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Politics in States and Communities (15 Ed.)Thomas Dye and Susan MacManus Edited by Bob Botsch
Chapter 9 Courts, Crime, and Correctional Policy
Learning Objectives Outline the role of the courts in the policymaking process, and describe how the policymaking style of the courts is distinct from those of the legislative and the executive branches. Explain the litigious nature of the United States, and assess efforts at tort reform. Discuss the gradual expansion of individual rights, and compare the roles of the national and state judicial systems in protecting individual rights. Describe the structure of the state court systems. Compare and contrast the five methods used for selecting judges in the states; describe their status, race, gender, and party affiliation; and explain the processes for disciplining state judges. Explain how judicial decisions are made in both state trial and supreme courts, and compare judicial activism and judicial restraint. Trace crime rates in the states over time, compare crime rates across states, and describe juvenile and hate crimes. Examine the various law enforcement agencies that operate in our states and communities. Describe the law enforcement, peacekeeping, and service provider functions of law enforcement; compare the proactive and reactive approaches to police activity; and assess the role of the citizen in law enforcement. Explain the role of the prosecutor in the judicial system, evaluate whether prosecutorial discretion and plea bargaining yield desirable outcomes, and assess the effectiveness of grand juries as a check on prosecutors. Examine the extent to which the American population is jailed or otherwise under the supervision of the judicial system; explain differences in incarceration rates among states; assess the effectiveness of deterrence, rehabilitation, parole, and probation; and analyze the causes and consequences of prison overcrowding. Trace the history of the death penalty in the United States, compare capital punishment across the states, and analyze whether the United States should continue to have the death penalty. © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Politics of JusticeCourts are “political” institutions b/c they attempt to resolve conflicts Like legislative and executive institutions, courts make public policy in the process of resolving conflicts Some of the nation’s most important policy decisions have been determined and/or modified by courts E.g. eliminating racial segregation, ensuring the separation of church and state, defining the rights of criminal defendants, establishing and limiting the right to abortion, and guaranteeing individual voters an equal voice in government © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Court Terms You Should KNowCase: Court matter involving two disputing parties Defendant: The accused party Plaintiff: The accusing party Prosecutor: The attorney acting on behalf of the government in a criminal case Statutory law: Laws passed by legislatures Common law: Legal traditions made by judges Civil cases: Disputes that do not involving law-breaking Liability: Legal responsibility for damages caused by civil wrongdoing © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
More Court Terms Felony: A serious violation of criminal law with prison >/= one year Misdemeanor: A crime punishable by a fine or short jail sentence Pain and suffering: Added compensation for a victim beyond actual medical care, lost wages, etc. Punitive damage awards: Multiples of the actual damage found, designed to punish firms or persons found to be at fault Joint and several liability: Legal responsibility for full damages regardless of the degree of contribution to harm Tort: A legal harm caused by civil wrongdoing Loser pays law: Requirement that the losing party in a civil suit pay the legal fees of the winning party © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
The “Lawyering” of AmericaThe U.S.—the world’s most litigious society The rise in the number of lawsuits corresponds to the rise in the number of attorneys—question of causal direction? Around 15 million civil cases filed each year Highest median damage awards: med malpractice & product liability Lawsuits may involve: Expanded liability—creates market for liability insurance Contingency fees basis for lawyer costs Third-party suits—”deep pockets” “Pain and suffering” and “punitive” awards “Joint and several” liability—collect entire award from anyone involved Alternative dispute resolution—e.g. mediation/arbitration © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Tort Reform A tort is a civil wrong or injury case involving private parties in which courts provide a remedy in the form of damages Most common reforms: 1) capping awards for pain and suffering, 2) eliminating punitive damage awards, 3) restricting the fees that lawyers can subtract from the total award, 4) ending the rule of joint and several liability, and 5) “loser pays” rule Supported by insurance companies, product manufacturers, and physicians and hospitals Opposed by trial lawyers, consumer advocates, environmentalists © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Judicial Federalism The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article VI) ensures federal constitution supersedes state constitutions state courts may not limit federal constitutional guarantees But state constitutions cover many more topics and may add individual rights not found in the U.S. Constitution Judicial federalism refers to state courts’ authority to interpret their own states’ constitutional guarantees to expand upon those in the U.S. Constitution © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Judicial Federalism Nationalizing the Bill of Rights: Since the 1920s the U.S. Supreme Court has said states and all their subdivisions are bound by the Bill of Rights (“selective incorporation” via 14th amendment) Extending personal liberties by state courts: equality in school finance, right to sodomy under privacy, pay for abortions for poor, nude go-go dancing, right to hunt Judicial policy divergence: loss in predictability and stability, but expansion in individual rights that eventually get to U.S. Supreme Court © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Incorporation of the Bill of Rights© Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Structure of Court SystemsMinor trial courts: Of limited jurisdiction, such as traffic, family, and small claims courts Major trial courts: Of general jurisdiction, such as district, circuit, and criminal courts Juries: Trial (petit) and grand: Petit juries determine guilty or innocent; grand juries investigate and indict The public defender: Provided by the state if accused cannot afford a lawyer Appellate courts: District courts and state supreme courts Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court: On federal constitutional grounds © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
