Miscarriages of Justice

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“It’s a general problem not specific to the law of the United Kingdom a criminal justice system characterized by an emphasis on crime control rather than due process will inevitably produce miscarriage of justice.”

In an imaginary world the law would always give the correct results but in a real world it’s the other way. When they don’t which way do they tend to err? Which way do we want to err? We want the law to err on the side of acquitting guilty people rather than convicting ones. It is generally accepted that the price of a fair Criminal Justice System will be acquittal on a technicality of those who have committed criminal offences or because of a failure of evidence, where as conviction of the innocent is never acceptable and should it arise speedy measures should be taken to rectify the injustice. The criminal law must be enforced efficiently by the agencies to police the criminal law. There are two main values that influence the criminal Justice System, the crime control model which focuses to free society from crime and the due process model which focuses on individual liberties to be protected. The crime control model ensures that a civilized society can protect all of its citizens from victimization by criminals. But whether this has happened is questionable because when the Criminal Justice System is tilted more towards crime control there is a chance of an innocent person being convicted of a crime he never committed thus forming a miscarriage of justice. In recent times countries like United Kingdom, America, Canada and Ireland have tilted more towards crime control mainly because of the terrorist attacks that shook those nations. Moreover the racial attitude in the police and also in the society has led the crime control to be harsh on the society. The miscarriages that happen maybe due to discriminatory police practices, it may be due to incompetent scientific evidence or the over-reliance of the court on expert testimony. Where mistakes, made by those who have power within the process so this power when abused can have critical consequences. The protection of innocent remains fundamental to the process of justice and for many the sole purpose, it should not be absolute according to Ashworth (1998). The acquittal of guilty persons can also be seen as a miscarriage of justice. The process of justice is one marked by the use of agency and individual discretion, most notably by the police. Both the due process and crime control models allow for that discretion, although the former does seek legislative means for reducing its use and influence. The crime control model relies on presumption of guilt, the recognition that victims should have more rights than the accused, belief that prison and other punishment must be unpleasant in order to work, belief that sentences must be long to protect the public and belief that keeping order on the street is more important than following the letter of the law. The crime control model is about focusing the purpose of the Criminal Justice Process on the demands of the majority of citizens who are law abiding. It seems clear that the current Criminal Justice Process was designed for the much lower level of crime that existed in the past and is too bureaucratic, time consuming and inefficient to deal effectively with the sheer volume of crime that now exists. This system demands a high level of informal fact finding, the case is dealt with outside of the formal court setting as much as possible. The model rightly assumes that offenders “rights are less important than victim rights and justice is for the majority of law abiding citizens not for the minority of repeat offenders. This model of justice accepts that there will be a few aberrant cases where the innocent are convicted, but this is justified by the notion that crime control overwhelmingly achieves the greater good for the majority....
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