Siegel_23-36.pdf - Chapter 1 assault The lower criminal...

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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 1 assault. The lower criminal courts handle these cases in assembly-line fashion. Few defendants insist on exercising their constitutional rights because the delay would cost them valuable time and money. Because the typical penalty is a small fine, everyone wants to get the case over with.25 The “wedding cake” model of informal justice is an intriguing alternative to the traditional criminal justice flowchart. Criminal justice officials handle indi— vidual cases differently, yet a high degree of consistency is found with the way in which particular types or classes of cases are dealt with in every legal jurisdiction. For example, police and prosecutors in Los Angeles and Boston will each handle the murder of a prominent citizen in similar fashion. They will also deal with the death of an unemployed street person killed in a brawl in a similar manner. Yet in both jurisdictions, the two cases, both involving a murder, will be handled very differently: The bigwig’s killer will receive a full—blown jury trial (with details on the 6 o’clock news); the drifter’s killer will get a quick plea bargain. The model is useful because it shows that all too often, public opinion about criminal justice is formed on the basis of what happened in an atypical case. Q PERSPECTIVES ON JUSTICE Since the 19605, when the field of criminal justice began to be the subject of both serious academic study and attempts at unified policy formation, sig- nificant debate has continued over the meaning of the term “criminal justice” and how the problem of crime control should be approached. After decades of research and policy analysis, criminal justice is still far from a unified field. Practitioners, academics, and commentators alike have expressed irreconcilable differences concerning its goals, purpose, and direction. Some conservatives believe the solution to the crime problem is to increase the number of police, apprehend more criminals, and give them long sentences in maximum security prisons. In contrast, liberals call for increased spending on social services and community organization. Others worry about giving the government too much power to regulate and control behavior and to interfere with individual liberty and freedom. Given the multitude of problems facing the justice system, this lack of con- sensus is particularly vexing. The agencies of justice must attempt to eradicate such seemingly diverse social problems as substance abuse, gang violence, por— nography, cyber crime, and terrorism while respecting individual liberties and civil rights. The agencies of the justice system also presumably have adequate re- sources and knowledge to carry out their complex tasks in an efficient and effec— tive manner, something that so far seems to be wishful thinking. Experts are still searching for the right combination of policies and actions that will significantly reduce crime and increase public safety while maintaining individual freedom and social justice. Considering the complexity of criminal justice, it is not surprising that no single view, perspective, or philosophy dominates the field. What are the domi- nant views of the criminal justice system today? What is the role of the justice system, and how should it approach its tasks? The Crime Control Perspective More than 20 years ago, political scientist james Q. Wilson made the persuasive argument that most criminals are not poor unfortunates who commit crime to survive but are greedy people who choose theft or drug dealing for quick and easy profits.26 Criminals, he argued, lack inhibition against misconduct, value the excitement and thrills of breaking the law, have a low stake in conformity, and are willing to take greater chances than the average person. If they could be con— vinced that their actions will bring severe punishment, only the irrational would be willing to engage in crime. Restraining offenders and preventing their future 6 Crime and CriminalJustice 23 24 Part 1 Q The Nature ofCrime, Law, and Criminaljustice crime control perspective A model ofcriminal justice that emphasizes the control of dangerous offenders and the protection ofsociety through harsh punishment as a deter- rent to crime. misdeeds, he argued, is a much more practical goal of the criminal justice system than trying to eradicate the root causes of crime: poverty, poor schools, racism, and family breakup. He made this famous observation: Wicked people exist. Nothing avails except to set them apart from innocent people. And many people, neither wicked nor innocent, but watchful, dissem— bling, and calculating of their chances, ponder our reaction to wickedness as a clue to what they might profitably do.27 Wilson’s Views helped define the crime control perspective of criminal justice. According to this View, the proper role of the justice system is to prevent crime through the judicious use of criminal sanctions. People want protection from dangerous criminals and expect the government to do what is necessary—— punish criminals—to make them feel secure; crime control is part of the demo— cratic process?8 Because the public is outraged by such crimes as mass school shootings like the one at Columbine High School in Colorado, it demands an efficient justice system that hands out tough sanctions to those who choose to violate the law.29 EFFECTIVENESS AND EFFICIENCY According to the crime control philoso- phy, if the justice system operated in an effective manner, most potential criminals would be deterred from crime, while the few who dared would be apprehended, tried, and punished so that they would never again risk commit- ting crime. Crime rates trend upward, the argument goes, when criminals do not sufficiently fear apprehension and punishment. If the efficiency of the sys— tem could be increased and the criminal law could be toughened, crime rates would decline. Effective law enforcement, strict mandatory punishment, and expanding the use of prison are the keys to reduce crime rates. Although crime control may be expensive, reducing the gains of criminal activity is well worth the price. Advocates of the crime control perspective believe that the focus of justice should be on the victim of crime, not the criminal, so that innocent people can be protected from the ravages of crime. This objective can be achieved through more effective police protection, tough sentences (including liberal use of the death penalty), and the construction of prisons designed to safely incapacitate hardened criminals. If the system could be made more efficient, few