The Need for Planning in Criminal Justice Policies


The launch of the program or policy does not automatically mean that the work on the intervention is finished. Policymakers must realize that policies do not exist separately from the environments within which they were implemented. Moreover, these environments can rarely be controlled, as they live their own dynamic lives. In particular, environments can be affected by visions and goals, different from the policy makers’ views, or by chaotic political and financial arrangements (Harris & Welsh, 2015). Therefore, policymakers need to pay attention to constantly changing independent factors, such as political climate and the fiscal health of funding sources (Harris & Welsh, 2015). In addition, the implemented intervention may also affect the environment, which requires the readiness for policy adaptation to new circumstances. In this regard, policy planning and evaluation on a regular basis are necessary for adjusting the policy to new circumstances.

The eventual success of the policy is largely dependent on the policy maker’s ability to learn and adapt. According to Welsh and Harris (2015), the organization’s learning capacity significantly affects the extent to which the goals of the intervention are achieved. Effective learning is impossible without gathering the data on performance and changes produced by the policy in the environment. As such, continual evaluation is necessary to highlight potential flaws in policy design and make the required adaptations. The lack of continuous reassessment creates a risk of missing the point when the policy becomes inadequate.

Furthermore, the key stakeholders, especially those who fund the intervention, will expect to see meaningful, transparent information regarding the progress in policy implementation. In this case, regular planning and evaluation assist policymakers in preparing relevant, up-to-date progress reports. Overall, the permanent evaluation efforts enhance communication between policymakers and stakeholders, which improves the quality of policy administration. Finally, continuous planning and reassessment help develop advocacy strategies for the intervention and respond to potential criticism.

Challenges Present in the Emerging Policy Issues

Multiple areas of criminal justice are facing significant policy issues in the 21st century. Mallicoat and Gardiner (2014) highlighted four specific cases for discussion: violation of inmates’ constitutional rights, juvenile offending, the debate around gun control in response to high-profile incidents, and search and seizure regulations. All of these cases represent constitutional issues and unique policy responses to collisions between the U.S. Constitution and contemporary situations in criminal justice.

Incarceration and Realignment

Tough on crime approach to sentencing led to prison overcrowding in California. By the end of 2010, the state’s prison population grew to 162,821, whereas the 33 state prisons were designed to hold 84,597 inmates (Mallicoat & Gardiner, 2014). In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court deemed this discrepancy a critical factor in the state’s inability to provide basic rights (Mallicoat & Gardiner, 2014). In this case, the U.S. criminal justice system failed to align punishment with constitutional rights.

Juvenile Offending

By the end of the 20th century, the U.S. juvenile courts adopted the philosophy of the adult criminal system. Consequently, U.S. schools launched zero-tolerance policies in order to create safe spaces for students. However, many jurisdictions started to roll back such policies since crime in schools and communities increased after their implementation (Mallicoat & Gardiner, 2014). In this case, the criminal justice system faced the adverse outcome of the one-size-fits-all philosophy, which viewed all juvenile infractions similarly.

Gun Control Debate

The high-profile incidents involving guns create strong calls for stricter gun control. For instance, President Obama called on Congress to pass the new gun legislation after the Newtown shooting. Obama’s plan included such measures as reinstating the assault weapons ban and limiting the allowed number of rounds per magazine (Mallicoat & Gardiner, 2014). In this case, the criminal justice system faced the challenge of balancing tougher gun control against the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Search and Seizure

This criminal justice policy issue manifests in a clash between the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and modern technologies. The 4th Amendment provides protection against unreasonable search (Mallicoat & Gardiner, 2014). However, the development of closed-circuit cameras and drones substantially reduced the 4th Amendment’s coverage. As a result, the courts have to apply the concept of the reasonable expressed expectation of privacy, which constantly diminishes as technology advances.

Resources for Facilitating Success

Given the information presented in Chapter XX, one can derive two resources necessary for facilitating success in policy implementation. Firstly, policymakers must have sufficient time to consider the goals and potential consequences of a policy carefully. Secondly, it is necessary to gather sufficient information before launching the policy. Otherwise, the planned intervention may become rushed and inadequate for meeting the needs and conditions of a particular environment.

Discrimination as an Emerging Policy Issue in the 21st Century

Fair treatment and non-discrimination of various groups are the vital traits of an effective criminal justice system. In the U.S. case, protection against discrimination is legally provided on two levels. Most importantly, the federal government addresses the issue of discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act (National Conference of State Legislatures [NCSL], 2017). Furthermore, many U.S. states offer protection against discrimination in addition to federal law (NCSL, 2017). However, the level of legal protection is inconsistent; for instance, five states — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas do not have a public accommodation law (NCSL, 2021). Out of other U.S. state-level jurisdictions, only 18 prohibit discrimination based on marital status, 20 prohibit age-based discrimination, and 25 prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (NCSL, 2021). Other potential grounds for discrimination, such as veteran, military, or childbirth status, are addressed only in a few states.

Given this situation, policymakers in the criminal justice system will likely face problems with policy justification in regard to avoidance of discrimination. If criminal justice policies are specifically aimed at assisting discriminated groups, other communities may consider them unfair. Consequently, this reaction may result in a backlash against the target population of the policy. At the same time, policies tailored to the needs of at-risk populations, such as ethnic minorities in poor neighborhoods, may also be perceived as discriminatory from their standpoint. In particular, the members of at-risk groups may consider criminal justice policies a targeted response to their alleged delinquent and criminal tendencies. In this regard, policymakers of the 21st century will have to combine the focus on specific population groups with fairness in policy design and a non-discriminatory approach in implementation. Overall, the difference in anti-discriminatory legislation coverage across the U.S. territory may further contribute to the potential controversies around the new policies in criminal justice.


Mallicoat, S. L., & Gardiner, C. L. (2014). Criminal justice policy. Sage Publications.

National Conference of State Legislatures. (2017). Civil rights laws and legislation. Web.

National Conference of State Legislatures. (2021). State public accommodation laws. Web.

Welsh, W. N., & Harris, P. W. (2015). Criminal justice policy and planning. (4th ed.). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

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LawBirdie. "The Need for Planning in Criminal Justice Policies." June 11, 2023.