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How to fix America's broken criminal justice system

Our ultra-costly and ultra-punitive system is neither protecting victims nor rehabilitating lawbreakers. It's time for a new approach, one that consolidates disparate components into unified local Public Safety Agencies that provide both justice and security at a much lower cost.

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America’s criminal justice system is deeply flawed. Beyond the harsh sentences and wrongful convictions (including innocents on death row), the system we’ve created fails to support victims or reform criminals. Furthermore, the entire system is rooted in a punitive approach to crime.

America, the land of the free, has the world’s largest prison population (2.3 million) and its highest incarceration rate. And our overcrowded prisons are disproportionately filled with blacks and Hispanics, causing many urban communities to lose trust in a system they consider biased and racist.

In short, our criminal justice system is providing neither justice nor security.

These fundamental flaws have been ignored for years, but the staggering cost of fighting crime at a time when cities and states are going broke is forcing taxpayers to pay attention. People are right to ask: Why continue to perpetuate a disastrously expensive and largely ineffective approach to public safety? Isn’t there a better way?

There is. But we have to be willing to dismantle our current piece-meal measures and replace them with an integrated model: a single Public Safety Agency (PSA) at the local level.

Current system: a heavy burden on taxpayers

Crime – and fighting it – is expensive. Taxpayers bear a heavy burden to fund the police and related emergency services (911, medical response, trauma centers), the courts, the correctional system, probation and parole agents, and social service agencies.

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