Are criminal courts effective or ineffective? This is a big question that gets asked regularly about criminal courts, and is a big debate in many places, especially modern studies classrooms, this could help you with passing your Nat 5 modern studies exam as it is a big section of the course!
Effectiveness of criminal courts!
DETER PEOPLE FROM COMMITING CRIME
The first reason why criminal courts are effective is because they deter people from committing crimes. Courts imprison people, give out fines and many other punishments to people that commit a crime, therefore, this may deter people and put people off committing a crime because they do not want to get punished, just like people that have been sent to court for it. You could almost describe it as courts ‘scare’ potential perpetrators out of committing a crime.
For example, if someone saw that someone was punished with a fine for committing a hate crime, this may stop someone else from being racist or homophobic incase they also got a fine for it. If someone saw someone being imprisoned for committing an act of violence or arson, this would stop another from committing an act of violence or arson, etc.
KEEP THE PUBLIC SAFE
The next reason why courts are effective is because they keep the public safe. If someone murders another citizen of a wider society, the public often have fear and anxiety that the perpetrator could commit this crime again, effecting them. However, if a criminal court punishes the perpetrator by locking them away, the murderer cannot commit again and harm anyone else.
For example, a murderer cannot murder someone if the court has imprisoned them. Just like Aaron Campbell, he was imprisoned for 27 years, therefore was locked away for a while away and cannot commit his vile actions again.
PROVIDE JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OR LOVED ONES OF VICTIMS
The final reason why criminal courts are effective is because they provide justice for victims or the loved ones of victims. If someone is sent to court and is punished for their actions, the victims may feel a bit better after they know the perpetrator of the crime they experienced is facing the consequences of their actions.
For example, if someone has been murdered, the family of the victim may feel slightly more at ease after the perpetrator of the crime has been locked up and is suffering for what they done to their loved one.
Reasons why criminal courts are ineffective
One reason why criminal courts are ineffective is because the reoffending rates are so high. Even though someone has just suffered a period of time in jail, under brutal conditions, many still commit a crime when they are released. This could be because they feel the need to as they are in poverty or just as they have not learned from past mistakes.
For example, in less than 12 months, over 30 percent of released prisoners end up reoffending and back in jail as they have been released and end up committing another crime.
THE NON PROVEN VERDICT
Another reason why the courts are ineffective is because the not proven guilty verdict. Even if the courts feel that a criminal is guilty, and they think that they have committed a crime, the courts may not have enough on the person, or do not have enough evidence to actually prove that they have committed the crime. However, there has been talk in Scotland about abolishing the non proven verdict, and having it become a straight yes or no answer.
For example, one in five rape trials end in a not proven guilty verdict, and the perpetrator gets away as the court can not gather enough evidence to imprison the perpetrator.
NOT ENOUGH JUSTICE IS BEING PROVIDED
A final reason why criminal courts are ineffective is because some feel that there is no where near enough justice being provided. In Scotland, life imprisonment is not putting someone away for the rest of their life, therefore people, especially victims and family’s or loved ones of victims may feel disgusted or even be in fear and anxious about this, as they are scared they will be released and commit a crime again.
For example, even after his vile and cruel actions to six year old Alisha McPhail, Aaron Campbell only got sent to prison for 27 years, meaning after this period of time he will likely be released, which will cause fear among society.
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