Future of Criminal Justice Policy Making
Massive global migration, the rise in terrorism, growth in intercultural populations, globalization, technological advances, and complexity of demographics all have a direct bearing on the future of criminal justice policy making. All these factors have the capability of affecting future global criminal justice systems and concerned policies. The stability of future criminal justice systems around the world depends on whether stakeholders can put in place mechanisms that can allow flexibility within the systems in regards to policy making. This paper seeks to analyze the elements that will shape the future of criminal justice policies, limitations of current policies and solutions to probable policy problems.
The Future of Criminal Justice Policy Making
According to Ritter (2004), criminals evolve over the course of time and as potential victims take preventative measures. Regardless of this coevolution of both victims and criminals, future criminal justice systems will fall into three distinct groups. One category is policies aimed at reducing or eliminating the opportunities or avenues for criminal activities. The second category includes policies at changing individuals’ fundamental values especially during the formative years. The third category involves policies that change the motivation of people who have already committed crimes.
The above categories are similar to the ones used in the formulation of policies in the current criminal justice systems across the globe. However, the categories and consequent policies will have to adapt to the changes in demographics that will occur in the future. As the world delves further into the future, it is most probable that the proportion of males aged 15 to 29 will decline. This age group is the most crime prone among all other age groups. On the other hand, the population of those who are over thirty years old is expected to increase significantly over the years.
The impact will be that there will be more people in the future who are victims of criminal acts or more solutions to crime activities across the globe. An increase in the number of elderly people might result in a larger victim group. However, it could also translate to less crime as older people mentor young ones and steer them away from criminal activities.
Changes in technology will also have a huge impact on the future of policymaking as it relates to criminal justice systems. Advances in DNA and biometric analyses, and surveillance will enhance the ability of criminal justice systems to deter crime and catch criminals (Yeung, 2011). In the future, most of these technologies will be available to the public, which will make it easier for communities to police themselves. Policies that will be made during such times will need to incorporate the strengths of the technology available as well as its accessibility to the public.
Furthermore, technological advances will also include increased interoperability of criminal justice systems across the globe. Officers from all over the world will be able to communicate electronically, which will guarantee the decline of criminal activities internationally. The criminal justice policies framed then will have to encapsulate the global nature of the justice system to ensure that every country is playing by the rules and has standard operating procedures.
The future will also come with more intense public scrutiny of the criminal justice systems across the world. There have been several instances of public uproar over police brutality over the last few years. The public needs to have more oversight over the criminal justice departments in their jurisdictions. In the near future, police officers will have to be wearing body-worn cameras to tape all their interactions with members of the public (Jawando & Parsons, 2014). Hopefully, this will decrease instances of police brutality, police bribery, as well as the friction between police officers and the citizens.
Limitations of Criminal Justice Policy Making
One major limitation of the current criminal justice policies is the classification model. The classification model was created to enable maximum and efficient use of resources. However, the classification approach of offenders has resulted in major ethical concerns as well as well as disenfranchisement of minority groups. There seems to be an in-built fault with the classification system of offenders as they continue to propagate inequality throughout the world.
Case in point is the war on drugs that has resulted in a disproportionate number of black Americans behind bars in America. One could argue that mass incarceration of black youth has contributed significantly to the disenfranchisement of the black community in the country. For several decades, African Americans have been stereotyped as criminals, which have resulted in amorous arrests and discrimination of these people.
The classification model targets a particular section of the population and labels this section as the troublemakers. The result is massive incarceration and loss of economic and social opportunities for the targeted group. Policies such as the ‘War on Drugs’ have failed miserably in fulfilling their main objective. Rather, they continue to cause suffering amongst a large section of the population, which inadvertently continues the cycle of crime.
Another problem with the current crop of criminal justice policies is that they fail to cover existing loopholes in the criminal justice world. The criminal justice system is supposed to prevent crime, which involves deterrence by punishing those culpable of criminal activities. However, the current policies have been unable to ensure that all the guilty have been punished for their crimes. Bribery and threats to police officials have resulted in many guilty people getting away with the crimes that they have committed.
There is also the problem of political influence when it comes to formulating criminal justice policies. Currently, politicians have a lot of influence on the type of policies that the criminal justice departments across the world adopt in their different jurisdictions. The lack of autonomy in the criminal justice organizations has severely undermined their ability to carry out their objectives.
The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that politicians create criminal justice policies that serve their own agendas. Politicians rarely design policies that will make them unfavorable among the voters or those which curtail some of their illegal activities. Furthermore, there have been numerous reports that many politicians are in the pockets of criminal masterminds. Criminals with significant political backing are rarely brought to book for their illegal activities.
Solution to Anticipating Policy Outcomes
The solution to future policy outcomes is the use of the evidence-based model. Currently, most criminal justice systems use the clinical experience model when setting up policies. This model incorporates reports from criminal justice practitioners. Their experience in the field gives them the mandate to set up policies based on what they see work. Sharing experiences and policies that seem effective in one community with another area allows for quick application. The drawback of this model as has been seen throughout the course of history is the fact that there is little scientific research that proves its efficacy.
On the other hand, the evidence-based model, any new policy undergoes thorough systematic and scientific research to determine its efficacy before such a policy is implemented in the real world and on a larger scale. A good example of the model was the implementation of hot spot policing. Hot spot policing involves focusing policing efforts in areas that experience high crime rates. The model was developed and adopted in the early 1990s after years of research into its efficacy. The policy was very successful with crime rates in such areas falling drastically.
However, the evidence-based model also has its drawbacks. Research takes a lot of time, effort, and monetary resources and so does the implementation of the research into real-world situations. Many experts in the criminal justice systems would prefer to implement an innovation immediately and wait to see if it will be successful. Time is crucial in the criminal justice world and delays in implementation of solutions often translate to increased suffering of victims.
To solve the time setbacks of using the evidence-based model, it is imperative to develop ways to allow research studies to take off faster. This can easily be achieved by encouraging more investors to fund the research and implementation processes (Ritter, 2004). In addition, the criminal justice system needs to develop and reinforce a culture that encourages exploring new ways of solving the criminal problems in the country.
Furthermore, global partnerships in criminal justice will help governments across the world to come up with innovative scientifically backed solutions faster than ever before. Criminal justice systems from different jurisdictions should collaborate in the research and implementation stage to reduce the time and costs of research as well as to hasten the process of implementing the proposed solutions.
Jawando, M.L., & Parsons, C. (2014, Dec 18). Four ideas that could begin to reform the criminal justice system and improve community relations. Center for American Progress.
Retrieved on 11/6/2016 from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/civil-liberties/report/2014/12/18/103578/4-ideas-that-could-begin-to-reform-the-criminal-justice-system-and-improve-police-community-relations/
Ritter, N.M. (2004). Preparing for the Future: Criminal Justice in 2040. National Institute of Justice Journal No 255.
Yeung, B. (2011, Feb 9). The Future of Techno Crimefighting. Retrieved on 10/6/2016 from http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2011-02-techno-crimefighting