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SNHU Criminal justice Essays

Updated on March 6, 2015

Recent Criminal Justice

Describe one recent criminal justice issue that requires the collective working relationship of the criminal justice components to function effectively and issues that might arise from a breakdown in collaboration.

Criminal justice “is the formal social institution designed to respond to deviance defined as a crime” (Travis, 2012, p. 3). One criminal justice issue that requires the collective working relationship of the criminal justice components is theft. On October 30, 2013 the police arrested a woman for stealing from a Target store in Boynton Beach, Florida. The woman, Carmelle Salomon, is a 29 year old Target employee and she stole $3,255 from Target over the course of a month. According to Carmelle Salomon she stole the money because “she's a single mom and the baby's father is not paying child support” (Sacasa, 2013). This issue requires a collective working relationship of the criminal justice system in order for the case to be dealt with correctly.

First the theft needed to be investigated in order to link Carmelle Salomon to the theft of $3,255. In this case the crime was real and the thief was discovered by use of Target’s security footage. Target security and the police were able to watch as Carmelle Salomon counted the stores money and then “separated one stack of cash, put a green envelope on top of it, then hid it between a book and papers before leaving” (Sacasa, 2013). In this case Target collaborated effectively with the police in order to have the thief arrested. Next the police arrested Carmelle Salomon because she committed a crime and because they had video footage of her committing the crime. After being arrested Carmelle Salomon would have to make an initial appearance in order that a judge could decide if she should be given bail. After the initial appearance the prosecutor will need to view the evidence and determine what the formal criminal charge will be. Subsequently a judge will notify Carmelle Salomon of the charges against her and ask her to plead to the charges. The final step will be Carmelle Salomon’s trial and sentencing. For all of this to occur the police, prosecutor, courts, and the sometime the D.A. will have to be able to collaborate together.

If there were a breakdown in collaboration it could result in Carmelle Salomon be incorrectly charged or released. If the police did not properly gather all of the needed evidence to show that she is the one responsible for the theft then the prosecutor might decide to go for a lesser charge or the D.A. might decide not to have the case tried. If the prosecutor did not correctly inform the judge of the charges against Carmelle Salomon then she could be wrongly charged and her lawyer might be able to get her off with a lesser charge. Having a good system of collaboration is a very important aspect of the justice system because it takes multiple people in many different jobs to get a person arrested, tried, and convicted correctly.

References

Sacasa, A. (October 30, 2013). Boynton Target employee accused of stealing $3,255 . In Sun

Sentinel. Retrieved from http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/palm-beach/boynton-

beach/fl-boynton-target-employee-theft-20131030,0,6372737.story.

Travis III, L. (2012). Introduction to Criminal Justice. (7th Ed.). Boston: Anderson Publishing

Total Crime

Discuss why it is difficult to calculate the actual total amount of crime that occurs. In your own words, define serious crime and summarize the most serious crime problem communities face.

It is difficult to calculate the exact amount of crime that happens due to numerous factors. To calculate the number of different crimes committed there has to be an accurate report of every crime that happens; this rarely happens for many reasons. Sometimes people do not report a crime because they feel they are partially responsible for the crime, they feel that the crime is a family dispute and not their business, they feel reporting the crime will not do any good, and/or they are afraid of the person(s) committing the crime. Crimes might also go unreported if too many people witness the crime because everyone might believe that someone else will report the crime and no one does; this is called the bystander effect. A correct total can not be calculated unless every single crime that was committed was reported.

I would define a serious crime as a crime where there is physical or psychological harm done to the victim. Typically a person who commits a serious crime spends at least a year or more in jail. I am thankful that I live in a community where the majority of the crime committed is less violent in nature, mostly theft. I believe that gangs are one of the most serious problems that communities face. Gangs often commit both serious and less serious crimes such as: murder, thievery, intimidation, and many other crimes. The reason I feel gangs are the most serious problem is because they tend to intimidate people and thereby the crimes they commit do not get reported; because the crimes don’t get reported it is harder for the police to arrest the gang members and the courts are unable to try them.

Judge Constance Baker Motley

Describe the roles and duties for the four major sets of people within the courts. Select one role and find a person in the judicial system past or present whom you feel best exemplifies that role.

The four major sets of people within the courts would be the defense attorneys, the prosecutors, the judges, and the jurors. All of these people are a required part of all courts. Each group has their own roles and duties that they are required to fulfill.

