Any act adopted by the American Congress is a significant part of the history with its place and meaning. The lives of ordinary people have to be improved considerably if all the acts and laws are understood and implemented accordingly. That is the main reason why people should pay much attention to the work of the American Congress and find enough time to identify, evaluate, and comprehend the purpose, conditions, and agenda setting of each act taken. The process of implementation of an act in the criminal justice system is one more crucial aspect to be considered.
The current case study examines the peculiarities of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This Act is considered to be one of the largest crime bills in the history of the United States of America. It was signed by President Clinton in order to create a new blended approach to crime control by combining the conservative and liberal approaches to crime and justice (Shahidullah, 2012, p. 226).
The President truly believed that the criminal justice system and crime control policies should be based on the economic growth of the country. The point is that a number of problems with crime prevention took place in the middle of the 1990s. It was hard to control misunderstandings that took place, and the government had to take some precautionary measures to improve the crime situation in society. Its main feature was the 100,000 Cops initiative that provided officers with a solid sum in funding. The impact of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act remains to be deep on federal, state, and local levels.
The end of the 20th century demonstrated one simple truth: it was impossible to win or overcome crime, but it is quite possible to gain control over it (Palmiotto & Unnithan, 2010). There were certain projects that defended human rights and freedoms or controlled the activities of the American government. Still, there was no act that could handle the development of crime, evaluate the stages of its creation, and prevent its negative outcomes on society. The War on Crime was a kind of plague for the Americans at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s.
Types of the Crime
Crimes were of different types:
- drug abuse crimes (drug trafficking was at a high point);
- juvenile violence (young boys and girls could not be sure of their safety all the time);
- fraud crimes (the elderly people usually suffered from such type of crime. They were in need of legal protection and a kind of compensation for the losses).
Though the list of the crimes is not full, it is clear that the society was in need of some crime control changes. It was not enough to protect the crime victims; it was more important to inform people about possible threats and provide them with some guarantees that their losses and problems could be evaluated on a federal or, at least, state level (Schmalleger & Smykla, 2013).
Purposes of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
The process of problem identification helps to realize that the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act had several purposes:
- Be able to identify even minor crimes.
- Provide citizens with the possibilities to contact the police on a regular basis
- Offer a powerful system of crime evaluation.
- Support the promotion of non-criminal behavior in all neighborhoods.
In other words, the Act under consideration had to give the government a possibility to deal with crimes, as well as the consequences of the crimes. It was evident that all crimes in all neighborhoods could not be eliminated at once, therefore, assistance for crime victims should be offered.
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The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act is known as one of the longest acts in the American Congress. This is why certain attention should be paid to the Acts agenda setting. It was necessary to introduce a powerful program and a working plan, according to which crime prevention was possible. President Clinton and his team offered a solid platform for the Congress.
They made a decision to unite liberal and conservative ideas, identify the golden middle, and consider the interests of local people and police officers at the same time. A properly chosen agenda should help to increase the level of crime understanding and control misunderstandings that can take place. The following points of the program may help to understand the Presidents choice and identify the worth of the Act under analysis:
- The most famous 100,000 Cops initiative (this conservative law provides more police officers with a job by means of which more boot camps for minors could be created, as well as more prisons for offenders could be built).
- Federal death sentence (people who are blamed for terrorism, murders, drug trafficking, driving, or the use of mass destruction weapon that lead to death may be sentenced to death; however, pregnant women and insane people may avoid the death penalty for some period of time).
- Resources for the war on drugs are increased.
- Child abuse enforcement programs (more time has to be spent on the investigations of incidents of child abuse and the development of assistance for the victims of such crimes).
- Behavior in public schools has to be under control of local policies (children should know the basics of crime prevention and understand their roles in the development of a peaceful society).
- Weapon control (the representatives of the criminal justice system have to use the information offered by the police officers about the use and distribution of weapons in the local districts).
It may seem that the chosen agenda offered by the President does not inform the society about the peculiarities of crime properly. The President wants to pay more attention to the policies that have to be introduced to the society. It is enough to offer a theory. It is time to provide people with information about crimes and the ways of fighting against them.
The peculiar feature of the process of policy formulation of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act is that neither Clinton nor the White House did want to draft the legislation of the Act. It seemed that Clinton did not have enough rights or power to promote the offered policies officially. It was clear that Clinton's role in the government was not actually active. The President left the ideas to Mr. Biden and Mr. Brooks.
