Essay on Criminal Justice Trends

Submitted By tb2177
Words: 1505
Pages: 7

Criminal Justice Trends of the Courts Terry M. Busse CJA/484 May 13, 2013 Wayne Scott Patch Criminal Justice Trends of the Courts The primary function of any court system is to keep the domestic peace. If there were not a court system that was accepted by the citizens of the society that it serves, vigilante groups would exact their own justice. The court serves as the impartial judge that determines if a crime has been committed, trying the accused, and sentencing that individual. The sentencing determines the punishment for the convicted, a punishment that will fulfill society’s need for justice. It is the function of the criminal court to ensure that the constitutional rights of citizens are not violated. The criminal courts of the United States are unique insofar as there are two different court systems; the state court system and the federal court system. Each of these systems have had to adapt to the ever-changing laws that they were created to protect. Trends in the courts of the criminal justice system have many influential variables. A basic variable is, which political party do the court’s actions reflect. Due process and crime control models in the criminal justice system may be likened to the Democratic and Republican political parties of the United States. The due process model representing the Democratic or more “liberal” party and the crime control model representing the Republican or more conservative party. In the due process model, the primary objective is to at least as much to protect the innocent as it is to convict the guilty. In the crime control model, the objective is to control criminal behavior through the criminal justice system. The trend of the courts of the criminal justice system will be examined by looking at how the courts have addressed crimes related to drugs. According to (King, 2008) “The “war on drugs,” beginning in the 1980s, represented a profound shift in the way in which the United States practiced law enforcement, and ushered in a new era in American policing. Between 1980, and 2003, the number of drug offenders in prison or jail increased by 1100% from 41,100 in 1980 to 493,800 in 2003 with a remarkable rise in arrests concentrated in African American communities. This precipitous escalation began as the result of a tangible shift in law enforcement practices toward aggressively pursuing drug offenses.” The more conservative political party was behind the “crime control.” The courts were acting in the policy of “crime control” through punishment. This trend has been steady until the past few years when the overcrowding of prisons has become a crisis. Prior to the “War on Drugs” the prison population numbers were steady. From 1925 to 1980 the number of prisoners ranged from 100,000 to 200,000. From 1980 to 2010, the number of prisoners grew from 200,000 to 1,600,000. It would appear that when launching the “War on Drugs,” the lawmakers did not take into consideration the eventual stress it would put on the criminal justice system. Criminalizing of drugs is a significant factor in the overcrowding of prisons. There is no indication that the rise in numbers will level off, let alone decrease any time soon. There is a current trend of courts to become less punitive regarding non-violent crimes with the hopes of lessoning the pressure of the correction department of the criminal justice system. With correction departments overcrowded as they are, it is important that there be a more rehabilitative approach to criminals who partake in non-violent, non-sexual, and non-serious crimes. This is necessary because there is an increasing need for room in prison for the more violent criminals; criminals such as the MS-13’s and other notorious gangs that partake in serious, violent, and sexual crimes. The