Improving the Criminal Justice System

Topics: Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, Policy, Crime Pages: 4 (1112 words) Published: May 23, 2010
Improving the Criminal Justice System
Ivy B. Danforth
University of Phoenix
Public Policy Issues
Jeffery P. Codner
March 29, 2010

Improving the Criminal Justice System
Senator Jim Webb crusades against prison overcrowding citing a need to repair the criminal justice system by recalculating “who goes to prison and for how long” (Webb, 2009, p. 4). The U. S. Justice Department and Senator Webb agree that drug abuse and addiction results in an overburdened justice system. According to the Justice Department, the economic impact of trafficking and drug abuse is nearly $215 billion annually (U.S. Department of Justice [USDOJ], 2010). Most drug offenders are passive users or minor dealers of marijuana; reshaping America’s drug polices will reduce the number of incarcerated individuals while allowing the criminal justice system to concentrate on more dangerous offenders. However, reshaping drug polices involves not only state and federal legislatures but also public opinion and the criminal justice system itself. Public Policy Process

According to Marion and Oliver (2006), the public policy process is complex and contains the following five steps: problem identification, agenda setting, policy formulation, policy implementation, and policy evaluation. These same steps are necessary to reshape America’s drug policy and thus alleviate prison overcrowding. Problem Identification

The most common arrest crime category in 2008 was drug violations; incarcerations of prisoners for drug offenses are 20% of state prisoners and 53% of federal prisoners (USDOJ, 2010). According to the Department of Justice (2010), the consequences of drug offenses effects the entire criminal justice system straining resources from arrest through adjudication and incarceration continuing to the post-release supervision procedures. Since the 1970s, many states enacted mandatory long-term sentences for drug offenses, these laws resulted in a 12-fold...

References: Marion, N. E., & Oliver, W. M. (2006). The public policy of crime and criminal justice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Mazza, C. (2004). A pound of flesh: The psychological, familial and social consequences of mandatory long-term sentencing laws for drug offenses. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 4(3), 65-81. doi: 10.1300/J160v04n03_05
Roig-Franzia, M. (2009, July 6). Structuring Sentences. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http/
U.S. Department of Justice. (2010). Impact of drugs on society. Retrieved, from http//
Webb, J. (2009, March 29). What’s wrong with our prisons?. Parade Magazine, 4-5.
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