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The application of justice may not be just

The symbol of the court system is often the figure of Justice, depicted as an enrobed woman wearing a blindfold, holding scales in her hand. Justice is blind because she is supposed to dispense justice without regard to position or power. Said another way, if you do the crime, you'll do the time.

That is how it is supposed to be. A recent study from the Pew Charitable Trusts suggests that there is a significant variation in the types of punishment that are handed out depending on the states where you are arrested and convicted.

Missouri was found to be the 17th most punitive of the states. As the director of the study noted, it is policy that drives this variation, not the type of crimes. Many states are changing their sentencing policies, as they find the lock-everyone-up-and-throw-away-the-key policies that typified the 1990s have become unsustainable on many fronts, both in terms of cost to the state in direct monetary expenditures and the damage they do to the people incarcerated.

The consequence of convictions can be devastating. They can make it difficult or impossible to obtain housing, student loans and often a job. Because of the poor record most states have done in providing rehabilitation services or assistance once an inmate is released, many individuals have difficulty rejoining the non-incarcerated society.

Avoiding conviction in the first place is the best solution. Given the complexities of the criminal justice system and the procedure of the courts, an attorney is often necessary to help minimize the consequences of any criminal charges.

Source: columbiatribune.com, "Study finds Missouri has high incarceration rates relative to crime," Alan Burdziak, March 26, 2016

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