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The Study of Crime 1

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The Study of Crime and the Criminal Justice System

Pasquale Kress

SOC 305

Professor Marty McAuliffe

Friday, May 22, 2009


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Abstract

The American Criminal Justice system is a flawed and ineffective system, which

has the sole purpose of institutionalizing a specific part of the population and by that

controlling the rest of the people. Words like “justice” or “equality” are nothing but a

letters on an old piece of paper that was written to satisfy the minds of the masses. From

an ethical viewpoint, one will have to come to the conclusion that this “justice system” is

the very definition of the term “Hypocrisy”.


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The Study of Crime in the Criminal Justice System

There are many different studies of crime. Like all studies, they are incomplete.

Every analyzes that is trying to prove a point, is somewhat incomplete. A good analyzes

only leaves out small and insignificant factors, while a bad or unscholarly analyzes leaves

out major parts that effect the outcome of the study. This is something newly learned.

When analyzing the Criminal Justice System in particular, we have two very

different accounts about it. One is the “official account”, that is given to us through the

law books that have been created by the law makers, and the other one is the actual

impact of these laws onto society. This second account is called “the purpose of the

criminal justice system according to the people“. “The people” in this case are the

citizens of the United States, that are mostly affected by the criminal justice system.

What is the “Criminal Justice System”?

The criminal justice system is an institution that is in charge of the “well of the

people”. Now in this particular sentence “the people” is only meant for certain

“privileged people”, like White imperialistic Americans and their ancestors. When the

United States declared their “independence” to the British crown on July 4th 1776, a small

group of “privileged“, White Americans decided to create a system of law that was meant

to protect them. This paper was called the “Bill of Rights” and it contained the first 10

amendments. It was written in 1789 and it came into effect on December 15, 1791. These

first 10 amendments did not apply to slaves or any “non American people”, which

ironically included the natives of the country. When slavery was abolished in 1865, these

rights still did not apply to slaves, or native Americans, and they remain in many cases to
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still not apply to these, now, “minorities”. A very current example of this violation of the

US constitution is the case of Mumia Abu Jamal, who has been denied his habeas corpus

again this year (2009), after doing 28 years in Huntington prison PA for a crime that he

has neither committed, nor ever received a fair trial for. Another rather unpopular

example is the case of Ruchell Cinque Magee, who has been incarcerated for over 40

years over improbable charges of kidnapping, robbery and a $10 bag of marijuana. He is

being held because of political reasons. Just like George Jackson was held for 10 years on

a $70 robbery charge, only to be assassinated in prison. Both of these men were “African

Freedom Fighters”.

The “official account”

According to law makers and the US government, the criminal justice system is

supposed to define good and bad conduct and then punish bad conduct (an evil act or

Mala in Se) accordingly to set an example and create fear of being punished, so people

don’t commit crime in the future. This is supposedly being done to keep the people safe.

The blue print for this study of law or “Jurisprudence” was given to the settlers

through the “Royal Common Law”, which had the sole purpose to protect the king and

his royalty.

The term “crime” is any act that is “punishable by law”. These laws are found by

a principle that is called “Stare Decisis”, which incorporates to take in account earlier

cases and their outcomes to decide about current events. When calling a judgment,

federal law is always above state law, as this is called the “Preemption Doctrine”. The

power given to the state by the federal government is called “enumerated powers”.

The federal judicial system is defined by three major elements: “The Legislative
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Branch”, “The Executive Branch”, and the “Judicial Branch”. The “Legislative Branch”

is the branch that creates the law, the “Executive Branch” is the branch that enforces the

law and the “Judicial Branch” is the branch that has to deal with interpreting the law.

When discussing law one will have to differentiate between civil and criminal

law. This paper is focusing on criminal law. Civil law is only concerned with small

“torts” such as minor traffic violations.

New learning that has occurred about the official account of what criminal justice

is would include the ethical believe that the Enron scandal classifies as white collar

crime, but the racist war in Iraq does not. Another weird ethical analyzes that was learned

was that the settlers were not a violent gang that was responsible for the racist genocide

of 19 million Native Americans. Both of these ethical ideologies seem to stand very weak

in an argument which is why they were not discussed any deeper by certain classmates.

