20, March 2013
2nd Assignment: “An Effective System”
“Specifically, the growing threat that sexual predators pose to our Nation's children and their families represents an area where our criminal justice system has failed the American people,”(Unknown) is a quote by an American politician of the Republican Party, Paul Gillmor that illustrates the failures of the current American criminal justice system. According to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, the purpose of the criminal justice system is to enforce its distinct agencies: legislative, adjudication and correction to operate together both under the rule of law and as the principal means of maintaining the rule of law within society (UNODC 2). The problem with the system is that, according to William J. Stuntz, a professor at Harvard Law School, the justice system emphasizes on process and procedure rather than principles (Stuntz 3). One of the major failures of the criminal system is that it is adversarial; it focuses on winning rather than discovering the truth. Another issue is that the justice system has given up on rehabilitation. It is just a place where convicts go to be warehoused. Prison makes criminals worse when they come out, instead of trying to get them to stop committing crimes. Also, the fact that the system is incredibly tilted against the poor and minorities is a concerning issue. According to the Dodge County Judge Steven Bauer, an effective justice system should be based on steps such as: problem identification, agenda setting, policy formulation, policy implementation, and policy evaluation (Bauer 4). These steps are necessary to reshape America’s justice system and thus alleviate prison overcrowding. What would be then, an effective solution for American criminal justice system? I believe that an effective criminal justice system should be enforced equally, rigidly and educational. For one, an effective criminal justice system should be enforced equally. Bauer says that our current system is incredibly titled against minority and poor (Bauer 5). According to Zachary R. Dowdy, a writer from the magazine The New Crisis Magazine the system has shown a dramatic increase in imprisoned people over the past 20 years, a phenomenon some criminologists say was fueled by a tough-on-crime tide that began sweeping the nation during the Reagan years and continued under the Clinton administration. He also states that in the start of Reagan's administration in 1980, there were approximately 501,886 prisoners in the nation's prisons and jails, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. In June 2001, there were 1,800,300, a nearly four-fold increase and as of January 2013, the prison population has raised to 14.24 percent according to the agency's data. Of this number, 872,900 were Blacks and 539,361 were Hispanics and/or other minorities (Dowdy 3). In addition, according to Washington Press, the percentage of whites in prison dropped sharply from nearly 60 percent in 1984 to about 35 percent in 2012. It attributed the decrease to a dramatic growth in Hispanics imprisoned on immigration charges from 15 percent to 40 percent (W.Press 16). “’The poor pay more and get more,’” (Gopnik 8) quotes the writer of The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik. The quote shows how poor convicts pay more for bail and get more time in prison. Furthermore, the gap between sentences for blacks and whites widened. While blacks and whites received an average sentence of slightly more than two years in 1984, blacks stay in prison for about six years, compared with about four years for whites (W.Press 19), based on Washington Press records. It is evident that disparities still exist among races and regions among the judicial system in the United States. The judicial system should establish laws that encourage the equality of imprisonment regardless of race and/or ethnicity. The system should also enforce the renewal of personnel. I believe that in order for the system to be...
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