Let’s get tougher on criminals, but not just with jail time (Opinion)
Seems that we have a bit of a ’one size fits all’ criminal justice system where the choices are jail or probation and the debate is only over how much time.
You've heard the story of the 27-year-old woman who hit a 14-year-old girl riding her bike 10:30 at night crossing a major road. It's most likely that the hit was an accident, and the driver may not have been charged at all. Problem for the driver is she fled the scene, driving away as the 14-year-old girl slid off of her hood. Then she tried to cover up the accident by getting the car repaired.
So she was charged in the case, the prosecutors recommended one year in the county jail. The judge disagreed and sentenced Brittany Keifer to probation and some community service.
Clearly, leaving the scene of an accident after a kid was severely hurt and then trying to hide the fact that it happened should be met with serious punishment. But this is where I had a problem. Why was the prosecutor only recommending one year in jail? Emma Mae Gnolfo could have died from her injuries and driving away as the kid falls off the hood? Wow. That said, if the driver has a serious condition with anxiety and panic attacks, we'd be on the hook as taxpayers treating her through the limited incarceration.
My thought is this, longer probation, 5+ years and a lot of community service. How about she spends her weekends for the next three years volunteering at Children's Hospital? How about she spends her time cleaning up the community parks? Serious community service that costs the taxpayers nothing and actually contributes something back to the community?
I was joined on the air by Emma's mom Stephanie and her attorney, Deborah Dunn. They called to tell me they disagreed with my point about no jail time. They of course had a point and delivered it in a calm and measured way. Can't imagine the emotion rushing through as Stephanie, two years later, helps her daughter who isn't fully recovered.
So as we pray for Emma and her family, let's consider what is in the best interest of society to punish criminals and at the same time, keep our communities safe. I'm a believer in hard time for many offenses. The very idea that Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is protecting killers, rapists and child predators with his sanctuary state policies is offensive and dangerous.
How is it OK that an illegal alien accused of raping a child was let out of jail to prove a political point? Sickening. So let's toughen up to make sure that people are safe. I've long help the belief that if you pose a danger to the community you shouldn't be on a list, you should be incarcerated. But for a young person, who made a panicked decision following a traumatic experience to spent a year on our dime locked up makes no sense.
Criminals like her should be forced to pay the community back for their actions. I would have liked to see her sentenced to 5-7 years probation and at least two years of community service. We need to crack down on crime and criminals. But we need to be practical, emotion should not play a part.
Incarcerate anyone who poses a threat. Those who are sorry for what they did and are willing and able to pay for it through service to others should be given that opportunity. But let's face it, what happened here is a travesty of justice.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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