The criminal justice system has an important role in society to maintain order and to ensure that law is equal and fair; no matter age, ethnicity, race, sex, or social economical status. Unfortunately, this is not true within the current judicial system. Racial discrimination, youth incarceration, and health related infirmities result from incarceration (Simonson, 2017).
There are many problems that plague our current criminal justice system. The problems affect all those incarcerated as well as the guards who are watchmen over the prison walls. The guards are supposed to maintain order and even with that, many problems remain. I will identify three problems of the criminal justice system and my suggestion on how to fix those three problems. The three problems I recognize are racial discrimination, youth incarceration and poor health conditions of the incarcerated.
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Racial discrimination allows the criminal justice system to conduct discriminatory misconduct on defendants by the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs view each defendant guilty before he or she is properly convicted in the court of law. Generally, underprivileged population fall victim to unjust legal practices. Continuous accountability does not exist and what justice should be is questionable (Simonson, 2017). Average citizens participate in voting and serving on juries where the underprivileged does not. This causes an unequal distribution of political power that ends with the best interest of the poor population being overlooked. People of color end up becoming part of the criminal justice system due to wrongful accusations (Simonson, 2017). A workable solution for racial discrimination would be for people of color to become more self-aware and involved with the current social injustice within their communities. They must take a stand for their rights and be an advocate for equality. Equality may not be divided evenly, but the penalty for each crime should be just and equal for each offender no matter – age, race or social economical status. People of color must be persistent, remain vigilant and never falter or waver from their rights of equality.
Youth incarceration is the result of an individual being incarcerated no less than 12 years of age and no older than 17 years of age. There is an increase of incidences of youth incarceration when a student is expelled from school with little or no adult supervision to guide them back on the right path. Without proper supervision, they start participating in criminal activity. According to (McCarter, 2016), more than three million U.S. public school students were suspended at least once during the 2011-2012 school year. Due to being suspended from school just once increases the student’s likelihood of repeating a grade, dropping out, and encountering the juvenile justice system. Juvenile crime peaked in the United States in the 1990s. The violence included school violence and shootings. Youth incarceration will never completely be non-existent. To eliminate the high incidence of youth incarceration activities and programs must be increased and reestablished. This will decrease the amount of idle time available for mischief. The activities and programs must promote a positive message to keep the youth active and involved.
Health related infirmities resulting from incarceration is present in all facilities of confinement in the criminal justice system. According to (Cloud, Parsons, Delany-Brumsey, 2014), people in correctional facilities are among the unhealthiest and most medically underserved in society. Health care within correctional facilities is mandated, but the care is subminimal in comparison to individuals outside the correctional facilities (Cloud et al., 2014). Correctional facilities are unhealthy where those incarcerated are exposed to conditions that is detrimental to their physical and mental health. These conditions include overcrowding, violence, poor nutrition, and unsanitary conditions. To fix poor conditions, lobbyists must gain the attention people in authority positions and demand them to fix living conditions for the people who are incarcerated. Cease without expectancy until conditions are improved and hold authority personnel accountable. Constantly checking on the correctional facilities by forming focus groups to ensure that the demands of healthier condition are met should be also used to ensure accountability as well.
Problems within the criminal justice system will always exist. It will take committed, dedicated people to make a difference to decrease the problems. People must have a heart of compassion and truly care to make a difference. The problems may never completed go away, but with individuals who care, can take a stand, and have a voice for the voiceless. Taking a stand for the incarcerated will result in better conditions for those affected within the criminal justice system.
Cloud, D. H., Parsons, J., & Delany-Brumsey, A. (2014). Addressing Mass Incarceration: A Clarion Call for Public Health. American Journal of Public Health, 104(3), 389-391. doi:10.2105/ajph.2013.301741
McCarter, S. (2016). The School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Primer for Social Workers. Social Work, 62(1), 53-61. doi:10.1093/sw/sww078
Simonson, J. (2017). Democratizing Criminal Justice Through Contestation and Resistance. 111(6). Retrieved from Northwestern University Law Review.
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