Ohio Corrections Through Just Desserts  Essay

  • Length: 11 pages
  • Sources: 6
  • Subject: Criminal Justice
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #11263849

Excerpt from Essay :

This highlights one of the clearest philosophical drawbacks for a correctional focus which is geared toward incapacitation. Indeed, we might regard this as an example where 'just desserts' might be an approach affiliated with the overlooked demands of Pittman's case. Particularly, we can see by the language which was used to convict him, the Pittman's case incited an interest in incapacitation based on the sense that his crimes presented a clear threat to society were he not contained. In the case of Pittman, we may make the argument that his crimes are significant enough to warrant the use of incapacitation. However, from a precedent standpoint, it is a disturbing indication of the individual and systemic flexibility given to members of the judiciary to evaluate the viability of trying a minor as an adult. The clear psychological, emotional and experiential differences between developing and developed individuals suggests that there is a clear and rational philosophical underpinning to the maintenance of a distinction between minor and adult. This is, more than anything else, a demonstration of the importance in establishing a philosophical grounding on a statewide basis with inherently protective conditions. The notion of just desserts recommends a correctional approach that is properly commensurate with the details of the crime, including the contextual and biographical elements of importance. This grounding would demand that sentencing answer to such matters as the age of the defendant and the likely impact of this and related conditions on the current and future emotional state.

This is why a core element of correctional philosophy is one which calls a number of relevant organizations in to play where shaping the approach is concerning. The multi-agency correctional framework denotes a reliance upon inter-locking public, community-based and governmental groups in defining this philosophy. This ensures that policy groups with concern toward civil liberties and the proper measure of justice and mercy are at the same table as those with concerted interest in law and order.

A fine example of this balance in the context of juvenile sentencing may be found in a proposal from 2001 which began Ohio's improved orientation toward the establishment of nuanced correctional options for minors. This would represent a significant change from the uni-dimensional orientation nature of judiciary sentencing for minors, with a focus on created distinct and varying paths of sentencing to allow for the more accurate distribution of just desserts.

That change was RECLAIM (Reasoned and Equitable Community and Local Alternatives to the Incarceration of Minors) Ohio, a nationally recognized funding program for juvenile offenders that encourages courts to develop or purchase a range of community-based sentencing options." (Corrections Today, 1) by demanding that individuals who have committed crimes but are yet young enough to experience some degree of personal growth beyond the conditions precipitating criminality engage the communities which they have adversely impacted, we stand a greater chance of one day returning them to this population. This seems to be a practical application of the multi-agency approach to framing corrections, and particularly the distribution of just desserts, insofar as it demands the incorporation of community-based groups and traditional penal agencies.

Additionally, in such modes of multi-agency orientation, it becomes increasingly apparent that there is somewhat of a momentum toward this level of coordination, stimulated by the sense that government bureaucracies in their current form are generally slow and ineffective in meeting needs for change. There is an impression amongst its advocates that multi-agency collaboration will light the way to a more dynamic orientation for such systems as criminal justice, which might be seen as appropriately scaled for the scope of the responsibilities under its jurisdiction but poorly oriented toward proper information sharing or collaboration with external groups such as the community agencies called for here above..

In pursuing a fuller discussion here on the causes for a general endorsement of more effective multi-agency functionality, it should be understood that when we speak of multi-agency collaboration in the context of criminal justice, there is a foundational interest in applying checks and balances to an aspect of governance quite often impacted negatively by sharp divisions between systems. Particularly, legislative, enforcement-based, judicial, penal and parole-based agencies will often have little direct engagement even as they independently pursue common ends within a large systemic context. This may mean that the undue dominance of influence by one branch over another may hold criminal justice subject to inconsistencies. For example, if we are to allow law enforcement to practice without acknowledgment of legislative changes to the process, or without oversight by eventual judicial proceeding, than we hold those subject to law enforcement engagement also subject to the discretion of an agency disaffected from constitutional or regulatory conditions. A similar obstruction to the protection of individual rights may occur where an absence of agency collaboration allows legislative policy to undermine all other -- typically more sustained and consistent -- agencies of law enforcement. In such instances, lawmakers may likely be influenced by the political pressures which are part and parcel of public office-holding. Where such occurs, a failure of the criminal justice system to apply appropriate checks and balances through close coordination with legislative bodies may create the undue influence of political opportunity on the application of criminal justice. The victim here is the defendant, who loses an opportunity for evaluation with nuance in criminal proceedings.

Contrarily, a multi-agency scenario will involve all interested parties in the deliberation over a specific aspect of the delegation of criminal justice. In many of the examples encountered by our research, sentencing is one area in which the involvement of differing agencies will tend to reflect an opportunity for the contribution of all interested branches of the justice administration system. Under such terms, "the legislature, sentencing commission and parole board, prosecutors, defenders, courts, and corrections officials all share power over sentencing decisions, and thus serve as a check on each other (Frase, 2000). Reforms such as mandatory minimum sentencing tend to unduly concentrate power in the legislature and the prosecution." (Law Library, 1) as noted above, this is ultimately an outcome which will suggest the failure of the criminal justice system to properly protect the rights of the subject to prosecution, which we might characterize as a conflict equally as troubling as the failure of the justice system to properly prosecute those guilty of offences. To this latter end, we distinguish between the multiagency framework as a channel for the application of just desserts, which does still argue in favor of the application of punishment that is at least measured according to the offense, and something such as restorative justice. This is an approach which by contrast tends to indulge in the progressive optimism that forced confrontation between victim and perpetrator, and the application of reparations or some other form of compensation for the victim, with have a corrective impact on the dynamic created by the crime. This is, from the perspective applied here, an approach which removes too great a share of the authority from the state itself, which we recognize is necessary but must be diversified.

In either instance, there remains today a relative detachment between many mutually relevant organizations that is primarily a product of insufficiently delegated government responsibility. Indeed, one of the continuing hindrances to multi-agency collaboration is the issue of resource availability. With regard to man-power, economic resource and jurisdictional entitlement, it is often quite difficult for differing bureaucracies to come together to the achievement of a shared goal. It is crucial that in conjunction with local and level correctional bodies, that Ohio as a state reinforce its confidence in the orientation of such agencies and the practicability of their legislation by endowing such organizations with the proper range of resources necessary to carry out initiatives and responsibilities with efficiency. This, of course, requires an intimate cognizance and collaboration with such agencies in the interest of properly defining resource needs. Stated resources will include proper funding for facilities, personnel, technological and communicational resources and other such elements required for an inter-dynamic correctional administrative capacity congruent with the needs of the public which it is designed to serve. While it is the case the policing agencies, judiciary bodies and penal systems largely share the goals of doling out justice and properly accounting for the retribution or treatment suited to specific criminal behaviors, it is not common to find a context in which these shared goals are collaboratively recognized or achieved. This is because it is unusual for any sort of systemic oversight to exist which might coordinate the efforts of criminal justice agencies. As our discussion demonstrates, first and foremost is the demand for the establishment of a unified philosophy based on the philosophy of just desserts.

And indeed, there is evidence that a model based on this idea of multi-agency coordination is not unprecedented. In…

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