⌚ Criminal Justice System Is Not Fair Essay

Wednesday, October 06, 2021 4:39:50 PM

Criminal Justice System Is Not Fair Essay

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PHIL 10200 Monday Plenary Lecture, 10/11/2021

What is the proper role of a criminal justice system in a liberal democracy? Take, for example, the Shreveport, LA, ordinance that made it illegal to wear saggy pants. But despite that fact and the massive push towards decriminalization, the number of arrests for marijuana offenses has been rising , not falling. For example, in Virginia, where I live, there were nearly 29, arrests for marijuana offenses—triple the number from It is immoral to use force against another person without sufficient justification, and that is true even when the perpetrator is acting at the behest of the state. Nor should it represent a sufficient constitutional justification for employing state violence, but unfortunately—and to its immense discredit—our judiciary says otherwise.

Unconstitutional overcriminalization could never have become the menace it is today if all criminal charges were adjudicated using the constitutionally prescribed mechanism of a jury trial. But the government has hacked yet another key constraint against the abuse of criminal law by replacing expensive, inefficient, and uncertain jury trials with a method of adjudicating criminal charges that is cheap, efficient, and certain: coercive plea bargaining. Indeed, so proficient have prosecutors become at inducing people to condemn themselves that more than 95 percent of all criminal convictions today come from guilty pleas rather than jury trials. Inducing people to condemn themselves is an inherently squalid business, particularly in a system that purports to guarantee something as precious—from the standpoint of the accused—as a jury trial.

Think of it this way: How on earth would you get someone to choose the certainty of conviction and punishment if they plead guilty over the possibility of acquittal and freedom if they exercise their constitutional right to require the government to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a unanimous jury? The answer is pressure—and lots of it. Again, I have written extensively about the various coercive levers routinely employed by prosecutors to elicit guilty pleas from the guilty and innocent alike. Coercing criminal defendants into waiving their constitutional right to a jury trial is of course patently unconstitutional.

Thus, for example, in a case called Bordenkircher v. And in a case involving the spy Jonanthan Pollard, the D. Again, trial by jury is a relatively expensive and inefficient mechanism for adjudicating criminal charges, and it ensures that neither the government nor society at large takes lightly the act of condemning human beings and putting them in cages. The areas of concentrated incarceration are in predominately minority districts. This is the case in cities throughout the United States. The committee also found strong evidence that these places are among the most economically and socially disadvantaged sections of U. Thus, there is little doubt about this portion of the argument: prisoners come from and return to a narrow group of neighborhoods, very disadvantaged ones.

Two other aspects of the coercive mobility argument are less clear. First, there is some evidence that this concentration pattern is criminogenic, but other researchers have not found evidence that this pattern increases crime above and beyond what would generally be expected for similar neighborhoods. Some additional research has also provided support. Second, critical to this notion is that there is a tipping point below which incarceration benefits communities, but above which high levels of coercive mobility increases crime rates. The research evidence does indicate that there is a nonlinear relationship between imprisonment and crime, which suggests that there is such a tipping point, but criminologists to date have not been able to settle on where that tipping point is.

After considering the evidence, the NRC committee concluded that it did not allow for affirmation that high levels of imprisonment cause crime in these neighborhoods. Interestingly, the committee reported that an analytically major problem for examining this thesis is that it is too hard—indeed, virtually impossible—to find enough white neighborhoods with the same levels of either imprisonment or disadvantage that exists routinely in many African American communities in nearly every major American city to allow for meaningful analysis.

Cities in the United States are still far too racially segregated to make the analytic comparisons that are necessary, and the minority neighborhoods are where the disadvantaged are concentrated and from where prisoners are disproportionally drawn. So, although the committee could not affirm that high levels of incarceration increases crime in disadvantaged minority neighborhoods, it did find that the quantitative evidence is suggestive of that pattern.

And a number of ethnographers—who have been spending time in these communities and watching how families, friendship networks, and communities are faring—are adding additional evidence that indicates that high levels of imprisonment, concentrated in disadvantaged communities of color, are indeed criminogenic. Researchers are increasingly finding that both the collateral consequences of imprisonment, and living in communities from which many of the imprisoned come from and return to, do have detrimental effects.

And these effects are visited upon the reentering individual, on their families, and on the communities at large. It has been well established that men, whether or not they have been to prison, are less likely to be involved in crime if they are in stable intimate relationships, employed gainfully, and living in decent housing. And for those returning from prison, those who establish these life patterns are more likely to have successful reentry to their communities. Importantly, a large proportion of men being released from prison hopes to and expects to live with their children. But families and children are negatively affected when parents go into prison, as well as when they return. Unfortunately, in places characterized by high levels of incarceration, there are additional challenges.

