Thursday, January 16, 2020

CST & the Criminal Justice System Essay

â€Å"I am convinced that imprisonment is a way of pretending to solve the problem of crime. It does nothing for the victims of crime, but perpetuates the idea of retribution, thus maintaining the endless cycle of violence in our culture. It is a cruel and useless substitute for the elimination of those conditions–poverty, unemployment, homelessness, desperation, racism, and greed–which are at the root of most punished crime. The crimes of the rich and powerful go mostly unpunished.† (Howard Zinn) This quote simplifies my evolved awareness of the issue concerning crime and the criminal justice system has grown. Beginning this unit I had a basic understanding of crime around the world but had almost zero knowledge about the criminal justice system and as we move on throughout this unit I was completely shocked with the some of the things going on in this very corrupt system. Just through the first activity, California Peace Officers Association: California Prisons Under Pressure, the information presented to me that the flaws of this justice system was in the way it was structured, mainly that jails are overcrowded and understaffed. Also more money is put in jails than education because of the increasing rate of inmates year by year. This activity helped me realize that prisons are very flawed and this impacts the issue of crime and criminal justice system greatly. Another very surprising activity was the PBS Frontline: Case for Innocence, which showed how inmates may be wrongly convicted through false evidence and even DNA such as in the case of Earl Washington who spent almost 18 years in prison because he was falsely charged for murder of a 19 year old girl in Culpepper, Virginia soon to be released because of the lack of evidence in the case to prove him guilty. Stories like these tend to happen more than often because the carelessness put in looking through cases by police officers and even the jury. Also year-by-year the system receives higher and higher advancements in technology, which can be a factor in determining the innocence of a victim accused. After being introduced to the horrible system of justice we talk more about specific reasons of arrests such as child abuse, which is one of the main issues that occur within inmates today. It was very surprising to see that an estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 was $124 billion, which is something that needs to be dealt with in the near future. Child abuse showed that it may be on of the contributing causes to why many inmates are stuck in prison today, statistics shows that children who face child abuse and neglect are more likely to be involved in criminal activities. This was one of the most surprising statistics that I came across because it showed one of the root causes to why the jail system is overcrowded and this is an issue that can be addressed. We need to regulate more the issue of child abuse because these children are left defenseless such as Emma was to her mother’s boyfriend. Many of these activities showed the structural flaws within the criminal justice system and the crime that occur within the United States but later as we got into more about the death penalty my views on this topic changed greatly. My opinion at first towards the death penalty was that if the crime was gruesome enough then the person should also pay through being put to death but after watching â€Å"Dead Man Walking† my opinion on this issue completely changed. It showed me that through counseling and programs showed in the movie, the inmate could truly change for the better. And that we should move forward in the direction of helping rehabilitate the inmate rather than using the death penalty because it is not only expensive but in affective towards the long term goal of living in a progressive and harmonious society. One very positive way to lead us to this society is through restorative justice, which has made a huge positive impact throughout the United States. Restorative justice programs are very affective in places such as prisons and even schools, where we’ve seen the decrease in violence and alternatives to suspension from school such as a face to face supplement which is seen as a much better solution and more affective in high schools. I was very happy to see the restorative justice programs being such a huge success and a step towards fixing the criminal justice system problem. Another great step that is occurring is with the Catholic Church and their movement into stopping the death penalty which is another great way to dealing with the situation through responsibility, restoration, and rehabilitation. The idea of the death penalty seemed completely wrong to me after reading a story from the Murder Victim’s Families for Reconciliation where a women lost her brother but didn’t want to death penalty placed on her brother’s murderer but to put him in counseling programs because an added death wouldn’ t have solved anything. And seeing the forgiveness and the logic behind this woman’s thinking I saw that the death penalty isn’t an affective way of solving a problem basically a way of â€Å"pretending to solve the problem of crime.† Every single activity and experience throughout this course of this unit was very powerful and influential in developing my awareness and understanding from knowing a few very small facts about the criminal justice system to now a vast majority of statistics and information about this system. Throughout this unit we’ve seen many structural flaws with the death penalty throughout the policies, laws, and institutions presented to us in all the online resources. Some of these flaws are proximate and some are distal. One main flaw we see in the presentation of the death penalty is that is it racially biased. Since 1977 race has been a huge factor when deciding upon the decision if one is guilty or innocent, statistics show that more people have been exe cuted for killing white victims than for killing black victims. The death penalty is also corrupt because it claims innocent lives due to lack of evidence of their wrongful conviction and it is not a deterrent. One of the most important flaws that regards is that the death penalty costs is much more expensive and takes away from other areas in the criminal justice system such as improving the jail systems. This has shown to be more of a huge downfall rather than a improving the criminal justice by implementing the death penalty. The death penalty is still more expensive than alternative sentences, and with counseling that inmate can be rehabilitated. The death penalty is less affective and unnecarsily expensive. We also see that the death penalty looks past issues such as mental illness, these flaws are just the proximate flaws we see in the criminal justice system. There are also many distal causes to the structural flaws we see in the criminal justice system such as poverty, unemployment, homelessness, racism, and greed, which are most