Criminal Justice and the Wedding Cake

September 8, 2009 3 Comments

Samuel Walker a writer for Wadsworth CJR publishing created a model to explain the different elevations of Criminal Justice Courts which was contradictory to the "President's Commission Model" back in 1997. He dubbed it the "Wedding Cake Model" of criminal justice. Just as in a traditional wedding cake (Not like this) there are four layers of the cake. Their names, starting from the top they are: Celebrated Cases, Heavy Duty Felonies, Light Weight Felonies and A World unto Itself, respectively.

(Image Taken from Fancy Cakes Shop of PA)

The relation is fairly easy to grasp. Here are some related cases from Kansas that fit into the criteria:

The lowest level of the cake is built to handle the bulk of all cases, or the misdemeanors (lesser). Generally misdemeanors will not end up as news even for small towns, but oddities do pop up every now and then in the "A World unto Itself" layer. The range of misdemeanors is extensive from drug possession to trespassing. One thing to note is also a person's professional conduct. What a "reasonable" professional would do in their field. Two years back, an abortion clinic doctor in Kansas preformed several late-term abortions in which all he said were clear and legal to do while they were all risky and near if not past the final date according to the law. A reasonable doctor would have gotten a second opinion on more then 19cases, and so the state's attorney general filed 19 charges of found ill-conduct acts[1].

The "Light Weight" Felonies layer isn't exactly as minor as the name would imply. Generally most cases that would fall on the 2nd level are crimes without assault, the use of a weapon or Larceny. This may be an extreme example of Larceny, but on August 21st, 2009 a Kansas citizen held a lottery scam. One victim in particular forwarded roughly $93,000 USD as "taxes" to collect her winning lottery pot of $1,500,000 USD to the perpetrator. He was found, arrested and jailed in the state of Missouri where the elderly lady he scammed ninety-three thousand from lives[2].

The 3rd layer of the cake is "Heavy Duty" felonies. These are crimes done with strong intent and include a list of drug trafficking, arson, grand theft, battery, rap, murder and robbery. One prime example would be one of the largest pharmacy robberies Kansas has ever seen. Four men armed with assault rifles and handguns rushed and robbed a pharmacy on May 11,2008. In just a few short minutes, they bound a pharmaceutical workers and ran off with roughly 2,500 liquid doses and 45,000pills which included powerful painkillers, morphine meperidine and fentanyl. The four who took place in the robbery had been caught and another person involved as well was brought in. They were convicted on September 6th, 2009 for their crimes[3].

The cake's top is called "Celebrated Cases." For all practical purposes, they do not trump "Heavy Duty" felonies in any sense. They however are more widely known and publicized often for a celebratity, large company, Supreme Court Justice review, or another oddity like attacking another individual with a jellyfish. Earlier this evening, a man pleaded guilty to soliciting sex from a minor. The man drove across stateliness into Kansas in response to a trap ad placed by Kansas Police. Once he paid the $60 USD to the "pimp and underage hooker" disguised cop, he was handcuffed and jailed[4].

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"The Department of Corrections, as part of the criminal justice system, contributes to the public safety and supports victims of crime by exercising safe and effective containment and supervision of inmates, by managing offenders in the community, and by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens. [5]" - Kansas Department of Corrections, exhibiting a rehabilitation model

"The Kansas Supreme Court sits in Topeka in the Kansas Judicial Center and is the state court of last resort. It hears direct appeals from the district courts in the most serious criminal cases and appeals in any case in which a statute has been held unconstitutional. It may review cases decided by the Court of Appeals, and may transfer cases from that court to the Supreme Court. It also has original jurisdiction in several types of cases. [6]" - Kansas Judicial Branch, displaying the due process model

Interestingly, the Kansas Department of Public Safety does not have a website listed on either the Kansas Agency and Association Listing or a directory of department of public safety websites.

Federal statistics show us that the total justice system expenditures for 2006 in Kansas were $1,299,830. When you break that number down into the various systems that spent the money, $634,827 (48.8%) was spent on police protection, $288,607 (22.2%) was spent on judicial and legal, and $376,396 (29%) was spent on corrections.

The police protection system spends the most money due to several factors. First of all, there are extensive training programs to become police officers and sergeants. Field training, academy classes, and maintaining the institutions, these take up a lot of time and money. Some other examples are police vehicles and maintaining them, ammunition and guns, uniforms, etc. Another big issue is that the police department tends to be the first step in the justice system. They make the arrests and hold people in jail and it is important to have the technology and facilities to carry out these actions. The size and population of the town or city will also greatly affect spending. Some examples are how many officers they have and their salaries, how many police stations or vehicles are needed to cover the entire city, and crime rates.

[1] Winter, MW (2007, June 28). Kansas abortion doctor charged with 19 misdemeanors. Retrieved September 7, 2009, from USA Today's Website http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/06/kansas-abortion.html?csp=34

[2] The Associated Press, AP (2009, August 21). Kansas man held without bail in lottery scam. Retrieved September 7, 2009, from The Kansas City Star's Website http://www.kansascity.com/news/breaking_news/story/1396961.html

[3] Rizzo, TR (2009, September 06). To date, five convictions and sentences in big KC pharmacy robbery. Retrieved September 7, 2009, from The Kansas City Star's Website http://www.kansascity.com/115/story/1428487.html

[4] Rizzo, TR (2009, September 08). Olathe man admits seeking sex with a minor girl. Retrieved September 7, 2009, from The Kansas City Star's Website http://www.kansascity.com/news/breaking_news/story/1432652.html

[5] Kansas Department of Corrections. Retrieved September 8, 2009, from Kansas Department of Corrections Website: http://www.doc.ks.gov/

[6] Kansas Judicial Branch. Retrieved September 8, 2009, from Kansas Judicial Branch Website: http://www.kscourts.org/kansas-courts/supreme-court/default.asp

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