Future Societal Trends in Criminology, Essay Example

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Essay

In this paper I will identify several important societal trends that will likely impact the criminal justice system over the next ten years. I will then suggest a model of criminal justice best suited to deal with what the future holds. I will begin where the future starts: the past.

Looking back over the years might make it easier to predict the future of crime. We can identify known trends of the recent past and then just ask ourselves a question: Is there any reason to believe these trends will change? For example, the predictable rise in America’s prison population is the mainly result of the War on Drugs, begun with President Nixon and accelerated under Reagan. Predictably, prohibition of drugs made them highly profitable, drug traffickers engaged in terrorism, and terrorists became drug traffickers themselves. The courts then  expanded the use of plea bargains and informants (McDonald & Finn, 20001). The Web and computer networks predictably expanded the scope of fraud and spying. Yet unpredictably, homicides fell. The reasons for that are unclear, but legal abortion at least contributed to the decline by preventing future criminals: almost by definition, unfit mothers choose abortion.

There are two wildcards in our future: crowdsourcing and the economy. Crowdsourcing may increase public involvement in preventing some crimes and catching criminals, aided by cellphones’ GPS and cameras. As for the economy, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” That goes both ways: the next recession may arrive sooner and last longer than economists think. It is ironic that economic uncertainty is the one thing we can count on.

There are two basic models of criminal law: inquisitorial and adversarial (Law Com).  It is not likely that nations will switch theirs. Models are best left to evolve. I think the central question for any model is the future role of plea bargaining. The U.S. Supreme Court recently expanded defendants’ rights under plea bargains, a good change to the U.S.’s adversarial model.

References

Law Com. (n.d.). Adversarial and inquisitorial systems: A brief overview of key features. Retrieved from http://www.lawcom.govt.nz/sites/default/files/adversarial_and_inquisitorial_systems_2.pdf

McDonald, D., & Finn, P. (20001, January 31). Crime and justice trends in the united states during the past three decades. Retrieved from http://abtassociates.com/reports/CJTrendsThreeDecades.pdf

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