Studies of the effects of high incarceration rates in neighborhoods in Oakland have found that important institutions—families and schools, as well as businesses and criminal justice personnel, such as police and parole officers—have become reconfigured to focus on marginalized young boys, increasing the chances that they become more marginalized and involved in crime. Other studies in similar places in Philadelphia have also found that high levels of imprisonment undermined familial, employment, and community relationships, increasing the likelihood of criminal involvement. Additionally, researchers in San Francisco, St. Louis, Seattle, and Washington, D.

Substantial policy changes that create more robust state efforts to support individuals during reentry will not only help them, but their families and the places they return to as well. More ominously, evidence indicates that these patterns likely have a vicious intergenerational cycle. Children of individuals who have been imprisoned have reduced educational attainment, which obviously bodes ill for their future economic competitiveness. This means that in places with high levels of incarceration, this practice is contributing to another generation that has a heightened likelihood of living in disadvantaged communities.

Additionally, researchers have found that judges are more likely to sentence children who come before the juvenile court more harshly if they come from disadvantaged neighborhoods than from more stable communities—yet again continuing the cycle of people moving from disadvantaged places to prison, which makes those neighborhoods more marginalized, which then increases the likelihood of the state removing more people, both juveniles and adults, into the corrections system.

There is an obvious and very straightforward answer to the policy question of how to confront the negative effects of mass incarceration—and that is to reduce it. Mass incarceration did not come about because of substantial increases in crime, but rather because of a set of policy choices that the nation has made. The same simple answer will address the policy question of how to confront the negative impact of mass incarceration on communities of color. Taking this step—reducing mass incarceration—will have profound effects on these communities, because they have disproportionally suffered from the increases in incarceration.

And for anyone who may worry, there is no evidence to suggest that a move away from the high level of imprisonment, which characterizes the United States more than any other nation in the world, will result in a substantial increase in crime. Another important way to address the problems for communities of color is to reduce the residential racial and economic segregation that continues to cause problems for social life in the United States. Admittedly, aiming for this goal will place greater challenges on policymakers and the public alike. The good news is that there are efforts under way that, if moved forward, would mitigate some of the problems caused by the collateral consequences from imprisonment and some of the negative effects of coercive mobility on communities of color.

If passed, bills such as this would mandate that defendants be advised of all of the collateral consequences that formally accompany felony convictions at the time of sentencing and how they might be mitigated. Furthermore, most criminal defense lawyers themselves do not know about or understand the range of collateral consequences that their clients face. It is hoped that discussions around the proposed Uniform Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions Act would have the collateral benefit of pressing policymakers to seek out means by which they might mitigate the negative consequences. Since the majority of convictions are the result of plea agreements, defendants might be better informed of the consequences of their decisions.

Virgin Islands, have either enacted or introduced bills that contain elements of the model bill. States may also elect to opt out of some of the federally mandated collateral consequences for some convictions. This is especially problematic for the families of the convicted, because they are then faced with the choice of receiving these benefits or turning away from the stigmatized family member. The latter option is hard on the maintenance of families and removes from the formerly incarcerated important support systems that enable successful reentry. States are permitted by Congress to opt out of these penalties, but their legislatures need to formally affirmatively enact laws to not have those sanctions applied in their state.

Before federal and state lawmakers decided to get tough on crime by increasing sentencing, most jurisdictions had more robust community services providers for returning prisoners. They were called parole officers. The role of these agents varied from place to place; some of the agents emphasized the police and enforcement aspects of the job, but others emphasized their roles to assist with what is now called reentry. Unfortunately, with the elimination of parole in some states, restrictions on it elsewhere, and declines in budgets for these services, too few people are charged with the responsibility to aid in the reentry process.

This is a problem for both the returning individuals and for their families and communities. For example, now that the state of Washington has legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the state is in the process of releasing inmates currently held for possession convictions. One of the young men about to be released told a visiting academic researcher that he was worried because he had no home to return to, no job, and few prospects to help him when he stepped out of the prison door. As far as he knew, the state would not be providing him with reentry assistance.

These programs have again enjoyed tremendous success as first and foremost, prison crowding is checked and with it the lack of money to expand correctional facilities. The work assigned is tailored to ensure that it is meaningful in terms of prisoner rehabilitation. House arrest coupled with electronic monitoring is a concept that incorporates both old and new ways of meting out punishment. A probation officer is tasked with ensuring that the offender is always accounted for. House arrest, although relatively new, has been a success. It saves on jail and prison bed space thus saving on rising prison costs.

