Part IV Bad Criminal Justice Policy and How to Fix This Mess

The Ultimate Sanction  Death as Justice
In the United States, the capital punishment is either death by electrocution or lethal injection. The death penalty is the legal infliction of death for people who commit capital crimes. This method of punishment was practiced since the colonial period. Nevertheless, the perspective and attitude towards the death penalty had gradually reduced over time. In the past, executions are made publicly. Today, the executions are not publicly shown. Moreover, the number of people that receives death penalty is also greatly reduced. This is greatly influenced by the increasing number of humanitarian laws and the increasing respect for human rights.

More than 23,000 people had been executed since the 1600s. It is during the 1940s to the 1950s that the execution had been the highest. In 1972, capital punishment was outlawed, as a result of the Furman v. Georgia case (Robinson, 329). The ruling indicated that death penalty violates the 8th and the 14th Amendments. As a result, 629 death sentences were voided. Moreover, it was argued that the death penalty was applied arbitrarily. Thus, in Woodson v. North Carolina, the mandatory death sentences were also outlawed in 1976 because of the valuation of human life. Nonetheless, in the same year, Greg v. Georgia caused the reinstitution of capital punishment. The argument was in reference to the fact that the decision of capital punishment is based on guided discretion statutes. Since it is a guided decision, then the sentences could not be arbitrary. In 1987 McCleskey v. Kemp, it was argued that the study made by Dr. Baldus showed that death penalty is discriminatory (Robinson, 315). This is in relation with the racial disparity found in the preference of the prosecutors and the juries to impose death when the victim is White and the offender is not White. Nonetheless, the ruling rejected that the importance of statistical evidence as grounds to make the death penalty unconstitutional.

However, despite being constitutionally practiced, the death penalty facts revealed that on the average there are 19, 752 killings per year in the whole Untied States. In connection, there is an annual average of 241 people sentenced to death from 1977 to 2006. Nonetheless, among those that were sentenced, the average number of execution is only 37 or 0.815. Therefore, the rarity of death penalty implies that it is highly ineffective (Robinson, 313). Moreover, death penalty is much more expensive than life imprisonment (Robinson, 313).

It is also reported that since 1999 the number of executions are on a gradual decrease. In the same manner, the number of death sentences is also declining since 2001. Among the states that practice death penalty, Texas is the only one that executes at least 10 inmates per year. Nevertheless, this amount is still insufficient if compared with the occurrence of murders. Since 1976 to 2002, the annual average of killings was 1,915, while the average execution is only 12 per year.

In terms of public opinion, 69 of the white population are in favor of the death punishments while only 35 of blacks are in favor. Males are more in favor than females. Furthermore, younger people tend to disagree to death penalty than older ones.

The goals of capital punishment are retribution, incapacitation and deterrence. Retribution is about giving justice. Nevertheless, Mathew Robinson asserted that the process of death punishment takes too long and it occurs too rare. This implies that death punishment, as a form of capital punishment does not provide retribution. With respect to deterrence or the creation of fear to prevent possible crimes, data reveals that the states with death sentences are more likely to have high murder rates. Thus, people are not deterred from committing capital crimes. This is largely because executions are unknown to the public. If one does not know about the executions, then there is no way that the executions could deter peoples action. Lastly, incapacitation is taking away the capability of a person to commit future crimes. Obviously, people who are executed could never commit future crimes. Nevertheless, since executions rarely happen, the ability of death penalty to incapacitate is also rare.
Kohl Harrington produced a documentary entitled A Broken System. It reflects how the capital punishment system works. A particular death row inmate named Juan Melendez stated that the judges and the police had racially discriminated against him. Moreover, Melendez was released after the case was transferred because the evidence proved his innocence. Another story presented in the documentary was about a mother named Gayle who had forgiven her daughters murderer. The last story was about Babbitt who told how his brother Manny, a mentally ill person, murdered someone. The authorities said they would help Manny but at the end, Manny was executed. Thus, the documentary showed how the capital punishment system is defective or broken. The documentary also point out that it costs 2.3 million to executed while the alternative of life imprisonment without pardon is available and would could less.

