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In February 2009, panel of three judges in California ordered the state to reduce the size of the prison population by one-third by 2012 to tackle the problem of overcrowding in the state’s prisons. More than 150,000 inmates were being held in prisons that were built for 84,000 inmates. The overcrowding and lack of adequate medical and mental healthcare facilities for inmates amounted to violation of the eighth amendment that protects against cruelty and unusual punishment. Reduction of the prison population would save between $800 million and $900.

Discussion

From 1930’s until 1970’s the incarceration rate in the United States averaged about 110 inmates per 100,000 people. Beginning in the early 1970s and through the 2000s, the incarceration rate increased by 700%.By2007,the United States had the highest incarceration rate in the world at 762 per 100, 000 residents.

The incarceration boom resulted from a change in penal practices from the “rehabilitation approach” to a “get-tough approach” involving mandatory imprisonment, mandatory minimum sentences and longer prison terms. The change in approach was necessitated by a possible rise in the crime rate, possible rise in public fear, and alarmist statements by politicians and government officials about crimes. The incarceration boom has been futile since it has not lowered the crime rate because of its failure to achieve deterrence and incapacitation. It also had negative implication on the offenders, their families and communities.

 Conclusion

The U.S incarceration policy since the 1970s has been both misguided and short-sighted. The recognition of the fact that, non-violent and first-time offenders should receive probation and other forms of community corrections increases. Such strategies would save millions of dollars and lower the recidivism rate. The results would be that the United States would have a safer and more equal society at a much lower cost. It can learn from its past and its Western Allies.

Chapter 2: Re-entry as a Process Rather Than a Moment

Introduction

Prisoners have been returning to communities for as long as criminal offenders have been sent to prison. Due to the punitive nature of incarceration, offenders return to the community worse off than when they entered prison. The communities receiving ex-prisoners are often hostile towards them and are least able to accommodate them. Offenders get little or no education, work or life opportunities when they go back to the community.

Discussion

The growth of prison population has resulted to increase in the number of prisoners returning to their communities each year. Due to their criminal convictions, ex-offenders are deemed less trustworthy, less honest and least deserving. The stigma affects chances of success in the future life of the ex-offender. It’s far more difficult for them to secure housing, find a job or mend a relationship. Offenders are released upon expiration of their term or on parole. Increased supervision of offenders on parole increases opportunities for failure of re-entry. Ex-offenders are also more vulnerable to substance-abuse due to rejection by society. Risk for re-offense is increased by homelessness and unemployment.

There are laws prohibiting ex-offenders from accessing benefits in housing, education, employment, and welfare assistance. Such legislation includes The Higher Education Act of 1965, The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, The Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998. Several policies limit the eligibility of ex-offenders for public assistance and welfare programs. However, there is a green-light ahead because The Second Chance Act was enacted to support ex-offenders and reduce recidivism.

Conclusion

Prisoner re-entry is among the most pressing policy challenges that policymakers face. Successful prisoner re-entry must recognize and solve the short-comings faced by ex-offenders in trying to re-integrate in the society and the challenges they pose to public safety during re-entry. The best way to solve the problem of prisoner re-entry might be to stop sending so many offenders to prison in the first place.

Chapter 3: Prison Privatization Turns 25

Introduction

In his 1989 study on privatization policy, John Donahue opined that prison privatization would not generate real cost savings or improve the quality of services offered. The private prison industry has not delivered much since it has turned into an oligopoly dominated by few large suppliers and having a few buyers. The cost advantage is marginal and private prison programs have become virtually indistinguishable from public prisons.

Discussion

The first model of private prisons was based on convict leasing or selling their labor in the open market. New public management ideologies revived the concept of privatization in the millennium. The number of inmates housed in private prisons in the United States grew from 3000 in 1987 to 15,000 in 1990 and 120, 000 in 2007. There are a lot of ethical issues over privatization of prisons. The idea of making money from prisons is considered immoral and unethical.

The power to incarcerate a person is the defining characteristic of a state due to the fact that state exercises monopoly over the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. The 1990s witnessed rampant growth of prison privatization and the subsequent consolidation of the industry. Between 1999 and 2007, the industry started declining sharply. Personnel costs increased the cost of running private prisons, eliminating the cost saving advantage. After 25 years of privatization, there are fewer than 200 (4%) of private correctional facilities in the United States. Governments sometimes require private companies to duplicate the policies of public prisons.

Conclusion

25 years later after privatization the private prison industry exists in a market with limited government consumers and fewer private company providers. This stifles innovation due to limited competition. The private faculties often violate the rights of inmates, endangers staff and encounter frequent prison escapes due to dangerous lapses in security. Whether public or private, incarceration is the most expensive of sentencing options. The best policy would be to invest in research and develop non-custodial sentencing alternatives.

