Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Importance of Innovation in the Criminal Justice Field

Changing Times Should Bring Change to Criminal Justice Practices

Because things change, the increasing importance of innovation in the criminal justice field weighs heavily on a society. New information, technology and ways of viewing things in general, means that people must start to look at new ways of dealing with criminal justice and the many institutions that practice it.

Figuring out just where to start with change requires ideas and innovative thinking. Many people express dissatisfaction with some of the old and more archaic ways of dealing with crime. In some cases these old methods are inefficient; in other cases they just no longer work. However, adding innovation to the criminal justice system must come as a multipronged solution. Improving on the laws and judicial system must also come along with improving how criminals are apprehended and prosecuted. That’s just one example of how each part of the criminal justice system can tie into each other. Rehabilitation also plays a large part, as recidivism is a major issue that keeps some people in the criminal justice system.

Toughness vs. Fairness
Across the United States there are many courts, law enforcement agencies and other criminal justice institutions that implement measures to improve their practices. These improvements facilitate the process of making the system fairer to individuals while also improving people’s confidence in the mechanisms of law. Some would argue that a tougher stance on criminals is what keeps crime low, but many would disagree. The consequence of that tough stance leads to more arrests and convictions for petty criminals, overpopulated prisons and less focus on rehabilitation. It also leads to a certain measure of unfairness in the system. Many courts and agents of law enforcement are making the move from a position of toughness to a position of fairness.

Speed and Costs 
Innovations that focus on fair treatment rather than tough treatment have reduced court and law enforcement costs for many districts. It also tends to speed up the process. As many people know, the criminal justice system does not always move quickly. A person accused of a crime should not have to wait for long periods, interspersed with multiple visits to the court. This process can cost a district both time and money, sometimes without even an adequate resolution in the end.

In the criminal justice system, the study of the root causes of many common crimes have led to courts and law enforcement treating these crimes in manners befitting their severity. Also, understanding the actions of the many things that people consider criminal acts can help keep the system fair for everybody involved. Ultimately, education also helps the criminal justice institution deal with people on a more personal level. When the system treats people as numbers, quotas, and accumulated charges, they eventually start losing some of their humanity in the eyes of said system. This leads to negative changes in the criminal justice system that exasperates many of the issues rather than improving them. 

Domestic violence cases represent a small of example of this. Not every police officer has a criminal justice master’s degree. In many places, law enforcement has a hard time determining best practices for domestic violence cases. There are many cases of victims treated as the perpetrator of the crime as well as situations where no one party is truly at fault. Proper education on what constitutes a crime in this case can help law enforcement figure out who they should arrest, as well as how to handle the fall out of that arrest when it comes to restraining orders and enforced distance.

There are countless examples of innovations in the criminal justice system on a case-by-case basis. But with changing times, it is more important than ever to study how the system can improve on different aspects of itself. There are places where the criminal justice system is hard at work trying to figure out the best way of making the justice system fairer and less draconian for those entangled in it. Saving time and money while also offering fair and balanced judgments is the key to keeping the streets clean. Society needs Innovative ideas for turning many of the negative aspects of the criminal justice system into something more positive for everybody involved. 

Photo Credits:
Photo #1 courtesy of University of New Haven
Photo #2 courtesy of Repair The World
Photo #3 courtesy of US College Search
Photo #4 courtesy of Global Search

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