Table of Contents
Forensic science is considered as a key part of the criminal justice systems because more that often, obtaining evidence in situations where there is no known witness may require the application of science. In essence, the other alternative that prosecutors may rely on particular when there are no known witnesses is forensic evidence. With the increase in crime rates in the contemporary society, a significant number of crimes and criminal cases in the court of law remain unresolved due to lack of witnesses or conclusive evidence. In case of homicide, for instance, where there are no known witnesses, the role of forensic scientists is vital in terms of obtaining evidence at the crime scene (Fraser, 2010).
Further, among the most common crimes that require the attention of forensic scientists include, for example, drug-related and sex crimes respectively. These crimes more than often require the expertise of forensic experts to obtain evidence that be used in court to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused person is culpable and also to prove the innocence of the accused persons. Additional crimes where the application of forensic science is a necessity in modern times where technology advances is taking precedence include identifying perpetrators of various cybercrimes. To this end, it is clear that the role of forensic science in the criminal justice department is not only important in obtaining evidence that can be used to prove culpability or innocence, but can also help to reduce to backlog of cases in courts (Julian et al., 2011). Subsequently, in order to ensure the continuity of the expertise that forensic scientist brings to the criminal justice system, the Minister of Justice should not cut the training budget because more forensic scientists are needed to help prosecutors obtain tangible evidence to use in courts, resolve the increasing number of cold cases and also reduce the backlog of cases in courts.
Why the Minister of Justice should not cut the training budget for forensic scientists
The contribution of forensic science to the criminal justice system is significant and cannot be overlooked given the rising number of unresolved cases in courts today or judges wrongly sentencing suspects. In the contemporary society, criminals are adapting in terms of ensuring that they do not leave evidence behind that may implicate them in the crimes they commit from time to time. As such, it becomes a herculean task for prosecutors to prove in court that the suspects they have in custody have committed the crimes they are being accused. More than often, prosecutors find themselves handling cases where there are no known witnesses. In such situations, suspects in various crimes are often absolved due to lack of evidence. In essence, the failure to obtain conclusive evidence needed to prosecute criminal suspects is leading to a situation where more criminals are roaming free and continuing to commit more crimes. In this respect, a high crime rate in the society would not only be a problem for the department of justice, but also other government departments task with the provision of public services. For instance, increase in crimes impacts negatively on investor confidence, which in turn, can have ripple effect on the economy. Consequently, in case of economic downturn, a significant number of people are likely to lose their jobs thus affecting their livelihood in terms of affording basic needs such as housing and healthcare respectively. In such scenarios, the exchequer may be required to spend more in order to continue providing public services. However, spending more would mean increasing taxes to ensure there are adequate resources necessary to provide efficient and effective public services (Strom & Hickman, 2014).
To this end, it is important to note that a higher crime rate in the society has significant consequences not only for the department of justice but also other government departments that provide public services to citizens. For instance, the government is forced to spend taxpayers’ money in solving a myriad of problems that can be directly linked to increase in crime rates. While other measures can be taken to reduce high crime rates in the society, such as increasing the number of law enforcers, enacting laws requiring criminal offenders to pay hefty fines and long term jail sentences for criminal offenders. However, while having a significant number of police officers to curtail the frequency of crimes in the society, it is another task to prove the culpability of the suspects they are likely to arrest and charge with various crimes. In turn, it would be a challenging task for courts to charge fines or hand over long term jail sentences where conclusive evidence or known witnesses lack. This is a situation that creates a vicious cycle where criminals are arrested almost on a daily basis, but are freed due to lack of evidence or known witnesses to support the cases brought against the suspected criminals. As a result, they are likely to continue committing more crimes knowing they would still evade justice due to the incapability of the criminal justice system to use appropriate measures that would ensure criminals are proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt and send to jail to serve their sentences (Strom & Hickman, 2015).
Among the necessary measures that the department of justice need to take in order to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system involve setting in motion a mechanism that would ensure there are more forensic experts to assist the prosecutors to obtain reliable evidence that would send known criminals to jail thus helping to get rid of criminal elements in the society. It is not often that prosecutors rely on witnesses to prove that a suspect is guilty. As such, where there are no known witnesses, scientific applications can play an important role in obtaining evidence that can be used to determine culpability of innocence of a criminal suspect. On another note, with more crimes evident in the contemporary society, the services of forensic scientists is increasingly becoming necessary particularly now that there is a surge in crimes that involve illicit drug trafficking, sex crimes and cybercrimes. These nature of crimes can be better handled by forensic experts since more than often, they involve determining unidentified substance obtained or recovered from the suspects (Julian et al., 2011).
