Drug policies need to be properly interpreted and implemented. However, there are circumstances wherein such guidelines are applied in varying ways by the components of criminal justice system. This paper discusses these conditions taking into consideration the two components of criminal justice such as the prosecution and law enforcement. In particular, the paper presents how such contradictions affect the operations and decision-making of the said two units. Effects of Drug Policies to Two Components of Criminal Justice System
By principle, the various components of the criminal justice system are unified in adhering to and upholding the structures and practices of drug-related policies. That is, the court, prosecution, law enforcement and correction are all in one in its respective effort of addressing and eventually resolving issues and problems relating to illegal drug industry. Despite this however, conflicts inevitably beset and affect how these components interpret and perform specific drug guidelines.
The impacts are manifested in emergence of opposing views and they extend to circumstances wherein the operation of one section of the criminal justice system is compromised. This particularly refers to a condition in which one component jeopardizes the carrying-out of a drug policy by another branch of the criminal justice. It is unfortunate to note that in such situation, the two contrasting components are both led to their loosing end. This is because one component asserts its own principle and practice concerning a particular drug policy.
When challenged by another component, such confirmation is likely to bend and even depart from the expected interpretation and administration of said drug policy. In turn, it is not only the respective operation and decision-making of the two components that are affected. As soon as there is deviation from the supposed and established application of drug policy, the guideline is subjected to restriction. This concern is aggravated by the fact that the fundamental effectiveness and success of drug policy are not met and realized.
Additionally, it is not only the criminal justice system’s efficiency is influenced or impinged on. This is due to the reality that the emergence of conflicting perspectives and implementation of drug policy by two different components of criminal justice results to damaging perception coming from outside force. This is particularly depicted with the way the image and effectiveness of the two opposing components are subjected to a test. Since disagreement exists between the two components and that their respective operation and judgment are affected, the public eventually manifest similar disparity.
Rationale Discrepancy in the understanding and implementation of a particular drug policy does not only signify impact to the elements of criminal justice system. Foremost the implications imparted to the two conflicting units, the varying applications of drug-related measures create unreasonable responses and perceptions among people. Hence, a portion of the public may agree or not with one component. This situation results to separated views and eventually do not work to the advantage of any of the criminal justice aspects.
On the other hand, diversity in the implementation of drug policies is regarded to be healthy and beneficial to a specific element of criminal justice. This is the underlying principle behind why one component deviates from the standard guideline. This holds true especially if it was proven that one policy is more effectively applied according to the practices distinct only to a particular component. In short, criminal justice unit sticks to its own manner of carrying out a drug policy if it feels that it is the more successful way of resolving drug problem.
It is in such kind of situation that concern arises. This is the said divergence oftentimes creates animosities among members of the two opposing components of criminal justice. To better understand such scenario, it is empirical to apply it to concrete happenings. One good example is the opposing circumstances existing between law enforcement and prosecution as regard the interpretation and performance of drug policies particularly the plea bargaining agreement and mandatory drug sentencing measures.
Plea Bargain Policy To be precise, some prosecutors’ offices have an unwritten policy of avoiding eventual prosecution or the conduct of trial for possession of small amount of illegal drug. Since such guideline is a contradiction against the system, it is resented by the law enforcement. The main argument that the police force raises is that such deviation endangers their operations, decision making methods, arrests and overall handling of drug cases.
This goes similarly with the opposing application of mandatory sentencing laws where, this time, it is the prosecution which disputes such, citing the partiality of the said policy. The nature of plea bargain works to the advantage of the prosecution as well as even to defense and defendant involved in a drug case. This is because a suspect’s entry of guilty pleading, supposedly under the advice of his lawyer, eventually offers beneficial results rather than demeaning and burdening further their defense.
Subsequently, the prosecution is removed of the task of establishing the guilt of the suspects and probable cause to elevate the matter to court hence benefiting the court after it is freed from the function of putting the case on trial. Despite this apparent advantage on the part of the prosecution, plea bargain is generally debated particularly by law enforcement. In fact, a clamoring argument against the exercise of plea bargain, as a feature of the criminal justice system, remains to be national concern.
