The criminal justice system is a collection of government institutions that the law mandates to oversee the management of crime (Goff, 2014). At times, these agencies work independent of each other or in collaboration to ensure that social order is attained through the law. The criminal justice system has the responsibilities of deterring crimes, imposing penalties and rehabilitating criminals for the benefit of society. Although the agencies involved in maintaining law and order have different mandates as per the law, they all have a common purpose that requires them to collaborate. Criminal justice systems embraces technology as a tool, which it uses to ensure that justice is delivered without bias. The Canadian criminal justice system derives its power from the Department of Justice Act, and section 91(27) of the Constitution. This paper explores different technologies used in the Canadian justice system and the overall effects in the delivery of justice.
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Types of Technologies
Electronic tagging is a technology used in the Home Detention Curfew system for offenders who have been placed under house arrest. The equipment is like a bracelet that emits signals to a control center, which monitors the movement of an individual under probation. The bracelet is put on the ankle of the criminal. The device sends warning signals whenever the criminal moves outside the specified geo positions. Electronic tagging is a non-invasive type of monitoring that allows a defendant to live at home but within specified conditions (Stacy, 2006).
It enables the suspect to move in and out of the home within specified periods as provided for in the probation. The court or the prison authorities can impose electronic tagging depending on which department is granting the curfew. In case the criminal violates the limits, immediate action is taken on the suspect by being taken back to detention. Mobile phone companies offer most electronic tagging services since they have the necessary network infrastructure (Stacy, 2006). The probation office that has a monitoring center carries out the supervision role. Electronic tagging can only allow the offenders to be within a particular range where the monitoring office can detect them.
Use of DNA
The criminal justice system uses modern technology to conduct investigations and prosecute criminals. The essence of the truth is to prove culpability or to acquit. Successful prosecution requires evidence while an acquittal demands the accused to provide substantial evidence or counter the accusations leveled against them. The justice system uses the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology to identify a suspect at the scene of the crime. The technology also helps to identify faceless suspects whose DNA is in the data bank (Joao, 2013). The DNA collection has become part of processing a suspect after an arrest. The DNA samples can reveal whether a defendant has previously been involved in a crime. DNA samples collected at a crime scene can be used in future in case they are not matched immediately.
Advantages, Disadvantages and Controversy
The primary advantage of an electronic system is that it allows an offender to stay at home. The system serves as a cost cutting measure to the judicial system since it does not have to host the offender. Electronic tagging can also be used as an incentive for criminals to behave well because it can earn them an early leave from prison. The controversy about this system is that it can easily release dangerous criminals into society (DiTello & Ernesto, 2013). Good behavior in prison does not guarantee good behavior outside prison. Therefore, the discretion of the probation department to let out certain inmates can be a wrong move.
Some criminals are known to have vanished after coming out under this system. A number of the criminals are arrested again after committing heinous acts (DiTella & Ernesto, 2013). The decision to release a criminal is informed by certain findings that are subject to the probation officer’s judgment. It implies that a reformed inmate can easily miss out on the release, while a dangerous criminal is set free. Although electronic tagging is supposed to be a remote monitoring system, it is backed up by probation visits. The monitoring officers continuously visit the offenders to assess their behaviors at home.
The use of DNA technology is hailed as a breakthrough regarding finding evidence for conviction or acquittal. Although the technology came late, it has overturned previous convictions that had placed many innocent people behind bars (Ragna, 2012). The judicial system uses DNA evidence to review cases that are under capital offence, rape and burglary. Ragna (2012) argues that the DNA technology has streamlined operations in the judicial Canadian judicial system. The DNA evidence provides a lead to investigators when there is no other data to pursue. The uniqueness of each DNA makes it easy to eliminate a person from imminent prosecution compared to the use of witnesses as the significant piece of evidence.
Occasionally, the police have prejudicial minds when arresting victims. The DNA sample helps to ensure that people are not prosecuted based on malicious accusations. The disadvantage of DNA usage is that it only becomes relevant if there are two samples to compare (Robin, 2006). If a criminal’s DNA is not available in the database, it becomes difficult to identify an offender. Therefore, the law enforcers are forced to wait for a time when the suspect is arrested and the DNA collected for them to revisit a case. Developments in technology have enabled the justice system to build laboratories that facilitates DNA analysis. Additionally, technological evolution has led to the development of newer and simpler methods of DNA testing.
Level of Technology Uses
Technology has become an important facet of the daily human life. Technology simplifies life by providing a solution where none existed. Before any technological equipment or process can be accepted for use in society, it must be proved empirically. Some technologies do not require a lot of verifications before use because they provide simple solutions. The justice system has employed technology previously to execute of its duties. The system uses technology based on its effectiveness (DeMichelle, 2014). Today, the judicial system demands that a technology is properly vetted to ensure that it does not violate the law before it can be admitted. Some technologies arouse controversies. Thus, they can only be used under strict guidance by a court of justice. The purpose of the judiciary is to give justice to all parties who seek it without bias. Therefore, any tool that can aid to deliver justice satisfactorily should be admitted by the justice system.
Technology does not write the law. Additionally, it does not administer the law but aids humans in administering justice. The judicial system should use any technology that can help to deliver justice. Technological changes contribute to increasing in crimes and changing lifestyle. Crime has a permanent place in society, and it also evolves with technology. Therefore, the society can only control crime by adopting modern methods of delivering justice. The Justice system is complex and made up of different agencies that need to work in a synchronized manner. Technology stands out as the only instrument that can help to harmonize operations in the judicial system. Justice delayed is considered justice denied. The use of technology enables the judicial system to deliver swift justice to the victims and the offenders. Therefore, it is prudent for the legal system to embrace technology as it evolves and develops.
The Canadian legal system can be considered as one of the best in the world. Although the system cannot be said to be perfect, it follows the due process in prosecuting criminals and serving justice. Currently, the Canadian judicial system uses a number of technologies that help to ensure that criminals pay for their crimes. The system uses electronic tagging to punish minor offenders. Electronic tagging not only ensures that criminals pay for their mistakes, but also saves the judicial system from the burden of hosting criminals in prisons. On the other hand, the use of DNA technology helps to identify the right criminals. The Canadian justice system continues to develop mechanisms that enable it to run its affairs diligently. A continuous audit of its technological systems has allowed it to keep in touch with new developments by implementing new features and doing away with old ones. Technology remains the most influential aspect of life that cannot be ignored whatsoever.
DeMichelle, M. (2014). Electronic monitoring: It is a tool, not a silver bullet. Criminology & Public Policy, 13(3), 393-400.
DiTella, R., & Ernesto, S. (2013). Criminal recidivism after prison and electronic monitoring. Journal of Political Economy, 121(1), 28-73.
Goff, C. (2014). Criminal justice in Canada (6th ed.). Toronto: Nelson Education.
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Joao, R. (2013). Risk factors in e-justice information systems. Government Information Quarterly, 30(2), 241-256.
Ragna, A. (2012). Genetic justice and transformations of criminal justice procedures. Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology & Crime Prevention, 13(1), 3-21.
Robin, W. (2006). Inclusiveness, effectiveness and intrusiveness: Issues in the developing use of DNA profiling in support of criminal investigations. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 34(1), 234-235.
Stacy, T. (2006). Electronic tagging of offenders: A global view. International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, 20(2), 117-121.