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Criminal Justice Case Study

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Robbery case study

I have chosen to write about the robbery case. The synopsis of the case is: Two people, after conducting some surveillance on a small shoe store robbed a man while he was transporting money from his business to the bank. The two people later identified as Bertha Bloutt and William Bloutt, used the ruse of a broken down vehicle to get the victim to stop to render assistance at which time the robbed him at gun point. The usual process that these two offenders would go through is known as the criminal justice process. The criminal justice system is comprised of three major institutions which process a case from inception, through trial, to punishment. A case begins with law enforcement officials, who investigate a crime and gather evidence to identify and use against the presumed perpetrator. The case continues with the court system, which weighs the evidence to determine if the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If so, the corrections system will use the means at their disposal, namely incarceration and probation, to punish and correct the behavior of the offender. Throughout each stage of the process, constitutional protections exist to ensure that the rights of the accused and convicted are respected. These protections balance the need of the criminal justice system to investigate and prosecute criminals with the fundamental rights of the accused (who are presumed innocent). Though a number of rights derived from the Constitution protect the accused from abuses and overreaching from law enforcement officers, the arguably most important of these rights are the Miranda advisement and the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. Miranda rights are the familiar refrain of police dramas. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in the court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you." Though we are all familiar with these rights, officers are nevertheless required to remind arrestees of these rights before they are questioned. The other major restriction on the investigative stage of a case is the prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. This prevents officers from searching a suspect or his home without a warrant. There are exceptions for extenuating circumstances, such as when an officer is in "hot pursuit" of a suspect or where evidence might be destroyed, such as when a suspected drug dealer runs into a restroom. Much like the law enforcement stage of a case, there are dozens of restrictions on the court's ability to prosecute a case, including the right to confront one's accusers, the right against incriminating one's self, the right to counsel, and the right to a jury trial. The primary purpose of all of these protections is to ensure a fair trial for the accused. The defendant has a right to be represented by either an attorney of their choosing, or, if they cannot afford one, court-appointed counsel. The jury must be a fair cross-section of the community, which in most cases will not lead to a jury composed of a single race or gender. If the defendant is convicted and the charges merit jail time, they will be sent to the corrections system for punishment. Typically, this involves probation, incarceration, or both. Probation can be either supervised or unsupervised. Supervised probation requires the offender to check in regularly with an officer to ensure compliance with the terms of his probation. Unsupervised probation means that a person only faces jail time or other punishment if they run further afoul of the law. Incarceration is also a common outcome of criminal trials, especially in more serious cases. The convict is housed in either jail or prison. Jails are usually located in each county and are for less serious offenses. Jail terms usually do not exceed one year. Prison terms are usually for longer than a year and almost always involve serious felony offenses. The primary constraint on abuses in the correctional system is the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. There are many ways in which this prohibition has come into play in our corrections system, including jail overcrowding, improper medical care, and in physical abuses at the hands of corrections officers. Though violations do occur, they usually will not result in a suspension of one's sentence. Rather, the remedy is typically injunctive relief and/or monetary damages obtained via a civil rights lawsuit. The criminal justice process is like a funnel, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. Early in the criminal justice process, there are many cases, but the number of cases dwindles as decision makers remove cases from the process. Some cases are dismissed, while others are referred for treatment or counseling. Another way of expressing the funnel effect is to say that there are many more suspects and defendants than inmates. As criminal justice scholar Joel Samaha notes, the U.S. Constitution requires the government to support every deprivation of privacy, life, liberty, or property with facts. The greater the deprivation, the more facts that government agents are required to produce. A stop on the street requires fewer facts than an arrest; an arrest requires fewer facts than an indictment; an indictment requires fewer facts than a criminal conviction. Criticizing the criminal justice system is easy, with the list of grievances long and familiar. Criminal cases are often processed on an assembly line, leaving too little time and attention for each matter. The high volume puts enormous pressure on all the players to resolve cases through negotiation, leading at times to either under-punishment of serious criminality, or over-punishment of those who might be innocent or less guilty than charged, but who still plead guilty to avoid a trial. Police have