Cost of Justice in the United States

Costof Justice in the United States

Costof Justice in the United States

Justiceis usually provided by an arm of the government called the judiciary.The role of the justice system is to ensure the law is administeredto offenders. The first part of this assignment will state thedefinition of justice and explain what justice is in simple terms.There will also be an analysis of whether justice is achieved in thecurrently existing systems. The main aim of this assignment, however,is to analyze the cost of justice.

Theterm justice can be defined in several ways. However, all thedefinitions in the different contexts lead to the fact that justiceis based on the principle of fairness. The term justice, when appliedin the courts of law, may be used to mean the principle of themorality of establishing just conduct (Hirsch,2014).The term can also be used to mean the process of dispensing a rewardor punishment that is deserved. In this project, the term justicewill be used as applied in the American courts of law. The Americanconcept of justice is defined in the constitution and is shaped byJohn Locke. The concept of justice is derived from severalassumptions. These include the assumption that every person has aright to freedom and happiness. The government is an agreement amongthe citizens and the law must be dependent on the permission of thecitizens. Other assumptions include that justice can only be attainedwhen the government is democratic through representation and citizensmust proceed against the influence of the government(Roman, 2013).

Justice,based on the assumptions of the concept of justice applied in theUnited States, is usually achieved. This is because the Constitutionof the United States of America ensures that liberty for all thepeople living in the land is guaranteed. The laws are permitted bythe legislature on the behalf of the population and the peopleusually elect the governments of the country. Therefore, all theconditions for the prevalence of justice are in most cases available.

Justice,just like any other service comes with a price to pay. To establishthe cost of justice and whether the justice system is relevant at agiven time, it is usually important to perform a cost-benefitanalysis of the judicial processes. The cost of justice in the UnitedStates of America is very high. Several reasons have been implicatedfor the high cost. Capital punishment, for instance, is a procedurethat costs American taxpayers much money. Considering theexpenditure incurred by the judiciary and the benefits of thepenalty, the costs are more than gains. A removal of capitalpunishment would save the government and the people much money. Anexample of an expensive case is the one that involved MumiaAbu-Jamal, a man who was sentenced to death for murdering a policeofficer. The case has taken more than thirty years due to severalappeals that have been expensive to the judiciary and the state ofPhiladelphia and the defendants. A commission in New Jerseyrecommended that the use of life sentences in place of capitalpunishment would save the state up to 1.3 million dollars perconvict.

Highrates of incarceration rates make the cost of justice in the UShigher than most of the countries in the worlds. In 2008, US had 2.3million inmates, the largest number of prisoners in the world. Thefigure for 2008 was 20 percent greater than the second highestcountry, Russia. This makes the state governments spend about 75billion dollars annually. These high rates of incarceration arecostly to the taxpayers. As much as the state benefits from avoidingthe crimes that would have committed if the inmates were free, someof the crimes are minor and would be cheaper if the offenders weregiven community service sentence.

Thesevere American laws are also to blame for the high cost of justicein the country. Policies such as the ‘three strikes’ law andmandatory minimums are to blame for the high cost of justice aboutbenefits. ‘Three-strikes’ law provides that offenders who havebeen sentenced for violent crimes for more than two times get toughersentences and, therefore, are jailed longer. Mandatory minimumprovides that particular offenses have a particular least timeoffenders can serve. For instance, mandatory minimums have caused anincrease of inmates imprisoned for drug related charges to rise from10 % in 1980 to 25% in 2008. More people are in prison for longertimes leading to more expenditure. The benefits for the longer timesare not evident, especially because drug cartels have grown instrength inside the prisons(Lehne, 2012).

Thebenefits of the justice system as the correctional system arequestionable because over 40% of inmates are incarcerated again withthree years of release. This has led to an increase in spending as aresult of the costs of rehabilitating inmates who are supposed tohave been corrected during their initial sentence (Lehne,2012).

Thecost of maintaining the justice system is high. Poor policies are toblame for the high costs in comparison to the benefits. It is,therefore, important that the policies concerning the justice systemare reviewed to save the taxpayers’ money.


Hirsch,W. Z. (2014). Lawand economics: an introductory analysis.Academic press.

Lehne,R. (2012). Governmentand business: American political economy in comparative perspective.CQ Press.

Roman,J. (2013). Cost-Benefit Analysis of Criminal Justice Reforms.NationalInstitute of Justice Journal,(272), 31-38.