The U.S criminal justice system faces a myriad of challenges, particularly within the last two decades. The prison and penitentiary population reached its optimal level and parole and probation numbers over-doubled. For instance, in 2009 seven million Americans were put under supervision either by federal or state criminal justice systems. These high numbers of offenders under supervision are an indication of the systemic failures in the criminal justice system (Robinson 31). There are two main classifications of criminal justice systems in America, the state and federal criminal justice system. These two systems play a role in identification and prosecution of possible criminals. The process of criminal justice incorporates procedures that are followed by the justice system (Reichel 28). The procedures include; law enforcement, trial, sentencing and punishments imposed on the individuals that are involved in criminal activities. There are ways in which the criminal justice system fails in addressing the needs of the offenders due to the generalization of the punishments. This research paper discusses the strategies that can be instituted in law enforcement, trial, sentencing and punishments to make our criminal justice deliver better results.
The law enforcement agencies in America play an important role in the identification and apprehension of the criminal suspects. The process of criminal investigation and arrest involves complex procedures that range from victim identification and criminal arrest (Robinson 16). In order to control the crime rates in the country, there needs to be a shift in funding towards the law enforcing agencies (Robinson 87). More funds should be given to these agencies so that they can focus on controlling and prevention of criminal offenses other than conducting arrests of the offenders. Adequate funding of the law enforcing agencies will make sure the investigations done on the crime scenes and on the victims provide enough evidence on some criminal activities that can be used in the prosecution of the offenders. Therefore, my recommended change in the law enforcing agencies is increasing the funding of these agencies to make the agencies proactive and efficient instead of reactionary to crime (Reichel 28).
Once a suspected offender has been apprehended, he or she is brought before a judge for trial. The trial process may be followed by sentencing or a punishment being imposed on a suspected offender. In the United States of America, imprisonment is the currently primary criminal sanction. This has led to an increase in the number of criminals in both the state and federal prisons as per the data of the national population taken from 1970 to the year 2007 (Falk 48), and this clearly indicates a need for change in the trial and sentencing procedure. The sentencing policy in America can be reviewed to lessen some of the currently strictly rules that requires an offender to be sentenced to a prison time. Besides, the duration of the sentence in prison can be reviewed to control the population of the prisons and to ensure the offenders in varied crimes get fair judgments from the jury (Robinson 16). It, therefore, recommended that the criminal justice system adopt restorative approaches to justice as opposed to retributive justice, which at times fails to deliver results as evidenced by the high number of recidivism.
The punishments that are imposed on an individual who is found to be guilty in a criminal offense are meant to correct the person. Juvenile crime punishments and adult criminal punishments are much different and are given to different extents. The punishments instead can be changed into rehabilitation classes that aim at changing the behavior of the offender and instilling values that he or she can apply while living in the society (Falk 48). Besides, the criminal justice system can use offender-victim mediation, counseling programs, family groupings conferences, community boards and apprenticeship programs (Stuntz 45).
In conclusion, the American criminal justice system has an important role in controlling crime and determining the penalties that can be imposed on an offender found guilty of an offense. The justice system can be changed ensure that the criminal suspects get a fair trial and the victims get necessary justice. Besides, punitive measures need to be transformed from retributive justice to restorative justice in order to reduce overcrowding in American prisons.
Stuntz, William J. “The Collapse of American Criminal Justice”. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap
Press of Harvard University Press, 2011. Print.
Falk, Gerhard. “The American Criminal Justice System: How It Works, How It Doesn't, and
How to Fix It”. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger, 2010. Print.
Robinson, Matthew B. “Justice blind?: Ideals and realities of American criminal justice”.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002. Print.
Reichel, Philip L. “Comparative criminal justice systems: A topical approach”. Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002. Print.