Identify and discuss the societal trends that will impact the criminal justice system over the next ten years. Which model of criminal justice is best suited to deal with crime problems of the future and why?
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One trend that now has and will continue to have a significant impact on the criminal justice system is the economy. The cost of housing, feeding, and providing medical care for prisoners is an incredible drain on state budgets. Since state budgets must be balanced and their sources of income are diminished, the cost of incarceration is a cost that is going to be examined more closely in the coming years.
Another trend in recent years has been the oversight of the federal judiciary system, which has ordered a number of prisons to deal with serious overcrowding. This is a trend that is likely to continue as well, particularly in states that place a high premium on "law and order."
These trends raise an interesting about the two tension between two differing goals of criminal justice, one being retribution and the other being rehabilitation. Retribution is cheaper in the short run, but it leads to more crowding. Rehabilitation requires a large financial investment, but it would lead to less crowding and would save all of us money in the long run.
Another trend is the privatization of prisons. This is a disturbing trend, the drawbacks of which are evident in a recent scandal in Pennsylvania, in which judges were paid off to sentence juveniles to a private facility. Also, if prisons are not run by the state and are run for profit, will prisoners be properly cared for? This might seem like an unseemly concern for prisoners, but the fact is, if they are not cared for properly, it is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment and violative of the Constitution. If a prisoner does not receive necessary medical care, he will die. This would be a complete deprivation of due process, since he had been sentenced to prison, not to death.
I would imagine that the incredible advances in technology are going to have a huge impact on criminal behavior and criminal justice. There is so much more technology available for surveillance such as the "blue light" cameras in Chicago used public areas and street corners where there is a pattern of criminal behavior. Red light cameras are now widely used to survey intersections and can automatically ticket cars that violate the red light signal. Technology and remote monitoring of everyone's behavior is making it harder for the criminals to act withanonymity, but the technology are issues of "right to privacy" etc. are certainly going to become topics for the criminal justice system to deal with.
With a society that is becoming more and more liberal, it will abolish capital punishment completely. With the collapse of the economy and the prediction of long-term economic downturn, the prison population will grow exponentially. A look at the statistics of California's prisons is a good mirror of the future for the penal system.
The present system of warehousing rather than rehabilitation will probably continue as the cost of rehabilitation in prison (particularly Federal prisons) is much more expensive. Society is already moving toward a police state, so this trend may continue.
I don't agree with Post #4. Many states, particularly conservative ones, are turning towards rehabilitation (particularly for drug offenders) precisely because it is less expensive that incarceration. I think that the financial situation will push more states in that direction and we will move away from our current emphasis on harsh prison terms for every conceivable offense. In other words, I think we'll be moving away from the crime control model to some degree.
A good way to get a sense of the issues being discussed concerning any topic is to search Google Books. Here is what I found when I searched in Google Books for "Social Trends and the Criminal Justice System":
Notice that the book that seems most relevant to the topic in which you are interested dates from 1976. Fortunately, if you go to "advanced search" in Google Books, you can change the parameters of the search in different ways, including by searching by date. If you are interested in very recent material, you might want to search, say, for the years 2009-2011. Then the 1976 book, which is presumably no longer relevant to your interests, will be excluded.
Google is a wonderful thing, and one aspect of Google that makes it especially wonderful is the various ways in which it allows for fairly precise searching.
One important technology is micro-sized GPS chips that can be implanted under the skin. Currently, criminals on probation or bail wear large tracking bracelets on their ankles, and despite continuing advances it is possible to remove them. Tracking chips, being tested in wild animals, will make it that much harder to evade the law.
One trend is the emergence of serious cyber crimes. The crimes and criminals pop up so fast that it is difficult for the cops, let alone the law, to catch up. Yet the crimes these people commit can be terrible, such as identity theft.
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