Letters from our readers
Bail system debate
I would expect ABA membership to decline in the face of the ABA Journal’s constant barrage of contemporary liberal articles, of which the recitation “Change Agents: A New Wave of Reform Prosecutors Upends the Status Quo,” June, constitutes an example. The attacks on the bail system (notwithstanding the U.S. Constitution’s recognition of bail), the thinly veiled innuendos about police officers and the unending allegations about a “broken” criminal justice system convey unmistakable evidence of editorial and institutional bias. As a nearly 60-year ABA member and onetime House of Delegates member still practicing law, I can understand disregard of the ABA by so many current lawyers.
Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.)
I was extremely happy to see “Marked for Life,” May—a cover story, nonetheless—on helping ex-offenders reintegrate and move forward. You also highlighted the (often) repeated attempts to do so, as well as the slips that almost inevitably occur. Kudos to Mr. Steve Price for sharing his story (and to his mother for being a supermother), Target Area DevCorp, Steve Perkins, Mr. Joshua Coakley, Apostle Joseph L. Stanford and his church. Any and all industries, such as Koch Industries, need to be recognized too. In Canada, the 7th Step Society has a similar mission, using institutional and street groups to support ex-offenders to stay out of prisons and jails.
Nova Scotia, Canada
Your recent article on ending mass incarceration was excellent. Second chances are just the beginning. Some people need third or fourth chances. I spent my teenage years locked up in a juvenile correctional facility. After turning 18, I went to prison twice. After narrowly escaping a life sentence on a Georgia chain gang, I returned to Minnesota. Later, I went to college and then law school, and after clerking for the Minnesota Court of Appeals for two terms became one of, if not the only, prosecuting attorney to have been in prison.
Being a prosecutor was good for me. I held myself to a higher standard and demanded the best from myself. I felt good about who I was. I later decided to become a defense lawyer. It was a mistake for me. I believe everyone deserves the best defense they can get, but for me, it was not healthy. Holding myself accountable lifted me up. Spending my days making excuses for other people’s bad behavior did not. I ended up in trouble again.
I have now been working with a lawyer in Missouri for the last seven years as a paralegal. I believe I and so many others like me have something to offer. Thank you for sending that message to the bar in your articles.
In the ’90s when I was in law school and wanted to make a real difference in correctional policy, no one cared. The country was awash in money, and building prisons was the solution. I was a fluke: a token of how rehabilitation was possible. No one actually wanted to hear anything I had to say. I pray they listen to you.