The United States Criminal Justice System for decades has prided itself in serving equal and fair justice for all. However, it is naive to believe that justice is served fairly and equally for all. As abuse of power incidents have increased across the country public confidence in the criminal justice system appears to be at an all-time low. The need for change hasn't been more critical than now.
Whether liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, there is a collective thought the need for reform within the U.S. Criminal Justice System is more critical than any other time in American history. Legislators have had to come to terms that policies and legislation that have been implemented have created a culture of distrust and lack of confidence in the criminal justice system. To further exacerbate the lack of confidence and trust in the criminal justice system is the racial divide. Recent studies have shown minority communities have less confidence in the criminal justice system than their white counterparts.
Alongside the policies and legislation, the racial divide within America has led to the continued lack of confidence and trust in the U.S. Criminal Justice System. Many abuses of power incidents that are seen across the nation have predominately been against minority groups. Whether or not this is a clear sign of institutional racism is a highly debated topic. However, the rate of incidents against minority groups and how they are treated within the criminal justice should raise concern.
Understanding the statistical data and public opinion is the easy part. The hard part remains. What must be done to reform the criminal justice system to work for the people? Ensuring justice and fairness for all. As the support for reform within the criminal justice system in America has gained the majority support, legislators are faced with the reality that change must come sooner than later. However, until this change occurs Americans are left wondering when true reform will come.
The upcoming journals will explore the three institutions that make up the U.S. Criminal Justice System. These include Law Enforcement, Courts, and Corrections. Furthermore, the articles will explore the contributions these institutions will make towards reforming the criminal justice system in America. Below I will present a brief introduction to the history of the foundations of the United States Criminal Justice System.
The United States criminal justice system and its foundation were widely founded on the philosophy of early Italian criminologist Cesare Beccaria. Beccaria took the stance that the ways of old monarchies could no longer be executed in a current modern world. Beccaria, strongly believed that the state had the right to develop and implement legislation that governed social norms. Violations of these social norms can constitute punitive sanctions.
Beccaria believed the state had the right to not only establish social norms and contracts but furthermore, could implement sanctions for violation of those social contracts. However, Beccaria also believed that punitive sanctions that would be handed down must be humane and fair for the violation that was committed. This philosophy collided with the practice of the monarchs of Italy. However, the criminal justice philosophy of Beccaria began to gain traction, specifically with the founding fathers of the United States.
The tenants of Beccaria criminal justice philosophy are; free will, rational manner, and manipulability. Beccaria belief that individuals have free will and choose the behaviors whether positive or negative. Furthermore, he believed that humans by nature are rational beings and will make the right decisions. However, conflict comes into play when the benefit may outweigh the consequence. Leading the individual to violate social contracts. This is where manipulability comes into play. The state utilizing punitive sanctions as a deterrence can manipulate potential offenders from violating social contracts. Beccaria is known as the founding father of both the deterrence theory and the classical school of criminal justice.
Understanding the foundations of the criminal justice system in the United States will allow Americans collectively to work to ensure that reform that needs to take place within the system is executed. While maintaining key tenants of the criminal justice system that do work.