Challenges in the Criminal Justice System
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The criminal justice system is beset with many challenges as the 21st century begins.
The criminal justice system is a large and far-reaching segment of America's judicial and legislative branches. Attorneys, intellectuals and lawmakers have identified six points of interest that require discussion, action and change. These are all challenges that put excessive burden on the resources of the criminal justice system, using up time, money and manpower.
Violent youth are more likely to become violent adults.
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Acts of youth violence like school homicides are a growing and endemic problem. This issue is recognized by the Department of Justice, privately practicing attorneys and criminal justice scholars. The rise of youth violence is attributed to several causes, including criminal parents, abuse and abandonment. According to the Department of Justice, "Strong evidence links early problem behavior to later adolescent delinquency and serious adult criminality."
Drugs in the Community
Drug abuse straddles the line between crime and health problem.
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According to "Criminal Justice," a book by James A. Fagin, drug law enforcement is not tempered by the realities of addiction. The war on drugs criminalizes addiction, which is primarily a health problem. Also, Fagin encourages reevaluation of the prevalent strategies for reducing illegal drug use.
Violence Against Women
The DOJ calls for greater measures to prevent violence against women.
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A Department of Justice task force identified rape and domestic violence as significant challenges facing the criminal justice system. The report indicates that, despite national grassroots efforts to reform rape and domestic violence laws, "the incidence and prevalence of rape have not significantly declined."
The Death Penalty
The death penalty is a hotly debated topic.
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The Catholic Labor Network reported that 80 percent of executed criminals come from southern states, while the same group of states still have the highest murder rate in the country. They hypothesize that the notion of the death penalty acting as a deterrent to crime is invalid. Other death penalty topics include evident racial disparity in applying the death penalty, as well as the exorbitant cost of the death penalty because of the elaborate and drawn out appeals process that it engenders. Others, of course, continue to support the death penalty wholeheartedly.
Health and Overcrowding in Prisons
Overcrowded prisons place an undue burden on states and the nation.
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With prisons becoming increasingly overcrowded, concerns have arisen regarding the mental and physical health of prisoners. Pointed criticism of the prison system from concerned religious groups feel that the increasingly punitive criminal justice system dismisses the goals of redemption and restoration through rehabilitative incarceration. With prison overcrowding, there are also legitimate worries about the cost of supporting America's swelling prison population.
It is becoming impossible not to break the law.
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In a "New York Times" interview, former attorney general Edwin Meese III pointed out the proliferation of superfluous criminal offenses overloading the criminal justice system. “It’s a violation of federal law to give a false weather report,” Mr. Meese said. “People get put in jail for importing lobsters.” A book entitled "Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent," by civil liberties lawyer Harvey A. Silvergate, has garnered the approval of attorneys across the political spectrum. It states that federal criminal laws are now so ubiquitous that every American violates them every day, making all citizens fair game for prosecution.
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ABLongman: Companion Website for Criminal Justice [
Catholic Labor Network: Challenges for the Criminal Justice Process in the South [
"New York Times": Right and Left Join Forces On Criminal Justice [
Resources (Further Reading)
National Criminal Justice Reference Service: Critical Criminal Justice Issues [