Justice System

Describe what is meant by pre-trial diversion and discuss the problems with it. Pretrial diversion, otherwise called pretrial intervention, is intended to enable first-time offenders to retain a clean record. It was developed as a mean of intervention for adults who have committed their first felony. The aim is to bring a halt to such detrimental behavior and so prevent future offences. Defense attorneys acting for the adults concerned in first-time felony can request Diversion through the Summit County Prosecutor's Office.

If it is felt to be an appropriate action the offending person enters the Pretrial Diversion Program. They will work with a diversion counselor in order to identify for themselves the behavior that led to the offense and then how to overcome such responses. Such work may take as long as a year. If the person successfully completes goals set and, where applicable, finishes making restitution payments, there will be a hearing and in most cases the original charges will be dismissed.

The fact that system has a number of other names such as ‘withheld adjudication’,’ being on good behavior’, ‘a deferred prosecution’, ‘to withdraw and file’ and ‘withheld sentencing’ all point to the degree of ambivalence about the method. Also, according to William Pfeifer Junior, in his article ‘What is pre-trial diversion? ’ of July 2008, it may be applied differently in different places. It does not apply to more major offences, nor is it offered to anyone likely to reoffend. This means that it may be a matter of judgment on the part of officials as to whether it is used or not.

Also it only applies to adults, so younger offenders are excluded. An obvious fault is that as the system becomes well known to the general public the assumption may be that being caught once is o. k. as nothing will happen. If someone accepts the offer of pre-trial diversion and pleads guilty then a judge will withhold sentencing, but there may be a period similar to probation for a period. Providing he complies with the rules, at the end of this time he will be free with no criminal record.

If however someone really has no record how will it be known the next time that this is not a first offence? If the system is to work then records must be kept. Otherwise how would the authorities know if someone was a first time offender or not? Also there is a requirement to plead guilty. If someone really is innocent why should they do this in order to obtain a benefit? The use of this method is weighted on the side of the guilty even before any evidence is put forward. The whole process takes some considerable time - from 6 months to a year.

This involves a high level of commitment on behalf of both client and staff dealing with the situation. This is expensive. Apart from the costs of legal staff it may involve repeated time off work for the client, which could affect his employment position. Taken all these factors together it is a system that requires careful monitoring as to its efficacy. 2. The U. S. Supreme Court cases that dealt with the constitutionality of the death penalty. The American Supreme Court has debated the constitutionality of the death sentence on more than one occasion.

The 8th Amendment to the American Constitution specifically forbids any punishment that could be considered as ‘cruel and unusual’. The question really is what constitutes such punishment? The reason that the subject has been debated many times is that public opinion shifts with time. What was once considered acceptable is no longer valid. They have however never ruled that this eliminates the possibility of the death sentence. The ‘This Nation . com web page ‘Is the Death Sentence Constitutional? ’ cites the case of Forman versus Georgia in 1972.

Their ruling was that because of the disproportionate number of those belonging to ethic minority being condemned and because sentencing seemed to be rather arbitrary then this made the death penalty an unusual punishment. The result was that for a period of 4 years no executions took place in the United Stats of America and around 600 convicted people had their sentences commuted to life sentences. However because the court hadn’t actually ruled that the death sentence was unconstitutional it left the possibility open to various states to draw narrow laws in order to satisfy the misgivings of the senior court.

Georgia for instance decided that the final penalty should be applied to several carefully defined situations. They were challenged in 1976 in the case of Greg versus Georgia. Georgia won the case as the Supreme Court ruled that it had successfully applied the penalty only to certain specified crimes. The requirement is that the penalty is applied fairly and consistently and only then in proportion to the severity of the crimes committed. The situation is that they need to define what exactly constitutes an action deserving of death.