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SOC209H5 (126)
Chapter 2

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC209H5
Professor
Nathan Innocente
Semester
Fall

Description
SOC209 Week 3 Chapter 2 (Griffiths) Several Challenges that Confront the Justice System: Addressing the High Cost of Crime and Criminal Justice • Annual cost of operating criminal justice system is approximately $13 billion; majority of expenditures are associated with policing • Costs have been inflated by the increased focus on safety + security ($280 million anti-terrorism plan + additional $7.7 billion to improve security in air travel & to upgrade security along the Canada-US border) • Question: Do these expenditures contribute to the safety and security of Canadians? • There is no evidence that this has contributed to increased effectiveness, or efficiency, of the criminal justice system (ex: length of time to resolve cases in court has increased + provincial/territorial focus on deficit reduction  fewer resources) Ensuring “Justice” in a Multicultural Society • Conflicts (ex: wearing hijab while playing soccer; not wearing niqab while testifying; sharia law; polygamy as part of religion) Responding to Organized Crime and Terrorist Threats • Conflict theorists: criminal justice system was designed to respond to ‘traditional’types of crime (assault, break and enter, robbery, and homicide); overall rate of these crimes are declining • Criminal justice system is therefore being challenged by more sophisticated types of criminal activity (drug trafficking, illegal immigration, human trafficking, sexual slavery, computer crime, industrial espionage, money laundering, identity theft) • ‘Non-traditional’criminal activity carried out by organized crime syndicates (ex: Hells Angels – extend to international level) • Investigating and prosecuting these types of crime is expensive, time-consuming, and resource- intensive • Continuing threat of terrorist attacks (ex: Toronto 18) Meeting the Needs of Special Groups of Offenders • The justice system has been slow to develop sufficient treatment resources for high-needs offenders (ex: offenders with mental and developmental disorders) • Major gaps in programs and services for women offenders Adapting theAdministration of Justice to the Task of Environments of Criminal Justice • Task environment is the cultural, geographic, and community setting in which the criminal justice system operates and justice personnel make decisions Page 1 of 5 SOC209 Week 3 • Characteristics of a particular task environment influence the types of crime and social disorder justice system personnel are confronted with • Crime manifests itself differently in remote Arctic villages than in Vancouver (highest rates of violent crime are in Canada’s north) • Demographics of the area, local economic conditions, and ethnic mix combine to influence decisions Addressing Public Perceptions of Crime and the Criminal Justice System • Canadians overestimate the levels of crime and the rates of recidivism; underestimate the severity of punishment given to offenders; tend to believe that the criminal justice system is biased in favour of defendants • High levels of distrust of Canada’s criminal justice system • Public expresses high approval ratings of the police, but lower approval ratings of judges and lawyers • Strong support for treatment and prevention programs • General perception: crime prevention being more cost-effective than law enforcement in addressing crime problems + criminal courts being too lenient • Trust in criminal justice system influenced by: - Type of contact the person polled has had with the system; neighbourhood disorder may be viewed as the responsibility of the police (unrealistic expectations) - Police is the most visible component of the justice system • Perceptions of crime and the risk of being victimized • Images of crime presented in the mass media (ex: sensationalizing heinous crimes) - Violent offences are overrepresented in media coverage - Disproportionate focus on sensational events - Crime stories rarely explore the causes of the crime - Media does this for ratings; public seems to have an insatiable appetite for crime & chaos (ex: crime shows) • Internet as a source of information • Criminal justice system has been slow to develop effective strategies to provide citizens with accurate & timely information & to counter the images of crime and criminal justice presented in the media • Attempts: cameras located in Supreme Court of Canada Increasing Community Involvement in the Prevention and Response to Crime Page 2 of 5 SOC209 Week 3 • History: increasing centralization of the authority and responsibility for preventing and responding to crime • Only significant involvement of community residents: serving on juries • Public dependence on the criminal justice system: - Public fails to take responsibility - Public fails to understand the limitations on what the criminal justice system can realistically achieve - Public fails to learn what role it can play • Community policing – visible manifestation of communities participating in addressing crime and social disorder; emergence of restorative justice • Figure 2.2: Consequences of Unmet Expectations (Pg. 44) • Volunteer positions throughout the criminal justice system (ex: university + college students; working in partnership with police services) • Gov’ts may have taken advantage of volunteers in the justice system to cut funding for full-time positions
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