Memphis Media

Last week, I was asked to compile a report for the media on repeat offenders. That renewed my interest in this issue, so I thought I’d make another run at making people in the Memphis area mad. Hopefully, mad enough to their senators and representatives. So far, I’ve only gotten them to introduce a bill to study the issue. Isn’t that great. Nothing like addressing the problem, head on, huh. Maybe we should hand out flyers with all the judges, senators and representative’s home addresses? I know, we could give them the information when they get released from jail on the 100.00 bond, or ROR.

I have railed against our “Criminal Justice System” for many years because it is criminal, there is rarely any justice and it doesn’t really work. Law enforcement agencies do a really good job of arresting people for committing crimes and then the wheels come off the machine. The courts turn these thugs out at warp speed and the legislature looks the other way. I understand that people make mistakes. I mean, I think I made one once, or twice, or . . .well you know what I mean. But, why is it they (the courts and legislature) haven’t done something to deal with the “Urban Terrorists” among us? I know it costs, but what if they started with the worst of the worst and worked their way down. I mean really, 320 times? If we took the worst of the worst off the streets, we could cut our crime significantly, while sending a message to the others. I think I have a couple of good possible solution for this particular issue.

There needs to be an emphasis on modifying behavior, not on rehabilitation. A little applied psychology would go a long way in changing behavior, if we simply applied it. Currently, we arrest these guys and they go to court, get ROR (released on recognizance), a low bond, or in rare instances are actually kept in jail, pending trial. If we had a sentencing matrix that ramped up the punishment for every subsequent conviction, pretty soon we would see fewer repeat offenders. Those who weren’t in jail would decide to go to a more “criminal friendly” environment.

We actually already have a swiss cheese, sentencing matrix for DUI offenders that delineates the punishment for convictions. The problem is that the courts and prosecutors can play “Let’s Make a Deal” and skirt the system. However, it does define the punishment and appears to have had some effect on those who might otherwise keep drinking and driving. I propose we have a matrix that deals with misdemeanor charges – regardless of the charge. A first time conviction might result in 6 months probation, second conviction – one year probation with monitoring that the offender pays for, third conviction = 1 week in jail, fourth conviction – 1 month in jail and year of monitoring, fifth conviction – 1 year in the county workhouse and year of monitoring and at some point, maybe the tenth conviction, the offender becomes property of the state, never to practice their terrorism on the public again. And, I wouldn’t mind if the system reset the time, if a person went 5 years or more without a conviction.

The other solution is to remove the cancer. What if we offered to buy a bus ticket to another city for those offenders who have already been convicted numerous times? We could even pack them a nice little sack lunch. In the past month or so, officers at the RTCC have identified some thugs breaking into cars and by coordinating with officers in the field, made several arrests. Each of these guys had been arrested over twenty times (one guy 85 times). What if we were to take them to the bus station and send them to San Francisco? The thugs would probably love it, the people of Memphis would love it, and the people of San Francisco can always use another homeless guy. That is not just a win-win, it’s a win-win-win!