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Policy Comparison 1

Federal vs. State Policy Comparison


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Policy Comparison 2

Federal vs. State Policy Comparison
The criminal justice system is designed to ensure that when members of society ignore the
laws that have been established they are made to pay for their crime but also ensure that the
citizen has an opportunity to prove they are not guilty. The laws are established when the
majority of society deems a behavior to be wrong or immoral or the behavior results in victims.
Laws are created to ensure a civilized society and to provide a remedy for citizens that break the
law. In America polices will be enacted with by the state or the federal government. If a law is
created by the federal government it must be followed by all of the states in the nation but if state
creates a law the federal government has no obligation to a create a similar law.
Federal law is created by the federal government and then is created within the state
government. The state must take the law created by the federal government and create legislation
that follows the policy that has been created. For example the federal government created hate
crime legislation which requires that a criminal offender that commits a violent act based on race
or ethnicity be charged with a hate crime. Offenders convicted of a hate crime are subject to a
harsher prison terms and even death. Once the federal government enacted hate crime legislation
the state government is required by law to enact similar legislation.
Federal and state policy emerges in society when there is a need to address a criminal
behavior or reform current policies. In order for a new law to be created the state and federal
government will go through similar processes in creating the law. The process begins with the
development of a policy designed to address a problems in society that needs a criminal
response. Once a policy is created it will need strong support from politicians and other members
Policy Comparison 3

of society to ensure that is this in fact enacted. If there is no public interest in a new policy it will
be far harder to get support for the policy.
Federal policies are created when a policy is developed and introduced to a subcommittee that
will determine if the policy will then be passed on to the House of Representative for
consideration. If the subcommittee in the House approves the bill it will be sent to a
subcommittee in the Senate. Upon approval in the senate the bill will then need approval by the
President. The President can decide to sign the bill into law or they can decide to veto the bill. If
the bill is vetoed by the President then it will not become law. If the bill is approved by the
president it will be signed into law.
Public policy is a system of laws, regulatory measures, courses of action, and funding
priorities concerning a given topic promulgated by a governmental entity or its representatives
(Kilpatrick, 2000). Once a law is created this is not the final word. Just because a public policy
has been signed into law by the president does not mean the law will in fact stay law. If a law
could potentially violate the constitution it will be reviewed by the Supreme Court. If the
Supreme Court finds a law that has been enacted is unconstitutional the law will be struck down.
Even though the President is the highest office in the land does not mean they will have ultimate
power over laws that are created. Thats the beauty of the American government. Each branch
has checks and balances designed to ensure laws are not created that violate the constitution or
infringe upon the rights of the citizen.
Once the policy becomes a law it is then administered by the agency in the criminal justice
system that the new law affects (Sheppard, 2001). In other words once a policy becomes law it
must be enacted. For example if the new law is a sentencing guideline for punishing the hate
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crime the court system will have to implement this new policy into law. Judges would have to
sentence rapists based on the new sentencing guidelines that has been established and not the old
policies.
In the state government laws are enacted in a similar manner as in the federal government.
The state government will create a policy and then it will be reviewed an accepted into law by
the state Senate. If approved by the state senate then the law will have to be approved or vetoed
by the governor of the state. If approved the law will be administered by the criminal justice
system and may be tested by the state Supreme Court to determine its constitutionality. When a
state law is created the federal government has no obligation to create a similar law. If a majority
of states enact similar laws then the federal government may follow suit and enact a similar law.
A perfect example of a law that has been created by the states and later embraced by the
federal government is the Three Strike Laws. As more and more states started to enact violent
crime laws, such as three strike laws that require repeat violent offenders to sever prison
sentences of 25 years to life. The federal government followed suit and created the Violent
Crime Act. Instead of forcing states to enact similar crime control strategies the federal
government instead provides funding to states that get harsh on violent crime. States that do not
enact legislation that harshly punishes the violent offender will not receive funding.
Federal and state polices are created to address crime problems that merge in society or to
reform current laws to ensure they are more effective. The development of a policy is due to the
legislative process and the approval of the executive branch while the judicial branch is
responsible for judicial review of the public policy is established. Criminal laws are designed to
deter crime, improve public safety, and punish the offenders.
Policy Comparison 5

References
Kilpatrick, D. (2000). Definitions of Public Policy and the Law. National Violence against
Women Prevention Research Center. Retrieved February 12, 2013 from
http://www.musc.edu/vawprevention/policy/definition.shtml
Shepard, M. (2001). Administrative Rulemaking. Minnesota House of Representatives.
Retrieved February 12, 2013 from http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/admrule.pdf