The first major groups of people in court are the defense attorneys. A defense attorney is a person who “represents the defendant at trial and in all other stages of the court process” (Travis, 2012, p. 240). Defense attorneys either defend a person in a criminal trial for a fee or they are paid by the government and assigned to a defendant. Defense attorneys typically represent other people, but they do sometimes represent themselves in trial. The role of a defense attorney is to defend the defendant during court. The second major group of people in the court system would be the prosecutors. Prosecutors are elected officials who work for the state rather than an individual; it is their duty to provide legal counsel for the State in criminal trials. The role of the prosecutor in court is to prove the defendant guilty. The third major groups in court are the judges. The judges are the neutral party in court; they are not working towards the defendant being guilty nor innocent. Instead a judge presides over the trial; they decide what evidence can be admitted, they control the court, and they decide what the law means to a certain extent. The final major group of people in court is the jury. The jury is seated by the prosecution and the defense; both want jury members who will be sympathetic to them. It is each juror’s duty to examine the case and decide for themselves after viewing all evidence if the defendant is guilty or not. The jury plays the most important role out of all of the groups because they are the group that decides what the verdict of the trial is.

When I look for people who served in one of the four major groups in the courts, one person stood out for me - Judge Constance Baker Motley. Judge Constance Baker Motley was born in Connecticut in September 1921; she went on to become the first African-American woman to be elected to the New York State Senate as well as the first African-American woman Federal Judge. She is famous for her work in the Supreme Court case that decided segregated schools were unconstitutional. She stands out to me as a person who represents what it is to be a judge. She not only presided over many US court cases fairly, but she used her position to make a positive difference in the US.

References:

Brightside. (2013). 5 famous judges. In Bright Knowledge. Retrieved from

http://www.brightknowledge.org/knowledge-bank/law-and-politics/features-and-

resources/five-famous-judges.

Travis III, L. (2012). Introduction to Criminal Justice. (7th Ed.). Boston: Anderson Publishing

Sentencing

Debate continues over determinate sentencing versus indeterminate sentencing. Which one do you favor and why? Which provides for fair and equal justice and why? Does the age of the offender factor in your decision?

After looking into both determinate sentencing and indeterminate sentencing I am in favor of indeterminate sentencing. Neither form of sentencing can 100% guarantee that it will provide fair and equal justice, but I believe that indeterminate sentencing accounts for all factors giving the defendant the best chance at receiving fair and equal justice. Indeterminate sentencing is “when the judge specifies minimum and maximum sentence lengths. These set upper and lower bounds on the time to be served. The actual release date is determined later by parole authorities within those limits” (Travis, 2012, p.281). I feel that this provides fair justice because it allows the judge to take into account other factors when determining the length of the defendant’s sentence. For instance it allows a judge to give a different sentence for a man that killed someone while suffering from hallucinations than a man that killed someone out of anger. I believe each crime is slightly different so the system needs to treat each crime differently.

I believe that the age of the offender should factor into their sentencing. This belief is part of the reason I feel indeterminate sentencing is the most fair sentencing form. This form of sentencing allows the judge to take into account the offender’s age, if they have any priors, and the situation they are in. For instance, I feel a minor who stole from a store for the first time because of peer pressure should be sentenced differently than an adult that has been stealing their entire life as an occupation. I feel that a child could be turned away from crime with something like community service rather than time in jail.

Reference:

Travis III, L. (2012). Introduction to Criminal Justice. (7th Ed.). Boston: Anderson Publishing

Community Supervision

Select a state and discuss the various types of community supervision that are utilized within your state. What challenges does the state face in implementing this form of parole? Identify those programs that are more traditional and others that may be non-traditional or more recently developed. What challenges or needs do both types address?

I decided to research the various types of community supervision that are utilized within Florida. The first program Florida uses is called community work release; this is for inmates who are within 24 months of their release. The inmates who are chosen for this program are given an opportunity to earn a salary, pay restitution, and/or provide support for their dependents. While in this program inmates also receive counseling in substance abuse, parenting skills, GED, and/or life skills. The second type of program Florida utilizes is called home incarceration; inmates who are paroled using home incarceration are subject to being sent back to prison if they break their parole and constant surveillance by a combination of electronics and police officers. In some non-traditional cases electronic monitoring is used; this means that the person wears a tracking anklet that is monitored 24/7 for any parole violations. The third type of community supervision used is halfway houses. Half way houses are traditionally used only for inmates who were imprisoned on a non-violent drug charge. In Florida half way houses are traditionally run by non-profit organizations that assist inmates with overcoming their drug problems. These houses do this by teaching coping mechanisms, creating support networks, and helping the inmates with their new life.

