Public administration plays an important role in the life of every community. If administration is ineffective, the community will not likely to prosper. By contrast, when the administration is effective, there are greater opportunities for community to succeed economically, socially, and culturally. This paper is an attempt to outline the principles of public administration system in a fictional island.
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The island will be governed on the principles of democracy. At this point democracy seems to be the best way in which a country can be governed. Indeed, history and present situation in the world suggest that in most cases countries that value democratic principles are more successful politically and economically. One of the most important principles of democracy is that the population should have real influence on the government. Such influence is achieved, among others, by elections. Therefore, the government of the island will be elected. To specify, the head of the island will be a governor, who will be elected by the citizens of the island. Each town (community) will be headed by a mayor, who will be elected by the inhabitants of a town (community). Another important principle of democracy is a division of powers into executive, legislative and judicial. The island’s governor will be the head of the executive branch. Mayors will be also representatives of the executive branch. The island’s Council will be the own legislative body, e.g. the only body entitled to pass laws covering the entire island. The representatives of the Council will be elected once in four years. The governor will have to have the support of the Council to implement important decisions, such as the introduction of new taxes and charges, decisions involving budget questions and so on.
While considering what kind of judicial system should be established in the island, it is a good idea to look at the examples of other small jurisdictions. In particular, judicial system in the island could be built on the same principles as the judicial system in Rhode Island. Thus, as well as in Rhode Island, the island should have its Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will be the highest judicial body. In other words, the Supreme Court will be the island’s court of last resort. It will have absolute appellate jurisdiction over the issues of equity and law. Furthermore, the Supreme Court will have supervisory powers over the lower courts. Also the Supreme Court will bear general advisory responsibility to legislative and executive powers regarding the constitutionality of legislation. Finally, the Supreme Court will have an authority to regulate admission to the island bar. The composition of the Supreme Court will be as follows: a Chief Justice and four Justices. A Chief Justice at the same time will be an executive head of the judicial branch of power. It is logical to assign a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as a head of the judicial branch, since the Supreme Court will be the highest judiciary body. Thus, the head of the highest judiciary body is the head of the entire judicial branch of government.
Apart from the Supreme Court, the judicial branch will also include the Superior Court. This court will be authorized to hear civil as well as criminal matters. The civil matters will be heard in the Superior court if the amount of a dispute exceeds $10,000. As far as criminal matters are concerned, the Superior Court will have an authority to hear felony cases. Finally, the Superior court will decide on the appeals from the District Court. The District Court will be the first-instance court. The District Court will hear civil disputes which involve the amount of $10,000 or less. The District Court also will have a jurisdiction over criminal cases. However, the idea is that the Superior Court and the District Court should not have a concurrent jurisdiction. Therefore, since the Superior Court will hear felony cases, the District Court will have an authority over misdemeanor cases. In this context, misdemeanors are criminal offences, which are punishable by incarceration up to one year or fines not exceeding $1,000. Jury trials will be available in misdemeanor and felony cases. In other words, there will be jury trials in the Superior Court and in the District Court.
The island’s law enforcement will be maintained at two levels: the island’s level and towns’ level. In other words, there will be island agencies and town agencies. Thus, there will be the Island Police Department which will play the role of a central body in the law enforcement system. The Island Police Department will be headed by a Commissioner. Town police departments will be accountable to the island Police Department. At the same time, the town police departments will have significant authority. In other words, the system of police organization will be based on the principles of decentralization. Such an approached proved to be effective in the case of the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Thus, in the 1990s the NYPD experienced dramatic reforms known as the COMPSTAT process. The reform suggested that the organizational structure of the police department should be based on the territorial division, instead of a functional one (Willis et al, 2003). The reform implied that territorial units should also include specialists in certain types of crime. In simple terms, there reform foresaw integration of territorial and specialist functions. In result of the aforementioned reformed the NYPD became much more effective and crime rates declined considerably. In a word, the principles introduced by the COMPSTAT proved their effectiveness. Considering this positive experience, I would take the same approach in the island. While town police departments will be provided with great accountability, they will also receive all necessary authority and resources.
Dealing with Criminal Offenders
In dealing with criminal offenders, the island authorities will rely on the restorative justice concept. According to Cormier (2006) restorative justice represents “an approach to justice that focuses on repairing the harm caused by crime while holding the offender responsible for his or her actions, by providing an opportunity for the parties directly affected by crime – victim(s), offender and community – to identify and address their needs in the aftermath of a crime, and seek a resolution that affords healing, reparation and reintegration, and prevents future harm.” In other words, the central idea of restorative justice is correction and rehabilitation but not a punishment. One of the main features of the restorative justice approach is that it relies on informal methods of dealing with post-offence behavior. Thus, in the island, people guilty of misdemeanor in most cases will be treated beyond the “official” criminal justice system. In other words, the idea is that those who committed minor crimes will take part in various restorative justice community programs, rather than serve their sentence in jail. In order to implement the restorative justice approach the island government will support various community programs. There can be a variety of restorative justice community programs. However, the main aim of these programs should be to achieve a restorative outcome.
The main reasons for adopting the restorative justice concept are: (1) it is less costly, since it does not heavily rely on official criminal justice institutions; and (2) reparation and restoration seem to be a more fair principle rather than punishment for violation of the established order.
The public administration in the island will be based on a division of powers into legislative, executive and judicial. The legislative power will be represented by the Council. The governor of the island will be the head of the executive power. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will be the head of the judicial system. The Judiciary of the island will consist of the Supreme Court, the Superior Court and the District Court. The law enforcement system will have two levels: island (state) and town. Town police departments will be provided by great authorities and resources. At the same time the accountability of town police departments also will be great. Finally, dealing with criminal offenders will be based on principles of restorative justice.
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