The War on Drugs  Focusing on the Wrong Drugs
One of the means to fight crimes in the United States is to fight its source. The War on Drugs is about the reduction of illegal drug use, crime, and harm. It also sought to reduce, if not totally eliminate, the supply of drugs domestically and from foreign sources (Robinson, 363). These goals are being address through crop eradication, interdiction including border control, and street-level drug enforcement such as drug busts operations (Robinson, 264). Moreover, there are government actions towards the treatment of drug abusers and educating the public regarding the effects of drugs through educational systems and community action. Finally, the drug war also includes asset forfeiture or the seizure of cash and property produced and used in making and marketing illicit drugs (Robinson, 364). Reports from the ONDCP or the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 2009 showed that there is a significant decrease on the use of LSD among 12th graders and below. Nonetheless, the use of narcotics is steadily increasing. Moreover, among the adult population, drug use remained unchanged since the foundation of the ONDCP. Robinson showed that in 2005, 12.5 of all arrest made in the US are drug arrest (p.365). About 82 are due to the possession of drugs. The arrest involving marijuana accounts for 88 of the drugs possession arrest. Overall, 20 of all State prisoners are drug offenders while they comprise 54 or all Federal prisoners (Robinson, 365).

The war on drugs is being waged against illegal forms of drug use and activities that permit it (Robinson, 370. Drugs affect the brain and could therefore, affect the persons behavior. This is the reason why drugs are being regulated. Most of the drugs could cause negative effects when excessively use. In fact, drug overdose could even be fatal. Nevertheless, some goods such as stimulants, hallucinogens, narcotics, and depressant could help ease the pain and the mind of patients. Therefore, these types of medications are usually being abuse especially to escape reality. In the past, various cultures use psychoactive drugs in rituals and spiritual purposes (Robinson, 372). Nonetheless, this could severely affect the persons interaction with others.

To assess whether the war on drugs is effective, it is better to verify whether it has been meeting its goal. As stated above, the use of illegal drugs did not significantly changed among the adult population while the younger population had shifted from LSD, Meth, and ecstasy or drugs that have no medical uses to the use of narcotics, sedatives, marijuana and cocaine or substances that has some medical use. Therefore, the drug war merely shifted the trend in the type of drugs being use.
Since the reason for illegalizing drugs is to reduce crime and harm associated with drug use, it is important to look into the trend of crime. According to the Bureau of Justice, from 1973 to 2009 the rate of property crimes are consistently decreasing. Moreover, the bureau also highlighted that from 1994 to 2009 violent crimes had significantly increase.

Nonetheless, the decrease in crime could be attributed to economic improvements, demographic shifts, expansion of criminal justice and stabilization of crack cocaine market instead of the effectiveness of the drug war. Furthermore, since 1979 the deaths attributed to drug use are steadily increasing (Robinson, 378). Considering that the costs of drug spending rapidly increases each year and the use of drugs remains stable, then the war on drugs is simply ineffective. The gap between the people that needs treatment and the people that received treatment is also increasing. In addition, the value of drugs in the market is dropping, which indicates an increasing availability or supply. This reveals that the ONDCP fails to disrupt the drug market. This failure leads to a continued increase in the costs of criminal justice. Thus, instead of mitigating crime, Robinson argued that drugs lead to secondary crimes such as theft, prostitutionto support drug habits while drug sellers get involved in gangs, drive-by shootings and murders (391). In the international realm, Gray argued that drug war creates money laundering, funds revolutionary groups, and provides money for training terrorists (Robinsons, 391). As a conclusion, Robinsons recommend that the use of drugs should be legalize and decriminalize (397).

War on Crime, Equality, Innocent Bias Against the Poor, Color and Women.
The government policies on the war on crime, specifically the war on drugs, lead to incarceration. Since the crimes that are generally perceived as serious are street crimes, the police and the criminal justice system in general is inclined to focus their attention to people who would commit such crimes. This attracts media attention and coverage, which further shaped how the society treats and perceives crimes. The rich white male has the lowest risk of getting involved with the criminal justice system, whereas the poor black male has the highest risk (420). Robinson pointed out that social class only predicts the types of crime people are likely to commit (413). This is in relation to how poor tend to acquire wealth through theft whereas the middle class and wealthy individualssteal through means such as embezzlement and fraud (413). Thus, it could be reflected that the current war on crimes that focus on street crimes is tantamount to a war on the poor.

In Walker, Spohn, and Delone (2000, as cited by Robinson, 421), they presented four types of discrimination systematic, institutional, contextual, and individual. Among these, the institutionalized form of discrimination includes racial and ethnic disparities that are reflected on how people are treated in employment, education, health and education. For instance, the Jesse Jackson example serves as evidence that the criminal justice system treat color as an indicator of criminal behavior (Robinson, 423).

The war on crime does very little to assist women (Robinson, 438). Data revealed that women are more likely to be victimized. Moreover, women are victimized in the home than out in the streets (Donziger, as cited by Robinson, 438). The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund claimed that the Racial disparity in the criminal justice system is the most profound civil rights crisis facing America (Robinson, 439). Minorities are being treated unequally and victimization are inclined towards the poor, the colored and the women. As an example, African Americans mostly undergo preventive detentionrather than granting bail (Robinson, 441).


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