Ideology, Policy, and Practice Essay
Ideology, Policy, and Practice
Through the prism of juvenile justice, Feld (2003) discusses the historical and contemporary roots of liberalism and conservatism as they affect criminal justice in the United States. Summarize these historical roots and comment on their impact on contemporary criminal justice. Does Feld’s article reflect an ideological bias? If so, what is it and why do you think so? Feld`s article about the juvenile justice system in a way has shown us the historical roots of liberalism and conservatism and how they affect criminal justice today.
The article stated that issues such as concentrated poverty, racial isolation, and the ensuing of youth crime and violence are the cumulative consequences of the public policies that produce the patterned inequality. Moreover, this article stresses different causes of crime. Liberals see crime not as a product of individual moral failure but as the result of social influences (Currie, 1985). In particular, unemployment, racial discrimination, and governmental policies that work to the disadvantage of the poor are the root causes of crime and it is only by changing the social environment will crime be reduced (Currie 1989).
Further, our politicians’ public policy debates about these issues have affected much of our criminal justice system today. As a result, the conservative proposes the so called crime control model to reduce crime by increasing the penalties on criminals. On the other hand, the liberal proposes the due process model that advocates social programs aimed primarily at reducing crime by reducing poverty. As I see it, the impact of conservatism is more on the production of inadequate protection of society. The conservatives are concerned that criminals “beat the system” and “get off easy.
” In their view the cure is to eliminate legal loopholes by curtailing the exclusionary rule, abolishing the insanity defense, allowing for preventive detention of dangerous offenders, and increasing the certainty of punishment. In contrast, the liberals’ due process model emphasizes protecting the rights of the individual. Its advocates are concerned about lawbreaking; they see the need to protect the public from predatory criminals. Lastly, Feld`s article clearly reflect an ideological bias. It has shown us that politics, ideology, and criminal justice are intimately linked and inseparable.
Because of the close ties among them, it may be easier to understand how some interests get served while others are ignored or even harmed. For example, those with political power, or “the ability of individuals or groups to influence government as it allocates a society’s “resources” are more likely to have their interests served at the expense of others. He further discussed that although criminal justice policy development is affected by groups other than lawmakers, including the media, voters, lobbies, and other special interest groups, politicians play the largest role in setting the crime control agenda.
Yes, I agree with him that politicians have the greatest ideological influence on what we do in criminal justice; this is because of their power. They have the power to create policies of criminal justice, they have power to determine the path of our nation’s efforts to control and prevent crime. The U. S. Congress, for example, has the power to define crimes, create criminal justice agencies, provide or withhold funding for criminal justice programs and act as a public forum for public debate. 2.
Williams and Robinson (2004) also discuss ideology and criminal justice, but in a learning context. What do they have to say about our current practices in providing students with an understanding of the ideological underpinnings of the criminal justice system in the United States? What do they suggest? Do these authors appear to have an ideological bias? If so, what is it and why do you think so? According to Williams and Robinson (2004) the current criminal justice educators are limited to subjectively describing the structure and function of the United States criminal justice systems.
Moreover, they stated that “our criminal justice lacks integrity as a legitimate academic discipline that seeks to meet the objectives of liberal arts education (i. e. instructors were most likely not able to explain to the criminal justice students why these systems behave the way they do)”. Hence, Williams and Robinson suggested that criminal justice educators have to move past such a simplistic handling of ideology in criminal justice and ideology must be used by criminal justice educators to better prepare criminal justice students to influence meaningful, progressive change.
Moreover, they stated that this goal is in keeping with the liberal arts educational objective that seeks to enable people “to function as social critics…[to]…analyze social problems…[and to]… prescribed necessary changes in society for the common good”. And yet this suggestion appears to have an ideological bias. This is because as with other major courses, the criminal justice academic and educational value depends on how they are conceived by the learner. I greatly believe that if the goal of criminal justice education is to become fully realized, biases against it must be overcome.
The first step in this direction is to recognize that a criminal justice major can be as enriching as any other undergraduate major. In fact, a criminal justice major may have exceptional academic value because of its unusual interdisciplinary breadth. In probing the critical subjects of social deviance and social control as well as relevant governmental institutions and processes, criminal justice draws on the social sciences as well as history, philosophy, mathematics, and the sciences. Through a criminal justice major, students may well gain a broader exposure to the liberal arts than they would through a traditional major.
