Criminal Justice

I recommend that you read the below questions, then read and watch the assigned materials on policing and public safety in the United States and the current social movement to address systemic disparity in the criminal justice system by shifting tax funds to non-criminal justice organizations. Then, answer the below questions. These answers should reflect your personal perspective, supported from the information presented and any additional information you read. If you use information presented in any assigned or unassigned readings, please cite it. Also, if you have questions about anything you read or watch, please feel free to post them here.

There is no word requirement as long as you fully address the questions asked in a thoughtful way. However, I would find it difficult for you to fully engage with these questions in less than 750-words. Importantly, there are no correct or incorrect answers, this essay is based on your personal opinion (supported by factual information where it can be).

Module 2 Assignment Questions

1. Defund or Abolish? In Seattle and across the country, a social movement has formed that focuses on defunding law enforcement through the reallocation of funds originally set aside for police departments to be invested in Black communities.

  • What are some of the specific actions these groups have advocated for related to defunding? In other words, what functions of law enforcement should be removed from officer and department responsibilities?
  • What are some of the specific actions these groups have advocated for reallocating these funds? What types of programs and organizations within the community should receive these reallocated funds?
  • What impact do you believe these changes will have, if any, on public safety in Black communities (Black communities could be geographically determined, such as a neighborhood, but could also represent non-geographic communities, such as civic or religious organizations, or groups of individuals who share the same cultural identity – even if they do not live and/or work in a central location)?
  • What impact do you believe these changes will have, if any, on public safety in non-Black communities?

2.  Maintain or Invest? In response to pressure from advocates asking for jurisdictions to defund their departments, some have argued (e.g. law enforcement unions, politicians) that what should be done is to maintain current levels of funding or to actually increase the budgets of law enforcement agencies.

  • What are some of the specific actions these groups have advocated for related to maintaining or even increasing funds for law enforcement? In other words, what functions of law enforcement do they highlight as being imperative to public safety and, if applicable, what functions do they argue should receive even more funding?
  • What impact do you believe maintaining or increasing funds to law enforcement will have, if any, on public safety in Black communities?
  •  What impact do you believe maintaining or increasing funds to law enforcement will have, if any, on public safety in non-Black communities?

3. What would you do?

  • If you were the mayor of Seattle, and based on what you know about Seattle from the readings and your time here, what would you do? (Note: I am not asking you what the current mayor has or will do, this is a hypothetical about what approach you would take to address community concerns and to maintain your legal responsibilities to those living within the city).
    • Would you abolish, decrease, maintain, or increase funding to the Seattle Police Department?
    • Although dependent on your answer, please state specifically what Seattle Police Department functions you would change (e.g. decrease number of officers, increase number of officers)? If you would keep everything as is, why?
    • What impact do you believe your choices will have, if any, on public safety in Black communities?
    • What impact do you believe your choices will have, if any, on public safety in White communities?
  • If you were the Chief of Police of Seattle, nd based on what you know about Seattle from the readings and your time here, what would you do?
    • If your budget was decreased, what functions of your department would you continue to financially support (e.g. patrol, community outreach, investigations)? What functions would you eliminate? Justify your answers.
    • If your budget was maintained or increased, would you make any changes? In other words, even if the City Council and the Mayor did not reduce your budget, would you make any changes to the department as a response to the members of your community who want a criminal justice system that treats the Black community in the exact same way as it treats the White community?