The Criminal Justice system has evolved to meet the needs of today’s society in many different simple and creative ways. Every day technology gets better–and with this, much crime has evolved to embrace it. With the evolution of criminal tactics, it is only natural that law enforcement must also move along the same pace to truly be effective. The use of things such as wiretaps, email screening, as well as other digital methods to catch criminals have proved vital to law enforcement in the past, and do continue to do so in the future.
The first use by large-scale law enforcement of voice recorders was in the years when Rudy Giuliani was a Prosecutor, and actively pursuing the Italian Mafia in New York City. This coincided with a new RICO Statute that allowed for a case to be made against the intricate criminal organization as long as they could prove the cohesiveness of the organization. Over a period of close to a decade, Giuliani’s used the massive amounts of evidence collected–much of it in the form of wiretaps or bugging conversations–to gradually pick apart the Four Families of the Italian Mob in New York City (National Geographic, 2013).
Today these wiretaps have evolved with the times. The Patriot Act, eventually struck down, allowed for digital wiretaps on virtually anyone in America. This is a post-911 United States, where the fear of the masses has allowed for infringements on civil liberties in certain circumstances. This is outlined in no better place than in the recent events taking place on a global scale due to the fallout left by former-NSA subcontractor Edward Snowden. Before eventually being granted asylum in Russia, Snowden sent the United States on a global manhunt to catch the man who leaked so much of United States intelligence to the general public. He exposed the extent to which the United States had the capability to spy on virtually anyone, at any time, and did so very frequently. Even governments of other countries, including allies, were not spared from the list of places and people the United States government was spying on.
This directly leads to Constitutional issues that face the Criminal Justice as well. Again, post-911 America became a very different country with regards to civil liberties. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution are clearly outlined in the Bill of Rights to protect both warrantless searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment, as well as due process in the Fifth Amendment, have clearly been infringed upon in more ways than one.
The issue of the Fourth Amendment warrantless searches and seizures is a very large and relevant one in contemporary Criminal Justice. Again Edward Snowden has been the most recent, and primary catalyst in the contemporary debate surrounding things such as warrantless wiretaps and email monitoring. When Giuliani was prosecuting The Italian Mafia, he was using wiretaps and bugged conversations that were legally obtained with a Judges’ warrant. This is not the case in the Snowden debacle–none of the digging the NSA is doing on unknowing people are completely warrantless–making them unconstitutional.
The Fifth Amendment has come into question as well in recent cases revolving primarily around the US Military Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This remote base in an unfriendly area is home to a detention center for people–some American citizens–who have been accused of, or known to be, terrorists. The problem with this is for the citizens–and even the legal aliens–that sit in the prison, there was no 5th Amendment at all.
First of all, many have been detained without being charged–clearly violating habeus corpus. There was no Miranda Rights, or any semblance of proper due process or even a trial when dealing with Guantanamo Bay–the Fifth Amendment was just ignored. It may be being ignored still as long as that base remains open at its capacity.
There will always be a technological battle between criminals and law enforcement, posing perpetual Constitutional issues, trying to find a way to fit twenty-first century technology into an 18th century document.
Fifth Amendment.” LII. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2013. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fifth_amendment>.
Fourth Amendment.” LII. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2013. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fourth_amendment>.
National Geographic Society.” National Geographic Channel. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2013. <http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/inside-the-american- mob/galleries/taking-down-the-mob/at/giuliani-1776667/>.