Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Emily Jane Goodman rightly points out the injustices of a criminal justice system that strips judges of judicial discretion and mandatorily bills criminal respondents--in some instances for aspirin or for their transportation to court proceedings--and the fiscal incentives behind such surcharges and fees.

Another example is those re-entering society who are forced to pay for their own parole or probation supervision, as well as for any anger management or drug counseling programs they are required to participate in, although they may have spent years on the inside taking similar courses.

Further, people on parole from other states, such as Florida, but doing their parole time in New York State, for example, are subjected to the more stringent and higher costs of supervision under the Florida parole system. And regardless of whether they are employed, when the parolee falls short on their fees, Florida forces New York parole to take them into custody.

As the cartoon by Ryan Inzana attached to Judge Goodman’s article implies, our society measures criminal respondents and ex-offenders by their monetary contributions without regard to their efforts to re-establish themselves as responsible parents or to secure work, or of extenuating circumstances. And, even if employed, payments to parole and various programs frustrate parolees who find themselves impoverished although employed.

Although we give lip service to the value of re-entry services, we in fact offer a hand while we simultaneously kick them down.

Michelle Karshan

New York, NY

Sep 9 2008 - 2:10pm

Web Letter

While it may seem "cruel" to demand monetary restitution from those individuals who commit crimes against others, it is by no means a guarentee that removing this monetary component will not prevent a re-offense. Sometimes society has little recourse.

A.J. Cook

Dunwoody, GA

Sep 8 2008 - 1:00pm

Web Letter

I wish I could say I was shocked by what I read in this article.... But I'm not.

It seems that yet, again, those who need our help most are those that are being charged and taxed far beyond their means.

Slavery was outlawed in 1865. Peonage ended with the start of World War II. And, yet, this system is creating slaves once again--only this time it is to an unpaid debt.

How do we keep letting this happen?!? Why are we not helping those who could be "brought back" into society to start fresh, as opposed to giving them more reason to loathe the system?

Cindy Taylor

St. Louis, MO

Sep 5 2008 - 8:50am

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