Due to the lack solid proof that plea bargain facilitates the effectiveness of criminal justice, such prosecution practice or policy especially concerning drug cases, it creates more problems. Concerns are particularly manifested on the part of the police force whose members have exerted all efforts and resources to arrest a drug suspect. With an ultimate objective of convicting a suspect, a law enforcer strictly follows and adheres to the standards of the criminal justice system but only to be disappointed by the prosecution.
It is in this circumstance that conflict occurs between the prosecution and law enforcement (Church, 1976). Such condition was corroborated by a report made by the Drug Policy Task Force. According to Fischler (1996), due to the prosecution’s “too good” proposal and which is difficult to be refused by the suspect, the defense enters into plea bargain agreement but it is the police’s integrity and effectiveness that are put to risk. This is because law enforcement is unjustly subjected to various harmful perceptions to the detriment of its members and the organization as a general (Fischler, 1996).
Prosecution’s practice of plea bargain affects the police force on another aspect. Fischler added that beyond its harmful implication is a more alarming condition wherein the police activity or manner by which authorities handled the case is not verified of its accuracy and effectiveness. The author asserted the need for essential features to be sufficiently checked and that can only be achieved through trial proceedings or hearings but which plea bargain ceases to turn into eventuality.
It was also revealed that the worst impact of this kind of drug-related policy is that it paves the way for the imposition of guilty verdict against innocent persons while real criminals are provided with less conviction. Hence, on the premise that they supposedly acceded to their guilt, these true-blooded drug offenders are spared from being sentenced accordingly (Fischler, 1996). Plea bargain, as one kind of prosecutor’s unwritten policies, indeed negatively affects law enforcement.
This is not only through the police’s operations and arrest rates but most importantly, how the public perceive the effectiveness and reliability of the police force. Fischler said that plea bargain made people to be generally denied of their right to due process. This is because such drug-related policy just circumvents the police’s efficiency that is attributed to suspects’ failure to go into formal trial proceedings. Ultimately, it is the public’s perception of the police which is damaged as it generally lost its conviction particularly the power to get an impartial administration of the criminal justice system (Fischler, 1996).
Mandatory Drug Sentencing Another drug policy that results into opposing understanding and application is the mandatory drug sentencing law. In an effort to intensify the War on Drugs, the government and lawmakers agreed on creating mandatory sentencing measures. Such drug-related guidelines are intended to upgrade the compulsory verdicts against specific drug crimes. Proponents of such drug policies said that they deter proliferation of illegal drugs and thwart offenders from further committing drug crimes (Montaldo, 2004).
Unlike in the case of the prosecutions’ drug policy of plea bargain where they are the ones who benefit and not the police force, it is the other way around as far as mandatory sentencing policy is concern. In this situation, it is the prosecution which is not provided with the opportunity to concretely implement the framework of criminal justice. This is because this specific kind of policy poses stiff and difficult effects in an effort to put a drug offender on trial and eventually be convicted if found guilty (Montaldo, 2004).
In effect, it is the law enforcement which benefits from mandatory sentencing particularly if applied to drug cases. If taken through the position of law enforcement, such policy ensures that suspected persons are subjected to obligatory and standardized verdict. For the prosecution, however, it is a damaging guideline due to its unwarranted and inflexible nature and features. The main concern here depends on the fact that the said punishment does not paves the way or forbids the legal procedure of bringing an drug offender to court and eventually imposing the appropriate sentence (Montaldo, 2004).
Conclusion Conflicting drug policies definitely affect the components of criminal justice system. The goal of unifying prosecution and law enforcement is not attained and instead they are divided in implementing policies such as plea bargain and mandatory sentencing. Hence, the need for things to be worked out to eventually make the system effective and particularly for said components to arrive at a point where both benefit from such policies. References Church, Jr. , T. (1976).
Plea Bargains, Concessions and the Courts: Analysis of a quasi-experiment. Law and Society Review, 10, 3. Retrieved March 17, 2009, from http://www. jstor. org/pss/3053139 Fischler, A. B. (1996). Report and Recommendations of the Drug Policy Task Force. Retrieved March 18, 2009, from http://www. drcnet. org/nycla. html Montaldo, C. (2004). Mandatory Drug Sentencing Laws. Retrieved March 18, 2009, from http://crime. about. com/od/issues/i/drug_sentence_2. htm