would be tempted to break the law, and its effectiveness would improve. Crime control advocates do not want legal technicalities to help the guilty go free and tie the hands of justice. They lobby for the abolition of legal restric— tions that control a police officer’s ability to search for evidence and interrogate suspects. Police departments would be more effective crime fighters, they argue, if administrators employed a proactive, aggressive law enforcement style without having to worry about charges that their forceful tactics violated the rights of criminal defendants.30 The police may sometimes be forced to use tactics that sacrifice civil liberties for the sake of effectiveness, such as profiling people at an airport based on their race or ethnic origin in order to identify and apprehend suspected terrorists. Civil libertarians are wary of racial profiling, but crime con- trol advocates would argue that we are in the midst of a national emergency and that the ends justify the means. ABOLISHING LEGAL ROADBLOCKS One impediment to effective crime control is the legal roadblocks set up by the courts to protect the due process rights of criminal defendants. Several hundred thousand criminals go free every year in cases dropped because courts find that police have violated the suspects’ Miranda rights.31 Crime control advocates lobby for abolition of the exclusion- ary rule, which requires that illegally seized evidence be barred from crimi- nal proceedings. Their voices have been heard: A more conservative Supreme Court has given police greater latitude to search for and seize evidence and via AP images AI Henkel/NBC NewsW' Chapterl Pass, has eased restrictions on how police operate. However, even in this permissive environment, research shows that police routinely violate suspects’ rights when searching for evidence and that the majority of these incidents are never re— viewed by the courts because the search was not followed up by arrest or citation.32 Crime control advocates also question the criminal justice system’s ability to rehabilitate offenders. Most treatment programs are ineffective because the justice system is simply not equipped to treat people who have a long history of antisocial behavior. Even when agents of the system attempt to prevent crime by working with young people, the results are unsatisfactory. For example, evalua— tions of the highly touted Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) antidrug program indicate that it has had little impact on students.33 From both a moral and a practical standpoint, the role of criminal justice should be the control of antisocial people. If not to the justice system, then to whom can the average citi- zen turn for protection from society’s criminal elements?J The Rehabilitation Perspective If the crime control perspective views the justice system in terms of protecting the public and controlling criminal elements, then the rehabilitation perspective may be said to see the justice system as a means of caring for and treating people who cannot manage themselves. Advocates of this perspective view crime as an expression of frustration and anger created by social inequality. Crime can be con— trolled by giving people the means to improve their lifestyle through conventional endeavors. The rehabilitation concept assumes that people are at the mercy of social, economic, and interpersonal conditions and interactions. Criminals themselves are the victims of racism, poverty, stress, blocked opportunities, alienation, fam- ily disruption, and other social problems. They live in socially disorganized neigh- borhoods that are incapable of providing proper education, health care, or civil services. Society must help them compensate for their social problems. ALTERNATIVES TO CRIME Rehabilitation advocates believe that government programs can help reduce crime on both a societal (macro) and individual 0 Crime and CriminalJustice 25 Proponents of the crime control model believe that legal roadblocks to law enforcement should be lifted. Here Border Patrol agents arrest eight suspected illegal aliens and read them their Miranda rights in Maverick County, near Eagle Texas, after the suspects try to ride a freight train into the United States. Should noncitizens have the same legal rights as US. citizens? rehabilitation perspective A model ofcriminal justice that sees crime as an expression of Frustration and anger created by social inequality that can be controlled by giving people the means to improve their lifestyle through conventional endeavors. 26 Part 1 9 The Nature ofCrime, Law, and Criminaljustice due pl‘OCCSS perspective A model ofcriminal justice that emphasizes individual rights and constitutional safeguards against arbitrary or unfairjudicial or administrative proceedings. (micro) level. On the macro, or societal, level, research shows that as the number of legitimate opportunities to succeed declines, people are more likely to turn to criminal behaviors, such as drug dealing, to survive. Increasing economic oppor- tunities through job training, family counseling, educational seivices, and crisis intervention is a more effective crime reducer than prisons and jails. As legiti— mate opportunities increase, violence rates decline.34 On a micro, or individual, level, rehabilitation programs can help at—risk youths avoid entry into criminal careers by providing them with legitimate alter— natives to crime and the counseling to enable them to grasp opportunities. Drug offenders, a population known to be resistant to change, have shown marked improvement given the proper course of treatment.35 Even if crime prevention efforts are not perfect, incarcerating offenders without proper treatment is not the right course of action. Given the proper therapy, incarcerated offenders can significantly lower their rates of recidivism.36 Within correctional settings, programs that develop interpersonal skills, induce a prosocial change in attitudes, and improve cognitive thinking patterns have been shown to significantly reduce recidivism rates.37 Society has a choice: Pay now, by funding treatment and educational pro- grams, or pay later, when troubled youths enter costly correctional facilities over and over again. This view is certainly not lost on the public. Although the public may want to get tough on crime, many are willing to make exceptions, for ex— ample, by advocating leniency for younger offenders.38 The Due Process Perspective Advocates of the due process perspective argue that the greatest concern of the justice system should be providing fair and equitable treatment to those accused of crime.39 This means providing impartial hearings, competent legal