Midterm Essay Essay
Briefly identify and explain the key differences and similarities regarding the UCR, NIBRS, and NCVS programs. The Uniformed Crime Reporting (UCR) Program displays crime data for the United States, as well as for states, cities, counties and colleges. This allows for a comparison among neighboring jurisdictions and among those with similar populations and other common characteristics. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) collects information on the frequency and of crimes such as rape, sexual assault, aggravated and simple assault, household burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft. Both systems report different types of information and different details. The UCR program displays statistics for law enforcement administration, operation, and management. The UCR program utilizes what is called the hierarchy rule.
If more than one crime was committed by the same person and the time separating the crimes was minor, then the crime highest in the hierarchy is the only crime reported. This seems like a very inaccurate method of recording data, one would assume that all records of offenses were taken into consideration for reporting purposes. The NCVS program collects information on crimes by individuals and households while also providing information on victims such as age, sex, race, marital status. The difference in the two programs is that each serves a different purpose in reporting. The UCR reports information for law enforcement, operations and management. The NCVS provides information about each crime, its victims and the offenders.
Summarize the evolution of the criminal justice system in America. Identify and discuss at least three (3) key U.S Supreme Court cases that have had a significant impact on the issue of individual rights versus public order, with respect to arrest, search, and seizure. In modern day America, the public’s view on the typical criminal has shifted from seeing him or her as a victim of social and personal unfortunate circumstances to seeing him or her as a dangerous predator who takes advantage of the rights and privileges of citizens (Schmalleger, 2014). An example of a Supreme Court case that had an impact on the issue of individual rights versus public order is McCullen v. Coakley.
Individuals claimed that a “buffer zone” around an abortion clinic infringed upon their First Amendment rights to free speech by communication with patients less effective (Takeway). This relates to the possibility of an arrest if the protestors are blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic or physically harassing a patient. In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that officers must knock and announce their identity before entering a dwelling even if they hold a search warrant (Schmalleger, 2014). In January 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the FBI needed a warrant to attach a GPS device to s suspected drug dealer’s car. This ties into the search and seizure topics and preserves the individual rights of the suspected drug dealer. After all, the individual is just suspected of being a dealer, there is no hard evidence.
In general, outline the police mission, operational strategies, styles and the legal and ethical aspects of policing today. The police officer mission consists of five components, enforcing the law, apprehending offenders, preventing crime, preserving the peace, and providing the community with needed enforcement related services. Law enforcement has a chain of command just like the military with three policing styles that vary by department and region. The watchman style attempts to achieve “order maintenance”. The legalistic style attempts to enforce the letter of the law. The service style attempts to meet the needs of the community and serve its members. In general, police officers are mandated to stay within the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments. All law enforcement officials regardless of status or rank should be held accountable for their actions however, this is not always the case. There are three methods that guide American policing.
Strategic policing retains the goal of professional crime fighting but enlarges the target to include serial offenders, gangs and criminal associations. It makes use of technology, intelligence operations and undercover stings (Schmalleger, 2014). Problem solving policing assumes that crimes are caused by social conditions within the community and that they can be controlled by addressing social problems (Schmalleger, 2014). Lastly, community policing supports the use of partnerships and problem solving techniques to address the issues that cause crime. (Schmalleger, 2014). Ethical issues that plague law enforcement vary. Racially biased policing in which police officers are viewed as biased for example, taking that a predominately African American neighborhood is full of criminals. The use of excessive and deadly force is another issue in which police officers either use too much force in the apprehension of a suspect or cause death or great bodily harm (Schmalleger, 2014).
What is the dual-court system? Identify and explain the three levels of characteristic of the federal judiciary. The dual court system is the result of general agreement among the founding fathers about the need for individual states to retain significant legislative authority and judicial autonomy separate from federal control (Schmalleger, 2014). The three levels of characteristics of the federal judiciary are the district courts, the courts of appeal and the Supreme Court. The district courts are composed of 94 judicial districts .
Federal district courts have jurisdiction over all cases involved alleged violations of federal statutes. The 94 judicial districts are organized into 12 regional circuits each with a court of appeals. The court of appeals hears appeals from district courts within its circuit (Schmalleger, 2014). These courts are also known as circuit courts. The U.S. Supreme Court is the top federal court system in the U.S. It is comprised of nine justices with eight being associates and the ninth being the chief justice (Schmalleger, 2014). The Supreme Courts’ decisions affect the United States by deciding what laws and lower court decisions are in line with the Constitution.
Identify and describe the various pre-trial stages of criminal trial. There are various pre-trial stages in a criminal trial. It begins with an arrest when the person is taken into custody. The first appearance is when the defendant appears before a judge. The legality of his or her arrest is contemplated and the defendant is told what he or she is being charged with. The accused will either be kept incarcerated without bail or with bail, the latter being money paid by the arrested in exchange for release.
The next stage is the pretrial release in which the accused person is released from custody before or during prosecution. However, there is a condition; the accused person is required to appear in court when told to do so. Plea bargains are also negotiated. The defendant can agree to plea guilty to a lesser charge than the one he or she is being accused with. A lesser punishment may be in order if they are being accused with multiple offenses. A plea bargain is a debate or negotiation between the defense counsel, defendant and the prosecution. Normally criminal cases end at this stage in order to reduce time and money.
Schmalleger, F. (2014). Criminal Justice: a brief introduction, (10th ed) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall. Takeaways From Supreme Court Rulings On Buffer Zones, Recess Picks. (2014). National Public Radio.