Criminal Justice Theory Essay
The Criminal Justice system has many issues that need to be addressed, for instance how the police uses racial profiling when it comes to making arrest, how the courts prosecute the defendants, how the prisoners are treated after they are sentenced, how they treat the mentally ill prisoners, especially the minorities - Criminal Justice Theory Essay introduction. First of all the criminal justice system is not fair, the word fair is defined by Webster’s dictionary as marked by impartiality and honesty, free from self interest, prejudice and favoritism.
All criminal justice processes are rooted in the criminal law, which influenced by ideology and politics, and which is tilted in favor of special interests. Ideological and political concerns drive criminal justice policy, meaning policies are typically created and supported to the degree they serve the moral and financial interests of those who propose and create them rather than the interests of society as a whole. This just shows that the criminal justice system is not objective. The criminal justices are plagued by many prejudices, meaning they are not just. The criminal justice system disproportionately hurt minorities more than whites.
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The attitude of the modern criminal justice system is hateful and is aimed at revenge, meaning that the justice system is not dispassionate. The criminal justice system is described as the interdependent components of the police, courts and correctional facilities within the federal government, as well as the agencies of criminal justice of each of the fifty states. The criminal justice system is made up of three parts, the police, courts, and correctional facilities; they are expected to work together as a whole. There common purpose is to reduce crime and do justice.
When fighting crime to achieve justice the police, courts and corrections personnel should refrain from behaving in a way that might threaten justice as a process. Members of the courtroom should act first as officers of the court, therefore not violating their commitment to the ethics of their profession. Judges also should be fair in administering sentences and should ensure that prosecutors and defense attorneys follow the law. Finally, correctional facilities should not permit offenders to be assaulted or unduly humiliated for the sake of the enjoyment or empowerment of their employees.
Punishment should be administered humanely and fairly. Well, we all know that this does not take place. Let us look at how they label crimes, there are serious crimes such as homicides, forcible rape, aggravated assault, robbery, and arson to name a few then there are white-collar crimes or corporate crimes, which are viewed as less serious. Presumably, because it is assumed that they cause less physical and financial damage, they occur less frequently than street crimes and are less widespread. This is not true either; corporate crimes cause financial damage to the less fortunate.
For example Enron, there employees were encouraged to invest their pension funds into Enron stock while top management was selling $1. 2 billion in stock, lost more than $ 1. 3 billion in retirement funds, and institutional investors, many of which were pension funds, seem to have lost a mind boggling $ 25 to $50 billion worth of retirement funds. Overall, investors lost about $63 billion. The employee’s loss all their money and now they are broke and have no pension funds for retirement. The criminal law is unjust because it ignores the most harmful acts against Americans and it does not hold the perpetrator accountable for their acts.
Even though they went after these particular people, all they received was a slap on the wrist and nothing was done to get the employees their money back. Innocent Bias in Policing Since police investigate alleged crimes and are the primary entry point for cases into the criminal justice system, innocent bias continues with their activities. The main source of innocent bias in policing are disproportionate focus on street crime and disproportionate location of most police officers in the urban areas. It is inevitable that there will be disparities in stop and arrest rates between whites and blacks.
It is also certain that force will more likely be used against blacks than against whites. There is no crime data that shows blacks commit more crimes than whites do, but because the police disproportionately focus on street crimes and are disproportionately located in urban areas, they are more likely to encounter, approach, stop, question, detain, arrest and use force against the people who live there. The people who live in urban areas are more likely to be poor and black. Because the police are given wide discretion to decide how to behave and when to act all stereotypes they, carry will be detrimental to those who have been stereotyped.
Innocent Bias in Courts After a person is arrested and booked the court takes over. We see innocent bias in decisions related to charging, release through bail or use of preventive detention, plea-bargaining, and some stages of the criminal trial. We also see disparities based on the differential access to private versus public attorneys. The prosecutors have the power in the courts, they single handedly decide whether charges will be pressed against a defendant and what charges will pursued. Prosecutors are not disinterested, objective actors concerned with fairness.
Instead, they are representatives of the state and its crime control apparatus. They are concerned with clearing the cases from the court’s dockets and winning as many cases as they can by obtaining criminal convictions. Similarly, in “Prison nation, warehousing of america’s poor, Stephen Bright, speaks about some of the same issues as mention above, like for instance, in order for the government to save money they award contracts for representing indigent defendants to lawyers who submits the lowest bid. Many of these lawyers are paid less than minimum wage to defend the poor.
