Law as an institution is a rigid form of governing system that is responsible for the well-being of the population. However, in reality, a set of laws cannot be maintained and enforced in a rigid manner. The betterment of the population depends on the common sense of the law enforcers and the flexibility to enforce the law in accordance with the situation. The usage of law makes it a living body. As the living body reacts to stimuli, so does law under specific and needed circumstances. For example, the law bans drugs, but they can well be used for medical purposes. It has been reported that “the sheriff of the little town of Arcata, California, issued laminated identification cards for medical marijuana users to help law enforcement officers distinguish them from “regular” users.” (Meyer, 2003).
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A large number of factors pose a threat to human life and create a feeling of insecurity among the population, resulting in a disruption in personal and social life. Public Safety is the concept of governmental organizations concerned with protecting their citizens from all kinds of threats. The term ‘public safety’ covers different aspects of the Protection of the general population. Some of these include Protection against Accidents and Trauma, Protection against Crimes, Protection against Natural Hazards. Thus, the objectivity of law is the Protection and sustenance of public safety.
It should be remembered that the disaster of 9/11 took place when the terrorists took advantage of the American social way of life where the number of frequent domestic fliers is high enough to suffer a low-security system. The same is true about London underground rail blast. In both cases, the terrorists took advantage of the counties’ way of social life, and it would be impossible to alter this way of life, putting security as an alibi where the menace is basically organized by a fundamentalist motive. (Globalsecurity, 2007).
While dealing with issues like safety and security, the conception of homeland security becomes a prime concern. Formerly regarded as ‘civil defense,’ the concept of ‘homeland security became the central issue of public safety after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on the United States. In America, the term homeland security covers all efforts of the government-federal, state, and local-for protecting the general population against the risk of terrorist attacks. Preventing such attacks is the prime objective of homeland security programs. This is one specific example of the law acting as a living body as it reacted to the situation and took defensive actions. However, the most negative aspect of this proactive law system is that it may result in pragmatic decisions if not formulated in a proper manner.
In this context, it should be noted that as a living body, the law imposed the Patriot act, and this appeared as a potential violation of human rights. The United States Congress passed the USE Patriot Act on October 26, 2001. The purpose of the act is to give more authority to law enforcement within the United States in order to investigate and prevent terrorist attacks before they happen. Along with this came some loss of individual freedoms because the government was now able to investigate its citizens. Thus, the rights of the accused were abolished automatically. (Orgmail, 2007).
The act, therefore, created a feeling of tension between the desire to protect the state and the desire to protect individual privacy. The passing of the act has opened up the major question about whether or not national security is actually losing strength because funds are being withheld from institutions like education and health care, which are in dire need of the funds. This fact was certainly brought to light after the occurrence of Hurricane Katrina; the lack of funds and preparedness was certainly evident after that tragedy.
Meyer, F. and Diana R. Grant; 2003; The Courts in Our Criminal Justice System; Prentice-Hall; Pearson Education, Inc.
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Globalsecurity; (2007); Congress; Web.
Orgmail; (2007); Disaster Response; Web.