2011 will go down as one of the most interesting years for criminal justice fans and followers. Of course we had the big name cases like Casey Anthony, Amanda Knox, Conrad Murray and Rod Blagojevich. But we also had major reform in California and Federal Crack Cocaine sentencing laws.
In both the California realignment case and Federal Crack Cocaine reform, many inmates were released immediately from custody. While these were great positives and steps in the right direction, the media coverage and biased reporting on other cases seemed to send our system backwards.
The Casey Anthony case was lost due to an arrogant and lazy prosecution, while the Conrad Murray case provided disappointing ratings for the media. So, the quest for the next “Big Case” will go on. Once again we see that people are fascinated with our criminal justice system and how it works. Now the trick is to continue to raise awareness on how the system works and how it can be made better.
This insider is particularly interested in the Amanda Knox case. Not only did Knox serve time in Italy for a heinous crime, she was eventually acquitted just like Casey Anthony. Yet, as predicted, Knox has had a much nicer and more welcoming reception. Her re-entry has been much easier than that of Anthony. This goes to show you the power of the media and how everybody associated with these trials helped to shape our opinions.
2011 was also a record year for this insider. I had the privilege to work with some amazing clients. Some were very well known and others were not, but their stories and the stories of their families are always similar. Prison is a great equalizer. It is the only employer that does not discriminate. Additionally, I had the opportunity to work on many great media projects that I hope shined a realistic and positive light on our system and the people in it. It is a waste to criticize without offering solutions, and so I always tried to offer solutions while providing my unique take on the case and situation.
2011 also proved to me that re-entry while difficult is possible, and that a free and productive life can be had by all of us. I made many new friends, reconnected with old ones and even built a twitter following! And lastly, I had the support of my children and family. This transition has not been easy but there is nothing more gratifying or worthwhile. I encourage everybody struggling with prison and re-entry to work hard, get honest and embrace freedom.
Here’s a thank you to my best year ever and a wish for a free and happy 2012.