The criminal justice system’s main aim is to bring justice and order to all the people in a community or society. Justice and order are typically achieved through the use of the law which is universal. In essence, the laws of a particular country are usually blind to race, socio-economic status and even political affiliations (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016). However, even with the provision and use of law, the criminal justice system is faced with significant problems when it comes to maintaining order and providing justice where deserved. Most of the issues it faces have consequences not only in the system but also to the community at large. This paper will seek to discuss some of the significant problems the justice system faces, the consequences that arise and suggest some methods that can be employed to mitigate the problems altogether.
One of the major problems faced by the criminal justice system is the rate of mass incarceration. The United States of America has one of the largest number of prisoners and prisons (both federal and private) recorded in the world (Wagner & Sakala, 2014). The number of prisons and prisoners are increasing at a very alarming rate; hence, a large amount of the revenue collected is invested in ensuring that criminals are locked away. The rate of incarceration is estimated to be 698 per 100,000 people in the United States of America (Wagner & Sakala, 2014). The increased number of people put behind bars cause congestion in the available prisons. A higher percentage of people incarcerated are African-Americans who account for an estimated 28% of all the arrested individuals.
This increased number is attributed to the existence of racial disparities that is one of the contributing factors to mass incarceration in the United States of America. It is possible for an African-American to be arrested in the streets than their white counterparts (Tucker, 2017). The probability of conviction and lengthy prison sentences is higher for an arrested African-American than the other races. One thing that the judicial justice system assumes to consider in such cases is the fact that some of the detained African-Americans could be victims rather than criminals. In addition, these disparities exist in the prisons, whereby African-Americans and other minorities are put in dilapidated prisons while the whites and wealthy are set in more sophisticated prisons.
Mass incarceration has negative consequences on the criminal justice system and the community. An increase in the number of prisoners strains the development of the country since a lot of resources are channeled to the criminal justice system to maintain the increased prisons. An increase in incarcerations deprives the nation of a large workforce that is behind bars for long periods of time for minor offenses (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016). It has also given the criminal justice system negative criticism when it comes to racial disparities and the manner in which they are handled. This has made many people to distrust the system and solve their issues themselves rather than involve the justice system. Those incarcerated also face the heat of the consequences of mass incarceration. Due to dilapidated conditions in prisons, many inmates experience health problems and some of the mental deterioration. Health and psychological issues amongst prisoners require monetary input from the government and in most cases, it is quite costly. Additionally, incarcerated persons face challenges when it comes to reintegrating into society. This is attributed to the increased number of legal restrictions in all jurisdictions; federal, state and local.
The criminal justice system must, therefore, come up with policies that would ensure a decrease in the number of people that are incarcerated. One primary policy that should be reinforced is the removal of cash bail for pretrial detention. Over 54000 people are detained in prisons as they await trial (Wagner & Sakala, 2014). A high number of this remains in custody since they cannot raise about $10000 or more to bail themselves out. Removal of cash bails for individuals and introducing restrictions of travel for the wealthy would decrease the number of minorities held in prisons (Wiseman, 2018). Equal distribution of law enforcement officers amongst people regardless of race, ethnicity or socio-economic status would help reduce the number of people incarcerated. A number of innocent people are incarcerated because they belong to the minorities, while criminals from the majority group walk free in society. The equal distribution will ensure that the innocent are exonerated while the guilty from all walks of life are punished accordingly. Additionally, the United States of America should come up with policies that would bridge how the law deals with disparities (Lofstrom & Raphael, 2016). Since racial disparities are one of the major contributing factors to mass incarceration, it is crucial to find a way where justice is served for all not through speech and well-articulated laws but through action.
Another problem facing the criminal justice system is violence, especially against women. It is estimated that close to 20people are abused physically by an intimate partner per minute in the United States of America (Browne, 2016). This number is inclusive of men, women and children. The violence range from behaviors that become habits such as slapping, pushing amongst others to severe ones including strangling, hacking, burning and even homicides. In the United States of America, 1 in 3 women has experienced a form of physical abuse while 1 in 4 women have experienced severe physical abuse in their lifetime (Flood, 2019). Most of the violence emanating from their intimate partners while others from society. 15%of all violent crimes against women are done by their intimate partners. The abuse of women could be as a result that of the belief that they are a weaker gender hence becoming vulnerable and target victims(Browne, 2016). Intimate partners abuse women physically through beatings, rape, strangulation or even homicides, while the threat that women receive from outside their homes is gang rape, stalking, beating and killing. The homicide risk amongst women in the event of violent abuse is increased by 500% with the presence of a gun(Sorenson & Schut, 2018). In addition, 19% of severe violence is accounted for by the use of a weapon. Women who have undergone any form of violence suffer through-out their lives due to the repercussions.
Violence against woman cause both physical, economic, health and mental traumas. Severe physical abuse leaves scars that cannot be healed hence remaining as a constant reminder of the ordeal that they went through(Browne, 2016). Instead of their scars becoming a mark of beauty, they remain as marks of doom. After an abuse, victims lock themselves away from the world hence becoming economically underproductive. This is as a result of the shame and guilt that comes with abuse. Eventually, they lose a large amount of revenue, which also affects the economy of the country due to reduced workforce. In cases such as rape, a great number of women contract sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, which makes the victims have protracted stress(Flood, 2019). The resulting impact on their health makes them become alienated in society since they are deemed as bad omen and in most cases, renders the victims depressed or even commit suicide. Depression, which is a mental health problem, could also be the result of the violence itself (Browne, 2016). Depressed individuals in most cases, can become suicidal if not managed. In addition, victims of any form of violence can become addicts due to the abuse of alcohol, marijuana and other stimulating drugs. Abuse of drugs is one of the forms that they would use in order to forget their ordeals and live a close to normal life. Therefore, this increases the problems that are faced by both society and the criminal justice system.
Implementation of the International Violence against Women Act (IVAWA) has helped to reduce the cases. However, more needs to be done in order to curb this menace. The society needs to begin training young girls and boys on violence and giving them markers of the same (Ellsberg et al., 2015). The platforms for making this possible should be established and protected by the criminal justice system. Making young children understand the existence and dynamics of violence. This would ensure that they grow up knowing the boundaries that exist between them and how to be safe from violent predators. The criminal justice system should also provide an unbiased, secure place where women who experience any sort of violence can report the cases (Ellsberg et al., 2015). In many cases, violence against women is not reported due to fear of judgment or mistrust of the criminal justice system’s efficiency. Providing a safe place would ensure that violent predators are put in prisons hence increasing the safety of other women. The criminal justice system should also offer and follow up the post-trauma counseling for the victims. In the same manner, which they follow up on paroles, they should ensure that the victims are dealing positively rather than negatively with the post violence trauma.
Problems in the justice system affect the community and the country at large. For every issue, there is always a consequence both negative and positive. The negative impacts need to be dealt with in order to make society a safe place for everyone, while the positive repercussions need to be upheld.