Thecriminal justice system is made up of a number of policies. Most ofthese policies with time are amended to cater for the changes thathave taken place, that way they can provide protection to everyone.Changes in the society may require the existing policies to berevised to accommodate them. An example of the changes in societythat would warrant a new policy is when it was discovered that somelaw enforcement officers would single out minorities just from thecolor of their skin. An alternative policy was made to protect theminority groups. So the policy was ratified to protect those who weremore likely to face racial profiling.
Oneof the pillars of the criminal justice system is to apprehend andpunish those who commit crimes. To reach this goal they must ensurethat policies protect the innocent and the wrong doer’s get thedeserved punishment (Paternoster, 2012). This way the system issustainable and fair and people can trust the system. One otherreason the alternatives get created is that the criminal justice isneutral. It is not supposed to lean on one side. Hence if a group issuffering, they have to be protected.
Thepaper will look at one example of an alternative policy. How itbecame to be an alternative policy and the strategies to itspredecessor. The paper will also analyze the reasons behind itgetting developed as an alternative policy. This will give anin-depth look at what the processes led to the alternative policybeing developed. The policy that will be covered is capitalpunishment also referred to as the death penalty.
Thisis a form of punishment where an individual is put to death by acountry as a punishment for crimes that he committed. Examples ofcrimes that should be punishable by capital punishment are genocide,war crimes, murder, espionage, treason and crimes against humanity.According to history America’s adoption and use of the deathpenalty was influenced by Britain. This was before America gained itsindependence. By then the capital punishment was used even for pettycrimes such as stealing fruits or even killing a chicken. Differentstates have different ways through which they execute the deathpenalty (International Business Publications, 2015). These methodsinclude toxic inoculation, the inmate can be fired at by a squad, useof electricity, a gas room and hanging among others. The injection isthe frequently used way, while some states may use two or three ofthe methods with lethal injection being another the primary method.
Capitalpunishment is an alternative to incarceration. Incarceration is aform of punishment where the offender`s right of movement amongothers is restrained. This means that they are imprisoned for a givenperiod depending on the crime they committed. There are manystrategies to why capital punishment was adopted as one of thealternatives to incarceration. One of them is to reform the prisonsystem (Paternoster, 2012). This was a movement that highly searchedfor alternatives to imprisonment.
Itwould be wrong to assume that this policy was accepted hands down.There are a lot of humanitarian groups that fought and are stillfighting for the abolishment of this policy. Although some didabolish it, some countries, however, are still practicing it as aform of punishment. This abolitionist movement has been there for along time now. History notes that Thomas Jefferson had introduced abill trying to revise the Virginia capital punishment, but it did notpass (Paternoster, 2012). However, most are using it on petty crimes,some have even reduced it only to be used for crimes against war.
Factorsthat Contributed to the Policy being Developed
TheUnited Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has been on theforefront of looking for alternative routes to incarceration. Theyargue that one of the reasons imprisonment is inhumane is that itimpedes on an individual`s right as stated in the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights. Prisoners have been documented sayingthat the prison system is inhumane. As much as they are providedcounseling, they feel that the counseling is not enough as theconditions in the prison system make it hard for one to regain theirself-esteem.
Someinmates join the prison system while suffering from health conditionsthat need constant medical treatment. While inside they are notguaranteed that they will get their medication as required orprescribed. The prison system does not have enough money to cater forall these needs and for that reason their medication is not asregular as it should be. Reduced medication while in prison willdirectly impact the public health rates for the worse.
Apartfrom costing the public health sector money, the family system alsosuffers because of imprisonment. For example, if the breadwinner ofthe family is imprisoned for ten years that means his/her family willbe struggling to put food on the table. Even after their sentence isover it is very hard for them to get a decent job income that cansustain them, as most occupations don’t accept individuals who haveserved time. This leads to an endless cycle of poverty among thesefamilies, they also have a high chance or resulting to crimethemselves, and they feel marginalized. The country too will savemoney since the cases of re-arrests will be very few.
Astudy conducted in Guyana by UNDP showed that citizens were insupport of policies that would help in reducing crimes such as jobcreation, increased education investment, and strategies to alleviatepoverty. The research also revealed that over fifty percent of thecitizens supported the capital punishment (International BusinessPublications, 2015). This data goes a long way to show what citizensthink about the death penalty and what changes might be made to makeit more efficient.
Itis evident that alternative policies are crucial for any criminaljustice system. If done right the state might save millions ofdollars, and maybe one-day prisons will become obsolete as there willbe better alternatives to crimes committed. It will also keep manyfamilies from poverty and opportunity to commit crime because theyare deprived of a normal childhood or family system. There are newchallenges that are facing the criminal justice system, and one thingthat this alternative is sure to solve is the issue of overcrowdingin prisons. Finding more alternatives to incarceration means thatthere will be better-established policies to punish individuals forcrimes they have committed. When using the capital punishment, it iscrucial that the offender is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubtto avoid executing an innocent person.
InternationalBusiness Publications (Washington, D.C.). (2015). Guyana:Criminal justice system laws, regulations and procedures handbook.(Guyana.) Washington, DC: International Business Publications, USA.
Paternoster,R. (2012). Capitalpunishment in America (p.95). New York: Lexington Books.