counsel, equitable treatment, and reasonable sanctions. The use of discretion within the justice system should be strictly monitored to ensure that no one suf— fers from racial, religious, or ethnic discrimination. The system must be attuned to the civil rights afforded every citizen by the US Constitution. Therefore, it is vexing to due process advocates when the Supreme Court extends the scope of law enforcement’s reach, enabling police agencies to monitor and control citizens at the expense of their right to privacy. Although many views exist of what the true goals of justice should be, the system undoubtedly must be expected to operate in a fair and unbiased manner. Those who advocate the due process orientation point out that the justice sys— tem remains an adversary process that pits the forces of an all-powerful state against those of a solitary individual accused of a crime. If concern for justice and fairness did not exist, the defendant who lacked resources could easily be overwhelmed. ' Miscarriages ofjustice are common. Numerous criminal convictions have been overturned because evidence from newly developed DNA procedures later showed that the accused could not have committed the crimes. Many of those falsely convicted spent years in prison before their release.40 Evidence also shows that many innocent people have been executed for crimes they did not com- mit. From 1976 to 1999, 566 people were executed. During that same period, 82 convicts awaiting execution were exonerated—a ratio of l freed for every 7 put to death.41 Because such mistakes can happen, even the most apparently guilty offender deserves all the protection the justice system can offer. Having a competent attorney who puts on a spirited defense may mean the difference be— tween life and death. When Talia Roitberg Harmon and William Lofquist stud— ied the cases of people who had been falsely convicted of murder, they found that those employing private counsel were much more likely to be exonerated than those who could not afford a private attorney.42 Is it fair that a life versus death outcome may rest on the ability to afford private counsel? Chapteri Those who question the due process perspective claim that the legal privi— leges afforded criminal suspects have gone too far and that the effort to protect individual rights now interferes with public safety. Is it fair, they argue, for evi- dence to be suppressed if it is obtained in violation of the constitutional right to be free from an illegal search and seizure, even if it means that a guilty per- son goes free? Yet, many people who appear guilty may actually be the victim of slipshod justice. Recent (2008) research sponsored by the Pew Foundation found that a majority of death penalty convictions have been overturned due to “serious, reversible error,” including egregiously incompetent defense counsel, suppression of exculpatory evidence, false confessions, racial manipulation of the jury, “snitch” and accomplice testimony, and faulty jury instructions.“3 Cer— tainly the danger of convicting an innocent person still remains a frightening possibility. The Nonintervention Perspective Supporters of the nonintervention perspective believe that justice agencies should limit their involvement with criminal defendants. Regardless of whether intervention is designed to punish or treat people, the ultimate effect of any in— volvement is harmful. Whatever their goals or design, programs that bring peo— ple in contact with a social control agency—such as the police, a mental health department, the correctional system, or a criminal court—will have long—term negative effects. Once involved with such an agency, criminal defendants may be watched, people might consider them dangerous and untrustworthy, and they can develop a lasting record that has negative connotations. Bearing an official label disrupts their personal and family life and harms parent—child rela— tionships. Eventually, they may even come to believe what their official record suggests; they may view themselves as bad, evil, outcasts, troublemakers, or crazy. Thus, official labels promote rather than reduce the tendency to engage in antisocial activities.44 Noninterventionists are concerned about the effect of the stigma that crimi— nal suspects hear when they are given negative labels such as “rapist” or “child abuser.” These labels will stick with them forever. Once labeled, people may find it difficult to be accepted back into society, even after they have completed their sentence. It is not surprising, considering these effects of stigma and label— ing, that recidivism rates are so high. When people are given less stigmatized forms of punishment, such as probation, they are less likely to become repeat offenders.45 Fearing the harmful effects of stigma and labels, noninterventionists have tried to place limitations on the government’s ability to control people’s lives. They have called for the decriminalization (reduction of penalties) and legal— ization of nonserious victimless crimes, such as the possession of small amounts of marijuana, public drunkenness, and vagrancy. Noninterventionists demand the removal of nonviolent offenders from the nation’s correctional system, a policy referred to as deinstitutionalization. First offenders who commit minor crimes should instead be placed in infor— mal, community—based treatment programs, a process referred to as pretrial diversion. Sometimes the passage of new criminal laws can stigmatize offenders be— yond the scope of their offense, referred to as “widening the net of justice.” For example, a person who purchases pornography on the Internet is labeled a dan- gerous sex offender, or someone caught for a second time with marijuana is con- sidered a habitual drug abuser. Noninterventionists have fought implementation of community notification—type laws that require convicted sex offenders to reg- ister with state law enforcement officials and allow officials to publicly disclose when a registrant moves into a community. Their efforts have resulted in rulings stating that these laws can be damaging to the reputation and future of offenders 9 Crime and Criminaljustice nonintervention perspective A model ofcriminal justice that favors the least intrusive treat- ment possible: decarceration, diversion, and decriminaliza— tion. decriminalization Reducing the penalty for a crim- inal act without legalizing it. deinstitutionalization The movement to remove as many first offenders ofminor, nonviolent crimes as possible from secure confinement and treat them in the community. 27 28 Part 1 justice perspective A model ofcriminal justice ...
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