The account by “the people”

When analyzing the numbers of prisoners, one will notice that the prison system

is deeply segregated, just like the police homicide rates and the poverty statistics. This

makes one come to the logical conclusion, that there has to be a deep intention in creating

and keeping this segregation, as the American people spend about 37 billion dollars a

year on this prison system and this criminal justice system. Also looking at the history of

human rights struggles in this country, and looking at the slave wars and the times of the

civil rights movement, one will see a certain constant in these struggles: they always

involve non White Americans that struggle against oppression and they are always being

defeated by military means. There have been small victories like the case of Brown v. the

Board of Education of Topeka, but in the end the material that is being taught in these
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schools that are now available to minorities, does not include a complete history of the

Black, Brown, Red and Yellow people in this world. The education focuses on White

imperialism and oppression. The same is true for the education one receives about the

justice system. The textbooks only talk about cases like Terry v. Ohio instead of Graham

v. Connor. Both of these cases involve a 4th amendment violation, but only the one that is

being kept out of the curriculum (Graham v. Connor) shows a racist police officer.

This phenomena about the textbook filtering the information we receive was

something new learned that confirmed something already encountered in earlier courses.

The Dimensions of Crime

According to the National Criminal Justice Commission, “White Collar Crime”

costs the US taxpayers between $130 and $472 billion a year. That is between 7 and 25

times more than the cost of all conventional crime or street crime. This was something

new learned. Considering police brutality as part of white collar crime and the fact that it

costs 2.2 million dollars to execute a person on death row, while it would only cost $500

000 to incarcerate that person for a lifetime, one can identify that these are the biggest

“Dimensions of Crime”, at least from an economical perspective.

A major shift has happened in the general dimensions of crime, since the 1960s.

The Vietnam war and the massive amount of heroin addicts and now often homeless

American veterans that this war has brought us made Ronald Reagan declare the “war on

drugs”, which really has nothing to do with drugs. Before Reagan introduced his racist

war on “drugs”, the amount of imprisoned Americans was around 500 000, that was in

the early 1980s. Now since the early 2000s we have over 2 million Americans in our

prisons. That is 4 times as many, and not all just because of drugs. No many of these
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prisoners are victims of the famous 3 strikes and you are out law as introduced by Bill

Clinton and his “Crime Bill”. Mumia writes: “When I hear politicians bellow about

“getting tough on crime” and barking out “three strikes, you’re out” rhetoric, several

images come to mind. I think of how quickly the tune changes when the politician is on

the receiving end of some of that so called toughness, after having fallen from grace. I am

reminded of a powerful state appellate judge who, once caught in an intricate, bizarre

web of criminal conduct, changed his longstanding opinion regarding the efficacy of the

insanity defense, an option he once ridiculed. It revealed in a flash how illusory and

transitory power and status can be, and how we are all, after all, human.”

We come to the conclusion that the majority of all crime is white collar crime,

considering the war crimes of Halliburton, Honeywell, Blackwater and other

beneficiaries of the current war in Iraq, an considering that they have so far made an

estimated combined profit of over $200 billion by killing innocents and exploiting their

land under violation of multiple international laws. Looking at these numbers it seems not

only trivial but also ridiculous to even compare them to conventional crime and street

crime which would not even account for 5% of all this crime. Yet, it is these “petty”

crimes that our criminal justice system focuses on. It is these petty thieves that we spend

$37 billion annually on, to keep us “safe”.

A future application of this new knowledge includes the withholding of tax money

and the educating of others how to not support this racism with our tax dollars.

The Dimension of Police Brutality

In his book Live from Death Row, Mumia Abu Jamal writes: “At least one

reputable study, however, reveals that the brutal Rodney King/LAPD encounter was just
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one of many across America, painting a vivid portrayal of a nationwide pattern of violent

assaults by white cops against national minorities. The study, a two-year survey of both

national and regional newspapers, found in the words of study conductor Joseph Feagin,

a University of Florida sociology professor, that “Rodney King’s beating is not an

isolated incident.” … The nationally broadcast television show Justice Files recently

released an astonishing report revealing that in a ten-year period, from 1981 to 1991,

more than seventy-nine thousand cases of police brutality, coast to coast, occurred. If

accurate, these numbers mean more than seventy-nine hundred assaults by police a year

in America. A civilian is brutalized by police, on average, more than 658 times a month,

more than 164 times a week!”

Social Cultural and Economical Sources of Crime

What does that mean “Cultural sources of crime”? There is no cultural source of

crime, as there is simply no culture that embraces crime or treats it different from another

culture. Sure there are slight differences in the ideological, administrative and executive

principals of different cultures, but they should not contribute to the “source of crime”.

When analyzing the statistic, it becomes obvious, that the “source of crime” is, in most

cases, of economic motive. This is true for all self enriching crimes from petty theft to

global wars. If the economic factor of crime would be corrected, rather than the outcome,

there would be less crime. But what would happen to the multi billion dollar industry that

profits of crime (the “legal“ system)? This system is simply not interested in decreasing

the factors that contribute to crime, which is why it is not working.

