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Sense and Non-Sense About Crime, Drugs, and Communities: Chapter 2

Sense and Non-Sense About Crime, Drugs, and Communities: Chapter 2

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Published by witchesbrew66
Written by Samuel Walker.
Written by Samuel Walker.

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Categories:Book Excerpts
Published by: witchesbrew66 on Jan 22, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Chapter 2 Models of Criminal Justice Learning Objectives:
By the end of each section students should be able to
 Differentiate between the attitudes of old idealism and new cynicism (liberal and conservative)
 Provide examples of the consistency and predictably of criminal justice administration
 Describe the focus of the Crime Commission’s Model
 Describe and identify cases in each of the four layers of the wedding cake model
 Differentiate between the focus of the wedding cake model and the Crime Commission’s model
 Explain the impact that celebrated cases have on the public’s perceptions using specific examples
 List the factors used by criminal justice officials to informally classify cases into layers of the wedding cake
 Compare and contrast felonies in the second and third layers of the wedding cake model
 Describe the liberation hypothesis and explain how it relates to the wedding cake model
 Understand the impact of the victim/offender relationship on case processing in general and the processing of robbery, rape and domestic violence cases in particular
 Defend arguments that the CJS is either tough or soft on offenders
Outline: I. Introduction
a. With one federal and 50 state systems containing their own varied substantive and procedural rules, the American CJS is complex b. Day-to-day administration is also complex and may appear to be chaotic c. Some decisions are hidden by the veil of discretion which allows misunderstanding and myth to prevail d. Proposition 5: Most crime control ideas are based on false assumptions about how the criminal justice system works e. Unrealistic attitudes that dominate thinking about the administration of criminal justice include the Old Idealism and New Cynicism
i. Old Idealism: Civics-book picture of justice with law enforced as it is written; offenders are arrested, prosecuted, convicted and punished, and guilt or innocence is determined through an adversarial public contest ii. New Cynicism: Chaotic picture of the CJS where discretion is out of control and prosecutors plea-bargain to get guilty people off while innocent people wind up in prison; sentencing is seen as arbitrary and parole board decisions unscientific 1. Conservative cynics see an undermining of effective crime control while liberal cynics see chaos contributing to systematic discrimination 2. Neither version explains the consistent and predictable day-to-day operations of the CJS f. Predictable system does contain paradoxes and inconsistencies that make it at once too lenient and too severe i. Policing example: Police may be overly aggressive toward men on a street corner and then under-enforce domestic violence laws ii. Sentencing example: Some people with multiple drunk driving convictions avoid mandatory prison while someone arrested for drugs gets a sentence of 25 years
a. The Crime Commission’s Model of the CJS was designed to help us understand the administration of justice from the systems approach b. This model focuses on case flow among agencies, interrelationships among agencies, the pervasiveness of discretionary decision making and how decisions at one point in the system can affect decisions in other areas of the system
a. The CJ wedding cake was developed between 1980 and 1910 and it overcame a major weakness of the Crime Commission’s Model b. The wedding cake model emphasizes variations in case processing and consistent patterns of disposition within its layers c. Celebrated Cases: The Top Layer i. The smallest layer of cases dominate the news media because they involve a famous person, a gruesome crime or a landmark Supreme Court ruling ii. Unfortunately, these unusual cases have a major impact on public perception iii. For instance, due to media attention to school violence people tend to believe schools are dangerous places where violence is increasing when in fact the opposite is true
iv. Celebrated cases are different from other cases because they involve the full criminal process including a trial, they receive an enormous amount of publicity and they distort public perceptions because the public mistakes them as typical cases 1. Examples include the 2003-4 Scott Peterson case and the O.J. Simpson trial 2. Due to incessant coverage of the Simpson trial,  Americans were misled to conclude that spouse murderers beat the system and that African American  jurors will not convict African American defendants d. Serious Felonies: The Second and Third Layers i. More serious felonies are in the second layer and less serious felonies in the third layer ii. CJ officials informally classify cases on the basis of the nature of the crime (seriousness), suspect’s prior record and the relationship between the victim and offender 1. Research also shows that injury to the victim and use of a gun may be considered 2. Most departures from prescribed sentences are based on the factors noted above iii. The courtroom work group tends to share judgments of seriousness based on the noted factors and this facilitates rapid disposition of cases iv. Consequentially, individual discretion is informally controlled and a cases within the layers of the wedding cake are treated consistently v. Despite conceptions of plea bargaining to a Middle Eastern bazaar, the reality is that courtrooms operate more like supermarkets with fixed prices about the worth of various cases vi. Shared understanding among the courtroom workgroup is highly dependent on the structure of the court system including the stability and collegiality of its members e. The Impact of Prior Record i. Evidence of robbery convictions shows that those with a prior record are far more likely to be sentenced to prison compared to defendants with no prior convictions ii. The same pattern holds true with property offenders f. The Impact of the Victim/Offender Relationship i. Robbery data 1. Data on felony arrests in New York City shows that the system is not soft on stranger robberies as they are more likely to result in conviction on felony charges and receive sentences of incarceration

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