Pursuing Criminal Justice

When trying to explain what my definition of justice is, I needed to find out what the standard definition for justice was. I know what I believe my definition to be, but according to Wilkipedia encyclopedia justice is: “Justice is a concept involving the fair, moral, and impartial treatment of all persons, especially in law. It is often seen as the continued effort to do what is “right.” In most of all cases what one regards as “right” is determined by consulting the majority, employing logic, or referring to divine authority, in the case of religion. If a person lives under a certain set law in a certain country, justice is considered making the person follow the law and be punished if not.”(Wilkipedia.Org)

I believe that justice should be fair; it should be unbiased and treat everyone as equals. However in reality this does not happen. While it is a highly debatable subject justice is meant to be served to everyone on an even playing field regardless of monetary status, celebrity status or any other status. While I have been at the University of Phoenix for over two years now, my definition has evolved. My personal definition of justice has grown with all that I have seen, experienced and learned. I have learned that there is not only one right answer, that there in fact may be several ways to get the correct answer, or several correct answers.

The best way which I can define what justice is to me is to observe, to remain objective, and to analyze what I have been given. In a perfect world this is how justice would be delivered, without bias and unwarranted opinions. Justice was a vital part of early civilizations, just as it is now (Weisheit, R. & Morn, F.). Overall in my opinion, justice is an ever-changing process which emulates its surroundings. It can be taught, it can be given and it can be lost and even found.

As for how I will promote justice or my definition of within my career, I hope to be a professor on the college level. I don’t believe that I possess the preconceived notion of being a know it all. I hope that as a teacher I will continue to learn on many levels, on a professional level and of course from my students. I enjoy learning, and I want to promote my love for learning into an art of teaching. While I feel that I learn best from those around me, I hope that I will one day be able to inspire those around me to greatness, as in finding their own definition of what justice is to them.

The three current practices of law enforcement which I decided to write about are: Due Process, The balance of maintaining individual rights and protecting our country with the Patriot act. These three components of the criminal justice system demonstrate successful achievement for the broad spectrum of law enforcement. Some of the other challenges I considered writing about the following subjects: the intrusion of people’s civil liberties, the fear of homegrown terrorism, racial tension wars due to the invasion from illegal immigrants.

It is my belief that due process is more than a way of processing criminals; it is also known as the “law of the land.” Due process is the way in which how and why our laws are enforced. (US constitution.net) Due process is important because as American citizens we are guaranteed the right to be given a fair and public trial conducted with competence. We are allowed to be present at the trial. We have the right to an impartial jury and to be heard in our own defense. There are many other countries in which the citizens are not entitled to any of these rights under due process.

Compared to ancient times of the Hammurabi code, we are a far better society for allowing people to be accountable for their actions while being given a second chance. Under the Hammurabi code if a person were found guilty of a crime their belief system was based upon a Lex Talionis or an “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” With a system such as the code of Hammurabi there were no second chances (Weisheit, R. & Morn, F.).Throughout time these brutal types of methods were used. During these times justice was harsh and close to religion. However due to our beliefs that church and state should remain separate entities we are no longer subjected to such methods. Justice is demonstrated in this practice because due process is a substantial component to our criminal justice system. Without the use of due process we may have to resort to other practices which deliver less equality and fairness.

The second practice within our system is the balancing act of our individual rights without the infringement upon our civil liberties. With the assistance of the first practice due process, we are able to fight against laws and regulations in which we believe to be an infringement upon our rights. Within our system there are laws which are passed to protect our citizens as the primary goal. Sometimes, in the middle of chaos, some people may not see the bigger picture or the preventative measures which are being taken. Instead they choose rebel against what they see as a violation. With the freedom of speech that we enjoy in our country we enjoy the luxury to file a lawsuit, to seek repercussions against those who we believe have wronged us. While this is not always a positive aspect of the system we are fortunate enough to have such rights.

The last practice is the protection of our country with the protection of the USA Patriot Act. This is a highly controversial subject for some people. The reason being is because most people either support the Patriot Act or they don’t. It is my experience that there isn’t really a gray area. The Patriot act was passed in congress after horrific events of September 11, 2001. Our country took action by passing the Patriot Act for what it felt to be a needed set of changes within the law enforcement of the United States.

I don’t believe that everyone would stand with my opinion of how these practices demonstrate justice. In my opinion these are very important parts of the criminal justice system. These are practices which I strongly believe are an essential key to the law enforcement component of the criminal justice system. There are many people who would strongly object with my belief that the use of due process is an adequate method of delivering justice. There are many people who may prefer the crime control method which does not concern itself with the rights of the individual but instead the objective of fighting crime.

As for the rights of the individual there are some people who may not agree with my beliefs of allowing people to fight for what they believe to be right. This is especially true in socialist countries in which the individuals have no right to speak up.
As for the use of the Patriot Act, there are two sides to the issue. Either you agree with its use or you don’t. The main issue is that many people are afraid they are losing their rights. However when looked at from a different standpoint, it should be looked at as in how can we keep September 11 from happening again? If it means that I have to go through more security I am willing to do it. To me it means that the government and law enforcement is looking out for me and my safety. This is justice in my eyes without question because my rights and freedoms as an American are important to me.

