The genesis of crime and punishment dates back in the 1960s, where the modes of punishment for crimes were very different from what we experience today. The history behind these laws is fascinating because they reflect on the kind of system that was in place at that time. As time passed, various reforms and laws were suggested and enacted into law. The history of judicial reforms unfolds with changes that the system evaluated and given into enactment while some of the existing laws seized to be applicable because they were deemed not to the judicial system. Reforms and regulations have been the guiding procedures that have led to the creation of the recent laws used in the current system. The article will take an in-depth look at the historical development of the various crime and punishment reforms since their existence up to date and the multiple enactments that have been passed into law. The essay will look at the genesis of the crime and punishment judicial reforms and a prediction of the future.
The issue with the state's crime problem has been an issue ever since although this issue has been met with considerable ignorance. The ignorance that continuously encountered the crime problem in the country saw the increased need for institutional reforms, especially in the judicial system. President Johnson had to intervene in the process to set up a commission that would see that implementations and better legislations are created in the justice department. (Saris, P. B. 2018).
The Johnson Report
The history of mass incarceration
The history of mass incarceration started like fifty years back when the country's level of crime was increasingly becoming a worrying concern. The commission on mass incarceration's primary care was on increased crimes in the country. The commission believed that increased access to firearms by the civilians was the primary concern over the increased criminology in the country. The commission found that almost one-third of the criminals who were once released returned to jail because they all got back into crime within five years.
The genesis of such scenario of crime from burglary, rape, and robbery, the commission found out that the rates of crime were high in the low-income communities and were at the lost in the high-income communities. It was found that the worst criminal offenses were conducted in slums and thee populated cities. The commission also found out that the black communities had high rates of crime compared to the white neighborhoods. When the white and the blacks were in the same living environments, the prices of misconduct were found to be the same. (Uhlmann, D. M. 2015).
Since the big issue was on equality between the blacks and the white, the commission called for equal treatment between the black and the white community to help curb the problem of increased crimes among the black communities. The commission called for improved social amenities such as schools and hospitals both for the blacks and the white. It was the best approach to help reduce increased crimes in the country, although up to date such reforms have not been met fully.
Recommendations of the Johnson Report
The commission recommended for the removal of the mandatory minimum sentence in drug trafficking. Looking at statistical data between the violators in the bureau of prisons in 1965 and currently, the evidence shows that in 1965, there were about 4000 violators while the current system has 80,000. The data reflects the dramatic difference in the past and today. The commission saw the issue of sentencing as less of science that it would be of art. (McPhail, M. D. 2018)
The final evaluation of the report found that criminal justice relied only on having credible judges. Sentencing, according to the attitude and wishes of the judge, was criticized. The report suggested the use of consensus in judgment sentencing. The report recommended a scenario where a particular system of information gathering would be employed to have fair sentences and do away with disparities in the judicial system. Elimination of difference in the legal system also included reviewing of the tougher appellate of sentences.
The Pendulum swing
The American Guidelines on Sentencing
It was the period in the 1980s. At this time, there were increased calls and demand for rehabilitation and treatment of drugs was viewed as a liberal dream pipe. A drug such as heroin, gun violence was the order of the neighborhoods, which was terrorizing and scary to the neighboring communities. The increased crime at this time saw the intervention of political leaders, including the African American who advocated for desperate measures in support of bipartisan sponsorship to be put in place.
Senators Edward Kennedy and Strom Thurmond came together and sponsored the 1984 Reform Act which saw the establishment of the sentence commission. It was a bipartisan expert body with seven members in the judiciary to create guidelines for sentencing which were enacted officially in 1987.
The primary aim of the reform act was to do away with sentencing unwarranted disparities. Besides unjustified disparities in sentencing, the other objective of the action was evident because the congress had diverted away from the model of rehabilitation. The shift by the congress saw them take a new route of crime control through fewer disparities enacting appropriate punitive sentence.
Right after establishment of the commission in 1986, President Reagan and again President Clinton in the 1990s signed into law the legislation of imposing harsh minimums. The bill approved by the two heads of state-imposed a ten-year minimum sentence which was mandatory depending on the number of drugs involved. The bill later included the sentencing guidelines, especially in the sentencing of drug traffickers.
The enactment changed the way prosecutors delivered their decisions and allowed them to increase the sentences from the standard five up to twenty years. The law saw an increased number of prison populations which was majorly by drug offenders. The broader community of prisoners being drug offenders was in the year 2014.
Firearm violence was the other rampant issue in 1994; a report from reverent Jackson stated that the number of blacks killed by the blacks themselves was higher than what history could count. With the increased incidence with gun violence, there was an outcry by various communities on the need for laws on guns and drugs to be toughened. There was the enactment of a minimum sentence up to 15 years for any cases related to drugs and gun violence.
Although many people were positive about the legislation on the minimum sentence on drug trafficking, the mass incarceration came into place, and it was very devastating, especially on the minor communities. The report found that by 2013, the majority of the population in the federal prisons will have the Spanish and black offenders as the majority of wrongdoers.
Pendulum Swings Again
Mandatory minimum sentence
Mandatory minimum sentencing was done again in 2001 at it was bipartisan since it was inclusive of a representative from all parts of the country. The commission on mandatory sentence was formed to look at the offenders in the street levels, low-level criminals, and the mules. The commission was to ensure that the sentencing laws reflected on the population capacity of prisons and fairness in sentencing. (Long, C. 2018)
A unified strategy was used in passing of the sentencing laws in 2014, which saw the number of criminals for drug trafficking to be 40, 000 in a period of twenty-five months. It was a move that was meant to decongest the prisons. November 2015 saw the first release of 600 prisoners. As a result, prisons got decongested, which was great for decongesting the prisons, which were getting very crowded and hard to manage.
The bipartisan commission is commendable for ensuring that the sentencing laws were fully enacted and the number of the release of prisoners increased overtime. Fairness and equality in the areas of social amenities such as schools were reviewed, and now everyone has an equal chance to excel, be it a black person or the white.
Judicial reforms can get better since both houses are ready to engage in bipartisan commissions which will participate in creating changes that will better the lives of all communities. Am looking at a situation where sentencing laws will be renewed again to find ways through which more prisons will have time to reunite and be productive in the societies. Through the sentencing laws, congestion of prisons can be resolved. Am hoping that at some point, there will be a national conversation where different views and ideas will be considered in finding ways through which the communities and crimes can be reduced. It is through a resound national conversation where reforms on drug trafficking will be resolved amicably at a national level.
The other hope for the future is the acknowledgment that the congress has not enacted any mandatory sentencing. It shows a positive perspective that the country is taking a direction that will better society as a whole. The eradication for a mandatory penalty as a tool to curb will open for other means that can be used to find the solution to the sentencing of drug traffickers. Drug trafficking has been the major problem in the judicial system because it was the factor that led to the congestion of prisons. Since the increased incidence of opioid, judges have resulted in bringing back rehabilitation centers as the solution to taking care of the problem. The introduction of jurisdiction courts for drug cases is a great hope that such cases can be handled differently from h the past. Such steps taken by the judicial system are the source of a better future in the crime and punishment discussion in general.
Long, C. (2018). Putting an End to the Punishment and Rehabilitation Pendulum.
McPhail, M. D. (2018). Ensuring That Punishment Does Fit the Crime. U. Mich. JL Reform, 52, 213.
Saris, P. B. (2018). The Pendulum of Criminal Justice Since 1967. Geo. Wash. L., Rev., 86, 1472.
Uhlmann, D. M. (2015). The Pendulum Swings: Reconsidering Corporate Criminal Prosecution. UCDL, Rev., 49, 1235.
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