A policy is a guideline or protocol which governs the decisions made in a certain institution or country. Criminal justice policies are meant to govern all the decisions made within a criminal justices system. Decisions made in this system have a great impact on the lives of the individuals undergoing the justice system and therefore the policies in such a sector need to be made in a very careful manner. It is imperative for every person to understand the criminal justice policy making process it may affect them at one point of their lives(Althaus, et. al, 2007).
Policy development within the criminal justice system is meant to control crimes that occur at different levels in the society. It involves different parties which include the community, the professionals and politicians. For a good policy to be developed then it must take into consideration, ethical issues. Moreover it must be forward looking (stating the expected outcomes of the policy to be made). Additionally, it should take into considerations regional factors which may end up affecting its implementation. Additionally, it should be evidence based and considerate on the impact it will have on the people to which it will be implemented.
The process of creating a criminal justice policy is not a complex issue, yet it is not easy. It basically involves making a prediction on a certain condition in the future (assuming that the flow of events will remain uninterrupted), then projecting the future impact of a certain course of action, followed by identifying the better option amongst the available choices, and then generating a policy which bring into reality the preferred outcome and finally coming up with a system to monitor the implementation of the policy and its impact (Barons &Nick, 2013).
The process mainly involves five main steps, which eventually overlap each other. The first step is problem identification. During this stage, a criminal problem is identified within a certain community. During this step, the community is actively involved. They identify the problem and look for a way to ensure that the problem reaches the ears of the policy makers. The commonly used method to ensure that the information reaches the decision makers is via media, either press or print media. Close allies to the decision makers and community activists also play an important role in the pointing out a problem to the decision makers. The professionals are also very active during this process as they give more detailed information about the identified problem in case it is within their field of profession.
The second step involves policy analysis. During this step the existing policy related to the problem identified during the first step is closely scrutinized. In this case, community analysts and professional lawyers play an important role of pinpointing the loopholes within the existing policy and whether it solves the identified problem. Politicians also respond to the message passed either through the media or any other influential means, by analyzing the current policies which is closely related to the problem(Althaus, et. al, 2007).
The third step is policy formulation. This process mainly involves the decision makers, or the law makers. In this case the policy makers come up with different proposals on the different ways which the problem can be resolved. They come up with different policy options. This is usually carried out behind the public scenes. After this, the decision makers consult with highly trained professional policy analysts. The problem statement as well as the available proposals is passed on to the analyst(s) who closely scrutinize and criticize the different proposals as well as make their own recommendations (Barons &Nick, 2013).
The fourth step is the decision making step. In this case, the politicians go through the criticism and recommendations made by the policy analysts, discuss about them, and then finally decide on what to do or what not to do about the problem which had been identified. This is usually carried out in a parliamentary sitting. After the decision has been mad, then the policy is implemented. It is put into effect and the community is educated about the new policy and the repercussions of breaking it. It is usually a complex process as it involves trying to introduce new ways of living into the society, and this may face resistance. (Barons &Nick, 2013).
The final stage is mainly evaluation of the new policy. This is mainly monitoring whether the policy has been implemented in the correct manner and whether the desired outcomes are achieved. In most societies this step is neglected as there lack people to do the evaluation. However, in case an evaluation is done, and the policy is found not to address the problem identified during the initial stage, then the process of policy making is repeated again until a solution is found(Althaus, et. al, 2007).
There are several things that need to be improved in the criminal justice policy making process. To begin with, there is need for involving the general public in the construction of the laws. According to the current process, the public and people from the general society are only involved during the initial stage of the policy making process. It would be better to involve them in coming up with proposal of the criminal policy to be implemented.
In addition, the policies made would be more suitable if policy experts and professionals were the ones making the decision about the policies to accept and those not to accept, as compared to letting politicians who do not have much knowledge about the judicial system to make the policies. This is because the experts are more conversant with policy issues and hence would stipulate better policies. It would also save the revenue used to pay for consultation during the policy making process. Finally, the last step of the process(implementation) demands for more follow-up, in order to ensure that there is proper implementation of the policy, and to evaluate whether the policy address the problem it is meant to address.
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In conclusion, the criminal justice policy stipulation process is resultant from dynamic decision making process. The process has many stakeholders in it who influence when, how and where a policy needs to be stipulated. However, it is clear that the politicians are the biggest role players and the sole decision makers during the most important part of the policy making process. The general public and professionals are only pointers to the problems within the community but when it comes to stipulation of the policies they are sidelined. It is imperative to involve them more actively in the policy stipulation process as they are the ones affected in a direct manner by the policies once implemented.
Althaus, C., Bridgman, P. and Glyn, D. (2007). The Australian Policy Handbook (4th ed.). Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Barons A., Nick, J.(2013)The policy Making Process in the Criminal Justice System. U. K : Routledge