Law Enforcement And Organized Crime Report Example
An attempt to reduce crime in the United States that has created a lot of controversy is known as the get tough on crime war. This is presented by advocates that have theorized waging a war against crime is the only way to put an end to growing crime rates that threaten the society and economy. A large amount of advocates on sentencing reform are responsible for supporting the war on crime. One of the ideas is that sentencing reforms like the mandatory minimum sentences will be an assured way to deter criminal activity (Harty 2012). Mandatory minimum sentences are set so that there will be a certain amount of time required at the minimum for certain crimes. For instance if a person commits a firearm offense he/she might have a mandatory sentence of at least 15 years in prison. This means that he/she could get longer but will not be able to receive less no matter the circumstances like it was the first crime he or she ever committed. One law that was enacted in 1984 by congress was named the armed career criminal act. This act made it necessary for any judge faced with a person with three prior convictions that was now being charged with a felony possession of a firearm to sentence said person to a minimum of 15 years in prison. The real issue however is if these types of sentencing are working to deter criminals or if it is causing more problems. One issue that is brought up is that although judges no longer have control over the sentencing, prosecutors do. This means that many issues are still not being resolved it is just a different person making the decision. Some issues with this are that prosecutors are not trained to make these decisions and may also use this power to gain professional success therefore abusing the power (Bernick & Larkin, 2014).
Since 1972 when President Richard Nixon imposed a plan of action to combat crime with harsher penalties the results have not been favorable. The idea was to show how the criminal justice system could work together for two goals, reducing crime and treating people better. However this is not what has happened and even more recent attempts have shown the same devastating results, an increase in prison populations and crime rates. Since the 1980s the sentencing reform which was imposed to fight crime has only shown the ability to present more issues in the criminal justice system. There are many reasons to consider about why these sentencing laws and other reforms have not been working reducing crime. Among these media is a huge reason that these ideas have not worked. This is mostly because the idea was formed on misrepresentations in the news therefore not having a significant scientific background of support to show how harsher penalties would reduce crime. Another issue is that these reform laws were not only given to dangerous and career offenders but these also affect nonviolent and first time offenders. People who oppose the laws argue that sentencing people the same no matter the circumstances is directly responsible for raised recidivism rates (Lynch & Sabol, 2015).
Many of the people in prisons across America today are serving time because of the war on drugs. Some of these people have been in prison for years for what would be considered minor offenses and even first time offenses. Since the 1980s arrests have skyrocketed as it has quadrupled to equal two million people incarcerated across America. On top of this there are 4.7 million people that are out but serving on probation or parole. Considering that America incarcerates more people than most other countries and spends a massive 200 billion dollars a year to run the criminal justice system there is an indication that the war on crime is backfiring. However although America has so many people serving time in prison and jails a major issue is that many of these people are not actually originally incarcerated for serious crimes. The facts show that although there are a large number of arrests in America it is not because of high crimes it is because we have harsh penalties for small crimes. The reason that our rates have quadrupled since the 1980s is attributed to the war on drugs and people that were sentenced to mandatory minimums even for non-violent offenses. Many of these offenders then become involved in gangs and learn to commit more serious crimes while in prison. If they are incarcerated there are immediate people to take their place committing the same acts on the streets. Nothing in prison teaches criminals to follow different rules or behavior and it is a dangerous place to put a person who is only a minor nonviolent offender. This does not mean there is no solution it only means the war on crime is not working. It is more harmful than helpful and the evidence is overwhelming in the archives since it has been imposed. Community initiatives like after school programs and other projects to help reduce recidivism have been able to show major success in reduction efforts and helping ex-offenders to find alternatives to their previous criminal lifestyle. These programs are much more likely to reduce crime than the war on crime that has only shown to increase crime rates over the last 35 years since it started in 1980 (Leighton, 2015).
The war on drugs and the war on crime coincide and have equally devastated the prisons across America by incarcerating people who committed minor and nonviolent crimes for lengthy periods of time. This type of harsh punishment and penalties was expected to deter people from committing crimes however the reason it backfired is because many people were imprisoned for years over very minimal offenses. This has only caused strain on the justice system and economy and time has shown crime rates have only seemingly gone up. The reason that crime rates rose was because instead of punishing serious offenders harsher the laws just expanded what defines a crime and handed the same punishment down for almost everyone. As a result prisoner populations rose and offenders of small crimes learned to survive in a harsh environment that in turn taught them how to commit more serious crimes.
Bernick, E., & Larkin, P. (2014). Reconsidering Mandatory Minimum Sentences: The Arguments for and Against Potential Reforms. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 18 March 2015, from http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/02/reconsidering-mandatory-minimum-sentences-the-arguments-for-and-against-potential-reforms
Harty, C. (2012). The Causes and Effects of Get Tough: A Look at How Tough-on-Crime Policies Rose to the Agenda and an Examination of Their Effects on Prison Populations and Crime. Purdue-primo-prod.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com. Retrieved 18 March 2015, from http://purdue-primo-prod.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?tabs=viewOnline
Leighton, P. (2015). what every american should know about crime and criminal justice (crime rates, prison statistics, race, media, questions for politicians);. Stopviolence.com. Retrieved 18 March 2015, from http://stopviolence.com/cj-knowledge.htm
Lynch, J., & Sabol, W. (2015). Did Getting Tough on Crime Pay?: Crime Policy Report No. 1. Urban.org. Retrieved 18 March 2015, from http://www.urban.org/publications/307337.html
Verenberg, J. (1972). The War on Crime by James Vorenberg - 72.05. Theatlantic.com. Retrieved 18 March 2015, from https://www.theatlantic.com/past/politics/crime/crimewar.htm
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