From the Capitol to the courtrooms, prosecutors can chart a new path on public safety in California by championing at both local and state levels one of the biggest ways we can transform our justice system in this generation--sentencing reform.
The idea that by serving time one has paid his debt to society is ingrained in our social narrative, but it is not accurate. Once caught up in the tides of the criminal justice system, it is very difficult to escape.
Today, Niroga conducts over 100 yoga classes a week in 40 sites throughout the Bay Area, serving over 5,000 children, youth, and adults annually, in mainstream and alternative schools, juvenile halls and jails, rehab centers, and cancer hospitals.
Study after study has shown that the harsh treatment of young people locked up in our nation's jails has not only failed to reduce recidivism but has also created angrier, more bitter, more violent juvenile offenders.
When I was growing up I learned that, although not perfect, the United States had the "best justice system in the world." That bill of goods can not even be faintly passed off with a straight face to today's schoolchildren.
Prison is necessary. But there are many forms of punishment -- prison isn't our only option. Just as there are many forms of medicine to address illness, there also should be many forms of intervention to address the many forms criminal behavior.
Innovative programs such as the Missouri Division of Youth Services (DYS) have long proven that departing from the large, prison-like correctional institutions in favor of smaller, regionally dispersed facilities is quantifiably and qualitatively more effective.
I would like to commend Federal Correction Institution Otisville in Otisville, N.Y. for the tremendous work they are doing educating their population on ways to advance the economic progress of our society.
Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. By that measure, our current approach to criminal justice may need a shrink -- and a new way of doing business.