Social Issues and Criminal Justice

The first key social issue is justice in the media. The subject of justice has become a hot topic in America this year, finding itself not only in the Criminal Justice field, but also addressed as in Social Justice, Racial Justice, and Economic Justice. In fact, Merriam Webster has chosen “justice” as its 2018 Word of the Year.

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It was chosen because it was searched 74% more times in 2018 than in 2017, and was the top-searched word this year (Merriam Webster, 2018). This is key social issue because it shows that justice is becoming increasingly debated by the press and media. This is encouraging Americans to inquire: Exactly what is justice and do we have it? One example of our current climate on questioning justice in 2018 is debating President Trump’s use of funds during his campaign for hush money. It seems that this year in politics, law, and law enforcement has put the many aspects of justice under a microscope.

The second key social issue, which is also on the subject of media, is social media as a weapon in criminal hands. This danger is exemplified by the increased accessibility of personal information online. This is a key social issue because people’s actions, history, families, friends, addresses and even credit information can often be accessed by the most novice internet-user (Waters, G., 2012). For example, often innocent online shoppers are hacked and their identities stolen. Similarly, customer personal information from large corporations can be stolen and then held for ransom by criminal hackers.

The third key social issue, in contrast to the second, is social media as a tool for law enforcement. It is defined as either baiting criminals with fake accounts, or using the criminal’s account to bait accomplices engaged in illegal activity (Jones, M.J., 2016). This is a key social issue because it is effecting the way that law enforcement uses social media to gain information. Although the internet has increased certain risks to criminal justice, it can also be used to gain beneficial information. For example, detectives can create Facebook accounts and friend criminals in order to access valuable intelligence.

The first key social issue, justice in the media, impacts criminal justice professionals because it puts them in the spotlight. It also impacts my role as a criminal justice professional because my actions and professionalism are being hotly debated in the media and by the American people. It is absolutely necessary that criminal justice professionals remain true to title, meaning that they are both just, and professional. For example, police officers run more risk than ever of “going viral” as almost every American has a cell phone with video capabilities. If he or she does not uphold the law, and act both just and professional, it is likely for the whole world to find out. This can not only ruin a career, but an entire life.

The second key social issue, social media as a weapon, impacts criminal justice professionals because information in the wrong hands puts them and their families in danger. Already risking their lives in their law enforcement careers, officers find it increasingly difficult to keep their personal information private in the current social media climate. It also impacts my role as a criminal justice professional because law enforcement officials and their families need to have a sense of safety and security both on and off the job. However, with the easy access to private information, I may not feel safe. For example, even with a high level privacy blocks, an angry ex-convict could likely find an officer’s home address, access family member’s accounts, or track schedules. I must hold these risks in high regard and limit my social media activity in order to combat them.

The third key social issue, social media as a tool, impacts criminal justice professionals because it changes the ways that law enforcement can gain intelligence. It also impacts my role as a criminal justice professional because I will need to remain current in my knowledge of the advantages that social media can provide. Detectives, for example, might procure a fake Facebook account and friend request a suspected drug dealer. In turn, they gain access to the suspect’s friends, information, and perhaps even engage in conversation without the suspect’s knowledge. I must also maintain current knowledge of social media’s place in the Constitution, as some legal questions are arising surrounding Fourth Amendment rights and the use of one’s social media without their knowledge.

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