Topic: Lack of Certainty and Celerity in the Criminal Justice System accounts for the high level of crimes committed. Dependent Variable: Crime Level Independent Variable: Criminal Justice System Operational ization Celerity. Celerity for this study refers to the swiftness with which criminal sanctions are applied after the commission of a crime. Certainty.
Certainty refers to the probability of apprehension and punishment for a crime. Crime Levels. Crime levels in this study refer to the statistics on the levels of reported crime in the country as reported by agencies such as STATIN. Criminal Justice System Criminal Justice System in this study refers to Elaboration of central thesis. The idea is that the levels of crime are high not only as a result of economic stress and other such factors but also as a result of lack of certainty and celerity in the Criminal Justice System. This fosters opinions and impressions of the manipulation of the Criminal Justice System.
These beliefs decrease the threat of punishment for illegal activity produced by the Criminal Justice System. If punishment is not swift and dependable then it looses power as a threat against illegal activities. Beccaria theorized that a minimum amount of punishment was needed if criminals were convinced that their violations were certain to be discovered and swiftly punished. This was similar to the Rational Choice Theory.
It can be argued though that criminals are victims of such factors as racism, poverty, alienation, strain and their crime is an expression of their frustration. Their anger is a creation of social inequality. The Criminal Justice System serves to control the "have not's." It serves to secure the power of the affluent and judges those before it by two standards of justice. Within it the rich have private attorneys while the poor get public defenders. This process includes most lawyers. The best lawyers, from the best schools, with the best experience are quickly absorbed into prestigious law firms practicing civil, and more particularly, corporate law.
Those attorneys who find their way to the bar in the criminal courts are usually from less prestigious law schools, have less training, and come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds (Ladin sky, 1984). Greg Barak (1980) goes so far as to argue that corporate law as an institutionalized specialty acted to erode the quality of criminal defense attorneys, insuring that criminal lawyers are primarily those of poorer quality, experience, and training. Whether intended or not the outcome is the same. Those high-quality attorneys who choose to practice criminal law find themselves with heavy caseloads that make impossible quality case preparation for all but the elite of the profession. They find themselves burdened with many cases. Burnout among criminal lawyers is the rule, and it occurs early in their careers.
Another route for practicing criminal law is to join the district attorney's office as a prosecutor. Those attorneys who come out of law school and join public defenders' offices are, for the most part, putting in their time and getting experience in order to move on to a law firm and eventually enter the more lucrative practice of civil and corporate law. Their priorities are clearly to avoid offending people in the system and to get through the public defender experience without incurring any black marks against their future acceptance into the upper strata of the practice of law (Platt and Pollack, 1975). In addition, public defenders are employees of the court.
Their professional lives depend on good working relations with prosecutors and judges. Rocking the boat will not enhance a public defender's professional life. Agreeing to a quick plea bargain that clears the court calendar and gives the prosecutor a "win," on the other hand, will (Blumberg, 1975; Casper, 1972; Skol nick, 1966). Court-assigned private attorneys are no more strongly motivated to represent their clients' interests.
They are paid a set fee considerably lower than the fee they would be getting from their private clients for the same time and effort. Bringing a case to a rapid conclusion, preferably through a bargained guilty plea, is very much in their economic interest. As such while a poor person may steal a night drop deposit bag and get sent to a maximum security prison the rich person who steals ten million through some type of fraud, putting many people out of jobs and much needed income is sentenced to-if at all sentenced-a minimum security prison, or a "country club institution." The indications show that the system is not working well. It fails to adequately protect society from crime. It fails to reduce crime or deter criminals.
It fails to treat all of the accused with equal justice. It is discriminatory, unevenly applied, and is not even handed. Description of problem. The Criminal Justice System does not take into account the economic system and this is understandable. People feel forced to find other sources of income and survival. However, it is a shared opinion the lady justice is not blind.
There is a bias against some crimes while others which may be more far reaching but less violent are given a slap on the wrist. Assault charges for example are for the most quickly and harshly punished as inappropriate behavior. However, other crimes like white-collar crime are seen as being dealt dealt with differently. The reaction is more "Hush-Hush." Trials at times take longer to reach court. Trials are deliberated, and re-deliberated, and often punishment looks to the average person as a slap on the wrist. There is also the fact that increased reporting and publicizing of violent crime while other crimes may be dealt with privately, totally avoiding publicity, trial, and conviction.
People do not think justice is fair and swift and thus are not constrained by it. What is the relationship between law and society? The law announces the values of society. It tells us where the boundaries of acceptable behavior lie and links those who violate the boundaries -- criminals -- with incarceration. Why are some behaviors illegal and not others? Are laws based on a culture's morality? Is every behavior considered deviant defined as illegal? As Erich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda (1994: 78) state, "Definitions of right and wrong do not drop from the skies, nor do they simply ineluctably percolate up from society's mainstream opinion; they are the result of disagreement, negotiation, conflict, and struggle.
