Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century (Issues in Crime and Justice)


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Plural policing: this entails an enhanced role for organizations other than the police service in performing police-related functions. Those performing this work effectively constitute a second tier of police service providers and the organizations supplying work of this nature may be located in either the public or private sectors. These officials were designed to replace bureaucratic accountability that had previously been imposed by a centrally-directed target regime with local political control to ensure that policing responded to the concerns of neighbourhoods.

Political spectrum: this is a model which places different political ideologies in relationship to each other, thereby enabling their differences and similarities to be identified. Positivist criminology: this approach to the study of crime adopts a deterministic approach whereby offenders are seen as being propelled into committing criminal acts by forces that may be biological, psychological or sociological over which they have no control.

Positivist criminology also insists that theories related to why crime occurs should derive from scientific analysis. Pre-sentence report: this is a report that provides information to sentencers regarding the background of an offender and the circumstances related to his or her commission of a crime. It is designed to ensure that a sentence of the court is an appropriate response to the criminal action that has been committed.

Pre-sentence reports are prepared by the Probation Service. Privatization: this approach was favoured by new right governments and was consistent with their belief in the free market. It entails services previously performed by the public sector being transferred to private sector organizations.

These services are either totally divorced from government henceforth, or are contracted out and are thus periodically subject to a process of competitive tendering by bodies wishing to deliver them. The main reason for pursuing this approach is a presumption that it delivers services more cheaply than the public sector. Problem-oriented policing POP : this is a method of policing that seeks to tackle the root causes of recurrent problems as opposed to an approach whereby the police react to each manifestation of them.

POP emphasizes the importance of identifying and analysing recurrent problems and formulating action to stop them from occurring in the future. Problem-oriented policing emphasizes the multi-agency approach to curbing crime, whereby activities directed at crime involve actions undertaken by a range of agencies and not by the police alone.

This method of policing tends to isolate the police from the communities in which they work and tends to promote the use of police powers in a random way based on stereotypical assumptions. This style of policing was widely regarded to have been a significant factor in the riots that occurred in a number of English cities in Reassurance policing : the key aim of this style of policing is to combat the fear of crime by making people feel safer in their neighbourhoods. It is associated with a constant uniformed presence in a locality whose key purpose is to tackle low level crime and disorder that creates feelings of insecurity amongst residents.

The reassurance agenda was promoted in the early years of the twenty-first century and is especially associated with neighbourhood policing that was rolled out across England and Wales in Recidivism: this refers to the reconviction of those who have previously been sentenced for committing a crime.

It is an important measurement of the extent to which punishment succeeds in reforming the habits of those who have broken the law. Reductivism: this term refers to methods of punishment that seek to prevent offending behaviour in the future. Punishment is designed to bring about the reform and rehabilitation of criminals so that they do not subsequently indulge in criminal actions. Responsibilization: this entails governments shifting the task of crime control from the central state to the local level where it is carried out by a range of actors including local government, private and voluntary sector bodies and the general public.

Crime and disorder reduction partnerships are an important example of this process in operation. Restorative justice : a key aim of restorative justice is to enable a person who has broken the law to repair the damage that has been caused to the direct victim s and to society at large. The main intention of this process is to enable the offender to become reintegrated into society. This approach is popular with the Coalition government as it is a cost-effective response to crime. Retributivism: this term embraces responses to crime that seek to punish persons for the actions they have previously committed.

Risk: this term refers to the role that criminal justice policy accords to securing public safety. Agencies operating within the criminal justice system have increasingly formulated their interventions on the basis of predictions regarding the extent to which the future behaviour of offenders was likely to jeopardize communal safety. Attempts to assess the future risks posed by offenders have given rise to actuarial penal techniques. Routine activities theory : this concept was developed by Marcus Felson and Lawrence Cohen in It is based upon rational choice theory and suggested that three factors were necessary for crime to occur — a motivated offender, a suitable target and the absence of a capable guardian.

It was put forward as one explanation of repeat victimization. Rule of law: this constitutional principle asserts the supremacy of the law as an instrument governing the actions of individual citizens in their relationships with each other and also controls the conduct of the state towards them. In particular it suggests that citizens can only be punished by the state using formalized procedures when they have broken the law, and that all citizens will be treated in the same way when they commit wrongdoings. In the criminal justice system these comprise judges and magistrates.

Sentencing tariff : the tariff sets the level of penalty that should normally be applied by sentencers to particular crimes. In the case of murder, the tariff was the period that had to be served in prison in order to meet the requirements of retribution and deterrence. Separation of powers: this concept suggests that each of the three branches of government the executive, legislature and judiciary should perform a defined range of functions, possess autonomy in their relationship with the other two and be staffed by personnel different from that of the others.

