Portal:Criminal justice

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Criminal justice is the system of practices, and organizations, used by national and local governments, directed at maintaining social control, deterring and controlling crime, and sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation. The primary agencies charged with these responsibilities are law enforcement (police and prosecutors), courts, defense attorneys and local jails and prisons which administer the procedures for arrest, charging, adjudication and punishment of those found guilty. When processing the accused through the criminal justice system, government must keep within the framework of laws that protect individual rights. The pursuit of criminal justice is, like all forms of "justice", "fairness" or "process", essentially the pursuit of an ideal. Throughout history, criminal justice has taken on many different forms which often reflect the cultural mores of society.
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Opium harvesters
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is the international treaty against illicit drug manufacture and trafficking that forms the bedrock of the global drug control regime. Previous treaties had only controlled opium, coca, and derivatives such as morphine and heroin. The Single Convention, adopted in 1961, consolidated those instruments and broadened their scope to include cannabis and allow control of any drugs with similar effects to those specified in the treaty. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the World Health Organization were empowered to add, remove, and transfer drugs among the treaty's four Schedules of controlled substances. The International Narcotics Control Board was put in charge of administering controls on drug production, international trade, and dispensation. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime was delegated the Board's day-to-day work of monitoring the situation in each country and working with national authorities to ensure compliance with the Single Convention. This treaty has since been supplemented by the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which controls LSD, ecstasy, and other mind-altering pharmaceuticals, and the Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, which strengthens provisions against money laundering and other drug-related offenses.

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Empty jury box in an American courtroom
Credit: Ken Lund

A jury is a sworn body of persons convened to render a rational, impartial verdict and a finding of fact on a legal question officially submitted to them, or to set a penalty or judgment in a jury trial of a court of law. The word "jury" originates in Latin, from "juris"-law. In French, it became "juri" a law body. The petit jury or trial jury hears the evidence in a case and decides the disputed facts and usually consists of 12 jurors, although Scotland uses 15 jurors in criminal trials.

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Concert at a Free Mumia demonstration in Germany, 2007
Mumia Abu-Jamal (born Wesley Cook on April 24, 1954) was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner, and is currently a prisoner at State Correctional Institution - Greene near Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. In December 2001 a judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania affirmed the conviction but quashed his original punishment and ordered resentencing. Both Abu-Jamal and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania appealed. The case was orally argued before a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia on May 17, 2007, and is pending. His case has received international attention. Supporters and human rights campaigners variously assert that he is innocent, that he was set up, that he did not receive a fair trial, and/or oppose the death penalty. Opponents assert that he is guilty, that he received the benefit of due process and was legitimately convicted of murder. Execution proponents among these assert that under Pennsylvania law his eventual judicial execution is warranted and mandated by the nature of his crime. Prior to his arrest he was a Black Panther Party activist, cab driver, and journalist. During the period of his imprisonment he has courted controversy as an honoree of municipal, educational and civil society organizations, and as a spoken word commentator and published author of several works - most notably Live from Death Row.

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We don't seem able to check crime, so why not legalize it and then tax it out of business?
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