Public administration plays a pivotal role in serving all the citizens in an equitable and honest manner, specifically the criminal justice workers, such as law enforcement officers, correction officers, and judges. They are highly responsible for facilitating efficient crime control measures, implementing innovative advanced policies, and encouraging a relationship of mutual trust amongst the community and public administration personnel (Denhardt, R., Denhardt, J., & Blanc, 2013). The public administration of criminal justice in the United States is implemented through coercive state action. In general, government provision of criminal justice services includes the regulation over the individual civil liberties. Therefore, every action carried out by “police, courts, and corrections officials” has significant implications for society as a whole (Brunet, 2015, p. 166). The main argument implies that the criminal justice function is managed lawfully and equitably; however, such biased state action poses a critical issue regarding the public administration and its impact on the civilized population.
Question of the Legitimacy of the Criminal Justice System
The contrasting perception of the criminal justice system refers to the prejudiced actions and disparate influences promoted by the state. From the micro-level perspective, individuals can be wrongfully accused of crimes, exposed to excessive use of force, or even unjustly rejected immediate release from prison (Brunet, 2015). Nevertheless, individuals are not the sole victims of the existing public administration system. The criminal justice function is also destructive at the macro-level basis, given that the subgroups of the particular population can be subjected to dissimilar and discriminatory treatment. For instance, the minority class members, including “racial, ethnic, or economic class,” are denied due procedural protections that are usually accessible to the majority (Brunet, 2015, p. 170). Hence, such a public legislative structure undermines the core principle of the American jurisprudential system: a belief in “justice for all.” It also raises the question of legitimacy regarding the criminal justice system or the state itself.
Purpose: Establishing Social Equity
In order to address the key societal issues regarding public administration within the criminal justice field, it is crucial to understand the importance of fair exercising of the authority by all the justice system parties. Criminal justice administrators are accountable for creating the organizational process and desired outcomes, and, therefore, they must recognize and examine the social equity issues encountering their agencies. The modern criminal justice system reveals the unfair treatment and unequal consequences at different points of its function and encompasses various issues, including racial profiling and drug sentencing (Denhardt, R., Denhardt, J., & Blanc, 2013). The primary task for the administrators is to explore data about the nature and extent of inequities. With that said, the main purpose of this research is based on determining the critical measures that can be applied to monitor progress in attaining social equity in the existing criminal justice system.
In recent years, public administration significantly contributed to developing a more equitable, fairer country and justice. As such, social equity became a central focus within public administration performance with an attendant set of concepts and an abundance of shared values. According to Brunet (2015), the initial components of social equity are based on the view that justice, fairness, and equality are inherent to the work of public administration. Public administrators are first and foremost responsible for the implementation of established laws. With that said, administrators are perceived as law in action and are required to interpret the particular law and discretion in its application. The public institutions in the United States serve as the settings wherein elected leaders work in the system of democratic self-government and deal with issues of fairness, justice, and equality (Brunet, 2015). However, since public administration carries out the laws and policies, it is also accountable for addressing the issues of fairness, justice, and equality.
It should be noted that the development of social equity in public administration in the early stages was the sole approach to comprehending this concept and obtaining improved outcomes. The other fields, disciplines, and bodies of professional practice entered the examination and implementation of social equity only recently. In more general terms, the concept of social equity in public administration is based on race and gender issues in terms of employment, democratic participation, and service delivery (Frederickson, 2015). Social equity turned into an added ethic in public administration and eventually became the “third pillar” of this system. The ethical and equitable treatment of the general public by administrators should be on the frontline of major problems in public agencies. This involves a critical reinforcement by changing public attitudes, recreating government movement and civil rights laws, forming new public administration aligned with social equity standards.
Fundamental Problems within Public Administration
With the rapid growth of modern societies and a dramatic increase in the global population, the public administration system faces developing issues and challenges. Such concerns promote the critical discussion that explores whether public administration explicitly addresses all the significant problems. In terms of the growing demand and scarce resources in the modern world, government policy’s performance poses a major concern for the governments to deal with in the forthcoming decades (Frederickson, 2015). The urgent solutions should derive from unconventional sources and base on divergent thinking. Vaz (2016) analyzed the underlying problems within public administration that affect the public policy arena, as well as continually increasing and changing populations. The key issues include government corruption, the rise of new technologies, citizen participation, and racial discrimination. The last two points are inherently connected to the social challenges within public administration.
Participation in a democracy is a complex issue, considering the rise of empathy toward elections that seem falsified. Citizen involvement, in particular, is responsible for achieving more diversity in government and foster social equity in decision-making. Furthermore, Vaz (2016) suggests that it is far more crucial to listen to the public rather than talking down to citizens. It is important to note that public administrators play a significant role in drawing attention to the complex concerns of the public. They manage to implement this with the help of public meetings that facilitate discussions. In addition, public administrators can delegate research and policy recommendations to a local body closely related to the specific issue and then meet to find solutions and decisions based upon the recommendations of that body. Hence, citizen involvement greatly contributes to the public managers’ work regarding their effective decision-making strategies in the best interest of their constituents.
The issues of racial and class inequality and injustice are highly evident and serve as the subject of open anger, indignation, outrage, and passion. It is a persistent problem within the ever-growing population in modern societies. Governments, in turn, must improve and optimize their policies to prevent prejudice and subtle discrimination. Major conflicts in nations are commonly based on increased demand for democratic representation or a more refined understanding of the democratic process in culturally and ethnically divided states. Therefore, public administration should deal with such critical issues through the conception of democracy regarded as a spectrum (Vaz, 2016). Public administrators are committed to protecting minorities from abuse by others, which represents law enforcement.
