Two years ago this month, we wrote an editorial about attempts to reform the criminal justice system. That editorial read, in part:
"A bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to appoint a blue-ribbon commission to make recommendations for reforming the country's criminal justice system.
"The New York Times said in an editorial Sunday that the bill has bipartisan support.
"A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia and is progressing through committees in that body."
Well, despite that bipartisan support, the bill was blocked in the Senate. Webb reintroduced it in February 2011 and, once again, it went nowhere.
The Times editorial wanted less money spent prosecuting nonviolent offenders and fewer prisoners incarcerated, citing the huge prison population in the U.S.
We noted, "We are not sure if we necessarily agree with that (the Times') conclusion but after a recent experience as the victim of a series of crimes, we're certain the current system doesn't even address the problems. It is unsettling for us that reason apparently plays no part in the system - and is not allowed to.
"For example, a criminal possesses items from a stolen vehicle. He is allowed to cop a plea for that possession - but there is no mention of the stolen car in the plea. Certainly, if the criminal did not personally steal the vehicle, he has knowledge of who stole it. How can a plea be accepted without resolution of that other crime?
"So, while the Times may think money being spent on nonviolent crimes is a big problem in the criminal justice system, we are more concerned that the system does not solve crimes. The perpetrators are protected - the victims are left speechless by the resolution."
For very different reasons from the Times, we think the criminal justice system needs to be reformed. A balance needs to be established. The rights of the victim have to be as big a concern as the rights of the accused.
We're not sure what the delay is - and how one can oppose - the establishment of a Criminal Justice Reform commission. It is time to allow reason in the criminal justice system.
(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.