Select oneof the following questions and answer it:
- Why and how does the history of crime and punishment enhance criminologists' understanding of the contemporary criminal justice system?
- Is the criminal justice system fair, effective, and efficient?
Is the criminal justice system fair, effective, and efficient?
The term criminal justice system is used for describing the interdependent components of the police, courts and the correctional facilities. This term is also used for describing the agencies related with criminal justice. Therefore, on the whole, criminal justice system comprises of the three interdependent components mentioned above. The fourth component that is generally added to the criminal justice system is that of lawmaking as all the legitimate activity of this system originates from the law.
The issue that needs to be discussed in this essay is if the criminal justice system of UK can be described as fair, effective and efficient. For dealing with this issue, it is important that first of all we decide what is the purpo
se of criminal justice system? It is believed that too much pressure is present on the criminal justice system due to reason that this system is considered as a resolution for all the ills of the society. However, the system cannot provide solution to all the problems; for instance, it cannot be used to deal with the homeless, mentally ill or the problems faced by the teenagers. The criminal justice system is not designed to deal with such problems and therefore it cannot play an effective role in dealing with such problems. A panic has been created by the politicians regarding the crime and the result is that now the public is under a fear that there will not be enough space left in the prison to handle all the persons who are held guilty of various offenses. In fact, a debate is going on where the politicians tell the general public that nothing is wrong with the system and at the same time, they introduce more criminal laws to amend the criminal justice system.
The most noteworthy challenge faced by the criminal justice system at present is the need to maintain a balance between the rights of the accused and the interests of the society while imposing punishment on the persons who had been convicted of crimes. Another view that there is present in this regard is related with the problem based on wrongful convictions. For example, due to a spate of wrongful convictions, the result was that the judges in some jurisdictions of Canada were sent for a three day course to avoid wrongful convictions. But the question still remains why these convictions took place. Some of the factors that can be mentioned in this regard are the bogus prosecution experts, overconfident eyewitnesses, and the jailhouse informant who generally invent confessions and the inept lawyers or overenthusiastic prosecutors who jeopardize the right to trial enjoyed by the accused. Another factor that can be mentioned regarding the issue of wrong to convictions is the tendency, especially in case of the high-profile cases, present among the police, press and publicity seeking people to convict the accused even before the trial has taken place.
As is natural, there are plentiful arguments present regarding both sides of the way. According to some experts, the best approach to reduce crime is through social action as the issue of criminal justice will not arise because in the first place, the crimes will not take place. A good example that can be given under this approach is that of job creation. However the problem is that the organized crime and even disorganized crime is not particularly impacted by the job creation. The gangs who terrorize their neighborhoods cannot be impacted by make work programs or flower planting. As a result, the issue of criminal justice cannot be addressed effectively. The crimes will still take place and problems will be present in the criminal justice system.
Another serious issue related with wrongful convictions arises when the question is asked at what the people decide to sit silently for a long time when they have been wrongfully convicted resulting in a major miscarriage of justice. Public opinion is another factor that has a significant impact on the criminal justice system. A difficult balance needs to be maintained by the courts. The reason is that while the courts are not to be affected by public sentiment but at the same time, it is also important that the courts do not lose the confidence of the people.
The delivery of justice for all is the core principle of the criminal justice system. This can be achieved by convicting and punishing the persons was held guilty of a crime and helping them by preventing them from offending in future and at the same time protecting the innocent. The criminal justice system also has the responsibility to detect crime and bring the guilty to justice. It also has to carry out the orders passed by the courts like collecting fines, supervising custodial punishment. The result is that a number of agencies are involved in the execution of criminal justice system. The ideal criminal justice system requires being in a position to help in reducing the rate of crime and bring more offenses to justice. This will increase the confidence of the public and they will start believing that the criminal justice system is fair and it delivers for the law-abiding citizens. Hence, an ideal criminal justice system should be capable of preventing the crime from taking place in the first instances and it should be able to meet the wider needs of the victims and help in turning the offenders away from crime. According to some experts, the aims that can be attributed to the criminal justice system can be divided in two categories, the crime control model and the new process model. While in case of the crime control model, more stress is laid on convicting the guilty, which includes the risk that in some instances even an innocent person may be convicted. In this way, the crime control central justice system may result in a reduction in the rate of crime by deterrence to the society but at the same time, there are chances of miscarriage of justice as a side effect.
Therefore, there is a need to consider a crime control model that results in reducing the rate of crime. Although the government of UK had regularly emphasized on the idea of "getting rid of crying", however the results are not satisfactory. A criminal justice system that is centered on crime control is likely to deprive the accused of their rights. As the authority has been given to the police to detect the crime and every hit the wrongdoer, it is important that inappropriate powers are not given to them.
In the end, it can be said that obviously the criminal justice system should not place too much emphasis on the crime control model. In place of it, it is important that other aims of the criminal justice system are also taken into consideration, like protecting the due process rights of the accused and their rehabilitation. Therefore a criminal justice system that is capable of maintaining a balance between various objectives also has significant chances to produce a model that is acceptable to the society as a whole. But at the same time, it also needs to be mentioned that maintaining 100% balance among these two controversial models is nearly impossible. However after the emergence of the Human Rights Act, 1998, it is believed that further reforms will take place in the system that are compatible with the provisions of European Convention on Human Rights.
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