Is judicial system part of the crime problem?

Published 12:02 am Sunday, December 18, 2011

TV viewers sit riveted to crime dramas and often begin to believe the shows are based in reality. In most crime dramas, the good guys win in the end and the bad guys go to prison.

In reality, at least in Adams County, if you’re a bad guy you stand a good shot at never doing the time for your crime — a 4-in-5 chance, based on a recent three-month period.

A recent investigation of felony cases in Adams County shows only 20 percent resulted in defendants being locked up. If the low number seems astounding, it is.

Sure, making comparisons and analyses of criminal cases is difficult. Each case and the circumstances surrounding it are different.

But when patterns appear, the “viewers” — in this case law-abiding, tax-paying citizens — start furrowing their brows.

Regardless of how statistics may be twisted, it certainly seems as if crime is up in the area over the last few years.

The reason probably has many answers, but certainly the appearance of a judicial system that is not tough on criminals plays a huge factor.

Locking up the repeat offenders would go a long way toward deterring others and quite simply removing the criminals from society.

But that rarely happens.

In fact, most cases never see a trial and, apparently, few defendants ever see prison time.

In the minds of the citizen viewers of our own county’s reality show, the sheriff’s office, the DA and the judges should be working together to ensure criminals are caught, fairly tried and appropriately punished.

That doesn’t appear to be happening right now. Clearly our justice system, while well-intentioned, is not a cohesive system, pulling in the same direction.

Instead its myriad of parts appears to be working largely independently, if not outright against one another.

That must change and citizens must demand better.