Although total separation of the three branches of government is unworkable in practice, the judiciary in England and Wales have historically enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy. Situational crime prevention: this approach to crime prevention entails manipulating the immediate environment to increase the effort and risks of crime and reduce the rewards to those who might be tempted to carry out such activities.

The situational approach is heavily reliant on primary prevention methods and is contrasted with social methods of crime prevention that seek to tackle the root causes of criminal behaviour, typically through social policy. Social disorganization: this approach to the study of crime was associated with the Chicago School of Human Ecology.

It was characterized by rapid population change, dilapidation and conflicting demands made upon land use. The absence of effective mechanisms of social control was viewed as the main reason for this area of the city being a constant crime zone. Social methods of crime prevention: social crime prevention is based upon the belief that social conditions such as unemployment, poor housing and low educational achievement have a key bearing on crime.

It thus seeks to tackle what are regarded as the root causes of crime by methods that seek to alter social environments. Social strain theory: this explanation of crime was developed by Robert Merton whose ideas were originally put forward in He asserted that anomie arose from a mismatch between the culturally induced aspirations to strive for success which he asserted in Western societies was the pursuit of wealth and the structurally determined opportunities to achieve it.

Standards of Professional Behaviour for Police Officers: this sets out the standards of professional behaviour expected of police officers, the breach of which constitutes a disciplinary offence that in extreme cases can result in dismissal from the police service. He or she is not specifically charged with these additional offences and may suffer no further penalty for these admissions. It embraces a range of voluntary organizations, charities, community organizations operated by volunteers and cooperative ventures.

Tripartite system of police governance: this term denotes a three-way division in the exercise of responsibility over police affairs shared between police authorities, the Home Secretary and chief constables. This system was initially provided for in the Police Act. The Police and Social Responsibility legislation replaced police authorities with directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners.

Victimology: this aspect of criminology concerns the study of victims of crime. In particular it seeks to establish why certain people become victims of crime and how personal lifestyles influence the risk of victimization. What works? This agenda emphasized the importance of evidence-based solutions to problems and issues facing the criminal justice system. Typically, a policy would be piloted, its operations would be subject to evaluation and, if deemed successful, would then be rolled out nationally. White-collar crime: as initially defined by Edwin Sutherland, this term referred to crimes committed by respectable persons within the environment of the workplace.

Youth Rehabilitation Order : this form of community penalty for offenders below the age of 18 was introduced by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act.


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It was modelled on the community order that was introduced in relation to adult offenders by the Criminal Justice Act and embraces a wide range of requirements that can be imposed on a juvenile offender. Zero tolerance: this approach is most readily identified with a style of policing that emphasizes the need to take an inflexible attitude towards law enforcement.

It is especially directed against low level crime and seeks to ensure that the law is consistently applied against those who commit it. The financial, physical, civic, and social sanctions that follow from criminal convictions and arrest histories often outweigh the offense. Criminal records attach strongly to individuals and are much more visible and accessible now than they used to be.

Today, there are 19 million Americans with a felony record. This trend has especially affected African American males, for whom the percentage of the population with a felony record was more than 18 percent of the voting age population in some states as of These rates vary significantly by state. Low-level arrests have increased dramatically, to 14 million per year.

Even without convictions, arrests can have significant long-term effects. Uggen explained that, as of , 6 million people with criminal records nationwide had lost their voting rights. Criminal records also affect employment and educational prospects, especially for people of color. Colleges are also increasingly checking for felony records during admissions processes, but less discrimination is evident in that process than in other areas. Uggen identified several potential remedies for these challenges.

Modern Criminal Justice

First, disenfranchisement should be pared back. In addition, commutations and pardons are underutilized tools that could be expanded. Last, he suggested the example of Norway: its incarceration rates are one-tenth of U. Alexes Harris University of Washington explained that monetary sanctions resulting from contact with the criminal justice system can be a permanent punishment, especially for poor people.

These sanctions result in court supervision and the limitation of rights until payment is made in full. Harris stressed that criminal justice systems have purposefully placed the burden of the costs of mass conviction and incarceration on the people who have contact with the system. When people fail to pay fines, they are summoned to appear in court. If people are homeless or lack a fixed address, they may miss summonses to appear in court, resulting in outstanding warrants and arrests, leading to further penalties.

