What is the most important change needed in the US criminal Justice Sysytem?  I think it has to with overcrowded prisons that affect tremendously the economy of the nation.  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Along the same lines as the above posts, there is the argument for the legalization of marijuana.  Taking the profit out of the trafficking of marijuana through legislation could easily have the same effect as eliminating Prohibition did.  In fact, some states have decriminalized the sale of medical marijuana already.

The decriminalization of the sale of marijuana would have several positive effects. It would definitely reduce many of the criminal activities in U.S. border states that reach far into their territory.  For instance, in the May 10, 2010 edition of Newsweek in an article about the dilemmas of Arizona, Eve Conant writes,

An hour later they [sheriff's deputies] raided a McMansion adorned with hunting trophies and Scarface posters; a white SUV jammed with 300 pounds of marijuana was parked out front.  (Sixty percent of all the marijuana that reaches the U.S. transits Arizona.)  Against the house was in a high-end development, nowhere near the border.

Another improvement needed in the criminal justice system is the fact that there is no adequate sentencing for pedophiles.  Studies have demonstrated that there is virtually no rehabilitation for pedophiles, who repeatedly offend.  After having served time in prison and they are released, they commit their crimes again; in addition, as they realize that their chances of getting away with their crime are increased, they often, then, murder their victims. 

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There will be many different answers to such a question.  I did like your proposal of overcrowding in prisons as being a critical element.  For my thoughts, I would say that the current political climate and the parsing of thoughts in Constitutional applicability represents a powerfully important debating point and one where change is needed.  The War on Terror has caused some to forgo the Constitutional elements that guide our nation and have caused some to interpret the document in manners that might have been against thoughts of the framers' or their intent.  I think that a change might be needed to ensure that the American promise of freedom and a zealous pursuit of those who wish harm are not contradictory with one another or mutually exclusive.  Perhaps, a change in this realm will be needed or some type of reconfiguration of understanding be warranted.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would agree with the above post, as the enforcement of very strict drug laws is the largest reason why our prisons are as overcrowded as they are.  In 1980, when the drug war started, we had roughly 440,000 Americans in prison, while today we have over 2.3 million, a five fold increase in under 30 years.

What's more, such incarceration, while politically popular, doesn't reduce drug use or trafficking, which has actually gotten worse.  Prisons are violent places criminals call "university", where people learn to be criminals.  There is little attempt at rehabilitation of these drug users, and they are sent back into the same economic and social conditions in which they committed their first offense.

I think such changes in law should only apply to non-violent drug offenders.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is of course a matter of opinion.

I agree with you that our overcrowded prisons are a huge issue.  And I think that perhaps the most important change is one that would relieve that crowding.

Specifically, I think that our drug laws need to be way less harsh.  It seems to me that many of the people who are incarcerated are there for drug dealing or for crimes related to them trying to get money to buy drugs.  As long as these people have not been violent, I think they need treatment.  It would be expensive, but surely less so than imprisoning them.

soldiergirl | Student

Does America's Capital Punishment need to be abolished? The U.S. capital punishment should be abolished.  The New Testament in the Bible says we are under grace.  Who amongst us want to give up their seat in Heaven rather than to sit next to the offender in Heaven? I do not believe that the punishment of death really fits any crime, no matter how horrendous and horrible it may have been.  I do not believe you deter the taking of lives by others by having a death penalty.  There is no information or documentation that we have stopped anyone from killing because we have the death penalty.  And in the final analysis it does not work fairly, if there's any such thing as being fair about killing people.

Over the past recent years, scores of news stories have been told of African American men across the country convicted of horrific crimes and sentenced to death; only to be freed, often decades later by DNA evidence, eyewitness testimonies or revelations of legal bungling.

The shoddy state of America's capital punishment system begss the question:  Should the death penalty be abolished?


 convicted of horrific crimes and sentenced to death; only to be reed - often decades later, by DNA