I came across an interesting op-ed written by an Austin blogger, someone I link to from here because he's very involved in seeing that our criminal justice system improves. Annoyingly, he also likes to hold cops and prosecutors accountable for their actions, an outrageous position that no right-minded human would go along with. And I disagree with him on some issues.
But this is written not just from his perspective as a criminal justice observer, so to speak, but as a resident of the relevant part of Austin. And if you're not from Austin, you should check it out anyway because I'm betting there's a part of your city where drugs are exchanged in plain sight, and where cops spend a lot of time arresting dealers and buyers.
It's also interesting to me because he's talking about the "Charlie" sector of Austin, where I roam every Thursday night with the Austin Police Department. I pass through the corner he talks about, 12th and Chicon, two or three times an evening and, well, it ain't nothin' like my neighborhood.
His solution, in sum, is to tone down the arrests and do something "for the children." Specifically, help those kids whose parents are in prison. Not an original thought, as I'm sure he'd acknowledge, but I get to see that side of it, too, working down at the juvenile courts. And picking a number out of the air, without thinking about it too hard, I'd say 90 percent or more of the kids I see have no father-figure in their lives. I don't know how many are in prison but I'm betting a few. A kid was crying in court today, arrested for assaulting someone, and he was telling the court his dad was doing life somewhere for something. "You want to be like that, too?" the judge asked him.
He said, of course, "No," but it doesn't look good for him.