The Honorable Desiree Charbonnet, J.D. ’94, has been featured in an Atlantic Magazine article titled “A Judge Embraces Diversion.” The piece details Charbonnet’s efforts to shift non-violent offenders from incarceration to rehabilitation programs.
This shift is in part about recognizing the humanity in people who appear in her court, but also about getting better results. When it comes to nonviolent misdemeanors, high incarceration rates “have really not done anything for public safety,” Charbonnet says. Jail time does not effectively deter certain crimes rooted in social issues like addiction, poverty, or mental illness, according to a2007 study by the Vera Institute of Justice. Charbonnet has been a front-row witness to the cycles of arrest, missed court dates, unpaid fines and fees, and incarceration that lead many to appear before her time after time.
Photo Credit: Edmund D. Fountain / Narratively / Vera Institute of Justice