Action plan for addressing political issues
Political processes play a critical role in the determination of the allocation and distribution of resources. Political considerations, therefore, determine who obtains something, how they get it, and when they get it. Hence, political considerations permeate every sector of our lives. Criminal justice leadership is no exception to this, and several political issues affect the working of criminal justice leaders. The key role played by politics in criminal justice leadership is evident when the sensitive nature of the work done by criminal justice professionals is considered. Criminal justice professionals have a great deal of power over the fellow citizens and, as a result, anything they do is bound to attract political interest. Hence, it is necessary for criminal justice leaders to have a plan on how to identify and address such issues. This essay develops an action plan for handling political issues in criminal justice leadership.
One of the primary political concerns that criminal justice leaders encounter is the politics inherent in the selection of the decision makers. Leaders or decision makers in criminal justice come into power either by appointment or election. In certain states, the registered voters elect judges whereas in others they are gubernatorial appointees. In both these circumstances, the process is political in nature.
Lawyers who have performed certain political favors for their parties are often forwarded as the nominees for judgeships. Even in the case of federal judges, the President is the appointing authority but his selections have to be confirmed by the Senate. These appointments are significant politically because they lead to alterations in the court’s stand on issues of criminal justice. Hence, a criminal justice leader elected through these political processes will have their decisions influenced by their political affiliation. This control presents an important political issue in criminal justice leadership.
Another political issue affecting criminal justice leadership is that of prosecution politics. Prosecutors play a critical role in criminal justice since they determine which cases proceed to trial and which ones are not viable. In the majority of US states, the prosecutors are elected officials and hence they have a heavy involvement in the local politics.
Prosecutors at both State and Federal level also often use their offices to campaign for higher political posts for themselves. As such, a political issue arises where a prosecutor abuses their position to bring criminal charges against a political enemy. This action may be perpetrated for their gain, or it may occur at the behest of those who influenced the prosecutor’s appointment.
Another political issue that affects criminal justice leaders is the making of judicial decisions. Judges who are charged with the mandate of sentencing offenders often find themselves under immense political pressure when making their rulings. This pressure is particularly significant where the case in question is a capital offense.
A lot of questionable political pressure comes into play when the death penalty is at stake. Elected judges are often more likely to impose the death penalty than appointed judges. The reason for this behavior is that the elected judges do not want to appear as if they have adopted a soft stance towards crime. When a judge fails to impose a death penalty, he or she may suffer from political attacks from opponents who would seek to use the decision in their favor during elections.
Another political issue that affects the criminal justice leadership is the politicization of the criminal justice system. In this case, the political leaders seek to take advantage of criminal justice concerns to publicize themselves and improve their popularity or power. This issue arises a lot during electoral periods where politicians engage in much rhetoric on matters of law and order. For example, the behavior of politicians in the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting exemplifies this. Several politicians took advantage of the situation to attempt to market themselves as anti-racism activists.
This problem affects nearly all criminal justice professions with the politicians playing to the gallery by appealing to people’s emotions instead of their rationale. This behavior then affects the criminal justice leadership in that the politicians compel them to make rash decisions to please the masses. Such irrationality comes at the expense of well thought out and lasting solutions.
Another political issue that affects criminal justice leaders is that of political rifts and disputes. Sometimes political leaders focus too much on political wrangling instead of aiding the Criminal Justice Department in performance of its duties. As a result, the judicial system becomes crippled. An example of this situation occurring was in late 1998 when the Sentencing Commission in the USA had no members thanks to the Democrats and Republicans differing on the selections. Hence, judicial processes had to be put on hold.
Hence, with such issues occurring frequently, it is imperative that a criminal justice leader has a plan on how to identify and deal with them comprehensively so that they do not affect his functioning and that of his department. The first step in this action plan is to determine the vision of the plan as well as the core values that will drive it.
The criminal justice leader’s vision should be to be an independent and fair leader who implements the law in an ethical manner without favoritism. The core values guiding the leader would be integrity, fairness, independence, and effectiveness. In terms of the objectives, the primary aim of the action plan must be to ensure freedom of thought and action for the criminal justice leader. Another goal would be to enhance cooperation and collaboration between criminal justice professionals and politicians. The third goal would be to strengthen the decision making of the criminal justice leaders.
Several essential steps need to be taken to ensure accomplishment of the goals stated. The first step is to conduct training on political aspects of leadership. In any job, training is a necessity because it enables an individual to gain relevant skills, which they can then apply to become more efficient.
Since leaders in the various criminal justice professions will engage with politicians a lot in their work, they must learn how to think politically. In thinking politically, one critical aspect that leaders should learn is the power of partnerships. The criminal justice leader must learn that to resist political attacks from rivals, it is imperative to have support from within their organization. Hence, the leader should obtain allies who will support him in whatever decision he makes.
Another aspect of partnership is to work together with politicians in developing policies. Through working together, the criminal justice leaders would be involved in the making of judicial decisions. When the criminal justice leaders are involved in decision-making, they can ensure that there would be no delays due to political wrangles. Hence, the criminal justice system can operate as normal.
The next step in the action plan is to develop an ethical code and guidelines by which criminal justice leaders should work. The moral code should provide a reference to the criminal justice leader on how to behave when confronted by political issues. Some political issues such as the prosecutorial politics directly relate to ethical issues. Hence, when the code is in place, a leader would know that they might be held liable for the selective prosecution. Hence, they would be reluctant to use their position to victimize their opponents.
The other step in this plan is for the leader to learn how to accept responsibility for their role in the occurrence of events. It is important for the leader to take blame to prevent politicians from gaining political mileage from it. For instance, in the case of the Ferguson shooting, the head of the police department should have acted immediately to reassure citizens before politicians took advantage of the situation.
Another measure that the action plan can adopt is to encourage independent decision-making by the criminal justice leader. The plan should remind the leader that his or her decisions influence many people and hence, they cannot allow political loyalties to sway them. Leaders such as judges should also be encouraged not to impose a sentence such as a death penalty merely to gain political mileage. Instead, the plan should advise the judge to make an independent decision then explain it properly.
In conclusion, it is evident that criminal justice leadership and politics are inseparable. The two interact in several ways such as prosecutorial politics and the making of judicial decisions. These interactions affect the operation of the leaders; hence they must have a plan to enable them to deal with the political issues.
Heifitz, R. A., & Linsky, M. (2002 ). Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
James, A., & Raine, J. W. (1998). The new politics of criminal justice. London: Longman.
Peak, K. J. (2015). Introduction to criminal justice: Practice and process. . Thousand Oaks, CA : SAGE.