Sheriff launches initiative to address the revolving door of criminal justice system | Paterson Times

Sheriff launches initiative to address the revolving door of criminal justice system


An initiative designed toughen punishment sentences for repeat offenders to put an end to the revolving door in the criminal justice system was announced earlier today by Passaic County sheriff Richard Berdnik.

The multi-agency initiative will target ingrained offenders who engage in recurring narcotics related and violent offenses. Perpetrators will be evaluated during prosecution based on criminal background and charges will be measured in a way to figure whether federal prosecution will result in longer sentences.

“By taking the repeat criminals out of the revolving door of the State criminal justice system and working with our partners in Federal Law enforcement, we will ensure longer sentences for our areas worse criminals,” said Berdnik.

The sheriff said several federal and local agencies will sign a memorandum of understanding to ensure the worst offenders are put away for good. The current state statutes do little to deter offenders from repetitive criminal behavior, said Berdnik.

However, the sheriff said, the federal sentencing system which takes into account a criminal’s history, through a point system, is much more rigorous in addresses the revolving door. In federal prosecution, points are added for each offense, and these are tallied during sentencing.

“This initiative puts the Passaic County Sheriff’s and Prosecutor’s Office, and Federal Agencies like the Drug Enforcement Agency and United State Attorney’s Office, together in a program that will allow repeat criminals to be tried and sentenced under the Federal Criminal System,” said the sheriff.

After the memorandum is signed by the Passaic County Sheriff’s and Prosecutor’s Offices along with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the United States Attorneys’ Office, Berdnik is hoping the program will be launched on September 1st, 2014.

“This new initiative should send a message to the criminals of Passaic County that if you get caught multiple times, you will be prosecuted and, when possible, spend the second half of your criminal career in a Federal Prison,” said the sheriff. “This should be a significant criminal deterrent.”

Berdnik said the program will run for six months after which the agencies will measure its effectiveness and decided whether to undergo an expansion or make adjustments.

“I am confident that once fully implemented, this initiative will help stop the incarceration revolving door for violent offenders, such as those arrested with possession of a weapon and violent gang members,” said Berdnik.