A strong emphasis on individual rights rose to the forefront of American social thought during the 1960s and 1970s, a period known as the civil rights era. The civil rights era led to the recognition of fundamental personal rights that had previously been denied illegally to many people on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, and disability. The movement soon expanded to include the rights of many other groups including criminal suspects, parolees, and probationers, trial participants, prison and jail inmates, and victims (Schmalleger 5). Individual rights for criminal defendants was on the rise in the 1970s but today's opinion has swayed toward public safety.
The criminal used to be viewed as an unfortunate victim of poor society with a difficult personal life who had to turn to crime because that was the way he was raised or did not have a choice because of his surroundings. In today's world, however, all that has been thrown out the window and public safety has become the number one concern. Public safety advocates have grown largely and begin putting full responsibility on the criminal, no matter his personal situation. The criminal is viewed as a dangerous social predator who does not deserve to live within society anymore and needs to be locked away at a prison or a mental institution.
Reflecting on the “get tough on crime” attitudes of today, many Americans demand to know how offenders can better be held accountable for violating the criminal law. In late 2010, for example, California state senators passed Chelsea's Law, a bill intended to increase prison sentences and extend parole terms for offenders who commit sex crimes against minors. States across the United States are pulling for harsher and longer sentences for any sexual assault type of crime including rape and molestation (Schmalleger 5).
In the current legislation, the arguments between individual rights advocates and public order advocates form the basis of policy-making in criminal justice. With individual rights activists emphasizing civil rights and a defendants right to fairness, the public order activists stress on the rights of the victimized and society as a whole. When brought together and with a mix of both, correct legislation is passed. In the book, the theme is summarized in one important paragraph which reads:
“There is widespread recognition in contemporary society of the need to balance (1) the freedoms and privileges of…