Historically, the struggle between law and criminal behaviour is one that has been both prominent and persistent. It has been a global conflict which has been contested differently depending on the individual country or culture, and has seen many attempts by governing bodies to minimize criminal conduct and successfully reprimand and rehabilitate the perpetrators of crime. However, despite the variety of approaches from law enforcements agencies to uphold specific legislation, crime continues to harm society and its erstwhile citizens.
The main issue in the fight against crime is the simple matter of law and its implementation. Law and legislation is created and implemented to best fight criminal behavioural trends, and is then enforced by police and government officials as rigidly as possible. However, while the application of law must be to the letter and maintain a clarity of process, those who wish to defy the law are not bound by the restrictions of duty and transparency. Unfortunately, the nature of law and its application means that it will always be easier to break than it will be to uphold.
Law in Contemporary Society
The levels of crime reported and discussed on daily news bulletins throughout the US is currently at an unprecedented level, and although this has something to do with the vast amounts of media outlets that can be accessed it should not detract from the fact rising crime is a troublesome social issue. This trend is especially prominent amongst instances of violent crime, such as aggravated assaults and armed robberies, and this type of crime is also the most significant in terms of being targeted by government bodies and their legislation.
Statistics have shown that US law and its enforcement officers have actually managed to stabilize outbursts of violent crime in certain areas of the country, and the rate of people currently being processed by the correctional process has remained at a constant 3.2 percent on average since the year 2000. The fact that certain types of violent crime remain worryingly high in particular geographical areas and communities is significant, as it suggest that the application of law is not so much of a problem as other social factors and conditions.
In some respects, the engineering and administration of law in contemporary society is proving effective. However, where other factors such as poverty and poor education are clearly influential in promoting criminal conduct, the question remains as to where governing bodies can improve the law or its application to negate these areas of concern. In order to battle crime effectively and continually, law needs to be preventative in terms of dissuading people from committing an offence, but also reactive when facing relevant social issues and a change in cultural climate.
Finding a Resolution through History
If history should teach society anything, it is that the prevention of crime does not lie in the severity of punishment. Various cultures and countries have or do attempt to tackle crime with barbaric or equally inhumane punishments, but this method continues to be ineffective. England throughout the 17th century employed such tactics, and in fact proposed dealing with most criminal activity by sentencing the offender to a particularly cruel execution. This reaction to rising crime actually had the opposite effect on the society, and encouraged even more abhorrent and sadistic behaviour.
This and other similar case studies prove that, while it is tempting to look to fortify law and make it stricter, it can often only encourage a more heartless and less empathetic outlook from society with regards to crime. One example of this was the creation of vigilante groups that were often prevalent during periods of extreme government regimes, where the hard line attitude encouraged members of society to take matters into their own hands and administer their own brand of justice. The conclusion to be drawn is that the severity of punishment of criminals only instigates a cycle of violence and declining conduct.
It may go against logic in some aspects, but these reflections prove that a compassionate and understanding law is the only way to successfully tackle crime. There is clear evidence to prove that where violence and barbarism is used to punish criminals, there is a subsequent trend of declining morality and ultimately a rise in violent crime. Therefore, a modern and considered legislative law must serve two separate purposes. It must be rigid in terms of both its comprehension and administration, and also fair minded and suitable to a diplomatic society.
Resisting the Calls for the Extreme
It is an unfortunate and yet inevitable aspect of human nature that instances of violent crime will encourage ill considered calls for tougher sentences and punishments for criminals. However, this is not only potentially divisive in contemporary society, but also ignorant of the good work that law and law enforcement bodies have done to stabilize and reduce the levels of crime in the majority of US states. What is required is therefore a steady and responsive improvement rather than an abrupt and emotive modification.
As long as the government officials and law enforcement officers of the US can maintain communication and keep well informed or criminal statistics and activity, then they can remain well placed to continue their efforts to reduce crime. This is key to striking a necessary balance, by creating a strictly worded, clearly deciphered legislation of law that also displays the requisite compassion in the instances of particular types of crime. Achieving this balance is a significant step in tackling criminal behaviour both in the short and the long term.