State and Local Court Structure© Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Making of a Judge Appointment: Removes selection of judges from party politics Interim appointment: Used when a judgeship is vacant Election: Incumbent judges have huge advantage Appointment-retention judicial election plan: Combination approach Moderate Status: too low to attract lawyers from high-paying firms Gender and race: Women and minorities are underrepresented Party affiliation: Judges often refuse to identify Disciplining and removing judges: Most commonly by commissions Competition in judicial elections: Historically, very little—increasing! © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Selection of State Court Justices and Judges© Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Selection of State Court Judges (cont’d.)© Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Money In Judicial Elections© Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Judicial Decision MakingTrial courts: Most visible area of trial judge discretion is sentencing Supreme courts: Most decision making involves economic interests Partisanship in state courts: Correlates more at supreme court than at lower court level Judicial activism versus restraint: Recent trend toward activism Liberals, conservatives, and judicial activism: Tendency for liberal judges to be more activist than conservative—depends on status quo © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Crime in the States Trends in crime rates: Dramatic rise , but mostly declining since then—demographics! Variations: Generally higher crime rates in southern and coastal states, more mobile populations, cities that have lost population Juvenile crime: Most is committed by year olds Hate crimes: About 260,000 annually, 1 percent of all crimes Victimization: Rates suggest official crime rates are understated Judicial officials under attack: Situation has worsened in recent years © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Crime Rates in the U.S. © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Crime Rate and Incarceration Rate
Police Protection in the States: #’sNationally, there are more than 800,000 full-time sworn police officers 13,000 local police departments 3,083 county sheriff departments 9% of police officers work for state 31% for counties 60% for city © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Police Protection and Death Rates of Law Enforcement and Corrections Officers
Police and Law EnforcementPolice “culture”: Biggest factor is attitude of people involved Police and crime reduction: Number of officers only one factor Community policing: More proactive, officers walk the streets Police crackdowns: Need community support to work “Broken Windows”: More arrests for petty offenses Citizen surveillance: Safety versus privacy: Public more willing to accept cameras than drones Citizen action: Has risen dramatically over last decade Police efficiency: Clearance rates for arrests, not convictions © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Politics of ProsecutionProsecutor’s discretion: Whether to prosecute, and on more or less serious charges The role of grand juries: Follow the recommendations of prosecutors in over 98% of the cases presented to them Plea bargaining: In 90% of cases guilty pleas are before judge and not jury Making bail: a key step that almost predetermines whether one takes a plea bargain b/c of life disruption © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
State Prisons and Correctional PoliciesPrisoners in the states: reflects the state’s crime rate The failure (and rebirth) or rehabilitation: Trend away from punishment Sentencing: Trend away from determinate, due to prison overcrowding Prison overcrowding: Longer sentences, higher crime rate Early releases: An effort to relieve overcrowded prisons The 85 percent solution: Felons must serve at least 85% of sentence Building more prisons: Incarceration cost tradeoff is with cost of crime “Three Strikes You’re Out”: Popular with public but can overcrowd prisons Probation and parole: Effective or not?: Evidence is mixed © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Death Penalty Furman v. Georgia and unfair application: 1972 Supreme Court ruling banned death penalty as it was then being used The death penalty reinstated: States rewrote laws for more fairness No death penalty for the mentally challenged and juveniles: Supreme Court says would be “cruel and unusual punishment” Few executions: In recent years about 40 to 50 annually Who’s on death row?: 43% white, 42% African American Methods of executions: All but Nebraska use lethal injection Moratoriums, abandonments, and reinstatements: DNA evidence © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Changing Attitudes toward the Death Penalty© Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
Death Penalty Laws in the States© Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
On the Web Cornell University site of Supreme Court cases U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics Federal Bureau of Investigation FindLaw Cases and Codes © Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
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