Aug 19, 2012
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. (Alternative courts are not an option for defendants who actively pursue crime-based lifestyle.)
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.