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DIY Alternative Sentencing or Extortion?

Joe Palazzolo and Sarah Nassauer report for the WSJ:

Until recently, a first-time shoplifter caught in any of about 2,000 Wal-Mart stores got a choice: pay hundreds of dollars, complete an education program and all will be forgiven--or don't and potentially face prosecution.

Corrective Education Co. and Turning Point Justice, Utah-based companies that provide the programs, emerged in recent years as alternatives to the often-overtaxed criminal justice system. They spare law-enforcement resources and hold offenders accountable without leaving the scar of a criminal conviction, their supporters say.

But Wal-Mart Stores Inc., one of the biggest clients of Turning Point and Corrective Education, suspended the programs earlier this month as more local officials questioned the legality of asking people for money under threat of criminal sanctions, though it said it found the programs effective at reducing shoplifting and calls to police.

The move followed a ruling from a California court in August finding that Corrective Education's program violates state extortion laws.


What's your view on the correctness of the court's decision? This looks like a bad result--but it may also be unlawful.

I'm inclined to think the judge is correct.

Why pay hundreds of dollars to a private entity when you can be placed in a diversion program and have your conviction expunged courtesy of the taxpayers. The public program will be much less rigorous to boot.

1.] "The average-sized police department spends more than $2,000 responding to a single theft [says Rand Corp.]."The police department in Arlington, Texas, attributed a 50% reduction in retailer calls .. more than 12,000 police hours—in part to the adoption of Corrective Education programs by Wal-Mart." "in about 2,000 of its
4,700 U.S. stores, said Mr. Schrauder [Wal-Mart VP of Asset Protection]. He attributed a 30% decline in shoplifting incidents in 2016".

~ Nah, we wouldn't want any of that.~

2.] Rep. John Lesch, a Minnesota state lawmaker who introduced legislation .. [said] they shouldn’t create a parallel justice system,".
~ What part of voluntary doesn't he understand? Shoplifters can always be turned over to law enforcement at taxpayers' expense so that shoplifters "potentially face prosecution". Shoplifters should be thankful for such a diversion. [h/t mjs]

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