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Policy Analysis, Research Paper Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1687

Research Paper

US Criminal Justice System is a structural base created to maintain social control in the country. It is well-structured and has several components to ensure that justice is provided to the victims of the crimes as well as criminals. The main idea of the entire system is that trial has to remain fair, impartial and according to the basic human rights. In order to make sure this principle works, five major components are established. If the problem can not be resolved on the current level, it progresses to the next layer. The main components include:

  1. Local Law Enforcement
  2. Court Trial
  3. Court Case
  4. Trial With Grand Jury
  5. Decision and Punishment

It is rather clear and obvious how the official policies influence any of the criminal justice system components. However, there is set of unspoken practices and policies that certainly influence the process and the entire operations. I would like to focus on the controversial unwritten policies and common practice that actually misbalance the justice system. The first issue I would like to address is the prosecutor’s attitude to the in-court police deception. There is no clear vision of how this deception is uncovered, and moreover – how is it to be dealt with if it is proven that the police officer lied under oath.

Some may claim that this issue is insignificant to study, as the police do not tend to lie in court, for they have no need to. This assumption is fundamentally wrong. Plentiful studies have discovered that the police officers do deceive the court, the jurors and the prosecutors rather frequently. However, no real detailed study has ever been conducted to figure put statistically how often the police officer actually lie in court. According to Larry Cunningham, “Compared with many other offenses, the crime of testifying has been poorly measured, and we should be suspicious of claims that its incidence is known or its causes understood” (Cunningham, C. 1999). This lack of information can be explained by the fact that perjury, as any other illegal activity is performed secretly and as in this case the crime is committed by the police representatives themselves; there is pretty much no force to figure out and punish these cases. As a result of such practices, the saying “Almost all police lie” is not that uncommon today.

What are the issues that the police officers lie about in court? Usually, it is about increasing the amount of drugs found, lying about the circumstances of a search, sometimes even manufacturing the evidence for a crime. It is important to note that the law enforcers do not commonly deceive court for personal reasons or for no reasons at all. Usually, it concerns the obvious crime that can not be legally proven, or increasing the sentence in jail for a socially dangerous person on case the punishment based on the legal procedures is insignificant. Quite rarely, however, clearly innocent people may suffer as a result of the deception performed by the police for the sake of better statistics, personal dislike or some other reasons.

So, what are the results of the perjuries done by the police officers? It is clear that the fact that the most important people in law enforcement actually lie themselves is adding major misbalance to the justice system. The police representatives are trusted more than the other witnesses and the understanding that they may lie for some personal reasons just like the rest of the witnesses can certainly cause a lot of confusion.

In order to figure out all the potential consequences of perjury, the reasons for it should be identified. There are two main reasons, which combined set the motivation for deception among the police officers.

1) “Perhaps the most persuasive reason why police officers commit perjury is because other players in the criminal justice system-judges and prosecutors, in particular- let them get away with it” (Cunningham, C. 1999). In fact, the police officers are frequently offered to lie in court by the prosecutors themselves. It is very rewarding to win the case and send the criminal to prison for a sentence longer, than he would have received legally. Moreover, it is always very frustrating when the case collapses because of the lack of some minor insignificant evidence. Under these conditions, cheating is often considered acceptable by the government officials. Prosecutors either clearly see that the police officer is lying and just try to ignore that fact, or actually negotiate with the witness from the police to lie in order to achieve necessary results.

2)  Most police officer that perjure in court think they do it for the greater good. They often witness how the system malfunctions and the guilty ones are set free. In order to improve these imperfections, they prefer to lie and make up evidence, just to make sure the ones they find guilty actually will go to jail. The police view themselves as the most efficient part of the justice system, which is often so, as a number of crimes are being unsolved or not punished because of the extra limitations.

It is clear that the assumption that the prosecutors and the police may lie under oath in order to incarcerate the criminal whose guilt otherwise can not be proven, is wrong by its nature. Such practices are severe violations of the ethical code and legislation and surely have to be punished. Perjuries from the officials expected to actually oversee any crime is an entire perversion of the US justice system.

