Thursday, August 2, 2007

Crime, Culture and Law Enforcement - David J. Audlin Jr.

Society spends ever-increasing amounts of money on prisons, and locks up a greater portion of its citizens than ever before, yet the criminal justice system is perceived as ineffective. There is an increasing trend towards violent self-help by those who do not have faith in criminal justice remedies, there is an apparent upswing in violent crime, and the criminal justice system seems barely able to cope with this situation.

In an effort to understand why our system of criminal law is encountering such challenges, it is necessary to examine how the relationship between the criminal law and the society it serves has changed.

One key to understanding the role of law enforcement in a society is to identify that portion of society which is in effective control of social institutions (sometimes hereafter “control group”). A contrast can be drawn between criminal laws and law enforcement systems which serve a narrowly defined, powerful elite, and criminal laws and systems which serve a broadly diverse population.

If society is controlled by a small, homogeneous elite group, as was the case in Great Britain at the time of the American Revolution, the specific norms or values of that group will often be readily identifiable in the criminal law. In such an instance, an identity between arbitrary cultural preferences and legal mandates becomes apparent, and enforcement of such preferences by the law will tend to exclude and discriminate against members of minority groups.

The explanation that challenges faced by law enforcement are the result of ageneral decline” in morality, which has precipitated a general breakdown in society and ordered liberty, is unsatisfactory. This “decline” in morals is more accurately described as the alteration or displacement of the cultural preferences of the former ruling class, in conformity with the Federal Constitution and the increased diversity of the population being served by government.

David J. Audlin Jr. graduated magna corn iaude in philosophy from Eisenhower College in 1978, and was awarded the degree of Juris Doctor in 1981 by the University of Southern California. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1981, and the Florida Bar in 1984, practicing civil litigation for a major Los Angeles law firm from 1981 through 1984. He entered government service in 1985, working for the Public Defender’s Office in Monroe County, Florida, until 1988. He was appointed Assistant Attorney General in 1989, Assistant Statewide Prosecutor in 1991, and Chief Assistant Statewide Prosecutor in 1992.

Audlin has supervised clinical criminal justice interns for the Florida State University School of Law, has taught courtroom demeanor and trial preparation for the FDLE, the Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida Department of Insurance, and he has spoken on Pyramid Schemes for the Department of Banking and Finance. Audlin is a 1993 graduate of the Senior Leadership Program, and has lectured on the effect of cultural change on law enforcement, based on this paper.

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