Asphalt Justice: A Critique of the Criminal Justice System in America

Asphalt Justice: A Critique of the Criminal Justice System in America

Asphalt Justice: A Critique of the Criminal Justice System in America

Asphalt Justice: A Critique of the Criminal Justice System in America

Excerpt

The genesis of this book lies in a time when I served as a psychologist working with adjudicated juvenile delinquents and gang members. The agency for which I was employed was officially responsible for the incarceration and rehabilitation of a large number of juveniles and young adults. It was during this time that I was able to witness first hand the utter lack of direction and the inappropriate efforts that are rife within the criminal justice system. At first I was under the impression that I had landed in a particularly inept system. However, subsequent discussion with other psychologists at various institutions across the nation and further examination of the system as a whole led me to conclude that there was little unique about the situation in which I found myself.

The degree of the problem became apparent with the filing of a class action suit on behalf of the individuals in custody. This lawsuit sought to address the numerous flaws in that system through legal remedies. Efforts taken during the course of these legal actions had the unintended effect of allowing a view into the culture that pervades both the juvenile and the adult criminal justice system. The insight into these systems led to the conclusion that there is an underlying systemic problem that prevents viable solutions to criminal behavior from getting a fair hearing. In fact, the problem is far deeper and serious, with the criminal justice system serving as a factor that exacerbates societal problems rather than alleviating them.

The culture that exists within the criminal justice system is one that works at cross-purposes to itself. The one-dimensional emphasis on punishment and the “get tough” approach that dominates current thinking in . . .

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