Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reality check

“I believe, certainly, the owners of this property that brought this into the neighborhood are culpable on some level. That party doesn’t take place, the shooting doesn’t take place.”

-County Executive Ken Ulman in an Explore Howard article justifying why he wants to harass the homeowners where the Halloween shooting occurred with petty violations.

Do you know what else prevents these types of incidents? A criminal justice system that actually works like it's supposed to.

Johns Hopkins criminologist Doug Ward said cases such as Dixon’s — which show escalating criminal behavior with no rehabilitation — present a problem for law enforcement all over the country.

“This is a big problem everywhere,” he said. “We call it a criminal justice system, but it’s not much of a system. There are competing interests here. You have police officers who are trying to build good cases .... and you have a so-called correctional system, where part of the goal is to keep them in prison and part is to get them out as quickly as possible to free up beds.”

Ward said oftentimes parole and probation agents — who are supposed to keep a close eye on newly released inmates — are too overwhelmed by large workloads to do an effective job of monitoring ex-cons.

“Parole and probation agents are supposed to keep watch over them,” he said. “In a lot of cases, it doesn’t happen, and this is one of them.”