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Conflicts from Several Angles

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Government, including the criminal justice system, is supposed to be answerable to the people. However, there are times when the "law" and the "will of the people" may conflict. This may be due to evolving social preferences that lawmakers have not yet caught up to, or it might also be due to different communities having different standards. Resolving the conflict between "doing what the law requires" and "serving the will of the people" is often not a black-and-white decision.

This week's discussion will examine this conflict from several angles.

Should the police have the ability to selectively enforce only those laws that the public wants to have enforced? In other words, should the police ignore offenses when the law in question is not a popular one?
Should the police or prosecutor have the power to decide against charging a particular offender if it is clear that the local population does not want that person to be prosecuted? Provide a real or imaginary example that would illustrate this dilemma and justify your choice.
Should the police enforce laws differently from one community to the next, if those communities express differing standards? If you agree that the community should have influence or even oversight over the local police, how can this be achieved? research about police agencies that utilize a community policing strategy.
These dilemmas can affect all levels of law enforcement, but sheriffs in particular have to wrestle with it. Analyze why sheriffs should be more concerned with the "will of the people" when that will seems to be in conflict with the letter of the law?
Answers don't need to be long..
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Solution Preview

Should the police have the ability to selectively enforce only those laws that the public wants to have enforced? In other words, should the police ignore offenses when the law in question is not a popular one?

Police in states such as California have long held the autonomy to adhere to the will of the people as the state had adhered to the will of the people for over 40 years in regard to marijuana offenses. Long before the state legalized the drug in 2016, the state of California was allowing individuals caught with less than 2 ounces of the drug to only be given a ticket that was the equivalent of a traffic citation. This is also true in other states that allow police agencies to use discretion when dealing with minor offenses such as drug possession, but not all states practice this type of leniency. Police should have the ability to determine if offenses that are trivial and only clog up the justice system should be handled differently and informally, similar to when a police officer stops a high school student, finds a small joint of marijuana, and only makes the student destroy the joint instead of placing them in jail and giving them a criminal ...

Solution Summary

The conflicts from several angles are found. The conflict between "doing what the law requires" and "serving the will of the people" is often not a black-and-white decision are given.

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