The Adequacy of the Criminal Justice System
One of the more interesting aspects of studying political science is examining public policies to learn how and whether they work to achieve the goals that gave rise to them. Public interests are not well-served if public policies fail to respond adequately.
Relevant to the study of Texas government and politics are policies that address crime and punishment given that a sizable chunk of the state’s budget is allocated in this policy area. With an annual budget in excess of $3 billion, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice oversees a vast network of correctional facilities and expenses. Chapter 12 of the textbook describes criminal justice in Texas, and this information will help you understand the importance of this policy area.
Criminal justice reform has been a hot topic nationally and in Texas for several years, as you are learning. Disparities in sentencing, and overcrowded and violent jails and prisons prompted reforms here in Texas in the early 2000s. Recently, however, bail procedures, death penalty laws, and drug policies have placed criminal justice reform back on Texas’s policy agenda. For more information about the backdrop of criminal justice reform generally, please review:
https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/criminal-justice-reform-state-level (Links to an external site.)
Among the topics covered in the Brennan Center report, you learn that prosecutors enjoy considerable discretion over criminal cases. What do you know about the role of prosecutors? What assumptions do you have about them?
Watch this TED Talk presented by prosecutor, Adam Foss. Jot down a few notes and consider the importance of the prosecutor in the criminal justice system.
Adam Foss: A prosecutor’s vision for a better justice system
http://www.ted.com/talks/adam_foss_a_prosecutor_s_vision_for_a_better_justice_system (Links to an external site.)
After listening to this TED Talk and considering the Brennan Center and textbook information, you will prepare an essay in which you:
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