Many of these lawyers do not specialize in criminal law and cannot put up the best defense for their clients. In some states, the judges appoint lawyers to defend the poor and they do not always appoint lawyers that are capable to defend the poor. The Judges are more concern with getting the docket calendar cleared up as fast as possible. This is all about politics; the lawyers that are chosen for these cases are loyal contributors to the campaign of these judges. Poor and African American people are disproportionately arrested and make up the largest share of the court’s clients.
They are more likely to be charged with serious crimes and are regularly denied bail and held in detention until their trial. They are also less able to afford bail when it is granted. The majority of the court clients are indigent and cannot afford a private attorney. They are provided a public defendant that usually encourages them to plea guilty because their caseloads are so high that they do not have time to prepare for the defendants case. There is a big problem with plea bargaining which is, it is unjust, and it fails to respect due process requirements and does not achieve justice as a rocess, thereby assuring that some innocent people plead guilty for crimes they did not commit. Innocent bias in Corrections Corrections represent the end of the criminal justice system. This is the best place to look for unfairness in the criminal justice system. African Americans are over-represented among nearly all correctional populations. According to “The Sentencing Project 2003” more than 90% of state prisoners are male, more than two-thirds of state prisoners did not complete high school, nearly half of prison inmates are African American.
African American males are disproportionately likely to be under all forms of correctional supervision. At the end of 2001, black males between the ages of 20 and 39 years made up 34% of all state and federal prisons inmates. The war on crime is clearly having its greatest effect on African American males. According to the bureau of Justice Statistics (2003), they report that by mid 2002, 12. 9 % of all African American male between the ages of 25 and 29 years were in prison, versus 1. 6 % Caucasian males. As for probation, at the end of 2001, Caucasians made up 55% of probationers and African Americans made up 31%.
In, “Prison nation”, Paul Street, speaks about the large amount of African Americans that are incarcerated. He talks about how white youths look forward to going on trips with “Mom and Dad” to begin academic careers at universities but black youths are more likely to go on a trip with armed guards to begin their prison careers at a state prison. We see that there are more blacks entering the prisons on drug offenses than graduating from state universities. In some urban areas, incarceration is so prevalent, that many youths think that this is a normal part of life.
They know someone who is in jail or have been to jail. Then we have the death penalty, which has the same disparities, the death sentences are most likely when African Americans murder Caucasians. There have been many innocent people put to death, which show the unfairness of the criminal justice system. From these statistics, it is clear who is suffering most from the criminal justice policies young poor African Americans are most affected by mass imprisonment. From what I have written we can see how unfair the criminal justice system is.
The most unfair is the criminal law, which is unjust in defining some harmful acts as serious crimes and other not. Street crimes cause less damage than corporate crimes do, but they mainly focus on the street crimes. Some corporate crimes does not directly encourage street crimes, but indirectly they have a devastating impact by creating social problems, such as poverty, unemployment, bad housing and poor educational systems, which cause high rates of street crimes. Similarly, Christian Parenti speaks about how the prison system is unfair in “Lock down America police and prisons in the age of crisis’.
We need to ask the question who goes to jail, we see that more people go to jail for less violent crimes, 29% of prison admission are for violent crimes, 31% are for property offences and 30 percent for drug offences. We need to understand why there is such an increase in the amount of people going to jail. Well, this all started in the 80’s, because of an increase in poverty and the social dislocation of deindustrialization. The criminal justice buildup was not necessarily designed with class and racial containment as it sole aim.
In many ways, the incarceration binge is simply the policy by product of the right wing electoral rhetoric. Because of the change in the economic status, people of color were cast as parasites, and violent predicators pilfering middle class America by means of Great Society programs as AFDC and Head start. The politicians won the elections by making up crimes which eventually escalates into actual policymaking, such as federal crime bills and more than one thousand new criminal justice statues created by the California state legislature in the late 80’s and early 90’s, this led to increasing rates of incarceration.
Christian also speaks about prison’s main function is to terrorize the poor, warehouse social dynamite and social wreckage. The way that inmates are treated in prison is barbaric, for instance, the book talks about an inmate that was taken from his cell and taken to an exercise yard where two Latinos were also placed and the began to fight and the correction officer stood there and watch after several round of pounding, swinging and grappling the Officers fire a single shot into the head of the black prisoner and he died.