Chapter 5: The U.S Juvenile Justice Policy Landscape

Introduction

State governments have enacted sweeping changes in law and policy in recent decades, profoundly affecting the juvenile justice landscape in the United States. They include reduced sentencing discretion, increased information sharing among juvenile and adult justice systems, greater public access to juvenile records and the transfer of juveniles to adult courts for prosecution. Most of the measures seek to advance public safety and crime reduction through increased penalties and harsher sentences for specific offenders.

Discussion

Each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia operates its own juvenile justice system. The juvenile justice system emerged near the turn of the 20th century. The first juvenile court was established in Illinois, Chicago, and it was aimed at reforming and rehabilitation of the child. The doctrine of parens patriae (“state as parent”) guided early juvenile court policies and operations. The juvenile court assumed the role of the parent and weighed the best interests of the child. Originally it was the age that determined jurisdiction of the juvenile court, but today jurisdiction is determined by the severity of the offence.

In the late 1980s, juvenile crimes increased drastically, fuelling public concern about violent crimes. This led to far-sweeping justice to the juvenile justice system such as transfer of violent offenders to adult courts, mandatory minimum sentences and graduated sanction models. The confidentiality of juvenile court records was also reduced. The jurisdiction of the juvenile court was reduced by laws increasing transfers to adult courts and reducing the upper age limit. However most states are returning offenders aged 18 years and younger to the juvenile court.

Conclusion

Analysis of state legislation and current practice indicates that juvenile justice represents a mix of punitive and rehabilitative approaches and states display a varying trend in relation to how they lean toward punitiveness and rehabilitation. Transfer to criminal courts remains popular among many states for serious offenders. Practitioners offered recommendations for improving the juvenile justice system by facilitating offender rehabilitation.

Chapter 11: Exploring the Relationship between Contemporary Immigration and Crime Control Policies

Introduction

Immigration policy incorporates elements of the criminal justice system including safety, danger, character, reprobation, restriction, captivity, and freedom. Immigration policy has developed around the tenets of order, control and safety. Conservatisms call for large-scale enforcement of immigration policies by the government, while liberals clamor for diminished legislation and reduced regulation. Legislative policies on immigration tend to be punitive and discriminatory.

Discussion

Migration is not a dangerous r criminal act by its nature, to the extent that it must be controlled. The Immigration Act of 1982 was the first comprehensive federal immigration law. The acts that followed allowed deportation of non-citizens. Procedures to physically inspect the bodies of migrants, issuance of migrant identity papers and recording and tracking of migrants’ movements after legally entering the country were established.

The most restrictive immigration laws include The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996.The acts discarded judicial intervention and gave the INS powers to detain and deport. Aggravated felony was expanded to include non violent crimes and petty crime. The USA Patriot Act was passed 2 months after 9/11 and it included mandatory detention for immigrants, limitations of habeas corpus claims and restrictions on judicial review.

Conclusion

The main objective of the strict policy is deterrence of immigrants from entering the United States, and it has failed miserably to do so. People continue to immigrate into the United States .The number of unauthorized people in immigration per day has increased from 20,838 in 2005 to 31,345 in 2008.This has not averted crime since most of them only violate immigration laws, not criminal laws. Immigrants are now looking for alternative immigration routes such as difficult terrains that are not patrolled. This increases the probability of smuggling. Detention of undocumented people congests the facilities. The immigration policy must be shifted from a crime control framework to a humanitarian framework emphasizing social and economic justice.

Chapter 12: Technology and Criminal Justice Policy

Introduction

Applications of technology, such as conducted energy devices, DNA exoneration, license plate scanners, and community corrections using Global Positioning Satellites (GPS), seemed unlikely or impossible a decade ago. Technology has revolutionized criminal justice and promises to increase effectiveness, reduce costs and improve the public safety.

Discussion

Technology policy decisions are influenced by whether introduction of the technology will lead to improvements in public safety, costs and officer safety. Criminal justice officers often rely from testimonials by users of the technology in other fields and operational pilot testing in a simulated environment or field setting. Conducted technological devices are now being used to apprehend offenders. They use electro muscular disruption technology to transmit a high-voltage, low-power charge of electricity that causes involuntary muscle contractions and temporary incapacitation. They can, however, cause serious injuries or even death.

DNA is the genetic material in the cells of all living organism that helps define each individual’s characteristics. In criminal justice it has been used as an investigatory tool in cases of homicide and sexual assault. Blood and semen are used to extract DNA profiles. It serves as strong evidence in prosecution and also exonerates wrongfully convicted prisoners. It’s argued that collection of DNA from all arrestees violates the presumption of innocence principle.DNA in databases can also be misused by researchers.

Conclusion

Technology contributions are vital to the progress of criminal justice. The limitations of technology and the limitations of human application of technology must, however, be recognized. There is a lot of bureaucracy involved in authorizing application of technology in criminal justice. The combined effect of all the influences makes for a complicated and uncertain process for technology policy in criminal justice. However, the criminal justice professionals now better understand this process to be the most effective and efficient technology in advancing criminal justice.

Code: Sample20

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