likely the reason for most crimes occurring. Because the lack of resources to help each and every one of the these topics the cycle of crime continues to r epeat itself over and over again mainly punishing the same people for the same crimes that they continuously commit. Another huge flaw is the mindset the corrupt government has about the criminal if that crime is committed by a poor, unemployed person the sentencing is twice and more than if a rich and powerful person committed that crime. And again, using the death penalty doesn’t quickly solve any problems in the long term but actually hurts the United States. Through the restorative justice systems we can see a great improvement and slowly we can accomplish decreasing the number of inmates in prison. If someone goes through counseling and rehab there are less likely to repeat the actions in the past that got them in the situation in the first place. Whereas, the death penalty costs so much more and killing someone isn’t going to solve anything. Through structural analysis we can conclude that the criminal justice system is greatly flawed and we need to come together as a nation and help improve the current conditions of this system. The Catholic views on issues and actions regardin g crime and the criminal justice greatly conflict with my newfound views on crime and the criminal justice system. The idea of teaching right from wrong, respecting life and the law, forgiveness and mercy is very good way to address this huge issue. The Church provides the idea that â€Å"society must protect† its citizen from crime and punish the ones who break the law, which is a great way to help this issue through various ways such as workshops for parents and counseling for anyone who is struggle in this system. This will help solve the problem early on and give the children and other young people a chance in life from committed those mistakes they may have committed without the help of these programs. One great idea is the â€Å"option for the poor and vulnerable† because the factor of financial issues throughout society is a distal cause to people landing themselves in prisons. People who don’t have the right resources from their childhood tend to look towards crime for various reasons. Proper nutrition, shelter, health care, and protection can be one of the many ways of helping these people to move away from crime. And the Church is doing a great job to address this issue and fulfilling the needs of those who need it through charity and advocacy. These two ideas that the Church has presented are very important surrounding our system of retributive justice. From the policy recommendations the most important to the least important would be protecting society from those who threaten life, inflict harm, take property, and destroy the bonds of community, promote serious efforts toward crime prevention and poverty reduction, challenging the culture of violence and encouraging a culture of life, rejecting simplistic solutions such as three strikes and you’re out and right mandatory sentencing, offering victims the opportunity to participate more fully in the criminal justice process, encouraging innovative programs of restorative justice that provide the opportunity for mediation between victims and offenders and offer restitutions for crimes committed, insisting that punishment has a constructive and rehabilitative purpose, making a serious commitment to confront the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime, e ncouraging spiritual healing and renewal for those who commit crime, treating immigrants justly, and finally placing crime in a community context and building on promising alternatives that empower neighborhoods and towns to restore a sense of security. The first policy I chose was because I agree with the idea of protecting people from violence and crime, if they aren’t expose to it then they are less likely to be involved with things related to violence and crime. Everyone should be able to live in a setting without fear and be able to grow up feeling safe. And when being punished their needs to be a purpose and the punishment needs to be helpful in shaping the person back to the right path in society. The second policy was chosen because the efforts toward crime prevention and poverty reduction are key factors in helping the criminal justice system. Factors such as poverty and discrimination are huge reasons why inmates land themselves in jail and if we can stop this early on through poverty reduction and other programs we can stop these problems early on rather than after the crime is committed. Educating, supporting, and fighting poverty are key aspects in stopping the crime that is going on today. The last policy that was chosen is rejecting right mandatory sentencing; we should do everything to make sure that the punishment fits the crime. Every crime should be analyzed thoroughly and given a punishment regarding that crime and not a solution that is given to every crime because of what is stated. Every crime is different under different circumstances and we should not just take the easy route and remove the criminal from society until they are no longer a danger to us. These policies are very important in implementing through the Church to help the issue of the flawed criminal justice system to be fixed. In conclusion, my understanding of crime and the criminal justice system has greatly evolved in many ways through the activities and experiences we went through in this unit. Two major CST themes that were greatly presented through this unit were Rights and Duties and Common Good. We’ve seen that many people end up in jail because they don’t have the basic necessities to get by day to day which tend to cause them to look towards crime, Right and Duties states that â€Å"every human has the right to basic material to live a decent life.† Also we see Common Good playing a role in this unit, through the restorative programs we see the changes made by the inmates and how provide with the right teachings, these criminals can really change and benefit the community. Many things that were presented greatly surprised me and made me want to be more involved with this issue because it is a social mission to help the problem within the criminal justice system. Social action is key to help in trying to one day get more restorative programs and help abolish the death penalty for good because two wrongs don’t make a right. In the end I would personally get rid of the death penalty not only because it is expensive and ineffective but because research has greatly shown that through counseling and advocacy programs the inmates gain much more than being put to death. Not only do the inmates benefit from this but also society in general will greatly benefit from these programs because the inmates will come out given a second chance and be positive impacts to the community around them and lead the United States in a more progressive and harmonious society.

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