Sunday, July 21, 2002

Bring Back Justice

The Denver Post earns high praise today. Three opinion pieces exploring our ever-increasing lust for vengence over rational and just crime policy.

In One Size Fits All Justice Doesn't Work Peter Chronis of the Post's Editorial Board and former long time crime reporter examines the evolution of murder statutes through interviews with judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Mandatory Madness Grips Our System by Denver Post Deputy Editorial Board Editor Bob Ewegen takes on mandatory minimum sentences. "As Pete Chronis' thoughtful article on this page makes clear, Colorado lawmakers have painted themselves into a corner where a single sentence - life without possibility of parole - is applied to a bafflingly wide variety of criminal offenses."

Ewegen quotes Eric Sterling, president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a private non-profit educational organization promoting solutions to criminal justice problems, in a Frontline show on the topic, "There have been literally thousands of instances of injustice where minor co-conspirators in cases, the lowest-level participants, have been given the sentences that Congress intended for the highest kingpins. Families are wrecked, children are orphaned, the taxpayers are paying a fortune for excessive punishment."

Ewegen discusses the Lisl Auman case, one that our sister site CrimeLynx has been featuring for some time, and concludes, "The U.S. Congress and the Colorado legislature both need to replace the runaway system of mandatory minimum sentences with laws that once again give trial judges the discretion they need to make the punishment fit the crime."

Last but not least, in an editorial Bring Back Justice the Post opines: "Those who champion iron-fisted laws might consider that more than seven decades of autocratic rule failed utterly to eliminate crime in the former Soviet Union. Somewhere along the way, Americans seem to have forgotten that laws exist to foster justice - not to satisfy the blood lust of victims' kin."

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