Monday, August 31, 2009

Decarceration: congratulatory letter to editor of Durango Herald

My wife Jill and I have been in Durango visiting our only children, Katy and Christian, and our granddaughter, Mila, this weekend. As luck would have it your story on dismissals came out while I’m in town. I have just retired after 39 years professing criminal justice. My son-in-law Christian is a prosecutor here in town.
I am known as co-founder of a “school of criminology” called “peacemaking” criminology. I consider myself a longtime recovering lawyer and have since become a volunteer mediator. It is refreshing to read, and learn from Christian, what is happening in criminal justice in Durango these days.
I am rather proud of what Christian’s “team,” as he calls his office staff as a group, are accomplishing. La Platte County is the only place I know where government growth in expenditures on jailing is being kept down with no sacrifice to, and probably enhancement of, public security.
I have made a career-long study of what crime statistics mean. La Platte County is telling a unique story of making a jurisdiction safer by keeping more defendants and convicts hooked up in the community, and for once not just automatically filling a new jail or prison instead.
I hope help is given to those to those in your county whose jobs depend on jailing, employing them to apply their own skills and knowledge toward building community safety in more and more innovative ways. Criminal justice workers’ dedication to public service is a community asset regardless of their job descriptions. I know from time with police especially how many unrecognized ways criminal justice workers quietly serve their communities.
From all I have learned, prosecutors in La Platte County remain committed to removing dangerous people from the community, and equally to building on ways offenders work out safe lawful ways to remain with their families and friends without having to be locked up. One remaining fact nationwide: most prosecutions are a waste of taxpayer money, and I commend this county for its law enforcement fiscal responsibility. I’ll follow your journey with great interest.
Regards, Hal Pepinsky

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