Crime as Schmalleger Explains the American Juvenile-Justice Term Paper

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Crime

As Schmalleger explains, the American juvenile-justice system was designed a century ago to reform kids found guilty of minor crimes, but more and more, the system has to cope with more violent crimes committed by younger people. The response on the part of lawmakers has been largely to siphon the worst of these young people out of the juvenile system by lowering the age at which juveniles charged with serious crimes can be tried in adult courts, a trend that seems to increase around election time. The underlying philosophy of early juvenile courts was parens patriae, which means that the courts took the role of parent and protected the rights of the child. Shifting the child to adult court reduces his or her rights rather than increasing them and also bring son harsher punishments. As Daniel P. Mears notes, the creators of the juvenile court system thought it would be more of a social welfare agency than a court, with the children being helped rather than punished. This philosophy would prevail for nearly seventy years, though there were those who were critical of the approach. Some legal scholars and child advocates thought that there were abuses that took place within this informal and benevolent system. There were more supporters than critics, however, until abuses in the system were brought to the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966. In a series of decisions, the Court found that juveniles were entitled to a broad range of procedural protections the juvenile court system had denied them for seventy years. Many of the trappings of adult court procedure were eliminated, such as indictments, pleadings, and juries, and instead the probation officers and the judge used informal hearings to determine the causes of the problem and to recommend and oversee the treatment.

2. Jimmy Breslin's comment that because of drugs "there are no more rules in American crime" suggests first that there was once a set of rules followed by most criminals, meaning that except for the most violent criminals, the average criminal differentiated between property crimes and crimes against people. They would rob and commit burglaries, but and they did so to get money and to do so in a way that kept them as safe as possible at the same time. Drugs have changed the landscape for several reasons. The many people taking drugs have to have more money in order to buy more drugs, which increases the incidence of street crimes and robberies in order to get the money needed. Drug-addicted criminals also lack the old moral rationales for how to commit crimes. They tend more and more to be violent because drugs take away their inhibitions and give them a desperation that makes them do things they otherwise would not do. They lack the sense of right and wrong that kept petty thieves and robbers from simply killing their victims for no reason, while more and more drug-addicted criminals shoot first and take the money after. The use of drugs thus increases the need of the criminal for money and reduces his or her inhibitions so that the crimes become more violent. The criminal of the past, says Breslin, was more likely to be rational and to weigh the pros and cons of taking any action, while the drug-addicted criminal of today is irrational and does not think this through as carefully. Instead, they act out of instinct or simply because they are challenged, startled, or imitative.

The drug trade has changed crime to a degree by creating new and more violent gangs that bring drugs into the country and sell them on the street. This crime draws in many poor young people who see no future for themselves and who often believe they will not live to adulthood anyway, so they sell drugs, kill others, and create a major issue for law enforcement as they also terrorize whole communities in order to protect their business. Law enforcement is often corrupted by the huge amounts of money involved in the drug trade, which adds to the problem.

3. The American system is a system of laws passed by Congress, with reference as well to common law, precedent, and court decisions. The system is a secular one, with laws passed by human agencies and then adjudicated by citizens and professionals together in a courtroom where the innocence of the accused is assumed until proven otherwise. This system is not found all over the world. It is based on the British system to a large extent, reshaped by the Founding Fathers and subsequent generations around certain basic assumptions about the source of law being the people.

An Islamic system such as that in Saudi Arabia is based on a very different conception both of law and of trials. The system in Saudi Arabia is based on Islamic law, with some basis in the Qur'an and the Sunna of Prophet Muhammad. These texts are cited as the source for the theory of punishment. Both texts contain basic rules and commands that are usually expressed in a broad manner and that are frequently capable of varying interpretations. Various variant theories of Islamic law have been formed, with many books having been written by scholars of these different theories. The system has changed over time. In the classical conception, Islamic criminal law recognizes six major offenses, each of which has a penalty prescribed in fixed terms in the Qur'an or the Sunna, and these offenses are known as the offenses of hudud. The six offenses generally seen as offenses of hudud are the drinking of alcohol, theft, armed robbery, illicit sexual relations, slanderous accusation of unchastity, and apostasy. Aside from retaliation of qisas, which is the punishment for homicide and injury, all other offenses are punished in the Islamic penal system by discretionary punishments known as ta'zir.

The penal policy is based largely on deterrence and retribution and is characterized by certainty and speed in practice. This contrasts with the case of the United States, where the penal philosophy (governed by positive law) is based primarily on offender rehabilitation and the administration of justice and where the process is rather slow and uncertain. Many Americans see the Saudi system as harsh and in some ways arbitrary, but the American system at the same time has been moving more toward a punishment model than a rehabilitation model.

According to Nettler, terrorism displays six characteristics, as follows:

1) Terrorists recognize no rules and perceive no moral limitations on the type or degree of violence they use.

2). Terrorist do not recognize the concpet of innocents and so make no distinctions between soldiers and civilians, children and adults.

3). Terrorists see their actions in temrs of economym for by killing one, they frighten 10,000.

4). Terrorists seem publicity, and at the same time, publicity encourages terrorism.

Terrorists gain meaning from their actions, meaning for lives which otherwise might have no meaning or significance.

6) Terrorism involves no clarity beyond the immediate aim of destructive acts, and any long-term goals of terrorists are likely to be poorly conceived or impossible to implement.

Terrorism has had a long history as different groups have fought back against governments and societies, using what they could muster to challenge a much bigger foe. In the Twentieth Century, terrorism was associated with totalitarian regimes first as the actions of those regimes and then in the actions of opponents of those regimes and even of legitimate governments. The major source of terrorist action in the last few decades has been tensions in the Middle East because of the creation of Israel and the fact that that territory was taken from other entities. Terrorism results when a disaffected group sees no other way to get what it wants, and governments fight terrorism as an…[continue]

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