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FeralCJ7 t1_j5ql9yz wrote

I don't know of any jurisdiction in my area that doesn't offer some sort of deal for first offenders on non-violent offenses. It's usually like hey don't do this again and I'm 6 months we wipe it from your record kinda stuff, maybe they do 10 hours of community service related to the offense potentially (littering would be cleaning a road or something, stuff like that).

Heck, even for violent misdemeanors they generally offer deals for first offenders.

I dunno if that's responsible for a lack of reoffending or not, I think most people are generally good and make a mistake and get caught sometimes and they'll never break the law again.


Who_Wouldnt_ t1_j5pht6n wrote

So prosecutors are better than random chance at deciding who to prosecute or not?


Skeptix_907 t1_j5ppkm7 wrote

I'm not super into penology, but from memory there is a future criminogenic effect from being prosecuted/convicted/imprisoned.

Essentially, it makes getting a job more difficult, as well as many other things people want to do to survive. Additionally, if you spend time in prison or jail you're more likely to express pro-criminal attitudes. Both things lead people to crime, more or less.

That's not to say we shouldn't convict people of non-violent misdemeanors, but rather we should 1) improve the prison system and 2) allow people to serve their time without a lifetime label that prevents them from getting a job, voting, getting welfare, etc.

People need to be held accountable for their behavior, but that accountability shouldn't be a scarlet letter tattooed on their forehead.


SnooPuppers1978 t1_j5r1ees wrote

If I had to intuitively guess, I would agree, getting an unfair punishment could make you more likely to commit a crime in the future due to lack of opportunities and due to feeling of injustice, but I think the point about the study is valid.

How can you know whether it's prosecution and the case understanding the person's character and not the other way around?


No-Menu-768 t1_j5s8lj2 wrote

If someone did want to do a study to isolate the effect of previous prosecution on future criminality, you could look at the rate of future criminality among a population of offenders who were not prosecuted, ie people who got away with it. Additionally, we can discuss well established socioeconomic causes of criminality and how past criminal convictions can increase one's likelihood to experience those socioeconomic conditions associated with criminality. There are some situations in which "that argument is pretty reasonable, we don't need to spend a generation on a longitudinal study to establish causation while we continue to ruin people's lives with counter productive punishments" is the correct stance to take. Criminal justice reform for non-violent offenses is one of them, in my opinion.

Beyond that, prosecutors are probably on average pretty average people, so why should we expect them to somehow be masters of character judgment? Surely there are some star prosecutors who are, but those few aren't prosecuting every or even most cases. Most cases don't even get to actual prosecution because people are pressured into plea deals, so to imagine any actual character judgment is at play there is a misunderstanding of how our criminal justice system functions.