When looking at the majority of crime, white collar crime, it is easy to identify

that the only source that is behind this crime is of economical nature. There is no cultural
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majority in white collar crime, well yes, there are White people, but the point is that this

is not a general rule to white collar crime as it can not really be linked to culture rather

than to ideology and economical background. The cultural or social sources of crime that

we are often confronted with when addressing violent crime and general property crime,

is poverty. Poverty is not really a source of crime but rather a motivation for certain types

of crime, like property crime. There is a correlation between poverty and crime, yet there

is no research that directly proves that poverty alone causes crime. It is easier to argue

that poverty in combination with hopelessness causes crime. The factors that influence

poverty and cause poverty are factors like bad education, or no available education, poor

parents, racism, a toxic environment with high air and soil pollution, bad drinking water

and other factors that can be found in many urban American city sections that are

generally known as ghettos.

A good application for this knowledge is to look for a way to move out of these

areas that are prone to crime and to educate your neighbors, so they can move out too.

The criminal justice system “officially” states that it is interested in the

“rehabilitation” of criminals. Yet there is no proof for this interest when analyzing the

prison system. There are programs that suggest “rehabilitation” but yet these programs

are underpaid, understaffed and often are overflowing with month long wait lists, that

discourage prisoners to enter them.

Once a person is a “convicted felon”, he/she does not have the right to vote

anymore and usually does not qualify for any financial aid for education. It is difficult to

believe that it is in the interest of the criminal justice system to employ this uneducated,

priory convicted individual, based on the options that are available.


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Having learned this concept of destroying a persons life, a, by nature, “good”

person will strive to motivate his peers to stay out of the prison system and to not mess up

their future, but to rather take pride in being successful.

Rehabilitation and the Death Penalty

The case of McCleskey v. Kemp challenged the stare decisis with the Baldus

Study, which compared death penalty cases in Georgia. Mumia Abu Jamal wrote in his

book Live from Death Row: “our understanding of history and human experience, was not

disproved by the McCleskey Court; rather, it was rejected out of fear. In rejecting the

conclusion that the facts established an unconstitutional infirmity, Justice Powell noted

with alarm that McCleskey’s claim, taken to it’s logical conclusion, throws into serious

question the principles that underlie our entire criminal justice system.”

According to the Baldus Study, a black on white capital crime is 4.3 times more

likely to be sentenced to death, in the state of Georgia, than a white on black capital

crime. This shows racism in its most obvious and deadliest form. The result of this is a

steadily growing prison population, with a returning rate of over 60%. The inhumane and

racist treatment that inmates receive in American prison facilities is also something that

does not suggest an interest in “rehabilitation”. These “correctional” facilities have only

one purpose: the storage and destruction of human lives.

The real intention of the American Justice system

Markus Dirk Dubber states in his book “Victims in the War on Crime”, that “For

too long, American criminal law has been run by the state in the name of ill-defined

“public interests” or even “public safety”. For too long, American criminal law has been
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regarded as a matter of administration, rather than law, of regulation, rather than right.

Crime is not a public health issue but a traumatic experience shared by two persons, the

offender and the victim. The state has an important role to play in responding to this

catastrophic event, but it has no role in the event itself. The state is not the victim in

criminal law; the person is. By transferring the right of punishment to the state, the victim

does not transfer her victim hood.” By acknowledging this fact we understand that

“justice” is not the intention of the American “justice system” but rather “punishment”.

Conclusion

The American Criminal Justice system is a flawed and ineffective system, which

has the sole purpose of institutionalizing a specific part of the population and by that

controlling the rest of the people. Words like “justice” or “equality” are nothing but a

letters on an old piece of paper that was written to satisfy the minds of the masses. From

an ethical viewpoint, one will have to come to the conclusion that this “justice system” is

the very definition of the term “Hypocrisy”.

The best application for this knowledge in the future would be to enter law school

and to fight against injustice within the criminal justice system.


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Reference

Anniken U. Davenport (2009). Basic Criminal Law The Constitution, Procedure, and

Crimes (2nd ed.)

Mumia Abu -Jamal (1995). Live from Death Row, pages 121, 122 and 123

Markus Dirk Dubber (2005).Police Power, Patriarchy and the Foundations of American

Government, pages 71 and 85

John E. Conklin (2010). Criminology (10th ed.)

Jay S. Albanese (2008). Professional Ethics in Criminal Justice (2nd ed.)