Of course these practices may result in an injustice but as Americans we should be willing to understand that for the overall objective of fighting terrorists we must be willing to take chances. There will always be the chance that due process doesn’t work, or that someone’s rights are stepped on, or a warrant less search proves to be wrong. Injustice is a part of daily life whether we choose to acknowledge it. Some things are more important than others and then again some people just don’t speak up.

I believe that the changes following September 11 were both positive and negative. The changes were definitely needed, and if they hadn’t come from the aftermath of September 11, they would have come at a different date. These changes which were made after September 11 were very worthwhile and very necessary. The unfortunate part is that they were implemented after fact instead of as a preventative measure. However due to the complacent behaviors and attitudes among the American people, prior to September 11, changes such as the Patriot Act never would have been accepted.

The changes which followed September 11, 2001 were definitely met with resistance by civilians and professionals alike. Many people felt that the new changes which occurred due to the Patriot act and homeland security were invasive and infringing upon their civil liberties as Americans. Yet many of those who were aware of the intended changes made their voices heard. This was especially true for people who felt that the use of a warrant-less search was unconstitutional. There was a large controversy over section 215 of the Patriot Act. Section 215 modified the rules of record searches. (Lithwick & Turner, 2003) These new rules on searches allow for law enforcement to review personal records without the person’s direct consent. This means that the law enforcement could review your finances, video rental and even medical records. (Lithwick & Turner, 2003)

In response to how to deal with these challenges, we must take into account that we are vulnerable and if we become too complacent we may find ourselves in the middle of September 11, 2001 all over again. We must take this to a higher level with great responsibility and preparedness. The biggest problem we are dealing with is that the senate does nothing but fight. How can you get anything accomplished when you have endless mockery of the system and arguing? We are unable to pass imperative legislation when needed because of the political problems. We have left the ideology of democracy in the past.
Unless we are able to move forward we will be in trouble. We need the support of other world leaders and a vow to pursue and prosecute terrorists to the fullest extent of the law. The system itself and those who are part of it will need to be willing to change with the times, and as it continues to grow it will need to be ready for new ideas which are outside of the normal spectrum. To catch a terrorist you may need to think like one. No terrorist is going to have second thoughts at the last minute and turn themselves in. New ideas and planning ahead are essential for us to have a chance at dealing with these challenges.

There are many assumptions about what may happen in the next ten years within the United States. There are even people who believe strongly that we are all hyped up for nothing. While researching for a scholarly document I came across one that caught my attention. The author Benjamin Friedman claims that it is “ridiculous” that “all Americans should fear terrorism.” Personally I am curious as to why Mr. Friedman feels this way due to the events of September 11, 2001 and many more that have occurred. I could name several but just to name a few, November 4, 1979 Hostages taken at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, May 1981 threats from Libya, April 1983 Bombing of U.S. Embassy in Beirut. (Frontline, 2001). These are just a few terrorist attacks. It has always been my belief that history has a tendency to repeat itself.

It is my personal prediction that we must prepare for the worst. While we can pretend that there are no immediate threats facing our country at this time we will only be kidding ourselves, and once again placing our country in jeopardy. According to Edward Tully author of Difficult Days, Nights of Terror he believes that the United States is “awash in violent crime”. Tully goes further to blame many of these problems on the government and the lack of a budget. It is very concerning that this article was written in 1994 and long before the attacks of September 11, 2001. It does beg the question as to whether or not we were under siege due to more than lack of knowledge but lack of funding to protect ourselves as well.

Tully further expresses great concern over social unrest within the United States. While Tully gives examples of riots in previous years in areas such as Los Angeles in which the rioters had firearms and indented to kill police officers we must look at the demographics of some of these areas. Some of these areas are gang infested, or poverty stricken areas. With the condition of the United States and the socio economical problems we are facing, we may be in for some serious problems. This is a vulnerability to anyone who is able to recognize it as such. The terrorists would play on this without regrets.
The future is not easy to predict and without being able to see into the future I can only assume that things have a way of repeating themselves, and of course some things are just common sense. With the financial crises our law enforcement is under, the lack of funding, the under funding we are trying to squeeze a dollar out of fifteen cents. The demand is high but unfortunately the costs are higher and as a result our law enforcement officials will continually suffer. The low pay of officers within the law enforcement is already a serious concern. It is very difficult to recruit and maintain quality employees with the lack of pay and concern for humanity in such difficult positions.

I believe that Tully said it best when he described our world as an “Alice in Wonderland world”. This means that “we have rejected conventional wisdom, scorned it and reinvented it.” (Tully, 1994)The overwhelming desire for “political correctness” has prohibited our law enforcement officials from “telling it straight.” This may be our greatest downfall because we are all afraid of offending someone. (Tully, 1994)

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