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Essay on Philosophical and Practical Approaches in Criminal Justice Systems

Date:  2021-07-05 13:39:44
5 pages  (1295 words)
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In many cases, the participants in the criminal justice systems find themselves in situations where the philosophy that is behind the laws that govern their work is generally impractical in some instances. For this reason, they have to find a balance between the ideality that the provisions of the law cater for and the reality that they encounter in the course of delivering their mandate. Some of the examples where the of legal philosophical approaches are in conflict with the practical aspect include where decisions have to be made whether to uphold the individual rights or act in the interest protecting the public and the use of immoral methods to achieve the desired results.

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As a law enforcement officer, there are situations where the deprivation of the civil rights of citizens is necessary for the maintenance of security. In the process of gathering of evidence from suspects, the individual rights such as those to privacy and movement may be curtailed in the course of gathering the relevant information. For example in 1954 case in California, the police secretly and illegally gained access into the house of a defendant and made installations of microphones to listen to the conversations that the person of interest was having (Barker, 2011). The Supreme Court in the determination allowed the use of the illegal recordings in the prosecution of the suspect. In many cases, the police the police wiretap the conversations of people they deem to be a threat to the national security such as suspected terrorists thus interfering with the right to privacy of such individuals. The reason behind the support of this philosophy is that the civil liberties of the person are a threat those of the general population.

The issue of either to reward or punish in the legal system elicits many arguments because there are those who believe that rewarding in itself should not happen in totality within the system. Some of the actions deemed to be rewarding the accused persons include the allowing of the defendants to bargain when they are taking a plea as well as the use of confidential informants. Offenders may take pleas can do so by either pleading to be guilty thus shortening the court process in determining the case or offer to provide information that may be vital to the prosecution of a person that has committed more serious offenses. The philosophical approach that I take in a bid to strike balance between the two is that the rewarding aspect is necessary because it provides an avenue for minimizing the cases that go to trial in the justice system, which is already have a backlog of cases to determine that overburdens it. It also avails an effective way by which the law enforcement officers obtain information on criminals of whom there is no enough evidence to accuse them thus they would remain unanswerable for their crimes. Although it is impossible to bring all the people that commit crimes to justice, this approach plays a key role in protecting citizens from criminal elements as well as easing the work of the law enforcers and other players in the criminal justice system. The argument of the conservatives that there should be no leniency shown to those accused of committing crimes is not reasonable because it does not consider if the accused shows remorse for what they did or help in curbing further felonies (Barker, 2011). It is also important to understand in some instances people do illegal activities because they have limited choices on the courses of action to take. It therefore explains the reason for high crime rates in the poor neighborhoods and therefore as the police act they should not only aim at punishing offenders but also giving them a chance to rehabilitate where possible.

In some instances, the law enforcement agents may use methods, which the society normally considers to be against the moral values in order to achieve a desired goal. Some of these actions considered immoral include lying when conducting interrogations or when doing undercover investigations or the use of enhanced interrogation (Barker, 2011). Although these actions may be unethical when considered on face value, they may be the only means by which to resolve the case or to deliver justice. When for instance an intelligence officer goes undercover to get information concerning a particular criminal grouping such a drug cartel, they have to lie about their background. Some of these organizations are very secretive and they have a way of covering their tracks that it needs someone on the inside to uncover their activities and build a strong case against the members. I support the idea that in some extraordinary circumstances where the morally acceptable methods are not effective in attaining a certain goal, the law enforcement personnel can result to other necessary methods to thwart a crime or bring a criminal to justice as way of finding a balance on this philosophical and practical approach. The reason for this is because those who engage in felonies act immorally and they try by any means to get away with it. It is therefore only sensible for the police officers to find other creative ways allowed by rules of engagement in the organization that they serve to bring some cases into a close. In this case, the utilitarian approach supports this philosophy because these acts by the police officers are not ethical to some extent; they result to more good as compared to the harm. For instance by going undercover to investigate terrorism activities may involve lying to even ones family but as a result it can gather vital intelligence that can prevent an eminent attack by the terrorists thus saving lives.

The concept of care ethics is a theoretical approach first developed by Carol Gilligan with a feminist point of view. The theory argues that the actions people take are because of feeling of compassion for the other human being and not by the need to have justice or adhere to the codes of conducts (Robinson, 2011). Relationships are important in solving some of the problems that people encounter and this can happen if there is a feeling of care between the involved parties. The law enforcement officers can utilize this approach in solving conflicts by promoting dialogue and understanding between those involved rather than always making formal charges. When the police act in a compassionate manner, they build a relationship with the members of the community thus creating a rapport that necessary for the success of community policing. For example if an officer receives information that a mentally ill person is causing disturbances in the streets and the ailment is clear then instead of arresting the person, the officer could invite an agency that deals with social service to take of the offender.

Peacemaking criminology argues that crimes originates from suffering and therefore according to Richard Quinney in order to end criminality, then everything that causes people to suffer such as harassment, poverty, racial discrimination, sexism , alienation in communities and so on must be resolved (Pepinsky, 2013). In accordance with this premise as a law enforcer, in order to reduce the rates of crime, the actions taken should be free of the perception that they are causing affliction to the community or a section of it. Therefore, acts of police brutality as well as discrimination in the delivery of services are contributors to crime and thus there is a need to avoid them


BIBLIOGRAPHY \l 1033 Barker, T. (2011). Police Ethics : Crisis in Law Enforcement. Springfield.

Dietrich, J. (2014). The Limited Prospects of Deterrence by the International Criminal Court: Lessons from Domestic Experience. International Social Science Review , 1-26.

Pepinsky, H. (2013). Peacemaking Criminology. Critical Criminology. , 319-339.

Robinson, F. (2011). The Ethics of Care : A Feminist Approach to Human Security. Global Ethics and Politics .

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