Challenges of a Criminal Justice Administrator

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Challenges of a Criminal Justice Administrator

Criminal Justice Administration

Abstract

A major dilemma of criminal justice in a democratic society is to process suspects and

punish law violators in a humane and rational manner. Through the development of the

"Get Tough on Crime" movement, political and social pressures have resulted in

overcrowded jails and prisons. Budgets have swelled to accommodate larger populations

of inmates, without money left over to develop reforms, or preventive measures through

rehabilitation. As the public places demands on politicians for longer and longer

sentences for offenders, prisons will continue to operate in the warehouse mode,

without the means to pursue other alternatives to incarceration

As we enter the 21st century it is believed we will continue to see a shift from the

preference for punishment to one of treatment and rehabilitation. Regardless of what

politicians, correction officials or criminal justice entities as whole see as the solution, the

direction and future of criminal justice depends on the publics perception and societal

expectations for solutions. Whether these solutions be deterrence, rehabilitation,

incapacitation, restoration or retribution as sentencing goals society will dictate the

direction prisons go, not jail administrators or policy makers. As seen in legislation

through tough on crime measures, the expectation of society for prisons is to provide

incarceration and retribution. Until these expectations change and the pendulum swings

within the court of public opinion, other measures will most certainly be hindered if not

doomed to failure, lacking support or funding to see them through. The realization that

what "society" wants will more often occur than what the "system" or professionals

within it want, is at the basis of this paper.

The publics perception of prisons function is based much on glamorization by

television or the misinformation of the media. The perception of prisons function does

completely fall in line with the publics expectations for prisons, in part because the public

or society as a whole lack a real understanding of prisons and prison life. Depending on

the background of the individual the expectations for prisons can be very different. Many

elderly citizens in society for example see prison as an awful place that would make

anyone who had to go there change their ways. In reality this is not the case.

The alternating preference for punishment or treatment predates the use of prisons as a

sentence. Shifts in the cycle from treatment to punishment can be seen in the

development of workhouses or in the development of the English Poor Laws. As the

pendulum has swung back and forth within the prison system preference for treatment

produced indeterminate sentences, prison societies, probation and parole as well as the

reformatory movement, with firm discipline and education defined as part of the

treatment process associated with prisons. (Mckelvey, 1977).

The varying Era's in sentencing have seen the implementation of vastly differing

sentencing objectives. These objectives mirror societies expectations placed on prisons

and the criminal justice system as a whole. Offenders who had completed these varying

sentencing reforms implemented during each Era were supposed to come out of prison

rehabilitated or reformed. The belief that prison itself detoured offenders by the mere

environment alone, so as to persuade them not to commit crime again. The societal

expectations placed on prisons is no...
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