Social Considerations in Criminal Justice: Examining Racial Conflicts, Family Instability, Poverty and More

Justice is at the heart of the United States' democratic system, but the current criminal justice system faces increasingly complex problems, from human trafficking to terrorism and drug-related crimes. Professionals with criminal justice-related careers face these difficult challenges every day and work to reduce crime, improve public safety, and protect and serve society. According to a recent report from the U. S.

Department of State, there are approximately 24.9 million children, women and men around the world who are victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation in the United States, ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for this form of modern slavery. It's no surprise that addressing human trafficking is one of the top priorities of the current criminal justice system. Human trafficking has become all too familiar to law enforcement officers in communities around the world, and it's a focus point for many criminal justice professionals and state and federal legislators working to design policies, laws and programs to reduce cases and protect and support victims. In addition to human trafficking, there are several other social considerations that must be taken into account when examining the criminal justice system. Racial conflicts, family instability, poverty and unemployment, white collar crime, environmental issues, juvenile delinquency, mental illness and suicide, violence and excessive criminalization are all important topics that must be addressed in order to create a more equitable criminal justice system. When it comes to racial conflicts, it is important to recognize that people of color are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system.

Department of Justice, African Americans are five times more likely than whites to be incarcerated. This disparity is even greater for Latinos, who are nearly three times more likely than whites to be incarcerated. Jones-Brown argued that the use of aggregated data by law enforcement agencies and other criminal justice personnel to identify certain places as “areas of high crime” reinforces and reproduces racial inequality over time. Family instability is another important social consideration in criminal justice. Candice Jones (Public Welfare Foundation) noted that research can be used both as a sword and as a shield when it comes to addressing family instability in the criminal justice system.

Research has shown that children with unstable family backgrounds are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior than those with stable family backgrounds. Poverty and unemployment are also major social considerations in criminal justice. Research has shown that people living in poverty are more likely to be arrested than those living in higher-income households. This is due in part to the fact that people living in poverty often lack access to resources such as education and job training that can help them avoid involvement with the criminal justice system. White collar crime is another important social consideration in criminal justice. White collar crime refers to crimes committed by individuals or organizations for financial gain.

Examples include fraud, embezzlement, insider trading, money laundering, bribery, tax evasion, and cybercrime. Environmental issues are also an important social consideration in criminal justice. Environmental crimes such as illegal dumping or pollution can have serious consequences for public health and safety. Professionals with criminal justice careers must work together with environmental experts to ensure that these crimes are addressed. Juvenile delinquency is another important social consideration in criminal justice. Juvenile delinquency refers to illegal or antisocial behavior by minors under the age of 18. Research has shown that juvenile delinquency is often linked to poverty, family instability, substance abuse, mental illness, or other factors. Mental illness is another important social consideration in criminal justice.

Mental illness can lead to involvement with the criminal justice system if individuals do not receive proper treatment or support services. In fact, 44% of inmates have a history of mental health problems. Violence is another important social consideration in criminal justice. Violence can take many forms including domestic violence, gang violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, or other forms of physical or psychological harm. Excessive criminalization is also an important social consideration in criminal justice. Excessive criminalization refers to laws or policies that make certain behaviors illegal even when they do not pose a threat to public safety or health. The death penalty is perhaps the most controversial topic in today's criminal justice system.

The United States is the only Western democracy that sentences common criminals to death since other democracies decided decades ago that civilized nations should not execute anyone even if they have taken a human life. In national polls about two-thirds of Americans favor the death penalty for reasons such as the need for retaliation (“an eye for an eye”), deterrence of potential killers or lower expenditure of public funds compared to a life sentence. Social science evidence is irrelevant to the argument of retribution which is the subject of philosophy and theology but it is relevant to many other aspects of the debate about death. Taken together the evidence on all these aspects yields powerful arguments against the death penalty (Death Penalty Information Center 201). It seeks alternatives to policies that focus on criminalizing and incarcerating people rather than addressing underlying needs of individuals and their communities. Some participants suggested that productive debates should address both volume of nonviolent criminal justice activity and best ways for system to respond violent crime recognizing many perpetrators have also been victims. Raphael gave example of criminal justice system reforms California resulted drastic release from prison reduction racial disparities. The financial physical civic social penalties result from criminal convictions arrest records often outweigh crime. In area of criminal justice policy I have never found social science without values I don't think exists. Several participants offered several ideas promising practices policies could address social exclusion in criminal justice system. Several participants suggested academic researchers should include studies voices experience people experienced criminal justice system. In his view many exclusionary consequences criminal justice system not unintentional addressing problem requires more than just gradual marginal changes. Several panelists discussed effects contact with criminal justice system go beyond those imposed through sentences approaches limiting these effects. A criminal justice system disproportionately punishes communities color violates value social justice..

Luis Mersinger
Luis Mersinger

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