She noted that monetary sanctions can result merely from arrest or prosecution, without conviction. Studies show that these sanctions are both disproportionately imposed on and affect people of color. Harris explained that there are multiple levels of monetary sanctions. Although large debts may be imposed, little is collected, and what payments are made tend to be in exceedingly small amounts. Yet the financial, social, and health-related consequences of this system are substantial. Debt accumulates through the interest, surcharges, and collection costs, which add to the financial burden on poor people.

Joined up to face new challenges: the criminal justice system and change in the 21st century

These monetary sanctions also disrupt families, especially when people are incarcerated for nonpayment, and fear of reincarceration can lead to significant stress. She noted that although some jurisdictions hold ability-to-pay hearings to deal with this situation, many do not. Some policy changes being considered involve changing payment plans or minimum payments, but policies could eliminate financial barriers altogether. She called for additional research to enhance understanding of the factors and multiple layers of fines and fees being imposed and the role that financial burden plays on the process of desisting from crime.

In looking at employment, Nancy La Vigne Urban Institute noted, first, that stable employment is especially important to social inclusion in communities. Being part of society—maintaining housing, taking care of others, paying taxes, giving back—all rest on stable employment and reduce the likelihood of engaging in crime. She reported on the Returning Home Study, a longitudinal study following people from incarceration through 1 year after their release. It showed that higher paying jobs are more protective against recidivism than lower paying ones.

Geography and transportation issues compound challenges to stable employment. La Vigne described the growing evidence that race plays a larger role than a criminal record in employment. Overall, black unemployment is double that of white unemployment. She said that her own research shows that gender adds another layer of challenge for employment: women tend to have less employment prior to and following prison and less training behind bars than men. They also face high stakes for bonding with and supporting their children when they return to their communities.

Programs to foster social inclusion need to be gender responsive, she said. Furthermore, future programs and research need to be holistic and account for the intersecting and compounding factors re-. Finally, La Vigne, stressed, more research should include the perspectives of people who have experienced incarceration or who have felony records. Currently, 30 states and cities and counties have such policies for public employers; 10 states and 31 local jurisdictions have such policies for private employers.

Proponents of Ban the Box policies have also hoped that the policies would reduce racial disparities in employment. Despite its intentions, Ban the Box has had a number of unintended consequences, Agan explained. First, employers appear to be trying to work around the policy, consciously or unconsciously, by guessing from applications whether an applicant may have a criminal record based on observable characteristics, such as race or age.

Although this type of discrimination based on stereotyping is illegal, it still appears to be occurring, as shown in a study by Agan and a colleague. They analyzed callbacks from 15, fictitious applications to entry-level low-skill jobs sent before and after Ban the Box policies went into effect in New Jersey and New York. All of the applicants were young and male, but they randomly assigned a black-indicating or white-indicating name and felony conviction. Ban the Box led to a small increase in callbacks for black men with records, a much larger increase in callbacks for white men with records, but a significant decrease in callbacks for black men without records.

That is, Ban the Box increased racial disparities: employers appear to be assuming that black applicants are more likely to have a criminal record. Agan noted that other studies have found similar effects relating to Hispanic males and to eventual employment. Moreover, other research has found decreases or no change in employment for people with records after Ban the Box went into effect. There is no easy fix to the complex issue of employment for people with criminal records. Despite these effects, some advocates continue to call for Ban the Box policies, but Agan said that she believes that additional or alternative policies may be needed to achieve the desired goals.

Other advocates have reacted by calling for more enforcement of existing antidiscrimination laws, though how to achieve this is not clear. Andrea James National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls shared her experiences and perspectives as a former inmate and current advocate. While imprisoned for 2 years, she was moved by the women around her, who were faced with such difficult money choices as purchasing hygiene products or calling their children. Ultimately, James began working as a teacher while in prison, and, with her fellow inmates, began organizing.

Today, as a national organization with thousands of participants, the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls seeks to have the voices of women included in conversations about how to change the criminal justice system. It seeks alternatives to policies that focus on criminalizing and imprisoning people, instead of addressing the underlying needs of people and their communities. The criminal justice system affects immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, in unique ways, explained Amada Armenta University of Pennsylvania.

In her view, many of the exclusionary consequences of the criminal justice system are not unintended, and addressing this problem requires more than incremental or marginal changes.

Criminal Justice:

Armenta studied policing in Nashville, Tennessee, where police used traffic enforcement as a central way to increase arrests of people with outstanding warrants and to look for potentially illegal drugs or weapons. Police could either cite or arrest these drivers,. This approach and its consequences made it difficult for local police to avoid participating in immigration enforcement systems. Armenta noted that criminal justice proceedings are different and the consequences often harsher for immigrants than for citizens.

