Procedures in the Criminal Justice System

The criminal justice system is a system set up to bring criminals to justice for crimes committed and for the rehabilitation and then the re-entering of society for inmates; in an ideal world. However that is not often achieved. One inmate gave a testimony of his cellmate Joe who was unfortunate enough to fall victim to the failing system.

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Joe was attacked while in his cell by four other inmates with a knife as the weapon of choice. He was stabbed but he somehow survived. The protocol would be to document the incident, remove the inmate from their current wing, and place them in a different wing in order to avoid more incidents. None of the protocol occured. Joe was returned to his cell and a few days later was attacked again, the weapon of choice was now boiling oil. As Joe’s roommate said, it looked as if his face was melting off. The failure of protocol lead to the death of an inmate. Carelessness killed Joe, not inmates. Does that sound like justice to you? The failure of the American prison system is a failure of justice. Justice is not significantly achieved in the prison system.

Justice is defined as just behavior or treatment. The criminal justice system has three major groups that oversee the process of trial and incarceration. It begins with law enforcement who investigates a crime and gathers evidence related to a crime. The case then continues with the courts which weigh the evidence and determine whether a person is guilty or not. If found guilty the corrections system will oversee the punishment of the criminal. All three of these groups help determine if the system is just. To create a just system all three of the groups must work together to minimize injustices and work for a more equal and fair system.

According to the US Bureau of Justice statistics there are 2.3 million people in US prisons. When people think of prisoners many people think of murderers, rapists, and violent crimes, but in reality 46.3% of prisoners are in prison on drug related charges. Sometimes people involved in these crimes commit them out of poverty, as a way to makes ends meet, or as a culture that they were raised in. Society has perpetuated and created a culture around drug dealers that makes all drug dealers out to be bad, murderers, and greedy criminals. Although some drug dealers are truly bad people not all drug dealers are. Jamal Robinson was a kid when he began dealing drugs. Poverty and peer pressure pushed him into the drug trade but he was soon caught. After his criminal record he could no longer find a job so he returned to drug dealing as a way to make ends meet. Robinson said in an interview with The Fix, I started peddling drugs because I was poor and barely had a dollar in my pocket, I sold drugs because of necessity, food, clothes and shelter. To help my mother and little sisters when needed. The justice system seems designed to make released drug dealers fail (What Motivates Someone to Become a Drug Dealer). With a criminal record and no jobs being given due to the record many turn back to old habits just to be able to survive and stay out of poverty. Drug dealers are not the only ones affected after their prison release; every person who is released from prison is plagued with the stigma of being a criminal therefore making it hard to find jobs willing to take an ???ex-criminal. A person’s background as a prisoner perpetuates the cycle of crime and criminal actions a person commits often keeping the person in a cycle of crime for the rest of their life.

The prisons system talks of justice yet violence behind bars says otherwise. How can the prison system say that justice is being met when so many inmates are assaulted. Mother Jones says 19% of all male inmate have been physically attacked by other inmates and 21% of inmates have been physically attacked by guards. Women are also only 7% of the prison population yet they are 25% of all sexual assault cases. Assault in prisons is common and also a major problem. By putting inmates in an unsafe environment how does that serve justice? Winn correctional facility reported 12 stabbings in 2 months. While the prisons cannot necessarily control stabbings they could manage the entering of weapons better and create more cell checks to avoid more stabbings. Insead multiple stabbings occur putting many inmates at risk. By putting inmates at risk justice is not achieved because putting inmates in the way of harm is not fair no matter the crime committed.

There is a high amount of race disparities in prison suggesting that minority groups and poverty areas are more often targeted by police. African Americans are incarcerated five times more than their white counterparts. Reasons for these harsh disparities are the harsh sentences for drug violations that disproportionately affect african americans…racial biases of judges, and structural disadvantages in the criminal justice system (Simon). On top of the racial disparities the majority of solitary confinement prisoners are African American. The amount of black males in solitary confinement is severely disproportionate to their percentage in prisons. Black males make up 35% of inmates in the US but make up 45% of males in solitary confinement. Why is solitary confinement so much more common for those of color? Andrea Armstrong states, minority offenders may be more likely to be perceived as a disciplinary threat by correctional officers, regardless of an offender’s actual behavior… a correctional officer may be more likely to perceive contraband in a black offender’s hand than in a white offender’s hand…black offender is a threat as compared to a white offender, leading perhaps to increased citations for black offenders??¦ the threat is exaggerated for minority offenders, and therefore, minority inmates may face more serious conduct reports than their fellow white inmates for the same type of behavior (Armstrong). Armstrong believes that racial stereotypes and prejudices could lead to the higher number of inmates of color in solitary confinement as their actions are perceived as more serious and more of a threat than white inmates. If you are looked at as only a race is justice really served?

Recidivism is extremely high in the US prison system. Recidivism is the tendency of a convicted criminal to commit another crime. 76.4% of all prisoners released will be incarcerated again within five years. Recidivism is part of the US’s mass incarceration issues. One thing that may help with recidivism is easing restrictions on prisoners looking for jobs and creating programs to help prisoners find jobs. Recidivism rates are evidence that the criminal justice system is not serving its purpose of rehabilitation of prisoners and rather just creates a cycle of crime for the incarcerated. As a reform for mass incarceration recidivism must decrease to avoid multiple incarcerations. The prison systems should focus more on rehabilitation of prisoners and less on the punishment of prisoners. Prisoners should be met with more mental health advisors and should primarily be focused on changing a behavior rather than punishing the prisoners for previous actions.

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