More importantly, if taught effectively, all of the courses in a criminal justice curriculum, including the so-called professional courses, should be as searching, as analytical, and as mind expanding as any other college courses. For example, there is nothing inherently inferior about courses in Police-Community Relations, Comparative Police Systems, Corrections Administration, Criminal Law, the American Judiciary, or even Police Patrol. In a real sense, the problem for criminal justice education is not substantially different from the problem of college education in general.
As admissions standards have been lowered, particularly in public institutions, as mass education has become more widespread, and as budgetary pressures have enlarged faculty-student ratios and increased class size and teaching loads, there is an apparent tendency for college teachers to take the line of least resistance. In this context, too many teachers seem to rationalize the acceptability of the “nuts and bolts”‘ approach to subject matter rather than to undertake the difficult full-time enterprise of trying to achieve as much student increment as possible in conceptual thought and analytical rigor.
Paradoxically, this problem may be decreasing in criminal justice courses at the same time that it is apparently increasing in other subjects, since there has been a greater consciousness of the problem among criminal justice instructors and administrators. Thus, perhaps the real crisis is not in criminal justice education but in higher education in general. If, however, criminal justice is to realize its considerable potential as an academic field, educators must cease being distracted and deterred by the kind of snobbishness that downgrades the field “by definition.
” This attitude, which has recently been reinforced by the Police Foundation Report, has already cost criminal justice educators too much. Above all, criminal justice educators must insist that all of their teaching pursue the liberal arts or “fusion” approach. They must also constantly reexamine the content and parameters of criminal justice curricula. And certainly they must support and maintain strong general education requirements in traditional liberal arts disciplines.
But educators will only succeed in these endeavors when they get rid of the false biases against criminal justice and come to accept it as at least the equal of other academic pursuits. 3. Where do you stand on the continuum of liberal-conservative with respect to your views concerning criminal justice policies and practices in the U. S. List and discuss at least two positive aspects of your position. List and discuss two possible weaknesses of the position you hold. Wow, this is not an easy choice to make because I believe that both are worthy pursuits.
But as I think deeply, it comes to my inner being that my rights as an American are the major difference between living in a democracy such as the United States and living in an authoritarian, police state such as China, Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban, or Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Hence, as an American, I have high value for democracy. Hence, I stand as a liberal and uphold the due process with respect to criminal justice policies and practices in my country, the United States of America.
Two positive aspects of being a liberal is that individual freedom is highly valued, and the way to protect individual freedom is to uphold Constitutional protections. It places a high value on the adversarial nature of justice, whereby a prosecutor and defense attorney battle it out in court to find the truth and make sure that justice is achieved. Hence, reliability is the most important value of being a liberal for it is imperative that the right person be convicted of the crime of which he or she is accused.
On the other hand, two possible weaknesses of being a liberal is that because of the fact that it is aimed at ensuring that individual liberties are protected at all costs, guilty people sometimes go free or a criminal is wrongly freed. Another is that of a metaphor by Packer for being a liberal is an “obstacle course” because, to ensure that no innocent persons were wrongfully convicted; the prosecution would have to overcome numerous obstacles in order to convict anyone. But whatever the choice may be in this case, I have come to learn that the U. S.
criminal justice network will never be 100% representative of either being a liberal, the due process or a conservative, the crime control model. Rather, our criminal justice network attempts to stay in balance, by upholding individual Constitutional protections while effectively fighting crime. Gottfredson (1999, p. 27) writes: “Because we value freedom, we react strongly to violations or threats of violation of our persons or property. We resist any threat to our liberty by agencies of our government. But] because we value safety, we expect the criminal justice system to protect us.
We want both protection for ourselves and for our own liberty. ” The most important lesson I learned from the discussions is that there is an inherent conflict between protecting individuals’ Constitutional rights and fighting crime. It is difficult to do one well without being somewhat of a failure at the other. References: Gottfredson, D. (1999). Exploring criminal justice: An introduction. Los Angeles: Roxbury. Packer, H. (1968). The limits of the criminal sanction. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.