Ethical Behavior in Criminal Justice

Topics: Prison, Crime, Mandatory sentencing Pages: 6 (2180 words) Published: October 27, 2014
10/13/13 3:45:12| Graded| 92%| 36+28+14+14=92 Finally you bring all of your effort to bear on an excellent piece of analysis that demonstrated your understanding of the subject matter.|

Toni R. Rogers

Ethical Behavior in Criminal Justice 1309CCJS3804025

Case Study

October 9, 2013

1. The Parole Board
The principle reasons for prison overcrowding are the mandatory minimum laws passed by Congress in 1984 and the Three Strikes law passed in the state of California in 1994. Mandatory minimums were enacted in order to fight the war on drugs; however, the law has not worked in the reduction of illegal drug crimes. Beginning with the war on drugs in the 1980’s, numerous states along with the federal government enacted statues that required judges to carry out lengthy sentences on any individuals caught with various amounts of illegal drugs, no matter the circumstances. This imperative principal stance has only created a prison population on steroids in the United States. An example is the story of Brenda Valencia who is serving a 12-year sentence for giving her aunt a ride to a home not realizing that is was a house in which her aunt sold drugs. Although Brenda had no idea that a cocaine sale was taking place, a dealer working with a prosecutor to make a deal for himself for a lower sentence testified that Valencia in fact did have knowledge. The judge that passed the sentence did not agree with the 12-year prison term and stated, “This case is a perfect example of why the minimum mandatory sentences and the sentencing guidelines are not only absurd, but an insult to justice” ("Families against Mandatory Minimums", n.d.). Attorney General Eric Holder stated, “Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no good law enforcement reason”. He added that the strong enforcement of federal crime laws is essential, but prosecuting and incarcerating our way to develop a safer country is not the way to go. Imposing lengthy sentences to criminals that are first time offenders creates disrespect for the system and the public is not any safer for it (Savage, 2013). Adding to the problem of individuals incarcerated is the hesitancy of parole boards to grant parole to eligible inmates. Parole boards fear the public criticism that arises when an inmate is released and then commits a new offence; therefore, they may be exceedingly conservative when making the decision to release someone to community supervision. Regardless of the “tough on crime” rhetoric that so often calls for incarcerating more criminals, the practice is not effective for public safety. In actuality, serving prison time has shown to increase the recidivism rate. Data from the Department of Justice illustrates minute differences in recidivism rates for individuals that spend short stints in prison compared to those that are incarcerated for longer periods. The parole board should consider releasing older inmates. The United States Department of Justice has illustrated that people over the age of 45 are considerably less likely to participate in criminal behavior and have lower arrest rates subsequent to release than younger inmates. It is uncommon that an individual serving a life sentence becomes a danger to citizens upon reaching senior years. The imperative principle idea that all judgments should be made according to absolute rules should not apply in these cases. The chair of the parole board should discuss a plan with the Governor similar to what the state of California is doing in an effort to reduce their prison population. Senator Steinberg of California has come up with a strategy for prison overcrowding through performance-based grant programs that would provide an incentive to counties to broaden proven rehabilitation, drug and mental health treatment programs for offenders.

2. The Warden
With a prison that is overcrowded and short of staff, there is an...
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