The second policy that is going to be discussed in this paper is also rather controversial, though definitely urgent and vital. It concerns equality as one of the basic distinctive features of the US justice system. That means that any person, regardless race, religion or gender should receive fair and legal attention from the state, be they the victims of the crime, or actual criminals. Unfortunately, the reality turns out to be rather far from ideal, as the disproportion in the reaction of the justice system towards the social processes can be vividly observed. This is especially demonstrative if the attitude towards the white and Afro-American population is compared. The best way to prove this fact is to look at the incarceration statistics. Such policies as War in Drugs, as well as more severe punishments for the violent crimes combined with the idea that longer prison terms are a great solution to the uprising problems made the US a country with one of highest percentages of incarcerated people. (Bobo, L.D.; Thompson, V. 2006)

The US is slowly developing to become the society of imprisonment “On an international scale, the rate of incarceration per 100,000 citizens in the United States far exceeds that of all other western industrial nations. The ratio ranges from a low of 4 to 1 when compared to our closest neighbor, Mexico, to very nearly 12 to 1 when compared to places like Sweden and Japan. Only Russia comes close, where the most recent data shows a Russian incarceration rate of 532 per 100,000 as compared to a US rate of 726 per 100,000 in 2005.” (Bobo, L.D.; Thompson, V. 2006)

Unfortunately, the racial minorities seem to experience the problem especially seriously. The percentage of Latinos and Afro-Americans in jails far exceed their percentage in freedom, which means they are more frequently incarcerated and deprived of freedom.  It is not claimed that the discriminatory laws once present in the Confederate South are still prevailing. Due to the gradual evolution of the society, colored people are at least granted the same rights on paper. However, despite the fact that no written instructions are present or any unspoken rules exist. The problem is mostly based on prejudice and misunderstanding. However, if prejudice gains such large scales, it can be considered a policy of a sort.

The main reason for the great inequality and misbalance in imprisonment rates based upon race is the War on Drugs with it s stricter and more controversial policies. Once the campaign against the drugs started, chances to get imprisoned if caught with possession of drugs rose by a dramatic figure of 400%. It is much easier to hunt down the drug dealers of an average size that are arranged in gangs. This is the common way for the Afro-American suburb criminals to organize. Therefore, the black people were the first and the easiest target for the policemen. Not surprisingly, in most cases the gangs were actually guilty of some minor crimes concerning drugs. According to Bobo, L.D. and Thompson, V. : “The end result has been a rising disproportion of black-to-white in jails and prisons. In 2004, for example, black       males constituted 43.3 percent of those incarcerated in state, federal, and local prisons or jails, though only 13            percent of the total population. Whites on the other hand represented 35.7 percent of the male inmate population   in 2004, well under their 75 percent of the total male population.”.

“An estimated twelve percent of African American men ages twenty to thirty-four were either in jail or prison in 2002. This compares to just 1.6% of white men in the same age group”. (Coker, D. 2003) Such an approach to law enforcement certainly influences the entire system. Racial profiling makes the police officers stress some specific race over others while patrolling and investigating. As a result, the innocent Afro-Americans will feel discriminated and humiliated. Moreover, as the extra attention is stereotypically paid to the blacks, white gangs find it easier to get away with their crimes.

To sum up, I would like to say that unofficial unspoken polices seldom bring any good. They deform the entire justice system and deprive it of its main characteristics – impartiality and fairness. Therefore, racial profiling as well perjuring by the policemen is absolutely inappropriate, no matter what initial goal is set.

References

Bobo, L.D.; Thompson, V. “Unfair by Design. the War on Drugs, Race and the Legitimacy of the Criminal Justice System” Social Research, Vol. 73, 2006. Coker, D. 2003

Cunningham, C. 1999 “Taking on Testifying: The Prosecutor’s Response to In-Court Police Deception” Criminal Justice Ethics, Vol. 18, 1999.

Coker, D. “Foreword: Addressing the Real World of Racial Injustice in the Criminal Justice System” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 93, 2003.

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