wishes.

Violence is predictable. Period. And if you can predict it, you can prevent it.

My Crime & Justice wish list would include more success stories. More saves. More real people who had the courage to make the safe choice.

If everyone understood that there is almost no randomness to crime, and believed they had more control over their safety – there would be a shift in power, and a lot less fear.”

Diane January 3, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Facebook Friend Ronald Jeffries Tallman writes:

“Common ground with all these points, DD. Drugs/alcohol are a root of our problems; the stupidity and level of violence, needs, are usually drug related. Better parenting/family roots would help but it’s not always that. “Sex” crimes, domestics need harsher sentences no early releases.
Adult rape should be min of 20 yrs/offense. People need not fear to report or testify. Not sure if child molesters ever should be set back into society. Lawyers complicate but that is their job. Why Pro Bono for some and all the best tech people for “high profile cases”. PDs come from the law firms but it seems different. Ethics?

Legalization would create new jobs, reduce the deficit and help those in pain. But gov’t would need heavy involvement in regulation it’s not easy. People want less gov’t but remember our large military is controlled by such. Much “big business” are the defense companies which is a large portion of GNP goods and services purchased by Uncle Sam.

This is an Independent statement.”

Danielle Parker January 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Diane,
You hit on every single issue that is important to crime victims, as well as human beings. Every point was clearly stated, backed up with the benefits of the position and why each issue was critical to our system. I pray that your crime and justice wish list becomes a reality.
Your friend,
Danielle

Tracey January 3, 2011 at 8:59 pm

My thought of Our Governing system, well, not so cool. To me, a small town and just even 1 local sheriff deputy, is a recipe for disaster.
Dianne, your example of a local sheriff having it out for the father of the 2 sisters, was a ‘light bulb’ thing for me.
My opinion is based on my own experience, your opinion not only validates mine, hopefully it brings enough awareness where we can get some action into play.
Thank you Dianne

Theresa Smith January 4, 2011 at 2:47 am

Hello Diane,

I just want to personally thank you, you give me such hope in humanity. You are clear and precise in your views on what is right and what is wrong in our society. I, too, live by The Golden Rule and Ten Commandments… Not because I’m so good, just because they feel ‘right’ to me, that’s how my wonderful parents raised me – a Los Angeles County Fireman and beautiful homemaker. I wish they were still here with me, sometimes I wish I could just hug them and thank them for how I turned out. I hope all your wish list items become a reality… Crime, addiction and legalization are critical and we need to keeping fighting for those changes and that growth. God bless all of us in 2011 and this brand new decade.

Much Respect,

Theresa Smith
Anaheim, California

Diane January 13, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Web Site Reader Maureen Reintjes writes:

“Music to my ears Diane, “I wish I’d never get another e-mail from a desperate person looking for help in locating a missing family member. But I know I will.”

We are working hard to fulfill that wish by getting answers to the families quicker through the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs.gov). With between 40,000 to 60,000 unidentified persons in the US, NamUs is working hard to match up the unidentified’s with the over 100,000 missing bringing many families answers. This site is for all, law enforcement, families of the missing, coroners, medical examiners, advocates, media, and the public. We need everyone’s help to make this site stronger and that can be done by everyone writing to their Senators and asking them to back the Help Find the Missing Act (Billy’s Law) S.3019. We also need help in everyone letting their local law enforcement, coroners and ME’s know this site exists and is free for all to use for searching and inputting cases of the missing and unidentifieds.

And, when my proposed law comes into play the number of families without answers will also go down.

Thank you!

Maureen

National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs.gov) Victims Advocate Kansas Team

Admin
Peace4 the Missing (http://peace4missing.ning.com) – Command Central for Billy’s Law

Note: The law I propose can be found at http://www.reintjes.us

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