Essay: Public Policy Analysis

Pages: 9 (2694 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 9  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Since the militias in the United States are called National Guard now, only these individuals should be allowed to possess firearms. Both of these arguments can be rationally argued, but people become irrational at times when they possess a gun, especially if it is a certain type of gun (handgun), thus the government must legislate some restrictions for the purchase and maintenance of guns.

Another point that can be made in this discussion is "What causes a person to act irrationally?" A normally rational person can become irrational if they are stressed beyond recognizing what the they would normally see as a wrong act, or if they have consumed too much of a substance that can temporarily impede rational thought. This is the case for alcohol and drug laws. Alcohol and drugs are also treated differently by various policies and jurisdictions. For example, marijuana is legal for use in many states if one has a medical need. Despite the "legal" use of the herb in those states, marijuana use still remains illegal at the Federal level, and where the Federal government is concerned there is no "legal" marijuana use in the United States. How strongly this is being enforced or will be enforced in the future, though, remains to be seen. Proponents of harsher laws for alcohol are unhappy with the Federal government for avoiding stronger penalties for those who commit crimes while driving under the influence - especially if serious injury or death is the result of that activity. Additionally, there are arguments trending toward harsher penalties for other drug offences - but generally not those that involve marijuana, which many people feel should be legalized (Walsh, 2010).

Rational or irrational acts committed by someone under the influence of some substance are treated differently because of the legalization issue, but also because of the issue of whether the drug was legally consumed by an individual or not. Prescription drugs are another category of drugs, and they can cause a person to commit a crime unwittingly. The courts generally look at these types of offenses based on the severity of the action and whether the person knew that they could actually harm someone if they were under the influence of the drug

The argument for swift enforcement becomes dicey when the current American court system is introduced into the argument. Courts officers are required by law to consider all suspects innocent until they are logically and legally proven guilty. The courts has to allow each person the same access to the law regardless the nature and certainty of the crime. It does not matter if the person was caught in the commission of the crime, they are still afforded their "day in court" the same as any other citizen. Because of this, the courts are directed to ensure the integrity of the evidence and the truth of the testimony given. Integrity is ensured by proving the chain of evidence is inviolate, that there is enough evidence, that the person who is brought before the court for a crime that has been committed has been provided with counsel, that any evidence obtained in any illegal manner is excluded from use in the defendant's conviction, and that the accused has the right to declare whether they are truly guilty or innocent (Dye, 2012, 77-80). These laws are put in place, again, because of the belief that there should be a logic to the law.

Rational action vs. irrational on the part of criminals and the justice system does not stop once a person enters the penal system. Prisons are tasked with maintaining the safety of the people in their care who have been convicted of a crime. This means that if prisoners are being subjected to conditions that are deemed irrationally harsh (even though this is a place for punishment), then prison caretakers can be charged with a crime themselves and placed in that same prison. Rationality has been attempted with regard to the number of people who are being placed in prisons also. Laws in different states now allow people who are convicted on certain drug charges to go to a rehabilitation facility rather than a jail or prison setting. There have also been attempts made to curb the violence inmates experience while they are in prison. Even though a person convicted of a felony is stripped of some rights, they maintain the right to protection for their person. Since some prisoners do not have the means of protecting themselves, it is the guards duty to do it for them.

Capital punishment is thought to be the pinnacle of deterrence in the American system because it is the belief that a person will not commit a heinous crime if they know that they could also die for the act (Dye, 2012, 83). Unfortunately, this generally accepted logic does not always work, so people are sentenced to death as a means of deterrence. Studies have shown that the manner in which most states in the United States carry out this punishment, it is not a deterrent to extreme violent crime because of the timeframe involved between conviction and carrying out the sentence. The justice system allows this to make sure that every avenue of possible innocence has been covered. But, the process is still considered a joke among many.

Conclusion

The rational model discussed in the text provides an explanation for crime policy, but it does not fully address how the policy works (or should work) with repeat offenders. In addition to that, the rational model does not really aid in the prediction of specific policies on crime. Punishment for crimes committed in the U.S. today are not always swift, and they often seen to be relatively random. In other words, because of the uncertainty of the exact punishment for most crimes, and because there is such a broad range of sentences for many crimes, those who commit crimes are very uncertain as to how light or how severe their punishment will be. Even though crime rates have been dropping in the U.S. since the early 1990s, the punishments that have been handed out for crimes have been more lenient - and that can encourage criminals to think that crime really does pay and that they will "get off light" if they do choose to commit a criminal or violent act.

References

Dye, T.R. (2012). Understanding public policy. Upper Saddle river, NJ: Pearson Education, Ltd.

Keel, R. (2005). Rational choice and deterrence theory. Retrieved from http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/200/ratchoc.html

Kelling, G.L. & Bratton, W.J. (1998). Declining crime rates: Insiders' views if the New York City story. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 88(4), 1217-1229.

Nordin, M., Pauleen, D.J., & Gorman, G.E. (2009). Investigating KM antecedents: KM in the criminal justice system. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(2): 4-20. Retrieved from http://lpis.csd.auth.gr/mtpx/km/material/JKM-13-2a.pdf

Reuters, T. (2012). Second Amendment: Bearing arms. Retrieved from http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment02/

Walsh, E.F. (2010). The development of comprehensive criminal justice leadership standards: A modified delphi study approach. Retrieved from http://gradworks.umi.com/3467496.pdf

Wilson, J.Q. & Kelling G.L. (1982). Broken windows: The police and neighborhood safety. Atlantic Monthly, 29, 1-10. [END OF PREVIEW]

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