Criminal Justice Trends

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Criminal Justice Trends

The U.S. criminal justice is a complex system consisting of laws and bodies that control the observation of these laws. It includes three components: law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Each of the named units is an integral part of a juridical process. All of them have their individual functions, the performance of which provides for the normal functioning of the system in general. This paper will focus on the law enforcement bodies, their history, budgeting, and management as well as on future trends of their development.

The history of law enforcement goes back to the times of cavemen, then to the times of the ancient states, and finally, to the age of invaders. As the focus of interest of the present paper is the U.S. law enforcement bodies, then it is a logical step to start with the British contribution. When the British colonists came to the North American continent, they brought their traditions of law enforcement. The first purely American law enforcement bodies appeared in Boston. In the times of slavery, special patrols watched the order and prevented any disturbances among slaves. After the abolishment of slavery, the city police started performing its functions. The established federal, state, and local agencies and bureaus played an important part in the formation of a criminal justice system. Hess and Hess Orthmann (2011) distinguish three eras of policing. The first one, the political era (1840 – 1930), had a decentralized system of bodies. It was the peak of corruption in the law enforcement. The second era of reform (1930 – 1980) is principally different from the first. Not social disputes, but crime control became the main function of the police. At that time, law enforcement was centralized and well organized. It could boast of a quick reaction to criminal actions. One can see trends of improvement in the discussed past periods. It was a movement from corrupted and non-professional police to the bodies with a developed administrative system aimed at crime fighting (Hess & Hess Orthmann, 2011).

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The present time in the history of the law enforcement started in 1980 and continues till now. It is called a “community era” (Hess & Hess Orthmann, 2011). As Hess and Hess Orthmann (2011) explain:

Police forces in the community era are characterized by authority coming from community support, law and professionalism; provision of a broad range of services, including crime control; decentralized organization with more authority given to patrol officers; partnerships with the community; and use of foot patrol and a problem-solving approach. (p. 33)

The main trend of the present U.S. law enforcement is the fact that the bodies try to be proactive and seek for the ways of crime prevention. Moreover, communication with public through all possible technological means ensures a quick reaction to crime revelation. Modern policemen should be officers who know legislation in the given area very well. These are not only state, but also international laws. Police officers must be aware of human and psychological factors. The police are able to spend only 10 % of their time on mastering these skills. They devote 90 %of their working activities to rendering different services related to life and property protection. With the growth of terrorism in the world, the law enforcement bodies have received some new duties as well as appliances and equipment to perform them (Hess & Hess Orthmann, 2011). Therefore, one can conclude that the basic present trend of the U.S. law enforcement development is adaptation to the developing public necessities.

The paper has followed the history of the U.S. law enforcement up to the present moment. There are some future trends related to the discussed bodies and fixed in the literature sources. According to Meade (2010), new forms of crime condition the appearance of future trends predicted for the U.S. law enforcement. Thus, people spend a lot of time online now and rely on Internet technology. The police also have access to all latest technological achievements and plans to apply them even more in future. The law enforcement already uses GPS bracelets for home arrested individuals. In the nearest future these bracelets can be linked to a single database. Other future technological trends may concern virtual reality video games that can perform an educative function. Installed video cameras and recorders in unsafe areas can warn the citizens about some possible danger (Meade, 2010). Therefore, future technological trends can be of great help for crime prevention.

Future economic trends are mostly negative. Due to the technological crime growth, law enforcement needs more means to fight it. However, budget cuts have complicated the situation. As a result, the government will most likely ask the police to do more things for less money. The development of the government trends in the future of the U.S. law enforcement is inevitable. Demographic shifts will stimulate political changes. The war on terror and law enforcement can become almost synonyms. In such a situation, many police bodies will happen to be in uncovered areas. Natural and artificially created disasters will lead to integrations across local and even international jurisdiction. When it comes to cataclysms, it is impossible to exclude future environmental trends. Climate change and its consequences, namely food and water shortage, refugees, drought, etc., will become a great problem for industrialized countries’ law enforcement. Shortage of fuel, water, and other resources may result in stealing of these resources. Therefore, in order to fight the problem of fuel shortage, the police will most likely use fewer patrol cars in the future and prefer some fuel efficient vehicles. The public may call for the creation of ‘green prisons’ and ‘green police stations’. Future trends of the U.S. law enforcement appear as a result of logic social development. In order to answer all the requirements of the future, there should be nice budgeting of police’s activities (Meade, 2010).

Speaking about financing of the U.S. law enforcement, it is worth mentioning the budgetary and managerial influence that the future trends will have on the U.S. criminal justice system in general and law enforcement in particular. Leachman, Chettiar, and Geare (2012) are sure that criminal justice reforms can save money and protect public safety. For example, seeking for lower-cost alternatives to imprisoning can save a significant amount of money. Rosenberg & Mark (2011) have used qualitative and quantitative research data to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. As a result, they found out that a sentencing proposal to reduce the term of imprisonment for certain low-risk criminals could save $5.5 million of taxpayers money. They also advanced a hypothesis that different kinds of interventions into the criminal justice system could reduce sums spent on corrections and prison stays. The qualitative research, based on a survey, showed that parental imprisonments would most like develop anti-social behavior of children. Their analysis demonstrated that the development of nursing and family programs for underage criminals is much more profitable than building new prisons (Rosenberg & Mark, 2011). It saves taxpayers approximately $2 billion (Rosenberg & Mark, 2011). The state requires accurate and consistent fiscal notes to optimize their investments into the criminal justice system. If the law enforcement bodies, corrections, and courts give the government more information about their expenses, then it will have a chance to distribute limited resources wisely. For instance, about 15% of fiscal notes related to the U.S. criminal justice systems did not estimate the budgetary impact at all. This fact shows disregard of any possibilities for money savings (Leachman, Chettiar, & Geare, 2012). Therefore, solving the issue of financing law enforcement and other components of the U.S. criminal justice system can change the direction of some future trends of their development from negative to positive.

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Kania & Davis (2011) discuss the managerial changes that the future trends in the law enforcement can cause. They are unanimous with the point expressed by Meade (2010). The authors also find a cause-and-effect connection between new crimes and requirements to the policemen with the trends that will appear in future. Thus, the changes related to management that will most likely be observed are stricter rules for training, new entry requirements, higher educational standards. As Kania and Davis (2011) assert, “Criminal justice managers also are looking for new nonlethal force devices to reduce the number of police-caused homicides and to reduce cases of excessive force” (p. 236). Technological and environmental future trends that cause the increasing number of Internet fraudsters and refugees push the police management to invent new means of protection. Kania and Davis (2011) also stress the fact that future criminal justice managers should elaborate wise strategies, communicating with media. They should learn to do both – to interfere with the journalists extra interest and to support their stories in order to avoid scandals. Thus, a law enforcement manager of the future is an educated, loyal, wise and progressive officer.

The conclusion that one can make based on the researched literature is that the U.S. law enforcement has passed a long way of development. Several future trends in all spheres predicted for it are based on the changes that occur in society. Some factors, such as environmental and governmental trends, do not depend on the law enforcement bodies that cannot stop their development. In order to meet the requirements fully, the law enforcement needs proper and wise financing as well as professional managing to conform to the emerging technologies and growing public needs.