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Free «Proseminar in Criminal Justice» Essay Sample

The Dual-Court System

The dual-court system refers to a system whereby a nation has two distinct court systems making up its judiciary i.e. the federal and state courts. The United States has a dual-court system with both the federal and state courts, which are independent in their operations (Anonymous, 2012). The federal courts deal with civil and criminal cases involving federal laws and policies, as well as, cases on special subjects such as Federal Tax or Bankruptcy. Cases of federal courts begin at the level of District Courts, then to the federal courts of appeal within the circuits, after which they go to the Supreme Court. The state courts, on the other hand, deal with criminal and civil cases involving state laws like contracts, divorce, real estate and custody cases among others. Cases of state courts are initially heard in trial courts, followed by state appellate courts, then to the state supreme courts (Anonymous, 2012). It is important to mention that the federal courts cannot hear cases of state courts unless there is a federal law issue involved. In addition, federal court cases also can never be heard by the state courts.



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Reason for Having a Dual-Court System in America

Courts form a crucial part of the criminal justice system in America. The dual-court system has been very instrumental in separating federal matters from state matters, thus it has increased the effectiveness of dealing with various cases (Anonymous, 2012). It is vital to mention that if only a single court system was in place, it would have a huge burden of hearing and making decisions on all state and federal matters in all locations throughout the United States, and this would lead to various cases taking a relatively longer time to be handled, which consequently, may reduce the court’s effectiveness and affect the quality of decisions they make. Therefore, the U.S. state and federal courts keep each other in check to ensure that various cases are handled effectively and fairly (Anonymous, 2012).

Unification of the American Courts towards a Monolithic Court System and Its Effectiveness

A monolithic court system refers to a system in which a single central court system governs the entire nation. For instance, if the United States were to have this kind of system, then, the federal courts would have total jurisdiction over every state, and consequently, states will no longer have the power to create their own laws (Waqar, 2012). I do not think that the drive towards unifying the courts in America would in the end result in a monolithic court system. This is because different cases are better understood and handled by the respective courts and having only one court system to handle all the cases would not only cause chaos, but also compromise the quality of court decisions. For instance, state courts have a better understanding of local affairs and therefore, can handle them better than federal courts. Therefore, the drive towards merging the federal and state courts would only result in a confused and ineffective judicial system.

I do not think that a monolithic court system would prove effective in America; in fact, it would be catastrophic. It is worthwhile to note that currently every state has a right to make, interpret and implement its own laws (Waqar, 2012). A monolithic court system would mean that federal courts have complete authority over all states, including imposing federal laws on them regardless of their individual state laws. As a result, there would be a conflict between states and federal courts, especially those states that would not want federal laws being imposed on them (Waqar, 2012).

Sentencing Goals

Crime has been in existence since time immemorial and with crime the need to penalize criminals arose. The criminal justice system is facing constant changes and consequently, there is no standard method of sentencing and punishing criminals (Manuer, 1996). Sentencing goals are at all times under close examination and are also constantly changing. Some of the goals include incapacitation, deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation and restoration among others. Persons who break the law and commit crimes ought to be held accountable for their actions either by serving a jail term or paying a fine or both (Manuer, 1996). Therefore, my main goal of sentencing a criminal would be to punish them for their mistakes. The rationale behind punishment is to make criminals realize that they are wrong, and if possible, they should change for the better. Another goal of sentencing criminals is deterrence. Deterrence directly shows the punishment an individual would receive for breaking a particular law; thus, it prevents crime via instilling fear of being punished (Renter, 2008). Therefore, the rationale behind deterrence is to prevent both criminals and would-be criminals from engaging in illegal acts for fear of being punished. If I were a judge, I would also aim at rehabilitating criminals to help them live a normal lifestyle, free from criminal acts. The rationale behind rehabilitation is to provide criminals with a second chance to change their lives and impact the society positively (Renter, 2008).

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A Circumstance That Might Warrant a Change in My Sentencing Goals

The case of a person that is a serial killer or rapist and shows no remorse for his actions and continues to commit the same crime after being released from prison, would make me consider having another sentencing goal: incapacitation. This is because such a person is highly likely never change and therefore, locking him up in a controlled environment to restrain him from causing further harm to people would be the best option.


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