Challenges Facing the Criminal Justice System in America in the Next Five Years – CJUS 330

Identify the three (3) most important challenges facing the criminal justice system in America in the next five (5) years. Describe why the challenges you have chosen should be of greatest concern to those working/ seeking to work in the field of criminal justice.

The criminal justice system grapples with a myriad of emerging challenges, chief among them being the danger posed by the Information Age, racial strife and overcrowding within state penitentiaries. The information Age marked a new era featuring the rise of the internet and permeation of social media platforms across varying spectrums of life. Although viewed by many as a positive development, social media is now identified as a major challenge facing the criminal justice system. Individuals have been known to abuse their freedom of speech while conversing with others online before going on to invoke the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (III, 2010, p. 34). 

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Court proceedings require a great deal of resources during trial and the period leading up to final deliberations. Any action detrimental to this process may result in wasted resources with negative implication. For instance, citizens are currently capable of recording their encounters with law enforcement officers and posting them on various social media platforms. A seemingly simple action such as posting a video recording of the defendant before their day in court ultimately affects the entire fidelity of the process. Furthermore, it may affect the juror’s opinions since they would be influenced by external factors as opposed to legal instructions provided by the presiding judge. This type of bias, thus, goes a long way in influencing juror’s stance before the final verdict is given. Similarly, the racial tensions witnessed within the United States poses an immediate threat to the criminal justice system. Individuals from minority groups now have a deep distrust for law enforcement agencies due to a sudden rise in cases linked racial profiling.

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According to Hucklesby & Wahidin (2013), racial tensions impede the entire criminal justice system and the gains made within the past decade (p.34). It is for this reason that experts suggest community policing as viable alternative bound to improve relations across the board.  Also, the United States has the highest incarceration rate globally at 716 per 100,000 of its population (Prison Policy Initiative, 2019). Overcrowding is typical within state penitentiaries struggling to manage this ever-growing number. Although significant resources are allocated towards the management of these populations, numbers keep swelling posing a threat to the efficacy of the criminal justice system. Lengthy sentencing policies have resulted in a high incarceration rate, with a sizeable number of jails and prisons functioning well beyond their carrying capacity.

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