On the other hand, there are also increasing cases of murder and bodies being dumped as evident with drug cartels or gang group fighting for control, for instance, of drug supply routes. In this respect, the role of the forensic experts is necessary particularly in situations where the recovered bodies are unrecognizable to use their expertise in determining the identity of the recovered body. On the same note, forensic experts would make it easier to identify not only the recovered body, but also the relatives. In essence, their services in this regard would help to reduce the costs that the government may incur, for instance, in burying unidentified bodies from crime scenes. Overall, cutting the budget meant to train forensic scientist by 20% would impact negatively on the need for continuity in ensuring that the department of justice does not experience a shortage of forensic experts whose expertise are critical solving criminal cases by obtaining evidence in situations where there are no known witnesses. Further, overlooking the important role of forensic scientists in the criminal justice system would lead to situations where the department of justice incurs additional expenditure to handle the increasing number of criminal cases in courts. However, having sufficient budget to support the training program for forensic scientist would ensure more criminals are prosecuted and jailed thus reducing prevalence of crimes and frequent apprehension of criminal suspects by law enforcers (Strom & Hickman, 2015).
Why the Minister of Justice should cut the budget meant for training forensic scientist
While it may be argued that forensic experts play an important role in improving the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, law enforcers such as detectives have the requisite skills that they can use to investigate and obtain evidence that can implicate or absolve a suspected criminal. As such, the services of forensic experts may be restricted to the crime lab where their role is to apply science to determine and authentic evidences recovered from the crime scene. In addition, since their role forms a small part of the larger criminal justice system there budget can be cut and channeled to other areas such as training more detectives since their role is vital in stopping crimes and apprehending suspected criminals (Fradella, Owen & Burke, 2007).
Why sustaining the budget for training forensic scientists is important
Due to the increasing cases of unresolved crimes and suspected criminals evading justice due to lack of no known witnesses, the role of forensic experts is increasingly becoming important in terms of enhancing the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. In essence, while law enforcers such as detective are adept at solving crimes and apprehending the suspected criminals, it is also important to note that criminals have also become experts in concealing evidence that can send them back to jail. In addition, witnesses are also afraid of reprisal from criminals and are likely not to testify. Subsequently, prosecutors from time to time encounter challenges in terms of trying to obtain burden of proof. As such, the expertise of forensic scientists is necessary to ensure prosecutors have sufficient evidence against suspected criminals particularly in situations where there are no known witnesses. In addition, the role of forensic scientists is important in solving the increasing number of cold cases and reducing the number of case backlogs in courts (Julian et al., 2011).
Overall, given the increasing role of forensic scientists in the criminal justice system, training more experts is necessary to avoid the shortage of forensic scientists needed to enhance the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in solving criminal cases where there are no known witnesses. Consequently, while other law enforcers can combat crimes, criminals are also adopting sophisticated measures to conceal their crimes thus posing a significant challenge for law enforcers to prove their culpability in various crimes. In this regard, despite the costly nature of training program for forensic expert the benefits would be significant in terms of improving the effectiveness of the criminal justice system (Julian et al., 2011).
- Fradella, H., Owen, S., & Burke, T., 2007.Building bridges between criminal justice and the forensic sciences to create forensic studies programs. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 18(2), p. 261-282.
- Fraser, J., 2010. Forensic science: A very short introduction. Oxford, UK: OUP Oxford.
- Julian, R., Kelty, S., Roux, C., Woodman, P., Robertson, J., Davey, A., Hayes, R., Margot, P., Ross, A., Sibly, H., &White, R., 2011. What is the value of forensic science? An overview of the effectiveness of forensic science in the Australian criminal justice system project. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 43 (4), p. 217-229.
- Strom, K.J. and Hickman, M.J., 2014. Forensic science and the administration of justice: Critical issues and directions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
- Strom, K., & Hickman, M. J., 2015. Forensic science and the administration of justice: Critical issues and directions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.