Florida faces many challenges towards implementing these types of parole for each prisoner. The main challenge Florida faces is deciding which prisoners would be a good match for each type of parole. Florida has a long list describing which types of inmates are not allowed certain types of parole/early release; this list includes people who have been convicted of sexual battery, aggravated manslaughter of a child, murder of an unborn child, attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, and many other charges. This is challenging for Florida because the state has to comb through every file to make certain that the inmate meets all of the criteria for the program. Next the state needs to work out the financial aspect of the parole, figuring out if the prisoner can pay for the type of parole and/or if it is state funded. For instance the tracking anklet is only for inmates that can pay for it themselves, whereas the community work release program does not require the inmate to have funds to pay for the program.

References:

Crews, M. (n.d.). Community Supervision . Florida Department of Corrections. Retrieved

December 3, 2013, from http://non-profit-organizations.findthebest.com/d/t/Crime,-

Legal-.-Related/Transitional-Care,-Half-.-Way-House-for-Offenders,-Ex-.-Offenders

Juvenile Justice

Select a current issue or concern in juvenile justice. Is the juvenile court system currently equipped to handle this issue? Explain the factors involved in addressing the issue. What measures or programs could better address this challenge?

The main issue I see with Juvenile justice is the lack of rehabilitation as well as efforts to help the youths become productive members of society. The 20th century Progressives envisioned that juvenile judges would act like concerned parents trying to help children (Travis, 2012, p. 463). Instead the juvenile courts have become more focused on punishment than help. The court system is currently unequipped to act as concerned parents because of a severe lack of funds. The courts lack the money to be able “to help youths obtain education, counseling, family counseling, and vocational training” (Travis, 2012, p. 463). This unfortunately leaves the court with only the more punishing sentences.

In order for the juvenile courts to become what the 20th century Progressives intended, the courts first need access to funding. To obtain funding to be able to get a youth the counseling, education, and/or training they need to become a productive member of society the court could make part of a youth’s sentence keeping a job at a place of the courts choosing to help pay for their own training, education, and/or counseling. The juvenile court could also hold fundraising events that they could require sentenced youths to volunteer at as a part of their probation. The courts could also appeal to the State and Federal government for an increase in funds. Another way the courts could get youths the help they need would be to go to vocational schools and counselors and ask them if they could take on a troubled youth for free or at a reduced rate; perhaps the courts could find a way to offer counselors and schools who help out for free or at a reduced rate a tax cut.

References:

Travis III, L. (2012). Introduction to Criminal Justice. (7th Ed.). Boston: Anderson Publishing

Growing Trends

Select one growing trend that will impact the criminal justice system, either positively or negatively, and find an article that refers to this issue. Discuss the developments in the criminal justice system that led to this trend. What factors shaped this trend?

One growing trend that will impact the criminal justice system is cyber-crimes; lately there have been numerous viruses and spy-war programs created. These programs are designed to be uploaded on to a victim’s computer without them knowing about it; once on the computer the program steels information or destroys the computer. One virus which has become a favorite of hackers is a Trojan malware virus called Zeus malware; this virus has recently begun to do damage to people’s bank accounts through Facebook. All a person needs to do to end up with this virus on their computer is click an infected link on Facebook; the virus then downloads onto the victim’s computer, but remains in the background until a financial site is opened. When a person logs into a financial site the malware copies their login information and gives it to the hacker. From there the hacker can drain the person’s bank account, infect links on the person’s Facebook page, as well as use the information to attempt to get the victim’s social security number.

This type of criminal activity has become more popular as technology has evolved and as more people use the technology. This type of malware is becoming a growing trend as a way for criminals to steal with a lesser risk of getting caught and a decreased risk to themselves. This type of theft allows criminals to steal without worrying about if the person they are robbing has a weapon. The viruses that hackers create become more and more complex as they are forced to evolve their viruses to escape cyber-crime units, the police, the FBI, as well as other law enforcement agencies.

References:

HP Discover 2013: As it happened. (n.d.). ITProPortal. Retrieved December 12, 2013, from

http://www.itproportal.com/2013/08/28/facebook-virus-that-steals-passwords-

multiplying-at-a-rate-of-40000-cases-per-hour/

Neal, R. (n.d.). Facebook Virus: 'Zeus' Malware Steals Passwords And Drains Bank Accounts,

Thrives On Social Network. International Business Times. Retrieved December 12, 2013,

from http://www.ibtimes.com/facebook-virus-zeus-malware-steals-passwords-drains-

bank-accounts-thrives-social-network-1294881

Travis III, L. (2012). Introduction to Criminal Justice. (7th Ed.). Boston: Anderson Publishing

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