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Letter: kindness – what effect?

12 Jun 19

Data should be provided on whether the "kindness courts" really make a difference

by Andrew Horne

At the end of the article “Shared humanity” (Journal, April 2019, 18), a sheriff who asked for data supporting the success of treating people with kindness was brushed off: “Surely you only need basic humanity rather than statistics.”

With all respect, dismissing the sheriff’s question in this way missed the point altogether. While no rational person can dispute that treating people with dignity and respect is meritorious, such concepts are not capable of measurement but rely on anecdotal evidence, which is no evidence at all.

The only statistic cited is that 70% of people who elected to participate in a “court of refuge” achieved compliance. Putting aside the fact that compliance is not defined, which makes it intrinsically difficult to measure, Florida’s overall recidivism rate is about 33%, meaning that the level of compliance of those who appear before traditional courts is not statistically different.

While there has been a trend towards creating different courts for different purposes, the creation of a court with kindness and respect as its principal value is not something to celebrate, but something of which we should be ashamed. All the thousands of judges in the United States should be capable of treating others as they would like to be treated, regardless of the crime charged. A judge who requires reminding of his or her own humanity has no place on the bench.

Andrew Horne, solicitor/attorney, New York

 

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