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"How do you defend THOSE people?" It's probably one of the most common questions criminal defense attorneys get asked. My answer? THOSE people are your friends and your family members, and maybe even you... Although I sincerely hope the best for you all, some of you may drive a little to fast, drink a little too much, lose your temper or make a mistake and anyone, on any day, can be accused of committing a crime they didn't commit. This compelling article emphasizes that very idea. It is an amazing story-- about a man accused of a brutal crime he didn't commit, a woman who would go to any lengths to gain custody of her child, and a police officer who acted with the utmost of integrity to bring the truth to light:
[http://www.amyguerra.com] Here's an excerpt from an interesting Phys.org article titled "Street Justice" (found here) noting the disproportionate community impact of crime, policing and incarceration in communities where residents lack faith in "the system":
The unprecedented surge in incarceration across the United States in the last 40 years has been disproportionately concentrated in a relatively small number of already disadvantaged communities, he says. And hyper-aggressive styles of policing don’t help to control crime, and in fact may be doing more harm than good when it comes to safeguarding individuals, families and communities, says Drakulich.
“When parents go to jail, they can’t take care of their kids, and so the children go unsupervised. They can’t bring revenue to their communities,” he says. “When they get released, their human capital is severely reduced, their chances of marrying are severely reduced.”
Rebuilding those communities that have been hit hardest by crime begins with increasing access to jobs and social service programs, Drakulich says.
But it may also require changing the minds of people whose skewed views on crime have perpetuated racial segregation. According to the NSF-funded study, Seattle residents overestimate crime in African-American communities.
“People are relying on stereotypes to believe there is more crime than there actually is,” he says. “And they’re avoiding the source of their fears by not having any contact with residents of other races.”
Drakulich became interested in criminological research on race and class as an undergraduate at Skidmore College, where he helped a professor evaluate the effectiveness of the Vermont Restorative Justice Program. The community-based initiative aims, in part, to help children address problems of underage drinking and petty theft.
Years later, he’s shedding light on the racial and class disparities among prisoners in the country’s correctional facilities, as well as the impact of policing styles on crime levels.
“If we can better understand exactly how community social processes either facilitate or deter crime, we can design more effective policies to help the most troubled communities,” [Kevin] Drakulich says.
The National Science Foundation-funded study that Drakulich worked on as a PhD candidate at the University of Washington found that in certain low-income communities in Seattle, community members, "distrusting of the criminal justice system, take protection into their own hands and live by a code of street justice based on toughness, respect and pride. 'There is more emphasis on protecting yourself if you don’t have faith in the formal system,' explains Drakulich..."
About the Author
Amy K. Guerra is a criminal defense attorney in Fresno, CA. In addition to her career in criminal defense, she's worked as a freelance writer and within the non-profit sector. She continues to be active in the community and enjoys writing about issues in criminal law relative to their community impact.
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Amy K. Guerra, Attorney at Law
2014 Tulare St. #400
Fresno, CA. 93721
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