True justice takes work from whole community

Published 12:01 am Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mandatory prison sentences often don’t exist for good reason — nearly every single criminal case is unique.

So any analysis of criminal case statistics comes with the disclaimer that what’s being compared may not be completely, 100 percent comparable.

That said, our staff’s recent spot check of criminal sentencing in Adams County Circuit Court cases seems to indicate more prison time has been given in recent months.

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Many citizens — particularly the ones who have never committed a felony and never plan on it — don’t understand why more harsh sentences aren’t levied in all instances.

Harsh sentences, however, require a few steps to happen first.

Obtaining a conviction is rarely as simple as it seems on television dramas. That’s particularly the case when those same television dramas have convinced many jurors that the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt” means every case must contain clear, unmistakable DNA evidence.

In addition, however, for justice to be served, another important step is required, too. Our system of justice depends on sharp, unflinching prosecutors and judges willing to sentence fairly, but firmly, particularly in violent criminal cases.

Finally, our justice system is only as good as we, the people, demand.

Citizens must keep a watchful eye on the public justice system in order to keep things running smoothly and fairly.

In addition, citizens must be active participants in the justice system as well.

When citizens shirk their duties to serve on juries or simply look the other way when judges become too lenient, the system breaks down. We can only blame ourselves in such situations.