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The criminal justice system is at the core of justice delivery. It refers to everything from policing, crime investigations, prosecution, conviction, incarceration, rehabilitation, probation, to release. So vast is the system that any hitch would be devastating to an individual’s life and the welfare of the society. This essay examines an episode of the crime drama known as Castle. Comparison and contrast are done between the drama and the typical criminal justice system to locate any strengths and weaknesses while offering recommendations for best practice.
Summary of Castle
Castle is a 2009-2016 crime drama series involving serial killing. Investigations are conducted to find out more about the killings, which form the plot of the drama. Essentially, the drama is based on the books of one Richard “Rick” Castle involving serial killing. The author had to terminate the life of his main character after realizing that some serial killer is trying to imitate the plots in the books (Castle Series Editor, 2009). Castle teams up with New York Police Department to help in research about the killings. Castle is quite impressive in his crime research to the extent that he gains popularity in the team. However, the team leader – Kate Beckett – fears that Castle is a threat to her position. She decides to rub shoulders with Castle but he makes the right moves to win her over (YouTube).
The fourth episode of Season 1 is titled “Hell Hath No Fury”. The week’s murder has just happened and Castle’s team learns of it through the network of New York City politics, blackmail and prostitutes. A New York politician by the name Jeff Horn has just been found wrapped up in a rug with a hole into his head signaling a fresh gun shot. Beckett and Castle rush to the crime scene whereupon the two differ in some way. They find themselves commenting simultaneously, “It wasn’t a botched robbery” (YouTube). Nevertheless, it is obvious that Castle has astute observational skills when it comes to unresolved murders. Castle seems to be endowed with the skills to read a crime scene with the same precision as a seasoned detective would under the same circumstances.
It turns out that Jeff was having an affair with some professional prostitute in the city by the name Tiffany. Coincidentally, Jeff was campaigning for a political seat. Castle learnt this while interrogating the prostitute. Furthermore, it emerges that a private investigator – Bruce Kirby – had taken the photos of Tiffany’s moments with Jeff, which evidence if revealed would compromise Jeff’s political ambitions. Therefore, he had to look for ways to do away with the potential blackmailer, which culminates into paying him to remain silent about the ordeal (YouTube).
Castle and Beckett try to understand the complex nature of the case. They learn that Jeff was not wealthy by birth; his wife Laurie was lucky to be financially stable. Furthermore, Jeff had approached Laurie to pay off the blackmailer so that he does not tarnish his political image, which request was heeded to and a sum of $250,000 offered to Bruce (YouTube). Laurie was not happy with the news that his husband was cheating on her, thus her mind changes drastically after silencing the blackmailer. Laurie hatches a plan to have her husband killed altogether. Consequently, she pinpoints Jeff’s campaign manager – Frank Nesbitt – as the ideal person to execute the plan. Nesbitt went ahead to pull the trigger beneath a deserted freeway (YouTube).
Comparison to the Criminal Justice System
Hell Hath No Fury highlights a number of aspects about crime investigation. Indeed, crime investigation is at the core of the criminal justice system. This is because the quality of evidence gathered during investigations will shape the course of justice by determining whether a conviction will be secured or the accused person will be set free (Bradford, 2012). The murder in the episode happened in strange ways without a prime suspect. This means that serious investigation had to be conducted to establish the cause of the death more so the murderer. Usually, investigators do locate the people who interacted with the deceased person frequently or at the final hours before the death, as these people act as “leads” to the cause of death (Lauchs et al., 2012). Jeff’s wife, campaign manager and alleged prostitute became key figures to start with in the investigation process. Therefore, Castle and his team got it right in their mode of investigation.
The second similarity aspect is the identification of the crime scene. Nearly all investigations commence with the location of the crime scene and its cordoning. This ensures that no evidence is tampered with until professionals have been brought on board to collect every bit of evidence. For example, finger print experts have to be brought to the scene to find out who touched the deceased last (Bradford, 2012). Such information would be distorted if people were allowed to set foot on the scene. Castle and the team might not have gone to the extent of demonstrating forensic evidence gathering but the structure of their investigation was in line with what detectives do in the event of cold blood murders (Lauchs et al., 2012).
Contrast with the Criminal Justice System
Hell Hath No Fury is a mockery of the criminal justice system. To begin with, the inclusion of a mere novelist in the investigation team depicts that the criminal justice system is not endowed with competent persons to execute investigations effectively. Castle turns out quite instrumental to the success of Beckett’s team to the extent that the team cannot do without him. Castle easily understood the modus operandi of top crimes such as the murder of Jeff despite having little criminal background other than the imaginative aspects of writing novels (Castle Series Editor, 2009). The criminal justice system seems to lack competent individuals to conduct credible investigations. Most of the detectives in charge of the process have little background on crime, causes and behavior of suspects (Bradford, 2012). For example, it would be very difficult to understand the complexity behind Jeff’s murder without linking the wife, campaign manager and alleged prostitute. Jeff’s murder would have gone unanswered if ordinary detectives were allowed to take charge of the investigation.
On the other hand, the criminal justice system is riddled with corruption. Detectives go to whatever extent to get something into their pockets and cover up for criminals. Indeed, no criminal is willing to be sent behind bars if they can get the slightest opportunity to escape (Bradford, 2012). Cases involving political murders have been treated as high profile because of the manner in which they attract media attention. Moreover, cases of this nature are often motivated politically and a great deal of bribery could be involved to keep people silent (Lauchs et al., 2012). Castle and Beckett’s team did not take any bribes but they managed to discover how money changed hands in the complex case leading to the termination of Jeff’s life.
Whatever transpired in the other episodes is not the subject of this analysis but the greatest lesson to take home is the importance of integrity and impartiality in criminal investigative processes. The criminal justice system cannot operate efficiently if incompetence and corruption are the pillars (Lauchs et al., 2012). Courts come later in the system but the end always justifies the means. In essence, people cannot expect the courts to deliver justice when the evidence tabled between them is marred already. Judges are not present at the time of crime thus they have no idea about what transpired. For this reason, the prosecution and investigating officers should demonstrate the highest levels of integrity and impartiality so that nothing but the truth is tabled before the court. It is quite shameful and disappointing to learn just how many innocent people end up to jail and the number of guilty ones walking free because of compromised investigations (Lauchs et al., 2012).
- Bradford, B. (2012). Policing and Social Identity: Procedural Justice, Inclusion and Cooperation between Police and Public. Policing and Society, 24(1), 22-43.
- Castle Series Editor (2009). “Hell Hath No Fury.”
- Lauchs, M., Keast, R. & Chamberlain, D. (2012). Resilience of a Corrupt Police Network: The First and Second Jokes in Queensland. Crime, Law and Social Change, 57(2), 195-207.
- YouTube. “Hell Hath No Fury.”