The civil rights period mostly came up following the discrimination and slavery of the African Americans which started in the 18th century. During this period slavery was abolished and the fight to end segregation and prohibit discrimination increased. Civil rights are the non political rights that a citizen should enjoy freely for example right to life, liberty or education. The US Supreme court is the highest court with the overall jurisdiction mandate over all the state and federal courts in the United States. The period between 1955 and 1965 was when a lot of African Americans fought for their civil rights. It was also characterized by events carried out by both the judiciary and the legislative putting emphasis on the fair treatment of the black Americans
In the history of civil rights movement, there were two most crucial landmark rulings by the United States Supreme Court that played a great role in bringing justice to the minorities ( in this case the black Americans) and also protecting their civil rights.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
In this ruling, the U.S Supreme Court agreed that all state laws that allowed the promotion of the doctrine of “separate but equal” were constitutional. Under this doctrine, there was racial segregation in private businesses and accommodations for both the blacks and whites particularly on the use of separate railroads.
This segregation law was mostly applied in the state of Louisiana and even though it applied in the railroad cars, other facilities like the public schools toilets or cafes were also never equal. Those for white people were much better while those of the blacks were poorly maintained. The Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine remained in place until 1954 when it was overturned by yet another landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
This is one of the most important rulings of all time made by the US Supreme Court. In this case, the Court overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling on the “separate and equal” doctrine and declared that any state laws establishing separate public educational facilities for both the blacks and the whites as unequal and unconstitutional.
Congress of Racial Equality (2011) notes that the Brown v. Board of Educationbrought to an end the federal racial segregation in the public schools and also provided the legal foundation of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In addition, any case of racial segregation in all the states was ruled as a violation of the law for example in public transportation and government facilities. Other major changes that occurred during the civil rights period included:
- Establishment of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
This commission was established in 1957 by the first ever civil right law and it was to enforce voting rights for the minority groups. In order to strengthen this move, the Congress passed a bill that gave the blacks full registration and voting rights in 1965. This bill banned the use of all kind of tests that were previously used to prevent the blacks from voting lists for example, they considered the literacy levels. The Supreme Court also banned the poll taxes that were used to discriminate the blacks.
- 1968 affirmative action
In 1968 the Supreme Court passed that the all minority groups should be compensated for any past discrimination in the work place and upheld that all employers were required to have a balanced work force composed of both the minorities and even women. In addition, the minorities were discriminated during hiring and promotion a move that left them economically vulnerable a move that continued to weaken the national economy. Therefore, through the affirmative action, the non whites would have equal chances for hire and promotion at their workplace.
Law enforcement in a Due Process system
The due process system of justice can be defined by the title itself; “due process” - to mean that people ought to get what is fair in other words there is need to maintain the vital and basic fairness rights of the citizens. According to Brandon (n.d) the due process model carefully puts into consideration all the facts of each single case and in addition requires that all the law enforcement agents to acknowledge the rights of the suspects during their arrest, questioning, and handling.
Law enforcement under the due process model is not likely to be effective keeping in mind that the primary objective of this process is to protect the innocent citizens from being accused wrongly at the expense of the victims. In other words, people are viewed as innocent until proven guilty. While most judicial systems want to protect the victims from the any future harm by the offenders the due process model is slow and will follow the process till the end only to protect those that are said to be “innocent” so that they are not wrongly accused.
Due Process System versus Crime Control System
Under the crime control system the person is viewed as guilty until proven innocent and also its main aim is to suppress the criminal conduct in the society. Under this model, all means necessary should be used to eliminate criminal elements in the society.
Most of these strategies used by law enforcement agents include video surveillance, undercover sting operations, frequent patrols and raids targeting all high crime areas in the society and wiretapping. In line with this model is the fact that it directly targets all criminals and criminal activities in a given society with less emphasizes on individual liberties. According to Cliffnotes.com (n.d), the police should be given more powers in order to make it easier for them to carry out investigations, arrest the suspect, carry out a search, seize, and convict them.
On the other hand, the due process model puts more emphasis on the protection of individual rights and liberties. Anytime a person is charged with any kind of crime, it is required that their rights be protected by the justice system and should not be deprived their rights for example property or life. Under the due process, the role of police is to help maintain justice process within a society and their powers should primarily be limited to preventing any oppression of the individual or violation of their rights.
Apart from their differences both the models propagate that if a person is found guilty of their crimes they should be punished according to the law. In addition, they both believe that any person has a right to a defense counsel who should act as an advocate within the justice system.
The Crime control system is more essential in law enforcement in comparison to the due process. I am in the favor of the crime control system because it is fast and cases are easily dealt with unlike in due process that sometimes takes a long process. In addition, the crime control model works toward the repression of crime with an aim of maintaining law and order. It aims to create a crime free society and is thus the better choice, for law abiding citizens. The Due process model concentrates on protecting defendants' rights and is a very expensive process whereas crime control model concentrates on justifying the victims’ rights and is a bit cheaper.