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The crime versus the time 

Street Smarts

No one seems to be happy with the criminal justice system in this country — from discriminatory enforcement practices to the prison industrial complex. But how do we fix it? That's a tough question to answer.

click to enlarge Benita Reynolds
  • Benita Reynolds

Benita Reynolds of central Colorado Springs is between jobs.

What do you think of the criminal justice system in this country? It sucks. Totally sucks. My major is criminal justice. There's unfairness, imbalance in sentencing, and it needs an overhaul.

Why are our prisons so overcrowded? With all the stuff going on — there's an overabundance of African-American men in prison. They just put people away and don't look back.

What is the government's responsibility to prisoners? Do they fulfill that responsibility? Besides making sure people serve their sentence and providing meals, I guess the responsibility is fairness, and I don't know how we can remove that corruption. It goes deep.

What can we do to support inmates, both while they're inside and when they've been released? I don't think they need to be coddled, but they need more interaction, they need to learn skills. No more recidivism. We don't want return criminals.

click to enlarge Debra Wagner
  • Debra Wagner

Debra Wagner of the UCCS area is a real estate agent.

How do you feel about our criminal justice/prison system? It's nuts. Well, not so much here anymore but I was watching a documentary about people in jail for petty crimes. Not here in Colorado, since it's been legalized, but some places you get 13 years for having a joint in your pocket.

How can we better support inmates looking for redemption? Once they've been released, help them find jobs. While they're inside, they need to learn skills, something that they can do when they're released.

What's the government's responsibility to inmates? I don't know if we owe people anything. I would guess just safe, clean living conditions, three square meals a day.

click to enlarge Mike Harris
  • Mike Harris

Mike Harris of Manitou Springs is in storm restoration.

What do you think of our criminal justice/prison system? It needs to be emptied out a bit. Put people who commit real crimes in there and get rid of mandatory sentencing.

What is the government's responsibility to inmates? Does our government fulfill that responsibility? They should be taken care of, not beat up, get three meals a day. For the most part prisons do that, but some don't. County jails? They're just thrown together and left to rot.

How can we better support inmates looking for redemption? Reform classes would be good. And don't just put them in there and kick them back out. Fix the problem that got them in there in the first place.

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