Experiential Project Practitioner Interview

During this project, I have interviewed a defense attorney who specializes in drug cases. This person is closely familiar with the functioning of the criminal justice system in the United States. It is possible to say that, the interviewee understands the experiences of people who encounter with , courts, or penal institutions. Moreover, he knows the way in which different governmental institutions interact with one another.

This is one of the reasons why this person has been chosen. The purpose of this interview was to discuss the efficiency of the criminal justice system. Much attention was paid to the existing limitations that impair the work of various institutions and adversely affect the experiences of people. Moreover, it was critical to discuss the way in which the system can evolve in the future.

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This discussion is quite useful for identifying policies that can be important for improving the work of law-enforcement agencies and courts that interact with victims and defendants. In particular, legislators should focus on the alternatives to incarceration. Additionally, much attention should be paid to the programs that enable former convicts to integrate into the society. These are the main questions that should be examined more closely.

The arguments expressed by an interviewee

One of the issues identified by the interviewee is the failure of the criminal justice system to help convicts integrate into the society. It is often argued that penal institutions are called correctional (Lab, Williams, & Holcomb, 2012). This term implies that punishment will prevent a person from perpetrating crimes in the future. The main problem is that this goal is not achieved, and in many cases, incarceration produces just the opposite effect. In particular, the defense attorney refers to the very high rates of recidivism in the country. To a great extent, this argument is confirmed by statistical findings, according to many released convicts are very likely to commit offenses once again (Gardner & Anderson, 2014, p. 220).

At present, approximately, 50 percent of people released from prisons perpetrate crimes once again (Gardner & Anderson, 2014, p. 220). The key issue is that people convicted of non-violent offenses cannot be reformed during their incarceration. These convicts are forced to interact with people for whom crime is quite acceptable. As a result, some of these people can become even more tolerant of illegal activities (Gardner & Anderson, 2014). This is one of the issues that should not be overlooked by policy-makers who need to minimize the negative impacts of crime and improve the work of correctional institutions.

Certainly, high rates of recidivism cannot be attributed only to the work of the criminal justice system. One should bear in mind that former convicts find it rather difficult to find employment due to the prejudice against them. Additionally, these individuals do not achieve professional growth (Gardner & Anderson, 2014). Thus, these people become the victims of social prejudice. Some of these people eventually resort to illegal ways of finding financial resources. Thus, the interviewee has identified some external factors that should be taken into account. These examples show that criminal justice system cannot be blamed for every possible problem encountered by the society because this perception can undermine the efforts of policy-makers and legislators.

Additionally, the increased criminalization of diverts the attention of law-enforcement agencies from those individuals and organizations that do pose a significant threat to the community (Hucklesby & Wahidin, 2013). For instance, it is possible to speak about gangs taking part in human trafficking, drug sales, as well as kidnapping. This is one of the pitfalls that should not be disregarded. Thus, one can say that the resources of the government are not used effectively. The interviewee believes that legislators need to pay more attention to the assessment of risks that a convicted person can pose. This is another reason why the reform of the criminal justice system can be necessary.

Apart from that, the interviewee focused on extremely large prison population. This concern attracts many researchers who note that that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world (Hucklesby & Wahidin, 2013). This situation creates an enormous burden that should be carried by tax-payers. In his opinion, this phenomenon can be partly explained by the increased criminalization of drug offenses.

To some degree, this outcome can be explained by the legacies of the War on Drugs doctrine (Hucklesby & Wahidin, 2013). In particular, he pays much attention to the existence of minimum sentence requirements. This approach focuses on punishment as a form of retribution, but it does not usually increase the safety of the community. Very often, this policy only increases the number of potential offenders. The interviewees comments suggest that the changes in the penal code can be necessary.

Moreover, the conversation was partly related to the possible transformation of the criminal justice in the future. One of the possible scenarios outlined by the defense attorney is the increasing decriminalization of non-violent crime. In his view, this strategy will not pose a threat to the community. This is one of the arguments that can be put forward. Apart from that, it is possible to that the reform of the system will incorporate the implementation of educational and employment programs for convicts. This policy can be vital for the integration of former criminals. To some degree, this argument about decriminalization is supported by researchers who focus on the need for community corrections (Lab, Williams, & Holcomb, 2012).

Additionally, scholars speak about the alternatives to incarceration. For instance, it is possible to speak about community service or fines (Lab, Williams, & Holcomb, 2012). In many cases, these alternatives can reduce the costs of maintaining prisons (Lab, Williams, & Holcomb, 2012). Additionally, this approach lets a person better integrate into the society. Thus, it is possible to say that the incarceration of a criminal should not be the only option considered by legislators.

Furthermore, the defense attorney pays much attention to such a practice as the plea-bargaining. To a great extent, it is a form of negotiation between persecutors and defendant. The interviewee agrees that this approach is important for decreasing the caseload of the criminal courts. Without the practice, the criminal justice system can become practically dysfunctional. Nevertheless, this cooperation can lower the standards of police investigations.

Very often, the conviction can based on the defendants plea, but it may lack the sufficient evidence. Furthermore, some defendants can accept the charges only because they fear more severe punishment. In many cases, these people cannot afford the services of a highly-skilled attorney. This is why they prefer to reach a compromise with the persecution. As a rule, these individuals are very likely to face criminal charges once again. Moreover, they are more affected by the drawbacks of the justice system. Thus, it is important to specify those cases when the use of plea bargaining can be acceptable. This is one of the suggestions that the interviewee advanced.

Apart from that, the defense attorney mentioned the existence of racial disparities. In particular, African-Americans are over-represented in prisons (Walker, Spohn, & DeLone, 2011, p. 407). Moreover, the rate of recidivism in this social group is much higher. This situation can be attributed to a variety of factors such as lower income level or lack of education and employment opportunities. Nevertheless, one should not forget about the possible prejudices of law-enforcement officers as well as persecutors. Even highly-skilled professional may be biased against African-Americans. Thus, should not overlook those cases when police officers discriminate against people on the basis of their race, religion, gender, and so forth. This is one of the precautions that should be taken.

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Yet, it should be kept in mind that the interviewee does not insist on the radical and immediate changes of the criminal justice system. In his view, this approach can make various legal institutions virtually dysfunctional. The main task is to identify the existing drawbacks and remove them. In this way, legislators can minimize the detrimental effects of reforms.


Admittedly, the arguments expressed by the interviewee reflect a certain perspective on the work of the criminal justice system. They are expressed by a person whose task is to protect the interests of the defendant from various charges.

Therefore, this professional is more prone to identify the flaws in the work of law-enforcement agencies or courts. This is one of the limitations that should be not be disregarded In turn, other stakeholders such as the victims of crime may believe that the duty of the state is to safeguard the society from criminals almost at any cost. This is one of the details that be taken into consideration. Still, the views expressed by this defense attorney can also be accepted since the criminal justice system is also supposed to help a person re-integrate in the society. Moreover, legislators should make sure that incarceration does not turn a person a recidivist.

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