The criminal justice department is tasked with the role of fighting crime in the United States of America. To be effective in the fight against crime, the criminal justice has since its inception undergone many structural changes and reforms. For instance, the criminal justice department has been faced with the constraint of resources mainly enough human resource to deal with the high incidences of crime in the society.
Policy makers have in a bid to win the war over crime, implemented a number of changes such as death penalty, mandatory minimum sentencing laws, the introduction of policing strategies such as community policing all in an effort to fight crime. Of all the forms of punishment administered by the criminal justice of the United States of America it is perhaps the death penalty that has attracted significant debate amongst the public .
With pressure from the international human rights commission constant pressure from local human rights activists as well as the need to align the criminal justice department of the United States of America to those of other developed countries administering of the death penalty, the application of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, the use of three strikes laws have become unpopular and have threatened to rid the United States of America criminal justice department of its credibility amongst the population as well as in the international community.
The death penalty as administered in several states of United States of America has come under fierce criticism from the public and other interest groups mainly due to the fact that it has been found to be ineffective in fighting crime . The death penalty has resulted into inmates spending lengthy periods of time in prisons, something which has had a negative economic impact and is thus viewed as a burden to the American tax payer. Death penalty denies the offender an opportunity to reform despite the fact that a reformed offender would play a great role in positively influencing members of the community into resisting from crime.
The death penalty is cruel and is in total disregard of fundamental human rights of the offenders . This leads to the question of whether it is appropriate to punish ‘crime with another crime’. Although death penalty as a form of punishment is not new in America, its continuous use in some states is seen as an impediment of the struggle for human rights in the United States. Despite the fact that death penalty is made to deter crime there is no clear empirical evidence to support such crime.
Therefore, one can conclude that the ‘get tough’ measures practiced by the judiciary system in the United States of America has not made any difference in reduction of crime prevalence. 2. Discuss the goals of punishment and their justifications. Which is the best form of punishment, and why? Punishment is exercised inorder to encourage positive behaviour change. In addition, punishment may be meted on an individual for purposes of deterrence especially if the individual involved has exhibited the tendency to engage in practices against the social norms .
Such forms of punishment, which involves deterrence, may include banning of individuals from participating in given events or visiting specified locations. Deterrence may also involve embargoes, sanctions and boycotts aimed at making the affected parties to learn and as a result of the pain inflicted, desist from undesirable practices. Another goal for punishment is to help offenders to reform through rehabilitation. The goal of punishment when executed in the form of rehabilitation is to provide a positive environment for the offender in a bid to help the offender to reform .
Rehabilitation as a goal of punishment involves confining the offenders in seclusion in what are referred to as rehabilitation centers. Common crimes, which are punished through rehabilitation, are drug abuse, as well as petty crimes. Rehabilitation is effective in that many offenders are able to come out of the rehabilitation centers as more useful members of the society especially considering the fact that the rehabilitation centers have in place programs which equip the offenders with life skills which they can use in the post-rehabilitation period to lead productive lives.
Another goal of punishment is incapacitation. This works through denying the offender the capability to execute criminal activities by destroying or weakening the offender. This is done by denying the offender access to resources gained through criminal activities. Incapacitation is applied to groups or individuals such as terrorists, dictators, as well as drug dealers so as to weaken their ability to commit crime. Another goal of punishment is retribution. Although retribution has been criticized for its harshness forms of retribution such as death penalty continue to be applied in many states.
Retribution as a goal of punishment is seen by many as unfair and outdated. Retribution is considered by its critics as ineffective and inappropriate. There are different forms of punishment such as incarceration, restoration, imprisonment, suspension, community service as well as fining . There is contention on which is the best form of punishment between restorative and retributive forms of punishment. It must be noted that there is no civil form of punishment that can be categorized as the best form of punishment.
The form of punishment administered largely depends on the nature of crime committed, the legislations of a given state as well as resource availability. Therefore, the best form of punishment is the one, which best serves to meet the goals of punishment discussed above. Recently, restorative form of punishment has tended to be favoured by the criminal justice department. This is evidenced by the increment of correctional facilities as well as other reforms such as decongestion of prisons. 3. What explanations are there for incarceration trends in the U. S.?
Incarceration rates in the United States of America have been termed as some of the highest in the world. The expectations from the American public and the international community at large are that these trends will begin to show a downward trend. The congress is under pressure to move bills to totally outlaw incarceration. Although this may not happen as soon as the general public would want to happen if the current public demand for abolishment of incarceration is sustained, there is a likelihood that incarceration will significantly drop in the United States of America and eventually be eliminated totally.
Efforts to do away with incarcerations is supported by empirical evidence pointing to the fact that incarceration is not as effective as it was earlier believed to be. Incarceration rates have also come under criticism due to the fact that they tend to take racial patterns in that they affect racial minorities more than they do on the whites. Of all incarceration cases in the United States of America, African American population as well as the Hispanics constitute over 62% of the total incarceration .
The above rates are disproportionate to the overall population index of the African American and Hispanic population in the United States of America considering the fact that these constitutes 25% of the total American population . The high incarceration rates in the United States of America can be attributed to the fact that crime rates in the United States of America are higher than it is the case in most developed countries. Another explanation is the fact that the criminal justice of the United States of America has traditionally leaned towards the retributive justice system as opposed to the restorative form of justice system .
There seems to have been a great tolerance and general acceptance towards incarceration amongst the American people. Otherwise, the population would have expressed dissatisfaction with incarceration and perhaps made the government to abolish incarceration. In conclusion, the criminal justice system in the United States is in dire need of reforms aimed at addressing some of the challenges it is faced with today. In addition, the criminal justice department needs to be better equipped to deal with the ever-changing nature of crime especially in the era of global terrorism.
There is a need for the criminal justice to de-emphasize the ‘get tough’ measures such as death penalty and to seek alternative forms of punishment such as rehabilitation. There is also a need for criminal justice in collaboration with other departments to come up with measures to deal with the racial disparity in the rates of incarceration. Reference Allen, F. A. 1981. The Decline of the Rehabilitative Ideal: Penal Policy and Social Purpose. New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press. Barry W. Hancock and Paul M Sharp.
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