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A Better Alternative to Blind Justice

Justice is supposed to be blind. Unfortunately, all too often it is

Justice is supposed to be blind. Unfortunately, all too often it is; the blindfold that is so essential in assuring objectivity and impartiality during a trial often blinds a judge to sentencing alternatives that will benefit defendants and society alike. Alternative courts, also called “Community Courts” allow judges to remove sentencing blindfolds and enables them to administer a different form of justice. One that offers options other than time behind bars.

According to Tracey Mason Blasi, an attorney with over 20 years of experience, who is currently a candidate for Gwinnett County Superior Court, “I have served as a municipal judge, and as a professional mediator, and have also worked to settle cases outside the courtroom. When you can mediate and avoid a trial, it saves everybody time and money and often leads to settlements that would be extremely difficult or impossible to achieve in court. Mediation can be a VERY effective alternative, and that's why I'm working to promote more Community Courts—they are very effective alternatives.”

Gwinnett County already has an alternative court for drug offenders. Ms. Blasi wants to establish one for mentally ill defendants. The rationale behind her efforts is simple-- alternative courts are significantly more effective than traditional courts in reducing crime. In Gwinnett County, and across the nation, jails are filled with repeat offenders; it's not unusual for these offenders to be sentenced to jail 10 times in a 15 year period. These aren’t hardened criminals. They’re people who have fallen into a lifestyle of committing petty crimes as a result of drug abuse, drug dependency or mental health issues.

The intent of alternative courts isn’t to offer soft-on-crime options, or to give criminals a free pass, but to address specific core issues that lead to criminal behavior, rather than the consequences of that behavior. And that's the key to their success. If you can control the cause, you can eliminate the result.

It's creative approaches like this that have made Ms. Blasi the candidate of choice for Gwinnett County voters. And her extensive work defending taxpayers against overreaching government agencies, previous judicial experience and a life-long familiarity with Gwinnett County add a unique dimension. One that is essential in a Superior Court judge.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Denna Millard August 17, 2012 at 01:05 PM
You have made a very good point. I do believe many "criminals?" have mental and or financial issues that most likely could be solved in an alternative court where HELP could be given. The continuing to sentence repeaters to jail time over and over does not solve the problem but exerbates it!
Dave Emanuel August 17, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Denna- Your comment speaks directly to the purpose of alternative courts. They're designed to deal with people who commit crimes as a result of what are essentially non-criminal factors. They are not an option for habitual criminals who choose to live a crime-based lifestyle.
Crystal Huskey (Editor) August 17, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Thanks for bringing this subject up Mr. Emanuel. Very informative.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew August 18, 2012 at 03:39 AM
That indeed is one of the ways primary competition helps the general public by bringing issues up for consideration and hopefully adoption, if found valid by the eventual winner in the contest.

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