enormous discretion in investigating and arresting, but the quality of the police work is uneven and hard to monitor. Many defendants need appointed counsel, but funding for public defenders is so low that only the bare minimum of an accused’s needs are likely to be met. The constitutional requirements of criminal procedure are developed case-by-case by the judiciary, making it very hard to predict where the next turn in the road will be. We incarcerate a very high number of citizens, and the burdens of imprisonment do not fall equally on all groups. And so on. Being critical is not only easy, but important. The impact of a single, serious crime on the victim, the accused, and their families is often profound, and the long-term consequences can stretch beyond our ability to measure. Anything that is this central to the quality of our lives must be constantly monitored, and when the people and institutions fall short, we darn well ought to criticize. We probably could alleviate a lot of the problems with the criminal justice system with a massive inflow of money, for example, and we could reduce the overflowing prison population by reducing harsh sentences and shifting our approach to drug crimes. But there are few signs on the horizon that these kinds of dramatic changes are imminent. And so while there is nothing wrong and much to appreciate about bold, thoughtful, and unrealistic reform ideas, in the short term we know they will do little to change the status quo. Serious problems for citizens and the criminal justice system can result from the politicization of criminal justice, a process through which political leaders seize opportunities to use criminal justice issues to enhance their own popularity, electability, or power. Politicization can be observed most readily in political campaigns in which law‐and‐order rhetoric is prevalent. When criminal justice issues become too politicized, politicians are tempted to engage in demagoguery, appealing to people's emotions, passions, and prejudices rather than to people's minds. Political demagoguery is the enemy of clear thinking about solutions to the crime problem. I would argue that the strongest part of our criminal justice system is the rule based system it is structured on. In order to have ongoing public support and trust, criminal justice systems need to operate in a rule-based and accountable fashion. Arbitrary, corrupt or oppressive measures will ultimately undermine the authority and credibility of the system and, in turn, the rule of law generally. The Irish criminal justice system is founded on Constitutional and common law principles of fairness and respect for individual liberty, and, in particular, the right to a fair trial and a presumption of innocence. It is also essential, however, in the interests of efficiency and in order to instill public confidence, that the system functions effectively and protects the public. Key overall components of a fair and credible system are: * Effectiveness in detecting, deterring and punishing offending behaviour * Fairness to all involved including victims, witnesses and accused * Efficiency in the use of time and resources * Transparency and prompt service delivery
People look to the criminal justice system for personal security. They are rightly concerned about crime and they want to be safe. Unquestioning reliance on the system, however, creates problems of its own. The state run bureaucracy of justice consumes billions of tax dollars every year, responds poorly to victims' needs, and resists every effort at reform. In some neighborhoods, the apparatus of justice actually causes more problems than it solves.
The oversized criminal justice system siphons money that could be better spent on other civic endeavors. The nation spends $100 billion every year on crime control. Spending on corrections at the state level has increased faster than any other spending category. While new prisons are being built, schools are crumbling, highways are growing potholed, parks are left to decay, and opportunity-generating programs are being cut. These conditions breed crime in the long run. Most crime is local. Kids make too much noise, individuals suffer from drug addictions, dealers convert a vacant property into a crack house, and convenience stores lose inventory to shoplifters. The solutions to such problems are also local: parks and community gardens so kids have something positive to do with their time, drug treatment facilities, neighborhood patrols, and sentences that require shoplifters to sweep the sidewalks in the business district. These innovative, small scale approaches to crime control are best designed and implemented by people closest to the problem. The very best crime control arises from informal neighborhood relations. Crime thrives when people are indoors and afraid. A healthy neighborhood is one where people walk outdoors and neighbors watch each other's homes. Big government solutions like prison projects do little to foster such conditions.

References:
Adler, F., Mueller, G.O.W. and Laufer, W. (2007). Criminology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Bohm, R. M. and Jeffery T. Walker (Eds). (2006). Demystifying Crime and Criminal Justice. Los Angeles: Roxbury.
Currie, E. (1998). Crime and Punishment in America.
Garland, D. (2001). The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Miller, J. M., Schreck, C.J., and Tewksbury, R. (2008). Criminological theory: A brief introduction. 2nd edition. Boston: Pearson.
Smith, P. and Natalier, K. (2005). Understanding Criminal Justice.

The Criminal Justice System (2008). National Center for Victims of Crime. Retrieved from: http://www.victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims/get-help-bulletins-for-crime-victims/the-criminal-justice-system

The Probation Service (2010) Annual Report 2009. Available at http://www.probation.ie

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