Public Safety vs. Civil Rights

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Public Safety v. Civil Rights
CJA 550
Crystal Shepherd
March 7, 2011

The argument of public safety versus civil rights has always been at the forefront of many major political issues in the United States. Civil rights are the foundation of this country, and they protect it’s citizens. But with that, comes the protection of criminals, terrorists, and enemies of the state, and the freedom for these people to move and operate against American ideals. The slightest restrictions on civil rights increases the safety of the general public, enables law enforcement agencies to operate more fluidly, and increases the rate for crushing the opposition. The safety of the general population is far more important than the protection of the rights of one citizen. Many argue the Constitutionality of restricting civil rights in the name of public safety, but the same people lobby for law enforcement agencies to work harder to protect our citizens from domestic terrorism and other criminal acts. The two principles cannot go hand in hand, and public safety is far more important. Almost every crime and domestic terrorist act that has succeeded could have been prevented by authorities. Civil rights restrict law enforcement agencies from operating in an ideal manner. With tighter restrictions, certain people and certain actions do not slip by government agencies, and decrease the risk for a terrorist act of happening in the United States. Pubic safety of it’s people is the most important job of the government. Many times the government fails to do it’s job when more emphasis is placed on civil rights. The analysis below will present both arguments of the public safety versus civil rights debate and evaluate key issues and current laws and amendments associated with the administration of justice and security among communities. Some of those key issues are: the death penalty, gun control, pursuit driving, and hate crimes. The Death Penalty: Effective Crime Deterrent or Civil Rights Violation The death penalty is said to be reserved for the most evil, wicked elements of society. One tends to think so but moral judgment often depends on which side of the penalty one finds oneself. During the past century, the death penalty was issued out to people in many situations - political rivals, enemy combatants, ethnic cleansing, people involved in illicit drug trade, those of differing religious affiliation, to name just a few. In World War II, Russia alone, executed 158,000 people under the charge of desertion. (Majlessi, 2004)  Was each and every one of these people truly wicked and evil? By whose account? It’s these questions and these situations that make the death penalty a controversial subject for which there may never be a universal conclusion. Whether or not the death penalty is a deterrent to crime is one of those questions that may never be answered. Nevertheless, it’s a question that generates heated debate in conference rooms, classrooms, and at dinner tables around the world. Today, 139 nations of the world have abolished the death penalty for all crimes or those of lesser offense. This number includes 35 nations who have no formal laws against the death penalty but their governments have chosen not to implement the death penalty in even the most heinous of crimes. The remaining 58 nations, including the United States of America, maintain and use the death penalty as a legal form of punishment. (Majlessi, 2004) Scientific studies have consistently failed to demonstrate that executions deter people from committing crime anymore than long prison sentences. Moreover, states without the death penalty have much lower murder rates. The South accounts for 80% of US executions and has the highest regional murder rate. (Death Penalty Information Center, 2002) Some people feel the death penalty is a violation of civil rights. They feel that the death penalty is a violation of citizens’ Eighth Amendment, right that no person...
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