The reform of the criminal justice system in the United States is a matter of critical importance, considering the inequalities identified in the system (Austin and Krisberg, 1981). The very fact that a fifth of the world’s inmates are being held in custody in the United States is a sobering topic that draws attention to the seriousness of the matter. Moreover, looking at America’s prison system, and the high percentage of prisoners of color who are basically the worst and most racially discriminated, sheds light on the shortcomings of the justice system. The high rate of incarceration of young people below 21 years of age and condemning them to a life of hardships and poverty instead of looking at ways to reform and mold them into better citizens shows another crack in the system. I support the authors and the speaker’s assertion that there are disparities in the system and it’s about time that there was meaningful criminal Justice Reform as the current system is clearly not effective.
Criminal Justice Reform is important to the society as the current system judged by the high number of prisoners and especially people of color is evidence of racial injustices and minority people neglect (Coleen, 2016). Marla Peterson states that criminal justice entails human justice and if so is he not human? He cites that the high rate of gun violence evidenced among people of color is just a show of underlying traumas (Peterson, 2016). Further, that the black community struggle with poverty results in a mean show of survival. According to Harvard law School Professor Carol Steiker, the biggest societal changes in the past 40 years has been the ever rising numbers of people in the prisons that currently pits the United States with a quarter of the world’s prisoners.
Criminal Justice Reform affects different groups across society and exhibits a multi effect on different issues. First and foremost the high rate of young people incarceration is the exact opposite of appropriate rehabilitation measures as proven science has exhibited the dangers evidenced in brain development in such cases. A study undertaken by Devah Pager, a Harvard Professor of Sociology and Public Policy in 2001 and 2004 shows a variety of effects of the current justice system. First, that hiring outcomes were largely influenced by a criminal record in that one was half as likely to get a job with a prison record. That black people had equal chance with a white person who had a prison record in terms of landing a job showing the impact that mass incarceration had on the overall black community.
After reading on Criminal Justice Reform I think the best option would be to educate others on the topic and generally sensitize others as to the possible solutions available to reform the system. Solutions such as ending mandatory sentences and leaving it to the judge discretion with a wide list of possible rehabilitation would be a fantastic way to start. The extension of the age-limit of Juvenile courts to 21 years of age would go a long way to preserving our young generation. Measures such as post-prison job support would ensure that once a person is out of jail, one does not resort to criminal activities. Further, the high number of people in the prison system just because they cannot post bail is a worrying trend and measures such as issuance of bail based on ones circumstances would be revolutionary.
Austin, J., & Krisberg, B. (1981). NCCD research review: Wider, stronger, and different nets: The dialectics of criminal justice reform. Journal of research in crime and delinquency, 18(1), 165-196.
Coleen Walsh. (2016). The costs of inequality: A goal of justice, a reality of unfairness. HARVARD gazette. Retrieved from
Peterson, M. (2016). Am I not human? A call for criminal justice reform. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/marlon_peterson_am_i_not_human_a_call_for_criminal_justice_reform