The Winds of Change in Criminal Law

It is widely believed that the criminal justice system in America is built on a broken business model. For decades, the system has been very much constrained by a bend toward incarceration, and a struggle to grasp the holistic importance of treatment, rehabilitation, and restoration.

Recent developments, however, suggest that we are beginning to embrace a new paradigm. The United States now has a Drug Czar who is neither enamored with the title nor married to the failed policies of the past several decades. Courts are embracing more progressive methods for dealing with the criminal defendant through specialty courts that redeploy resources to rehabilitate and restore nonviolent defendants.

The promise of more progressive policies and courts serves everyone by recognizing the wisdom of addressing the criminal defendant as an individual worthy of an opportunity to modify his behavior, address his addiction or mental illness, and even address the criminal mindset, with the very funds that would otherwise be used to simply incarcerate him. Ultimately, our nation will be the beneficiary of such shifts of resources away from warehousing the problem in prisons to functioning as an agent of change.