Free Essay

Crjs300 Theory and Practice in Courts


Submitted By spedroza8
Words 1069
Pages 5
Unit 3: Theory and Practice in Courts
Stacey Pedroza
CRJS300-1203A-04: Proseminar in Criminal Justice
Professor Samantha Carlo
AIU Online University
June 24, 2012

Theory and Practice in Courts In reviewing the court system of the United States there is a definite hierarchy between the trial courts, appellate courts and the supreme courts of both the state and federal levels. However, the actions of the court systems move at such a slow and hindered pace because of the bureaucracy of motions and objections among many others. The following is a review of the type of court system the United States has and why. Along with judges sentencing goals and philosophy; and sentencing innovations.
Dual Court System The United States has a dual court system, comprised of the State Courts and the Federal Court Systems. Within both the State and Federal court systems there are several levels of jurisdictions. The state courts have trial courts where there is specific jurisdiction and courts of general jurisdiction, then the appellate courts and finally the state supreme court.
The federal court system is similar to the state courts in that there are trial courts, courts of appeals and finally the highest court in the nation is the Supreme Court of the United States. Another piece of the federal court system is the Military trial courts, the Military appellate courts and then they will also report to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Why does the U.S. have a Dual Court System?
“This dual-court system is the result of general agreement among the nation’s founders about the need for individual states to retain significant legislative authority and judicial autonomy separate from federal control (Schmalleger, 2011).” This separation of state and federal jurisdictions has worked well for the United States since we were founded. However, given the advancements of technology and the case loads of our court system today there may be a need for changes moving forward.
Monolithic Court System As technological advances make their way into the criminal justice system and our court systems there may be changes to our current systems. The future of the dual court system currently in the United States may be at an end. Moving into a new age of our criminal justice system there may be an evolution in our court systems into a monolithic court system. Monolithic court system would merge the current dual court system into one court system working together. This evolution could make drastic changes to the face of our current court systems. Monolithic court system would create less of a hierarchy between all the levels of jurisdictions and place more emphasis on specialized courts. With technology, these courts could function at a higher efficiency level than ever before bringing cases to trial much faster than we do today.
Innovative Sentencing Over the years as the prisons have reached unprecedented levels and the offenses are not as detrimental to society as once believed there has been an evolution of sentencing guidelines. Innovations in technology have allowed offenders to be serve their time under house arrest and may have electronic monitoring. For sex offenders laws have been established that they can be under house arrest but they are subjected to having their picture and name and address published to national register for sex offenders. Additional forms of innovative sentences being used today may include community service “drug rehabilitation to mandatory counseling, shock probation/parole, and juvenile boot camps (Q&A, 2007).” These types of innovative sentences keep these offenders out of prison which has such a substantial cost of supporting.

Philosophical Rationales and Sentencing Guidelines Judges have “ultimate authority, ruling on matters of law, weighing objections from both sides, deciding on the admissibility of evidence, and disciplining anyone who challenges the order of the court (Schmalleger, 2011).” Judges have the authority to administer the sentence once a judgment has been heard from the jury, in some states the judge may also decide the verdict, guilty or innocent, along with the sentencing. Judges are a lot like police officers in that they hold a great amount of discretionary power in their courtrooms and their judgments. Judges are required to ensure that the accused is given a fair trial, while also ensuring that the best interest of the public is maintained. There is a great amount of pressure placed on judges today with excessive case loads and pressures from the media and other outside sources.
Difficult Cases An example of a difficult case would be that of a repeat sex offender. Being a parent this would pose a difficult moral situation, wanting to impose the stiffest sentence possible to remove the offender from being allowed to interact with society at all. Sex offenders are not worthy of being allowed to roam freely with our communities and there are not enough facilities to allow them to be locked up for life.
These offenders may see some jail time but they have specific guidelines on which they are allowed to live on house arrest or on parole. Unfortunately, there are just not enough parole officers or case workers to monitor the daily activities of all of the parolees and many realize more freedoms than they should be allowed.
Sex offenders have damaged their victims for life, and should be held more accountable for their actions. America has such a prison overcrowding issue that we cannot possibly incarcerate all offenders. With the cost of electronic monitoring being so expensive there needs to be an alternative that can be implemented to house these types of offenders and keep them from within our communities.
Today, the United States still has the dual court system established by our country’s founding fathers. While there does not appear to be plans for changing this dual court system any time soon, it will be inevitable that it continue unchanged for too many more years. Judges hold power within their courtroom and must pass judgment and sentencing for offenders. The established laws and sentencing guidelines are the judges parameter of allowed actions, but is the judges ultimate authority in deciding where in the parameter is a just sentence; and keeping the best interests of the public in mind.

Q&A: (2007). Q&A: Types of sentences, court system. MUSE. AIU Online.
Schmalleger, Frank (2011). Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text For The 21st Century. 12th Ed. Pearson Education, Inc.

Similar Documents