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Policy Analysis II

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Policy Analysis II Paper

August 14, 2015

J. Harden, B. Markus, B. Avaloz

CJA/464 Criminal Justice Policy Analysis

Matthew Kite

Introduction

In today’s society, certain policies that are put into place have had a major effect on the operations and decision-making process of the criminal justice system. One of which is the policy dealing with individuals who are caught with marijuana. The government has decided that they are going to change the law around when it comes to marijuana charges against someone. Instead of sending that person down to the precinct they are just going to be issued a summons. Making these changes will cut back on cost as well as get those officers out in the field to focus more on the more serious crimes. This does not mean that individuals cannot be brought up minor pot offences. There is a maximum number of grams that a person can carry on them and will not receive a summons for it. This decision was brought about to make a major shift in policing. Many were being arrested just on minor marijuana charges alone. Also, another policy that has affected the operations and decision-making process is the court policy regarding juvenile drug offenders. The criminal justice system has been trying to try alternatives when it comes to punishment for juveniles with drug charges. They believe in giving them a second chance at society because it was found that when a juvenile has to deal with a serious charge at a young age they tend to give basically up on life. With alternative programs, they are being "punished" but at the same time given a second chance at society. Certain cases are assigned to certain courts depending on the criteria that must be met during the drug court program which is determined according to the crime committed. Since this policy have come into effect, many of the programs are starting to emerge together.  Many believe that changes need to first be made within the criminal justice system to try to stop much of the crime that is happening with our youth. The criminal justice system has tried to implement different policies, and some have fallen through, and others were a success.  This paper will further analyze the decriminalization through policy implementation for arrest regarding marijuana as well as court policy regarding juvenile drug offenders.

Changes in Policy Within The Police Department and Juvenile Courts

We see changes in regulatory policy frequently pop up in society in response to growing public opinion or support for a particular issue. Most recently we have seen changes in the police departments and courts to address what can only be described as a growing interest in decriminalization, particularly involving marijuana possession or small nonviolent charges. Examples of this would be the New York police department (NYPD) recent policy change (November 2014) to leave it to the officers discretion to issue summons with up to $100 fines to anyone caught with 25 grams of marijuana or less, instead of the mandatory arrest that was previously done. This is expected to allow officers to focus on fighting other crimes as well as save the department in operating costs associated with the process of arresting, booking, and holding offenders. The decision does specify that people caught smoking marijuana will still be arrested, and people with active warrants will also of course be brought in but the policy in itself is a huge step for the NYPD to get with the growing social trend of decriminalizing small scale marijuana offenses to put less of a strain in our criminal justice system (Siff, 2014). It is also, I believe, a first step towards the eventual decriminalization of marijuana and reduced use of incarceration as the sole alternative when dealing with criminal offenders nationwide.

Another such policy change has been reflected in the courts system, particularly the juvenile courts system, with the implementation of juvenile drug court programs. Juvenile drug courts are intensive treatment programs targeting drug using juveniles brought in and it is administered and overseen by the local juvenile courts and their staff. Individual municipalities and states also set the criteria and conditions for sending juveniles, as well as what level of participation and future oversight of the juvenile will be required throughout the process and beyond (Cooper, 2001). This approach is a more preventive approach to juvenile crimes and how they translate to adult criminal behavior by trying to eliminate drug use in at trouble youth (drug use is very prevalent in adult criminal activity) as well as offer the youth much needed mentoring and assistance both through health services and educational and vocational training (Cooper, 2001).

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