Considering this, agencies should incorporate the appropriate training methods and eliminate the techniques that promote harmful implicit bias toward minorities. Public administration is also responsible for addressing unequal wealth distribution in the United States, concerning that some legislators prefer economic policies that benefit the wealthy part of society. For example, the United States’ tax policies imply that the most affluent American residents pay the same tax rate as the middle and lower classes. Thus, public administrators can engage the government and advocate for minority groups by dealing with these issues with agency leaders. By examining the potential problems in public administration, it is possible to improve the efficacy of public administrators in delivering innovative approaches to significant issues in the public policy arena.
Politics and Administration Distinction
One of the main issues regarding existing public administration functions within the criminal justice field is that it is crucial to differentiate between politics (policy) and administration. To be more specific, administration questions and challenges are not political issues. As described by Denhardt, R., Denhardt, J. & Blanc (2013), this led to establishing the governmental forms, such as the council-manager plan for local government that implied the separation of policy and administration. However, these two concepts are also considered as closely intertwined. Professional sectors within the public field usually address and share the broad regulation of improving the quality of life for residents of a particular community. From this perspective, public administration and politics are perceived as complementary areas.
One of the crucial societal issues implies that many American citizens lost their confidence and trust in public administrators, namely the law enforcement officers. This can be explained by the enormous increase in corruption and inequality that directly disturbs the system. As a result, many people choose not to report the crime because they mistrust law enforcement officers responsible for dealing with community issues. Moreover, some also believe that law enforcement ignores this responsibility of serving and protecting society owing to the high levels of crime in many low-income communities. As described by Wilson-Davis (n. d.), such public perspective and the current news and media exposure of law enforcement’s abuse and corruption significantly jeopardized the community-focused procedure of crime control. However, the group effort is key to successful crime control and, therefore, requires the coherent ongoing teamwork and a collaborative process including the community members and law enforcement personnel.
Neubauer determines the central concept known as restorative justice, which is grounded in three critical components. The first component regards crime as a conflict between individuals resulting in injuries to victims, the community, and the offender. The second component represents the main objective of the criminal justice system, which is restoring these injuries. With that said, advocating for peace and reconciling parties is far more critical than the punishment of those responsible. Finally, the third key component of restorative justice is based on the shared “involvement of victims, offenders, and the community” (Wilson-Davis, n. d, para. 5). Such a strategy incorporates an open-door policy within the current criminal justice order and enables healthier and safer communities.
Addressing the crime situation in the United States goes beyond the criminal justice system and law enforcement. This subject is closely related to the community and its response to the current position within the criminal justice functioning. This involves business leaders, community activists, and even the citizens. The researchers propose using the specific programs, including “citizen patrols and community-oriented policing/prosecution methods” that are efficient in solving social issues in the neighborhood and curbing crime (Wilson-Davis, n. d, para. 4). Furthermore, the fundamental strategy for emphasizing the role of public administration and solving the social equity within the criminal justice field implies coordinated community involvement with law enforcement and other public administrators (commissioners and mayors). This strategy helps considerably promoting efficient crime control actions, reinforcing new policies, and maintaining a more trusting relationship between two sides, including civil citizens and public administration.
Impediments to Social Equity Measurement in the Criminal Justice
The crucial barriers to establishing social equity within the current social justice system are based on several important factors. In general, this includes the fragmented nature of the American criminal justice system, insufficient data, and limitations in statistical analysis. In addition, organizational dynamics also play a leading role in impeding efforts in measuring social equity. The definitional and operational ambiguity and lack of benchmarks for comparison affect the slow implementation of social equity metrics as well. The establishment of responsibility for social equity measurement is complicated by the presence of a significant number of different actors involved in the criminal justice system.
There is also a lack of data on the socioeconomic status of victims and criminal defendants. Brunet (2015) states that there is a higher level of criminal incidents among certain demographic groups, which highlights the issue of disparity provoked by legitimate factors. Also, a vast amount of such disparities is reported within “racial bias, prior criminal history, policing practices, and sentencing legislation” (Brunet, 2015, p. 176). This, most probably, forms the most complex barrier that needs to be overcome. Apart from this, it is crucial to establish intensive organizational development work to pursue social equity, including a strong mission statement to comprehend the importance of such measures. More specifically, one can achieve an efficient measuring and reporting of the desired progress concerning social equity only after encompassing this concept’s idea.
Considering that politics refers to the majority rule, the main task of public administration should be oriented at the interests of minorities and the poor. The current reforms and innovative strategies must meet the issue of social inequity in the criminal justice system and need to defend this proposition. The pattern of social equity, as well as inequality, plays a fundamental role in different fields of public policy, including criminal justice. Such an issue evolved from a single argument concerning fair administration problems and justice to the more complex consideration of the relevance and involvement of the subject. However, it is still a new concept that needs to be defined and supported by the appropriate guidance on its measuring. Understanding the role of social equity expands to the economic and political fields. To conclude, there is an urgent need to focus on social equity issues in public administration so that the general public can be better aware of the consequences of discrimination and poverty on Americans’ lives.
Brunet, J. R. (2015). Social equity in criminal justice. In N. J. Johnson & J. H. Svara (Eds.), Justice for all: Promoting social equity in public administration: Promoting social equity in public administration (7th ed., pp. 165–186). Routledge.
Denhardt, R. B., Denhardt, J. V., & Blanc, T. A. (2013). Public administration: An action orientation. Cengage Learning.
Frederickson, H. G. (2015). Social equity and public administration: Origins, developments, and applications. Routledge.
Vaz, A. R. (2016). Significant issues within public administration. PATimes. Web.
Wilson-Davis, T. (n. d.). Expanding the role of public administration: The open-door policy in criminal justice. PATimes. Web.