Elected representatives have long played politics to blur the practical aims of the criminal justice system of creating safer societies. Don’t let them make you forget that sometimes knowledge is more important than public opinion and modern democracies implicitly take advantage of it.
The side that creates safer societies wins the debate because that is the aim of the criminal justice system.
- Why there can be no principled justification for representation in criminal justice policy
- Better criminal policy
- Elected representatives don’t bring any practical benefits to society due to a lack of expertise.
- The US Congress in the 1980s implemented strict, tough, and long sentences. The prison population has exploded. Costs skyrocketed.
- Criminal justice policy gets overlooked by elected leaders because they know they can win elections by bringing other benefits like more jobs or healthcare.
- The politicization of criminal justice policy: Political leaders seize opportunities to use criminal justice issues to enhance their own popularity, electability, or power because they have incentives to do so.
The criminal justice system cannot afford to make such follies.
- Modern Liberal Democracies: Technocrats or a technical expert are appointed by a parliamentary majority that is reasonably higher than the ruling majority’s proportion (66% in the US currently) through stringent standards and regulations. Strict criteria on their expertise.
- There would be a panel of several technocrats, with a system of hierarchy. Needless to mention that this hierarchy works democratically, meaning that the decision of the majority of the panel would dominate.
- Any procedures impeaching or holding technocrats accountable would require support from parliament reasonably higher than the ruling majority’s proportion
Arg #1: Why there can be no principled justification for representation in criminal justice policy
Democracy is built around the assumption that people make rationally informed choices. When there is a lapse in rationality, representation is no longer obligatory. That’s why even the best democracies install technocracies in times of political/economic crisis because people become erratic and their choices are often based on misconceptions within these crises. That’s why we don’t give mentally unstable people or children the right to vote because uninformed representation is not representation. Why the current political and demographic climate makes it impossible to have rational choices made by people in regards to criminal justice policy. 2 reasons
- Public opinion isn’t educated or well informed about determining punishments. For example, the public might want disproportionate punishment for the criminal. This is because they rely on their intuition, limited knowledge, and cultural beliefs that have been traditional and fixated. Trump supporters won’t believe that the electoral fraud claims were a lie. Note that this is exclusive harm to criminal punishment because you don’t need the knowledge to know that job-creation policies or disaster relief packages are good. Those fields of law-making can accommodate public opinion.
- Political influences on public opinion: Nowadays, figures of political power can easily place biases on public opinions, like Trump’s electoral fraud claims or Trump’s pardoning of Iraqi criminals pushing forward dangerous narratives that influence public opinion. 2 reasons:
- Biases are easily propagated through platforms like social and mass media which remain the greatest source of information for today’s generation. 72% of the population is on social media. 86% of internet users have been jived by fake news
- Public opinion can easily be swayed by catchy, attractive, or popular ideas.
This is important because criminal justice policy cannot afford to be biased because that is against the ideals of fairness. Clarifications:
1) Note that other fields of lawmaking such as economic policies simply cannot have political influence on them.
2) Even if they do, economic policies are reversible and recoverable as opposed to determining something as sensitive and morally crucial like denying essential human freedoms through punishment is a reason why criminal policies cannot take in public opinion.
What this means is that when a legitimate moral claim cannot be associated with public opinion, we must prioritize optimal policy for those affected, that’s why we must have technocrats, those who know how to reduce crime.
It is the principle obligation of the state to create safer societies and create a sense of security among its people and therefore, it makes it even more imperative for it to avoid giving public opinion an active role. Stating these reasons, I beg the jury to propose.