Criminal Justice System: The Three C’s are Cops, Courts, and Corrections
The criminal justice system has three C’s, which are Cops, Courts, and Corrections. Most citizens would concur that each one needs some reform to achieve better outcomes. The problem is not due to a lack of hard work. The police are making more arrests, working longer shifts, and being better trained than ever before in law enforcement history. Our courts are litigating more cases, and our prisons are full, housing inmates at a rate five times greater than most other industrialized nations in the world. However, the three C’s of justice we pay dearly for is getting worse results every day, yet we keep throwing more and more money into it; reform is needed. This action is the essence of insanity, doing the same thing repeatedly in the hope of getting a different result. So, what can be done about it?
First, we must realize that we are all a part of the problem. We all must make fundamental changes in how we view and participate in the justice process. This may include an altering in our personal attitudes and lifestyle. We know from observing the cancellation culture in action, it is easy for some to blame the Cops and appeal for their corporate undoing; how irresponsible is this reasoning, Eh? Just think of where our society would be today without the “thin blue line” separating the just from the unjust in our civil society. The same dynamic holds true for the preserving power of our military. No doubt Afghans would agree when we have American boots on the ground; freedom reigns, and aggressors are kept in check. Kudos go out to the men and women swearing their allegiance in protecting and preserving the Constitution of our great nation, both at home and abroad.
Others wish to blame our ineffective justice system on the Courts for over-populating our prisons. Today, the majority of our incarcerated are nonviolent offenders. No doubt our court system could be more prudent in utilizing alternative means for the nonviolent, but they cannot do it alone. For decades our justice system has been “retributive” in focus, meaning a “do the crime, do time” philosophy. Our penal disciplinary approach is hands-off for most citizens, an “out of sight out of mind” mentality. However, if we seek an alternative for nonviolent offenders, restorative justice measures will be needed in every community. That means no more hands-off for the majority of our citizens.
Using restorative measures means bringing nonviolent offenders back into the communities where the offense occurred. Reparation is made, life skills are taught, employment proficiencies are gained, injuries are healed, relationships are rebuilt, and offenders are given a second chance with a community support system in place. For this to occur, each of us will need to take the issue of crime and punishment personally and put more skin in the game. We will need to take the high road for many of us by regaining compassion and respect for the nonviolent offenders in our communities. We will need to work more intentionally with those who break the law in ways that show them they have value, that we believe in them, and that we need them for our society to be whole.
by Adrian Halverstadt, Chair, Criminal Justice, Barclay College Online
The following article was originally published as an opinion piece in the Pratt Tribune on August 27, 2021.
Dr. Halverstadt has worked with law enforcement, serving as a chaplain, counselor, and life skills coordinator; the court system, assisting in inmate reintegration, rehabilitation, and restorative justice resources; and corrections as a prison chaplain, inmate educator, and life skills coordinator.
Barclay College Online now offers a 4-year, fully accredited degree in Criminal Justice. Classes start January 2022. For more information and to apply: https://www.barclaycollege.edu/academics/online/criminal-justice/