Modern society currently faces many dangers such as crime and terrorism. Security of the citizens is of the utmost importance for the United States government.
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That is why there are numerous laws that help the government to reduce crime rates, and prevent activities associated with terrorism.
The United States government heavily focuses on prevention of crime. While some may argue that the current incarceration system is not that efficient, it has proven to be a quite effective method of attitude correction. Not only does it correct an attitude of offenders, but it also prevents possible crimes from happening because of the effect of deterrence. Criminal activities are often associated with abuse of alcohol, drugs or problems with mental health. That is why psychological methods should be actively used by the criminal justice system to reduce crime rates. Harsh sentencing causes psychological pressure that is hard to overcome for some individuals, which prevents criminal behavior. It has been proven by criminologists that deterrence plays a huge role in the prevention of criminal attitude. Citizens should be properly educated and informed about consequences of criminal behavior from a young age, which should prevent numerous possible offenses in the future. Supervision of offenders who come out of prison has proven to be quite useful. However, they should be supervised even more strictly because of high rates of recidivism among offender. Sentence enhancements should also be considered as a way to deterrent individuals from attempting offenses. Sentence enhancement can be applied if there are particular conditions present in the case of a criminal. It is especially useful against persistent offenders because a sentence is enhanced each time an offense is committed. Studies have indicated that “the deterrent effect of sentence enhancements is real and significant, but there is a need for more research to isolate the magnitude of the deterrent effect at different levels of sentence enhancement” (Vanneste, 2013, para. 6). This means that sentence enhancement is an entirely satisfactory method of crime prevention. Stricter gun laws also should be noted because they are quite potent in the reduction of crime rates. The number of armed robberies is steadily declining. It is quite hard to change the behavior of offenders because they have no respect for the authority most of the time. Stricter policies and sentencing lead to an increase in imprisonment. The number of prisoners in the United States has increased dramatically in the last few years. It happens mainly because of stricter policies against offenders who are associated with drug-related crimes. Increased imprisonment most definitely reduces the crime rate. However, it cannot be called the best possible strategy for crime prevention. Because of that, the government has been actively looking for alternative methods of fighting with offensive behavior other than imprisonment. The number of offenses in the United States has been steadily declining ever since the middle of the 90th. However, this fact is not necessarily connected with harsher sentences, and many other factors should also be considered. It is hard to discourage offenders from committing crimes, even though it is impossible to forget about such methods of punishment like the death penalty in most of the states. Criminologists still face numerous difficulties when researching this subject because criminal behavior is associated with different circumstances that are hard to investigate and accurately determine.
The Patriot Act is effective since October 26th, 2001. It was signed by a former United States President George W. Bush. Since then parts of this act has expired on June 1st, 2015. However, those parts were renewed on June 2nd, 2015. It is separated into ten parts. This law has greatly increased Federal powers for search, seizure, surveillance and detention. The Patriot Act has provisions that are necessary to prevent terrorism and terrorist attacks. However, some of those provisions are quite questionable. Section 206 of the Patriot Act lets the government monitor either telephone or internet communications with an approval of the Federal court while Section 207 lets the government track any individual who is under suspicion. Section 213 allows the government to investigate the private property of citizens without permission of an owner. An owner has no chance of arguing against the validity of such intrusion, and it seems to go against rules of privacy. Section 214 allows the government to collect the data about the destination of phone calls. Some of the provisions are often criticized by privacy and civil rights advocates. Section 215 is often an object of discussion. It has been a part of a famous scandal connected with Edward Snowden, who has leaked secret information. According to this section, the government is allowed to have access to any business records if a company is suspected of association with terrorism. It is considered that “section 215 is likely being used for all sorts of surveillance that the public has no idea about” (Timm, 2015, para. 4). This means that there are loopholes in this Act of Congress, which can be abused by the United States government to gain information about organizations and individuals. National Security Agency was able to get a lot of private data about phone calls. However, since June 2nd, 2015 NSA will be able to get needed information only if they are allowed by the Federal court. Unrestrained surveillance should not be permitted in the United States as it goes against the United States Constitution. Section 220 has given Federal court the power to give Federal agencies permissions for surveillance. Section 312 and Section 319 have both given strong tools of fighting with money laundering to the government. There is an additional provision in section 326, which regulates opening of a new account in the United States banks. Section 412 of the Act allows the United States government to detain immigrants who were not accepted by their country. Only suspicion of association with terrorist groups or terrorist actions is required, and it is highly possible that no court hearing could ever take place. Many of the provisions give a lot of unnecessary power to the government. However, lawmakers do not intend to make any significant changes to the Act. Even though, the Patriot Act is often criticized, national security is the most important factor when making any decisions. On June 2nd, 2015 some of the provisions were declared permanent because they were not objects of controversy.
In conclusion, harsher policies and sentences are indeed quite useful in the prevention of crime. Numerous studies show that offense rates are reduced when stricter policies are introduced. The Patriot Act has given the government enough federal powers to prevent and monitor possible terrorist threats. Even though, there are few questions about the formulation of some of the provisions, but they are still necessary.
Timm, T. (2015). Congress must end mass NSA surveillance with next Patriot Act vote. Web.
Vanneste, R. (2013). Incarceration and deterrence: do sentence enhancements prevent crime? Web.
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