Society is composed of individuals struggling to defend their interests in interaction with others doing the same thing. According to George Vold (1958: 208 -- -9), "The whole political process of law making, law breaking, and law enforcement becomes a direct reflection of... fundamental conflicts between interest groups and their... struggles for the control of the police power of the state." The winners decide who is in violation of the law -- that is, who is criminal. In Vold's description, the contact of groups is an endlessly changing kaleidoscope of force-ratios.
Laws are the peace treaties intended to safeguard the prominence of the victors. In addition, the amount of social diversity between offender and victim affects how the law is applied. Donald Black (1989: 59) uses homicide to illustrate: "The amount of variation in the handling of homicide cases is spectacular, ranging from those that legal officials decide not even to investigate (as frequently occur when prisoners or skid-row vagrants kill each other) to those resulting in capital punishment (as may happen when a poor robber kills a prosperous stranger)." Impartial application of the laws is thus a myth in the case of homicide. As Michael Kramer (1994: 32) notes, "Despite the many supposed safeguards, what matters most is who you are, who you kill, and who your lawyer is." The most frequent manifestation of criminal justice is repression.
"Our criminal justice system includes an aspect that is oppressive. Criminal justice is, literally, state power. It is police, guns, and prisons, hanging. Once the myth that repressive laws will deter undesirable behavior takes hold, it is not easily abandoned.
The poor, underemployed and unemployed and undereducated who make up the majority of criminal justice system clients find themselves in a legal system populated by people very unlike themselves, with little understanding of their backgrounds, their lives, or their needs. This is an obvious disadvantage, but it pales in the face of the disadvantageous position of the poor in the rest of the trial process. This brings us to one additional definition of justice: justification. The reality of the legal system is not innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before a jury of peers. The reality is that who you are, where you live, whom you know, and the assets you have to defend yourself determine what kind of justice you will receive.
Those most like "us" are presumed innocent -- and often, for that reason, are never charged and never enter the process. Even the concept of applying the law equally is inherently inequitable, but we cling to the cherished notion of equality to justify the established system. The gap between standards and reality -- the law in theory and the law in action -- is much more than a philosophical discussion for those who must experience it. Thesis Statement Lack of Celerity and Certainty are part of the reason that the Criminal Justice System in Jamaica is not effective in reducing levels of crime in the society. Rationale All societies are held together by shared norms and beliefs which guide the actions of most or a citizens. In a society where this is not the case there will be problems within that society as the citizens are set into conflict with each other.
For a society to maintain peace and harmony it must share within itself a common outlook on what is accepted and what is not accepted in terms of behavior and other factors. A society's Criminal Justice System is the method by which these norms and values are shared with everyone as well as enforced upon those in society. However if the citizens of the society see that the Criminal Justice System is a biased one and that the results and process within the Criminal Justice System depend on who the Criminal Justice System is looking at it looses its power to act as a cohesive factor within society. In countries like Jamaica there is a perceived difference in treatment that the Criminal Justice System metes out to people from different social classes, groups, and etcetera. These differences in the action of the Criminal Justice System depending on those it is being applied to at the moment weaken its ability to act as a cohesive agent in the society. The fact also that justice is not blind affects the Criminal Justice Systems ability to do the job it was set up to do.
The Criminal Justice System is also faced with the fact that as well as being biased in the levels of Celerity it provides it is also biased in the level of Certainty faced by potential and actual perpetrators within the system. In Jamaica there have been little evaluations of existing policing, sentencing, and correctional policies. Judges have considerable discretionary powers. Rehabilitation programs have never been properly evaluated. The Jamaican Criminal Justice System has been deeply influenced by Rational Choice Theory.
It believes that as rational, free willed subjects, individuals freely choose to commit crimes and commit to criminal careers. Research problem as investigated by others Public images created by movies, television, novels, newspaper stories, and radio reports play up the nature of the Criminal Justice System. What is the relationship between law and society? The law, as the basis of the Criminal Justice System, serves as a banner to announce the values of society. It tells us where the boundaries of acceptable behavior lie and links those who violate the boundaries -- criminals -- with evil, pain, incarceration, and disgrace. Why are some behaviors illegal and not others? Are laws based on a culture's morality? Is every behavior considered deviant defined as illegal? As Erich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda (1994: 78) state, "Definitions of right and wrong do not drop from the skies, nor do they simply ineluctably percolate up from society's mainstream opinion; they are the result of disagreement, negotiation, conflict, and struggle. The passage of laws raises the issue of who will criminalize whom." By what process do crimes get defined, the criminal law created, and violators punished? Goode and Ben-Yehuda (1994) point out that all groups in a society do not have equal access to the legal process.
Some have more influence with the media, some with legislators, and some with the educational system. "Views of right and wrong do not triumph by becoming widely accepted in a society simply because they are objectively true or because they best preserve the social order or generate the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people" (Goode and Ben-Yehuda, 1994: 78 -- -79). In its most altruistic form, law is a consensus about how to safeguard everyone's interests -- as understood by particular people at a particular time. The framers of the Constitution may have been engaged in unselfish efforts to construct an impartial rule of law, but women were not given the right to vote, and slavery was not illegal -- constraints of the worldviews at that time. Arrest, that point at which one is taken into official custody and charged with the commission of a crime, is in the truest sense the gateway to the criminal justice system.
