For the second installment of my blog series outlining my 3-step plan, I will elaborate on how I plan to change the culture of the justice system through collaboration.
Step 2: I will collaborate with other professionals in the justice system to create genuine change in the culture in which criminal cases are handled.
In the justice system, there are many individuals involved with even a single client. These individuals include the client’s attorney, the prosecutor, the judge, the police, an investigator, and social worker or other social service providers. As Knox County Public Defender, my team and I would collaborate with all these individuals to broaden the holistic approach.
The first goal of this collaboration will be to educate those active in the justice system, as well as the entire community, about the effectiveness of the holistic approach in reducing repeat offenses. I believe educating others on how this approach leads to safer communities and reduced investment in criminal prosecution will lead to more productive collaborations within the justice system. Though they all may be approaching it from different perspectives or with different duties, everyone involved in criminal justice wants just that, justice. With the cooperation of prosecutors and police, the approval of judges, and even the blessing of victims, the Public Defender’s office and cooperating social service providers can help clients get the help they need to overcome obstacles like drug-addiction, mental illness, and homelessness. In cases where this approach is possible, the results are far superior to incarceration and the stigma of a criminal record.
But the Public Defender’s Office cannot do this alone. It has the duty to show what it has learned to other stakeholders in the justice system about the potential for positive outcomes. With their consent and cooperation, far more clients will be allowed to improve their situation rather than simply be punished for their past deeds. This will lead to a significantly lower number of people stuck in the criminal justice system, allowing them to become productive members of society who can contribute positively to their communities.
To make comments, read more about my 3-step plan, or learn more about me, please visit and like my Facebook page. Early voting is July 17 – August 1, and election day is August 6, so please remember to get out and vote!