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The role of the criminal justice system

March 3, 2009 - Mark Leberfinger

What are the appropriate roles of the criminal justice system?

This question strikes at the heart of the raging debate over whether the Blair County Court of Common Pleas, through its Drug Court, should have loaned money to a drug court participant so she could have an abortion.

You can read Phil Ray's story here. This may be the first case of its kind in Pennsylvania and the country, at least the one that was first exposed to public light and scrutiny.

Traditionally, the roles of the criminal justice system are twofold: one, defend, protect and obey the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions and two, provide equal justice for both defendants and victims.

Does what occurred here fall under one of those traditional roles?

Should the court lend money -- or give the money, free and clear, to fund an abortion? How does this further justice? Will this prevent a reoccurrence of the criminal behavior that landed the person into the county's drug court in the first place?

Does it matter that the money came from a fund created through a court-ordered assessment on those defendants before the drug court?

Does this further the ideals of justice, particularly when Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva told the Mirror that the drug court has paid for medical care for 30 pregnant women whose babies were born drug-free?

What do you think?

 
 

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