In a system guaranteeing equal protection under the law and equal justice to its citizens, an arrest should occur only after police and investigators have carefully gathered and sifted through the evidence of a crime. If probable cause exists, the suspect is taken into custody. The criteria for determining probable cause should be the same for everyone. This is the majesty of a criminal justice system that guarantees equal protection. It is also a myth. The vast majority of people arrested and processed through the criminal justice system are poor, unemployed or underemployed, and undereducated.
Indeed, 33% of the individuals in our prisons were not employed prior to their arrests, 45% were not employed in full-time jobs, 47% had not graduated from high school, and 50% made less than $10, 000 a year in income (Reiman, 1998: 134-135). Does the over representation of the poor, undereducated and unemployed in arrest statistics represent a failure of equal justice or does it represent higher rates of criminality among those groups? Defenders of the justice system claim that the disadvantaged in society simply commit more crime and more serious crimes than others. If this is true then perhaps the bias of arrest noted above reflects actual criminality not a failure of the system to guarantee equality. Fortunately, we have means available to test this argument. For many years, social scientists have made use of self-report surveys, particularly among juvenile populations. These surveys list criminal acts and ask the respondents to indicate which of those acts they may have committed, and often the frequency with which they have committed them, while guaranteeing the respondents anonymity.
Self-report surveys also gather demographic data to allow us to compare reported criminality among various groups in society. Race also impacts on the decision to arrest. A study of police discretion in six southern cities in the United States of America (Powell, 1990) found a significant disparity in how police officers implement their discretionary decision-making to arrest to not arrest, with offender race strongly influencing the decision-making process. Police demonstrated a clear tendency to take more punitive actions against black offenders than white offenders, especially in the three most urban of the research sites. These findings were confirmed by recent research on case processing in Nebraska (Johnson, Secret, 1990).
In that study, race was found to the major extralegal variable related to decisions related to detention, to referral to court, and to sentencing. The only aspect of the justice system, which seemed not to discriminate against blacks, was in adjudication where whites were more likely than blacks to be convicted. However, upon review the researchers determined that this inconsistency was attributable not to race-blind justice but to the fact that blacks are more likely to be charged and processed based on weaker evidence. There are many possible explanations for this bias in arrest (Reiman, 1998; Chambliss, 1984: 199-203): It can be argued that poor, because of their living conditions, housing, and lifestyles are not afforded the same level of privacy as the privileged. What the rich do in their dens, bedrooms, and fenced yards, the poor do in public, making arrests for drugs, drinking violations, gambling, and sexual activity more likely. A middle-class or upper class family can provide the arresting officer or prosecutor with an alternative to arrest.
The son or daughter of a well-to-do family can always get "counseling,"drug treatment,"therapy," and other forms of professional help that might correct his or her aberrant behavior. The poor cannot make such overtures. The money needed to get a juvenile into drug treatment is simply not available to any but the well off in society. It can be argued that police officers are trained in such a way that they are more likely to identify a poor youth, particularly a member of a depressed community, as a potential criminal. This police stereotyping may direct attention to the disadvantaged and away from the advantaged. It can also be argued that the police operate in a bureaucratic system, and like all bureaucracies policing seeks to avoid difficult problems and handles those cases, which are less troublesome.
A middle-class or upper class offender is more likely to take the case to trial, more likely to exercise political influence, more likely to afford a private attorney. The poor can offer no such resistance to the charges and therefore arrests of the poor and disadvantaged are simply easier on the police bureaucracy. All of these explanations for the police propensity toward arresting the poor and disadvantaged no doubt have some explanatory power. But none of them change the basic fact that middle-class and upper-class offenders, participating in the same activities and engaging in a similar rate of criminality, are less likely to find their way into the criminal justice system.
The poor, underemployed and unemployed and undereducated who make up the majority of criminal justice system clients find themselves in a legal system populated by people very unlike themselves, with little understanding of their backgrounds, their lives, or their needs. This is an obvious disadvantage, but it pales in the face of the disadvantageous position of the poor in the rest of the trial process. Once a defendant has been adjudicated as guilty it falls on the court to hand down a sentence appropriate to the crime and its circumstances. The doctrine of equality, fairness, and equal protection under the law dictates that this decision not be affected by extraneous factors, such as race, gender, or socioeconomic status. The reality is that such factors play a critical role in the sentencing decision. The empirical research done by criminal justice scholars has demonstrated with remarkable regularity that minority group members (particularly African-Americans) and the poor get longer sentences, have less chance of gaining parole or probation, even when the seriousness of the crime and the criminal record of the defendants are held constant (Bridges and Crutchfield, 1988; Myers, 1987; Walsh, 1987; Zat z, 1987).
Without belaboring the point by discussing the dozens of studies, which have demonstrated such bias in sentencing, a few illustrative examples will suffice in making the point. From the time of arrest, through pretrial detention, through the criminal trial and into prison, the key factor which determines the severity and harshness with which the criminal justice system treats its clients is money. Those who can commit sophisticated crimes, pay high-priced attorneys, and afford private treatment and counseling will find justice with a merciful and caring face. Those who cannot will find long sentences and prison to be their punishment for being poor.