Undocumented immigrants are often held at the request of the federal government without bail, and they may be detained by immigration and customs enforcement without due process. She said that immigration enforcement actions are associated with negative opinions of police, as well as negative health outcomes, such as chronic stress and increased rates of preterm and low-weight births, not only among undocumented immigrants, but also among legal permanent residents and citizens of Latino descent.

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One workshop panel addressed the special concerns of youth and young adult populations. Moderator Reginald Dwayne Betts lawyer, poet, memoirist challenged the group to consider what it means to characterize schools as places where behavior is criminalized and how to expand forms of data to include the voices of youth and young adults. He also stressed the need for frank conversations about violence and its implications for youth and young adults in the criminal justice system.

Aaron Kupchik University of Delaware discussed the effects of school exclusion on youth. Schools are important in the context of criminal justice because schools are where people first encounter nonfamilial authority, where they learn about their roles as citizens, and in some schools where they may encounter police on a daily basis. And schools have increased criminalization of school discipline, characterized by zero-tolerance policies and more suspensions for less severe infractions. Kupchik noted that even though overall victimization in schools has decreased dramatically, a trend that mirrors the decline of juvenile crime outside of school over the past 25 years, the links between schools and the criminal justice system are increasing.

Eighty-one percent of all schools have surveillance cameras, drug-sniffing police dogs are used in 62 percent of high schools, and many schools have metal detectors. More schools today have school resource police officers than previously, despite a lack of evidence that they deter crime or protect students. But their presence is associated with increasing arrests of students, especially for simple assault and nonserious school offenses. Overall, minor offenses lead to more suspensions than they did a generation ago, and suspensions are associated with future arrests, risk of school failure, dropping out, not being accepted to college, and civic disengagement.

Black students disproportionately experience school exclusion, stated Kupchik. They face higher rates of discipline, suspensions, and arrests from school. The disparity is especially stark for black girls, who are suspended at six times the rate of white girls. This may be the product of racial bias: black students are more likely to be perceived as loud and disorderly, even when their behaviors are similar to those of white students. She noted that even though there is little evidence of greater behavior problems for black students than white students, they are suspended at far higher rates, starting as early as preschool, and for more reasons that are discretionary.

Increasingly, data show that students are more likely to be seen as disruptive and to be punished on the basis of their sexual orientation, poverty status, gender, disability status, and immigration status. Kupchik said that preventing school exclusion involves clear rules and communication, and consequences that build rather than disrupt communities. Seeing children as children, rather than as threats, and helping to deal with the root causes of misbehavior also leads to better outcomes. Developing policies that limit what offenses lead to school arrests and positive behavioral interventions have proven successful in limiting racial disparities.

Many jurisdictions are changing how they address the crimes of people transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. Since the late s, people have recognized children as not being adults, but the precise age at which they have been considered adults has varied. Recent research on adolescent development has illuminated the cognitive and psychological markers of this phase, which extends through the mids, but many states are still considering whether and how the criminal justice system should recognize this developmental period.

Generally speaking, Chester said, youth under 18 are treated in the juvenile system, which has the goal of rehabilitation; youth over 18 are treated as adults, with no distinction made between people of very different ages and with more of a focus on deterrence and retribution than rehabilitation. Although young adults comprise 10 percent of the U. The racial disparities within this age group are troubling and greater than those for juveniles. Young adults are also especially hard hit by the drug crisis because of their risk-taking behavior and self-medication for mental health problems.

Drug abuse violations peak during this period, even as their other criminal behaviors are decreasing. Moreover, young adults can face particular challenges after incarceration because they are less well established than older adults, who may have a pre-incarceration work history, their own housing, or an established family. She suggested that other countries, such as Germany, may provide a positive model for future reforms efforts in the United States because they are more oriented toward success after imprisonment.

Chester also noted that the young adult population includes many with special needs. Homeless young adults are particularly vulnerable, and their numbers and needs are not well understood. Homeless young women are at high risk for sexual abuse. She reported that multiple efforts are under way to address the needs of young adults given their vulnerability and poor outcomes, including specialized courts, caseloads, or correctional facilities. In some jurisdictions, legal provisions for young adults, such as differing parole terms or expanding the juvenile justice system to include emerging adults, are being implemented.

Marlon Peterson executive producer, Decarcerated Podcast described the importance of understanding the point of view of young adults of color who experience social exclusion through the criminal justice system. Informed by his experiences as a violence interrupter, a creator of programming inside of prison, and as someone who was formerly incarcerated, he now examines issues of violence and incarceration around the world.

He challenged the group to understand the impact of both physical and emotional violence and oppression inherent in the criminal justice system. When communities of color are criminalized through policies, he said, sometimes young people, who lack effective ways to cope, respond through violence. Many young people of color are feeling unheard and experiencing a feeling of a broken spirit.

