Criminal Justice Synthesis

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Shabnum Hamidi
11/14/12
Period 2
CST Synthesis Reflection
CST & the Criminal Justice System
“I am convinced that imprisonment is a way of pretending to solve the problem of crime. It does nothing for the victims of crime, but perpetuates the idea of retribution, thus maintaining the endless cycle of violence in our culture. It is a cruel and useless substitute for the elimination of those conditions--poverty, unemployment, homelessness, desperation, racism, and greed--which are at the root of most punished crime. The crimes of the rich and powerful go mostly unpunished.” (Howard Zinn) This quote simplifies my evolved awareness of the issue concerning crime and the criminal justice system has grown. Beginning this unit I had a basic understanding of crime around the world but had almost zero knowledge about the criminal justice system and as we move on throughout this unit I was completely shocked with the some of the things going on in this very corrupt system. Just through the first activity, California Peace Officers Association: California Prisons Under Pressure, the information presented to me that the flaws of this justice system was in the way it was structured, mainly that jails are overcrowded and understaffed. Also more money is put in jails than education because of the increasing rate of inmates year by year. This activity helped me realize that prisons are very flawed and this impacts the issue of crime and criminal justice system greatly. Another very surprising activity was the PBS Frontline: Case for Innocence, which showed how inmates may be wrongly convicted through false evidence and even DNA such as in the case of Earl Washington who spent almost 18 years in prison because he was falsely charged for murder of a 19 year old girl in Culpepper, Virginia soon to be released because of the lack of evidence in the case to prove him guilty. Stories like these tend to happen more than often because the carelessness put in looking through cases by police officers and even the jury. Also year-by-year the system receives higher and higher advancements in technology, which can be a factor in determining the innocence of a victim accused. After being introduced to the horrible system of justice we talk more about specific reasons of arrests such as child abuse, which is one of the main issues that occur within inmates today. It was very surprising to see that an estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 was $124 billion, which is something that needs to be dealt with in the near future. Child abuse showed that it may be on of the contributing causes to why many inmates are stuck in prison today, statistics shows that children who face child abuse and neglect are more likely to be involved in criminal activities. This was one of the most surprising statistics that I came across because it showed one of the root causes to why the jail system is overcrowded and this is an issue that can be addressed. We need to regulate more the issue of child abuse because these children are left defenseless such as Emma was to her mother’s boyfriend. Many of these activities showed the structural flaws within the criminal justice system and the crime that occur within the United States but later as we got into more about the death penalty my views on this topic changed greatly. My opinion at first towards the death penalty was that if the crime was gruesome enough then the person should also pay through being put to death but after watching “Dead Man Walking” my opinion on this issue completely changed. It showed me that through counseling and programs showed in the movie, the inmate could truly change for the better. And that we should move forward in the direction of helping rehabilitate the inmate rather than using the death penalty because it is not only expensive but in affective towards the long term goal of living in a progressive and harmonious society. One very positive way...
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