Juvenile correctional reform

As was mentioned before, appeals courts would still be present in a perfect criminal court system. What has got to be eliminated though is the unnecessary reevaluation of the case through successive appeals courts. A trial court should be assumed to have all the resources to be fair and competent in performing its function. There is no reason why an offender must go through several appeals courts in an effort to repeatedly review the trial court’s decision. Victims of crimes suffer while the offender tries his luck on as many appeals courts as he can.

Too much money, time, and effort are also consumed, making the present system very inefficient. Instead of having multiple appeals courts review a trial court’s decision, an offender must only be granted a single appeal before sentences are executed or not. This would make justice swifter and the system more efficient. It also shows the public trusts that their institutions will always produce the best decisions. More money is saved while the judicial system becomes prouder of itself. Multiple appeals may only be granted to offenders sentenced to capital punishment.

Interestingly, the reversal rate (the rate by which a trial court’s decision is overturned) in the district courts in the US justice system has been falling steadily since 1960 (Fierro, 2003, p. 103). Appeal rates however, are still going up, which may indicate that offenders are not really after the reversal of decisions, but just to make sure that they are being treated fairly and also to raise the stakes for the other party (Fierro, 2003, p. 104). This clearly demonstrates the inefficiency of the system, which apparently is not focused on handing out justice but on making defendants and accused run circles around each other.

Multiple appeals courts are becoming less important each day with the high accuracy of modern forensics. Pretty soon, the decision of a trial court using evidences gathered through high-tech forensics may stand without the need for a single appeal court. There are parts of the current criminal court system that need to be maintained, like the rule of separating juveniles from adults. Juveniles must still not be brought to adult courts until they are 18 years of age.

While some juveniles do commit violent crimes that make it easy to forget about their youth and “innocence,” it still would not be fair to consider every juvenile as equally responsible as an adult. The brain is not yet fully developed during childhood and adolescence, so punishing them this way would be blaming them for physical developments that they cannot control. In a perfect criminal court system, juveniles will have courts separate from those of adults. Prosecutors, defenders, judges, and other courtroom professionals in this ideal situation would be all specialized in handling juvenile cases.

They would have training or knowledge of juvenile psychology, so they’ll know how a trial should proceed. Sentences should also focus more on reintegrating juveniles to the community rather than punishing or incarcerating them. Unlike adults, juveniles have more opportunities to contribute positively to the community in the future if they are given a chance to change. Ultimately, the goal of separate courts for juveniles is the establishment of a separate juvenile justice system that is more humane and functional (McGarrell, 1988, p. 3). Misconduct in the perfect courtroom would be handled in the same way it is handled now.

People who behave inappropriately or violently in the courtroom should be removed from the courtroom or from their position. Criminal charges should be filed against such people when necessary. Misconduct should not be tolerated because it would greatly tarnish the efficiency and rationality of the perfect criminal court system. Other people may also be encouraged to misbehave in the courtroom if they cases of misbehavior are allowed. Perhaps one of the greatest obstacles in conceiving a perfect criminal court system is the thinking of how to separate politics and law.

In theory, the judiciary arm of the government is separate from the legislative branch. However, politics and ideology still play a large part in the events that take place in the courtroom. Lawyers are former students who have their own ideals of social justice. When they begin to practice their profession, they stay true to those ideals which may be favorable to members of their firms. Thus, they may act more in the pursuit of their own politics rather than justice. Many lawyers also view their legal practice as a stepping stone to future campaigns for public office.

How they perform in the courtroom may influence what people think about them, or what their firm thinks about them. Political parties may also watch them do their work and offer them future positions. In the perfect criminal court system, lawyers will be trained so that they’ll be more dedicated to pursuing the truth of the cases they handle rather than their personal politics. Much of the change has to do with their education and instilling in their minds that politics should not override justice and the general interest of the community.

Finally, politics especially plays a more significant role today in the criminal court system because of the highly active media. Many criminal cases are highly publicized, some evolving into media frenzies. Names of the defendants, victims, prosecutors, defenders, and judges are all revealed and their lives analyzed by the public. A kind of drama unfolds in the eyes of the public, making them sway to one side or another (Cohn & Dow, 1998, p. 81-88). Of course, the public has the right to know what goes on in its judicial system.

However, what’s dangerous about the media is that it seldom portrays both sides as equal. It is almost always bound to depict one side as victim and the other one as predator, which is in direct opposition of the principle of criminal justice known as the presumption of innocence. An accused person is innocent of the crime in the eyes of the law, and it is the prosecutor’s job to prove that he is guilty (Jordan, 2001, p. 242). What use though is to prove that a person is not guilty of a crime when the media has already portrayed him as the criminal?

Politics plays a great part in this as media networks have political leanings. Thus, some media networks emphasize details that make their favored political party look good, and the other one look bad. This system sways public opinion which makes the judicial system look unnecessary. Why try a person in the first place if the media through its skewed coverage would be the one to hand out the sentence? (Cohn & Dow, 1998, p. 81-88) Therefore, in the perfect criminal court system, media coverage would be reduced to zero, and they would only be informed of the results after the trial.

In our home area, general jurisdiction judges are selected through merit selection. As was mentioned, I would prefer judges to be elected into their office, so they’ll be more representative of the general interest of the people. References Banks, C. (2004). Criminal justice ethics: theory and practice. Thousand Oaks: SAGE. Cohn, M. & Dow, D. (1998). Cameras in the courtroom: television and the pursuit of justice. Jefferson: McFarland. Fierro, H. F. (2003). Courts, justice, and efficiency: a socio-legal study of economic rationality in adjudication. Oxford: Hart Publishing.

Hanser, R. D. (2009). Community Corrections. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc. Jordan, P. D. (2001). Paralegal studies: an introduction. Florence: Cengage Learning. McGarrell, E. F. (1988). Juvenile correctional reform: two decades of policy and procedural change. New York: SUNY Press. Philips, S. U. (1998). Ideology in the language of judges: how judges practice law, politics, and courtroom control. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Schneider, S. W. (2006). The everything guide to being a paralegal: secrets to a successful career! Alberta: Everything Books.