L.A. Judge Gives Women Cons A Chance, And Many Use It Wisely


The Los Angeles Times profiles Judge Michael Tynan, whose fourth-floor courtroom in downtown L.A.’s criminal courts building is crowded with lives in need of redemption. Over the years, the 73-year-old Army veteran with a gruff, no-nonsense voice has taken on populations that others have given up on – the county’s drug addicts, homeless, mentally ill and, in recent years, women parolees. The L.A County Superior Court judge oversees a number of programs known as collaborative or problem-solving courts, designed to address the underlying issues – addictions, mental health, poverty – that lead to repeated arrests and prison terms.
The former public defender has a way of encouraging people – or sometimes scaring them straight – that has made his court-supervised treatment programs successful. Tynan believes that, given the chance and support, people can turn their lives around. Since 2007, Tynan has been running the Second Chance Women’s Re-entry Court program, one of the first in the nation to focus on women in the criminal justice system. Through the court, women facing a return to state prison for nonviolent felonies plead guilty to their crimes and enter treatment instead. Although women make up only a small fraction of prison inmates, their numbers have been climbing for decades at a far steeper rate than men’s. Women are also more likely to be convicted of nonviolent drug or property crimes motivated by addictions or necessity.

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