As a result, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act turned out to be a compromise bill between the representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties. It was necessary to take into consideration all the aspects that were mentioned in the bill. People should get an opportunity to improve the quality of their lives and diminish the level of crimes using democratic and republican ideas. This is why the formulation of the bill helped to link the lives of ordinary people with the government.
- People were offered to participate in different evening meetings (if people are present at the public meetings, there are fewer chances for a crime to be committed).
- Prisoners should have a chance to have their drug dependencies treated (additional funding helps to develop programs at prisons).
- Assault-weapons ban is taken to control the distribution of different types of weapon and its access to the juveniles.
- A three-strikes law offered by the Republicans was supported by the majority of voters.
- Local law enforcement could receive about $11 billion due to the Act.
- The possibility of the death penalty for serious crime offenders was increased (it should help to prevent people from committing crimes and think about the consequences of their actions).
- Funding of state prison expansion was supported by the bill in order to help improve the criminal justice system and show people that there was also the place for offenders.
The result of the discussions that took place between the Republicans and the Democrats was effective indeed. On August 21, 1994, the bill was voted (235 voters supported the idea, 195 people were against it, and 5 abstained) (Marion & Oliver, 2010).
The most interesting fact about the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act is its 100,000 Cops initiative. It was stated that new police officers were hired to gain control over the crimes that could take place around. About $9 billion was spent on this program.
The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services that is known as COPS was created in order to promote the control and help ordinary citizens avoid crimes. Therefore, much of the funding was spent on different grants and awards for people, who decided to protect the country: COPS Phase I grants, Universal Hiring Program grants, COPS MORE grants, anti-gang Initiatives grants, etc. (Marion & Oliver, 2010).
However, it is necessary to admit that the Congress did not explain the peculiarities of the grants awarding system. People did not know who and for what should be awarded. It was a symbolic birth of the bureaucracy that was called the COPS office led by Joseph Brann.
Of course, it is hard for ordinary people to judge the peculiarities of the office work, still, it is always possible to share personal opinion and ideas on whether it was possible to improve the work and spent the offered amount of money in a proper way.
One of the most interesting stages of the case study is the process of evaluation. It should help to underline the main points of the Act once again and pay more attention to personal understanding of the issue under consideration.
- So, was the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act successful?
- Did it meet the expectations of the citizens?
- Was the main goal, the control of the War on Crime, achieved?
It was necessary to offer funding that helped 100,000 police officers find jobs and contribute to community policing. It was necessary to promote trainings at a high level. These particular goals were achieved. The above-mentioned 100,000 Cops initiative required a successful allocation. It was achieved as well.
Still, some problems with grants monitoring took place. There were not enough people to promote the grant system accordingly. There were many people, who could receive the grant, however, there were no people, who could decide whether they deserve the chosen grant.
In other words, the ideas offered in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act were brilliant indeed, but the government did not find more powers to develop these ideas completely. It was hard to see whether crime ratings were appropriate for the grant system. In general, the ratings of crime in North Carolina show that the Act under consideration did lead to some changes as people began to worry about being sentenced to death because of wrong decisions and actions.
Much depends on how each person understands the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. It is impossible to make all American people believe in the power of one law and stop crimes for good. However, it is always possible for each person not to lose hope and believe that the role of each citizen is huge indeed.
The activities in 1994 prove that it is possible to take passive positions in the government but still do something to be noticed. Hope, the example demonstrated by the President Clinton helps students, who take this course, change the attitude to the criminal justice system.
In general, the analysis of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 helps to understand better how the Act may be implemented within the community and change the conditions under which people have to live. It was really in time decision when Clinton believed that it was necessary to unite crime control policies with the economic growth of the country.
Though Clinton was not the brightest example of a powerful leader, who gained control over all spheres of American life, he demonstrated his best abilities to offer and implement innovations to people. Of course, there are many misunderstandings in the offered crime control policies. However, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act remains to be an influential part of the American history.
The citizens of North Carolina, as well as the citizens of other states, got a chance to define crime as a serious problem for further development of the country. The government helped to solve a number of problems in this field. The 100,000 Cops initiative showed that additional sources of help may be effective only in case appropriate practice, explanations, and training are provided.