It also avoids the stigma that is associated with going to jail. Many people find that fitting back into the community after serving a lengthy jail term difficult. This is preferable to prison as reintegration ceases to be an issue. One can also receive tailor made programs to help them out in the confines of their own home. Finally, other intermediate sentencing alternatives include fines for, say, traffic fines. Asset forfeiture is carried out in the war against organized crime as it takes the profit motive out of crime.

Restitution is another form of economic sanction that can be used together with probation. Economic sanctions save on money, bed space and are also a source of revenue for the government. Tenets of Community and restorative justice models. Community service programs have been in existence in the U. Initially, legislators believed that these programs would address the issue of over crowded prisons with non violent offenders not having to be incarcerated.

Community service provided offenders with a chance to make restitution to their victims in lieu of imprisonment. These programs have been very popular with the public as it is the community that suffers psychological injury from the fear of crime as well as intangible rising costs such as insurance. Community service is a reparative action that links the nature of the service to the offence whilst reducing the burden on the criminal justice system. They offer a viable and less costly alternative to incarceration. Their utility is in their variety as they range from interventions that result in offenders being removed from the system even before the adjudication process that results in prison sentences has began.

Restorative justice is an emerging trend in juvenile justice. This philosophy is based on among other values, that offender, victims and the community should be included in the response to the crime. Another basic principle behind this model is that accountability is based on the offenders understanding the harm caused by their actions, accepting responsibility and making amends Godwin, The government and local authorities should complement each others efforts in crime response. Accountability is key to the success of the restorative justice model as society is usually at a crossroads on whom to blame especially where juvenile crime is concerned. The individual responsibility of the concerned person cannot be ignored.

Schools, communities and families should all ensure that offenders make amends for losses occasioned by their delinquency. This is markedly different from incarceration where all that matters is that the offender is kept away from society. This model requires offenders to redress the victims and the community in general for the harm caused through provision of community services, monetary restitution etc.

For it to be fully beneficial, it should have a component that educates young people on the impact of their actions on others. Community and restorative justice models differ from the traditional punitive models as the latter views crime as an act against the state whilst the more modern model sees crime as being personal and also as a violation of the community. In the traditional model, crime is viewed as an individual act with individual responsibility but in the emerging model, it has both an individual and social dimension. Victims are also on the periphery in comparison to restorative justice which sees the victim as being central to resolving the crime.

Other stark contrasts include punishment and retribution being the sole objective of the old ways. In the emerging models of justice, accountability entails assuming responsibility and making amends. Finally, reconciliation and restoration are achieved in restorative justice through pain and mediation. These approaches have received more support and acceptance mainly because they are cost effective and they have no stigma attached to them. Restorative justice has numerous benefits to various sectors of society.

To the wider community, it provides an opportunity for a diverse range of relationships to form while at the same time promoting healing and restoring harmony. The benefits to the justice system are also worth mentioning as it provides alternative sentencing and improved victim satisfaction with the justice process. Lastly, these new emerging models recognize and respond to cultural diversity. This is achieved by taking advantage of resources that are already available within the family and the community. In conclusion, the restorative justice model focuses beyond retribution to reconciliation.

Being a victim centered approach, it offers an opportunity to the victim to find healing and find answers to such questions as why the crime was committed, how the offender can be made accountable and how to enable the community to overcome its fear of crime. This model has been a definite success as offenders restored in this way have a lower chance of re-offending and it leaves community members satisfied. Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email. Please, specify your valid email address.

Remember that this is just a sample essay and since it might not be original, we do not recommend to submit it. However, we might edit this sample to provide you with a plagiarism-free paper. Search for: Search. References Alarid, L. Community-Based Corrections. Clunies, S. Cole, G. The American System of Criminal Justice. Gaines, L. Criminal Justice in Action: The Core.

Related Issues Capital Punishment. Murder is wrong and must be punished, for instance, because God says it so. States are permitted by Criminal Justice System Is Not Fair Essay to opt out of these penalties, but their legislatures need to formally affirmatively enact laws to not have those sanctions Criminal Justice System Is Not Fair Essay in their state. No St Francis Research Paper is going to kill everybody who meets certain preset verbal requirements, put on the statute books without awareness of coverage of the infinity of Criminal Justice System Is Not Fair Essay factors the real Criminal Justice System Is Not Fair Essay can produce.

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