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Criminal Justice System Contributes to Violence (From Violence: Opposing Viewpoints, P 100-107, 1996, David Bender, et al, eds. -- See NCJ-159343)

NCJ Number
R J Bidinotto
Date Published
8 pages
The author contends that the criminal justice system in the United States allows violent criminals to be on the street and that practices such as plea bargaining and lenient parole prevent criminals from serving the sentences they deserve and keep violence levels high.
Even though many States have recently enacted stiff criminal sentences, the war against crime is being lost. A key reason is that tough penalties aimed at hardened criminals are being systematically undermined. Plea bargaining permits criminals to escape punishment, and convicts are released from prison too quickly because there is not enough space to house them. In particular, parole has become a population valve to control prison overcrowding. Prisoners can also be released early through the good behavior system. In most States, inmates are granted generous early release credits for participating in prison rehabilitation programs or not causing discipline problems. Experts report problems, however, with this form of early release. To avoid costs of building and operating more prisons, many States place a significant number of convicts into halfway houses and work release programs. This approach may result in the release of dangerous criminals to the community. The author recommends building more prisons, restricting plea bargaining, and ensuring truth in sentencing.