This paper will look at community corrections, the formal juvenile justice process, future trends in law enforcement, the 3 major systems of criminal justice, as well as touch upon why many practitioners think that the criminal justice system is a “non-system”.
Community Corrections, or community custody as it is sometimes referred to, is part of the growing trend in law enforcement working to incorporate and coordinate valuable community, and citizen assets, into the legal system's fight against crime, as well as working towards rehabilitation of the offender, in an effort to lower recidivism rates. A community correction agency’s main focus is monitoring, such as through probation, and parole agencies, “ although community corrections also include halfway houses, residential centers, work furlough, and all other programs for managing the offender in the community"(Wilson.1994.p.61).
These services, aside from those mentioned above, can include advocacy, mediation, drug testing, as well as counseling and rehabilitation programs. There have been a number of attempts to define the intent and scope of community corrections agencies and programs, that work together under the community corrections umbrella. Most agencies include in their statements the goal to protect the community.
The American Correctional Association says " simply stating that the community corrections mission as sanction is to enhance social order and public safety" (Wilson.1994.71). The mission statement, prepared by author James Wilson, in his book 'Performance Measures For The Criminal Justice System' describes a clearer two part purpose of community corrections. The author states that first of all " The mission of community corrections is to assist the court and / or parole board in assessing candidates suitability for community placement" (Wilson. 1994.p.72). This will be accomplished best through well directed utilization of all the professional and community based methods and programs mentioned above.
The mission statement concludes with "Once offenders are placed in the community, to enforce the court ordered sanctions, protect the community, assist offenders to change, and support the rights of their victims"(Ibid). I feel, that attention directed towards improving communications, between the many multiple disciplinary agencies required for a successful community corrections agency, that the crime and recidivism rates will reflect positive progress, which will in turn expand funding.
Law Enforcement II : Juvenile Justice Process:
What would happen would if a 15 year old youth were caught and arrested for armed robbery of a fast food restaurant? He would find himself beginning the process of moving through the juvenile justice system. "Juvenile justice is an umbrella term for the special procedures set up by every state to deal with young people whose cases belong in juvenile court” (McIlhinney. 2007.p.1).
Under the legal system it is generally accepted that “ a child 14 or older is considered accountable for their crimes, either in juvenile or adult court”(Ibid). Our youth, at 15 years old, fits into this category, also we will assume he was caught in the act. I mention this only because in Juvenile cases, often it is difficult to procure evidence, as officers generally can not obtain entry without a parent’s permission. We will begin with our youth processing through the police department, where he will be detained, not arrested. At the police department the officer has at his discretion, various recommendations that he may make.
For such a high profile offense as armed robbery, endangering multiple people in a public gathering area, we can safely assume the officer will “ place the minor in custody and refer the case to a juvenile court”(Ibid). I would like to point out one major flaw in the legal system here, that is that all states do not follow the same standard procedures. In some states, for example armed robbery within a certain distance of a school, would automatically move the case to adult court. In this case it was still armed robbery in a public place.
Prosecutors may question was the gun actually discharged? Was it loaded? All important intake questions. Once the case has been sent to juvenile court the next step is “ a prosecutor or a juvenile court intake officer” will make a determination. At this point, aside from past offenses intake will consider factors such as the gender, attitude, dress, family support, remorsefulness, etc... before deciding. Evidence does support the theory that “
Formal charges are more likely to be filed against boys than against girls” (McIlhinney. 2007.p.2). Given the level of violence our young offender exhibited in executing his crime, whether his first offense or not, the prosecutor/ intake officer ( State rules and regulations vary), will no doubt “petition the matter by filing formal charges”(Ibid). At arraignment, in juvenile court, the Judge will most likely set a Fitness Hearing( Again this is only if the state in question does not have automatic transfer to adult court for armed robbery).
This hearing happens “ if the crime, or the juvenile's personal characteristics indicate that the case should be handled in regular court”(Ibid). If it is determined / or automatically required our youth will be tried as an adult, and forever leave the juvenile justice system." Transfer occurs when jurisdiction over a juvenile case is turned over to a criminal court. The waiver, or transfer of jurisdiction is predicted on the assumption that some juveniles are not appropriate for processing in juvenile court" (Elrod. Ryder.2005. 235).
If he remains in the juvenile system he will enter a plea agreement, or proceed to trial, which in juvenile court is referred to as an adjudication. The judge will then pronounce his sentence, or inform the court of the disposition he has decided upon regarding the case, along with any stipulations he deems fit.
Law Enforcement: Future Trends
When looking back at the advances of the past decade, one can only wonder where law enforcement trends will head as we forge deeper into the 21st century. We have experienced some amazing technological advances, such as the use of DNA as evidence to try cases. If forced to choose three future trends, that I am personally looking forward to, first would be the continued expansion, improvement, and innovations, that have been happening in the community involvements sector, such as corrections, and policing.
Crime is often connected with drug use, and " Drug abuse today is more acute, and widespread than in any previous age.(Fleckenstein. Hanson. Venturelli. 2005.p. 19). As we move through the predicted "change in the total diversity of the community” (Conser. Gingerich. Russell. 2005.p.420), community involvement will be even more integral to the success of law enforcement efforts. Hopefully concrete progress in this sector will help improve funding for keeping up with another trend, technology.
I am looking forward to the required formation, of a unified, connected, nationwide DNA database, of all convicted criminals. Having this admissible ‘evidence’ on file, may even prove to be useful as a deterrent before recidivism occurs. Implantable Micro chip GPS to help effectively monitor parolee and probation individuals. Which brings me to my last future trend that I hope to see continue, which is improved communications between the various branches and agencies that make up Law Enforcement.
Through use of new technology, and the implementation of methods such as” NGT strategies” (Ibid.), as well as, Delphi techniques (Ibid), to help law enforcement perform to it’s maximum efficiency, and stay on the leading edge of trends, as they are developing. Communication problems have beleaguered law enforcement efforts for far too long now.
There are three major systems of criminal justice, Police Departments, Courts (Of all levels) and Corrections. Initial Criminal Justice response begins with the Police department, and begins when a crime is witnessed by, or reported to the police. Then the court system, through due process will determine innocence or guilt, and determine the sentence, or punishment for the offense. The role of corrections is to enforce the rulings made by the courts system.
Many practitioners have claimed that the criminal justice system is a Non System, that it is not geared to work effectively. This is because " The law enforcement system of the United States is fragmented, and non standardized. Each agency operates within it's own jurisdiction" (Conser. Gingerich. Russell. 2005. p.106), as well under their own rules, and regulations. Instead of one smoothly operating system, it is instead a loose confederation of thousands of agencies, lacking cohesion, and cooperation.
McIlhinney, PC. 2007. “ When a Minor Commits A Crime”.Criminal Find Law. Com.
http://criminalfindlaw.com/crimes/juvenile‑justice/when‑minor‑commits‑crime.html. (Accessed 25 January 2009).
Elrod, Preston R. Ryder, Scott. 2005. Juvenile Justice: A Social, Historical, and Legal Perspective. Edition: 2, illustrated. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Wilson, James Q. 1994. Performance Measures for the Criminal Justice System: Discussion Papers from the BJS ‑ Princeton .Published by DIANE Publishing.
Conser, James A. Gingerich, Terry. Russell, Gregory D. 2005. Law Enforcement in the United States. Edition: 2, illustrated. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Fleckenstein, Annette E. Hanson, Glen R. Venturelli, Peter J. Drugs and Society. Edition: 9, illustrated, revised. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. Footnotes