This was not the first time that this happened, 175 prisoners were shot by California prison guards and 27 died. These cases were investigated and only two guards were punished. The guards allow the inmates to cause bodily harm to other inmates. The ones who receive the most abuse are the African American inmates. While the FBI investigate what is going on in the prisons the guard continue to torture African Americans. Inmates are raped and allowed to form gangs that terrorize the new inmates. The guards actually participate in some of the rape and torture.
He also speaks about how small town are using prisons for capital gain, like for instance in 1994 Rome New York lost 5000 jobs when the air force base closed down and they lost 430 more jobs from a tool company in nearby Utica NY. Some of the best jobs belong to the 2612 people employed at four nearby prisons. The Rome Chamber of Commerce started lobbying for new dungeons in hope that they will capture jobs paying $36,000 a year. In this case, prison was clearly a local solution to, military and defense contractor restructuring; other areas of the country offer similar examples.
Christian recommendations are we need less, less policing, less incarceration, shorter sentences, less surveillance, fewer laws governing individual behavior, and less puritanical concern with “freaks” and “deviants”. The prisons are filled with people who commit non-violent offenses and they pose no major threat to public safety. He feels that in our time and age there are many programs that can help get these people on the right track. They are not very expensive and they are very effective.
I personally agree with Parenti as far as the need for less. I believe that prison is for violent criminals that pose a threat to public safety. Prison should not be a place to just put people to get them off the street or a rehabilitation center for people who are on drugs. I believe that taxpayer’s money could be use on more effective programs. Mentally ill in prison There are approximately four hundred thousand or more people with mental illness in the criminal justice system according to the Human Rights Watch article, “Ill-equipped: U.
S. prisons and offenders with mental illness”. The reason that there are so many mentally ill in prison is because the inadequate community mental health services and the country is punitive criminal justice policies. There have been several hospitals that were shutdown in the last couple of decades as part of “deinstitutionalization”, the community based health services were supposed to replace but they were never adequately developed. The poor and homeless were unable to receive the treatment that they need.
Being that they were ignored and neglect and unable to take care of their basic needs, they started committing crimes which lead to the massive number of people being incarcerated. By deinstitutionalizing this gave a large number of mentally ill people the opportunity to leave the hospitals, but again because of lack of federal funding the mental health services were not able to provide the services that they need. The courts use to sentence mentally ill people to state hospitals and because of the closures they are being sentenced to the prisons. The prisons are not equipped to treat the mentally ill efficiently.
Prisons are rough enough for a regular inmate, so image how tough it has to be for a person with a mental illness, they have to follow the same rules as the rest of the inmates, which caused them to break the rules and be sent into isolation. The mentally ill are more likely to be abused by other inmates’ mental sound as well as other mentally ill. They are vulnerable to assault, sexual abuse, exploitation, and extortion. When the mentally ill break the rules, they are punished without regards to their mental status, this mainly because the staff is not trained on how to deal with the mental ill.
They come to work with fears and prejudice of the general population toward the mentally ill. The guards are suppose to protect the staff and inmates from harm, they are suppose to use necessary force when needed, but they do not follow this rule they use excessive force against the mental ill inmates. This also shows that the criminal laws are unfair for trying someone that is incapable of either understanding the charge or presenting a defense and it is unfair to punish someone for conduct that he cannot appreciate or control.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the mentally ill serve more time on average than other inmates. They average a total of 103 months in prison, fifteen months longer than other offenders do. They serve an additional twelve months for violent and property offences. Because of their disciplinary records as well as their mental illness, they are at greater risk than others of being denied parole when brought before the parole board. There are many court case brought against the correctional facilities for the way that the mentally ill, and minority inmates are being treated.
We see just how unfair the criminal justice system is to people who are economically disabled. There are several state and local programs that can be effective such as the School Based Probation, which is designed to supervise youths and to shift the primary location of probation operations to the school environment, the Detention center incarceration program, which is to provide intermediate sanction for adults probationers, integrated community based and jail-linked programs for persons with mental illness, which would, minimized the amount of mentally ill people that are in jails.
These programs can run with funds from the state and local governments. They can also train the correctional staff to identify the signs of and the nature of mental illness, which would enable them to better assist the mental health staff. This would help to identify and deal with individuals with mental health issues. Maybe this would help to eliminate the unfairness of the criminal justice system.