He challenged the group to consider the long-term relational impacts of concentrated criminalization of people of color, the future of research, and the interpersonal effects of bias on youth and young adults of color. Vera Lopez Arizona State University focused on the experiences of Latino youth, highlighting three key areas of social exclusion. First, Latinos have been ignored in the criminal justice literature, in part because ethnicity and race have often been conflated.

The result is that the true extent of crime among Latino youth is not well understood. In addition, departments and agencies use many different methods to collect ethnicity data, including assumptions based on appearance, and they lack specificity that accounts for how Latino people identify themselves. Only recently have there been initiatives to gather better data at the state and local level to understand problems that may exist. New reports that do examine the experiences of Latino youth show some interesting trends and disparities. For example, delinquency. Interestingly, Latino youth are 30 percent more likely to be adjudicated for delinquency and less likely to be waived to criminal court for case processing than black youth.

Second, Lopez noted, the stories of Latina girls involved with the criminal justice system are not being heard. As a group, they comprised 25 percent of Latino juvenile arrests in , but otherwise data on this population are sparse. She said that, in her experience, these girls are often involved in multiple systems, including the behavioral health, child protective, and educational systems. Just like all girls in the juvenile justice system, many Latina girls have histories of victimization and trauma, as well as substance abuse and mental health issues.

The dangers of misinterpreted forensic evidence - Ruth Morgan

Their parents may also be involved in the criminal justice system and face multiple stressors. Third, Lopez explained, current policies and practices are based on stereotypes and blame individuals, families, and culture for problems. She suggested that practitioners, who often hold negative views of Latina youth, could be more effective by taking a strengths- and family-based approach and listening to the girls themselves.

Over the course of the workshop, many participants provided their ideas for new directions for research, practice, and policy in criminal justice to foster social inclusion. Many participants, including researchers, practitioners, and others, conveyed a sense of urgency that actions are needed in addition to more research. Various participants offered several ideas for promising practices and policies that could address social exclusion in the criminal justice system. Some suggested that it would be beneficial to look to other systems e. Ultimately, said Jones-Brown and others, bringing together people from research, philanthropy, law enforcement, the faith community, and other fields to address issues in meaningful ways would be useful.

Mauer noted two important data trends looking over the past 20 years that warrant further exploration: the reduction of young people in juvenile residential placements by 50 percent and the dramatic decline in black women being incarcerated. Mauer challenged participants to consider capping sentences for serious and violent offenders, a common practice in other developed nations. A few participants said that productive discussions will need to address both the volume of nonviolent criminal justice activity and better ways for the system to respond to violent crimes, recognizing that many perpetrators have also been victims.

Several participants commented that systemic change requires multiple approaches. We need media strategy. We need more research. Part of what we do is record and document social realities that are often unpleasant or invisible or in conflict with prevailing official ideologies. Several participants related that researchers should challenge their own theoretical assumptions, research paradigms, and ways of framing issues that may limit understanding of the effects of the criminal justice system. Candice Jones Public Welfare Foundation noted that, especially at the intersection of race and criminal justice, research can be used as both a sword and a shield.

Several participants noted the importance of language that researchers use to describe people and issues. Using certain terms e. More than one participant noted the need for more diversity within academia. Betts suggested that researchers can also do more to foster inclusion through mentoring. Principles of proportionality in criminal justice should drive the future research agenda, according to several participants.


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  • John Laub University of Maryland noted that many theories suggest that social connections are important in keeping individuals out of the criminal justice system; when the criminal justice system contributes to social exclusion, it thus also contributes to even higher crime rates. However, Jones questioned whether the criminal justice system could ever be seen as a tool of social inclusion.

    Multiple participants suggested that academic researchers should include in their studies the voices and expertise of people who have experienced the criminal justice system. This approach includes combining quantitative with qualitative methods, as well as using participatory research approaches. Furthermore, several participants suggested, researchers should aim to give communities a voice in determining the relationship they have with justice agents.

    Edward Hailes, Jr. Advancement Project noted that this is especially important for communities of color.

    Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century (Issues in Crime and Justice) Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century (Issues in Crime and Justice)
    Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century (Issues in Crime and Justice) Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century (Issues in Crime and Justice)
    Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century (Issues in Crime and Justice) Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century (Issues in Crime and Justice)
    Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century (Issues in Crime and Justice) Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century (Issues in Crime and Justice)
    Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century (Issues in Crime and Justice) Forensic Science in Court: Challenges in the Twenty First Century (Issues in Crime and Justice)

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