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Globalization, Privatization, and Militarization: Impacts on Criminal Justice

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Globalization, Privatization, and Militarization:
Impacts on Criminal Justice

Over the years, the criminal justice system has seen many changes. These changes have taken place due to the economy, social changes, environmental changes, and even cultural changes. Three items in particular that have affected the criminal justice system world-wide are globalization, privatization, and militarization. This paper will discuss the history of globalization, privatization, militarization, and cover the impacts that each has had on the criminal justice system. It is through being able to recognize these impacts that one can plan and prepare to adapt to an ever-evolving system.


Merriam-Webster (2013) defines globalization as “the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets” (n.p.). Globalization did not start with just the economy. The ideas of globalization can be traced essentially back to the origins of man when they began to move from equatorial Africa. Next were the Europeans trading for silk and spices with the Far East, eventually leading to the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus traveling to the West in an effort to find a shorter route to their foreign trade partners. Modern day globalization began to come about after World War II. This was mainly due to countries such as Sri Lanka, India, and some in South America gaining independence and establishing their own trade relations with the rest of the world as they now had their own economy. With increased global economies, came the United Nations (UN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) which was established to aid in settling commercial and trade disputes. So while seen as something relatively modern in our age, globalization can be traced to the beginning of time and has continued to evolve over the centuries (Larchi, 2013, n.p.).


While many may see globalization as a positive move for the world, it has created issues and concerns in the field of criminal justice. Cyberterrorism is a huge issue that seems to have no traceable roots when
done by professionals and can render all types of businesses, banks, and infrastructure useless. Another implication that comes with globalization is jurisdiction as INTERPOL (2010) states “The lines between foreign and domestic policies in many countries are increasingly blurred” (p. 3). There are three challenges that INTERPOL has described as a paramount challenge that affects every country. These are social/political instability as was seen during the fall of the Former Soviet Union. There has been a huge increase in criminal activity in Russia that stems from organized crime to the military selling arms to third-world countries (2010, p. 4). The next challenge is terrorism which everyone in the United States can attest to with the atrocities that occurred on September 11, 2001. The last challenge is organized crime. This affects the criminal justice system as there are different jurisdictions throughout the world and what may be illegal and not tolerated in one country may be turned a blind eye in another. This is giving criminals the ability to “shop” for jurisdictions as stated by Windybank (2008) “People with evil intent can go shopping in the region. If one jurisdiction doesn’t suit them, there’s another one down the road” (p. 33). With this mindset, it is no wonder how globalization has become increasingly difficult for the criminal justice system. PRIVATIZATION DEFINITION AND HISTORY

Privatization is defined by investopedia (2013) as “The transfer of ownership of property or businesses from a government to a privately owned entity” (n.p.). There are documented accounts of privatization going back to the 19th century in New York. As noted by Thoma (2005) “This has been the pattern of privatization efforts stretching back through the 19th century. Privatization has, in fact, been the norm, not the exception, through much of that time in this country” (n.p.). Privatization has grown exponentially over the years as the government continues to try to find more economic ways to conduct business. Through the use of contracts, this is achieved by utilizing the lowest bidder. Should the work being done not meet the standards set forth, the contract is not renewed and the process begins again saving the government money by not having to hire Civil Servants who are then employees of the government, whom do not have a contract and are very difficult to get rid of should their work not be

When it comes to the criminal justice system, the major impact of privatization has been the prisons. With the privatizing of correctional facilities, corruption can likely occur. PICO National Network (2011) uncovered very damaging evidence of corruption within the criminal justice system. PICO stated “Many Americans were shocked to learn that two Pennsylvania judges accepted ‘cash-for-kids,’ kickbacks from for-profit-juvenile detention companies in exchange for locking up young people for very minor offenses” (p. 2). This is just one example of what can come from privatization. One other aspect is the lack of oversight of the actual contract. There is no minimum required wage set forth for the workers. This can lead to underpaid, overworked employees that are tasked with guarding maximum security individuals. With the lack of compensation can come the temptation of corruption for the guards and inmates. Guards can begin to essentially “work” for the inmates by running drugs, turning a blind eye during fights/murders and even becoming the killer themselves. With the issue of privatization, there is a fine line that must be walked and oversight is a must to ensure the safety and well-being of both worker and inmate. This also provides safety to those in the civilian population that live in and around the immediate area of the facility. MILITARIZATION DEFINITION AND HISTORY

Militarization is defined by The Free Dictionary (2013) as “the process of preparing for war; mobilization of troops or of an area” (n.p.). While there is no definitive record as to the history of militarization, it goes without saying that countries and empires have flexed their militaristic power for millennia. While the Ottoman Empire, Mongols, and Persians used their military power to gain land and expand their individual empires, there has been an increasing of local internal police militarization. Dating back to the Civil Rights movement to most recently where SWAT teams have vehicles closely resembling tanks driving through local communities. There are some regular uniformed officers who now carry AR-15 high powered rifles, which are the equivalent to the military M16/M4. Some question if this amount of firepower is necessary and while there is no real right or wrong answer, one only need to look back to 1997 when two personnel with military-grade body armor held up a bank in North Hollywood, California and shot numerous officers and civilians. The initial response officers had weapons that could not do any damage to the burglars and it was not until officers had commandeered AR style weapons from a nearby gun store and was able to penetrate the armor worn by the perpetrators eventually killing both. IMPACTS OF MILITARIZATION ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE

With the militarization of the criminal justice community, there can be many problems that occur. From the officer that is walking the beat in his neighborhood, there is the issue of excessive force. The ACLU (2013) states Federal funding in the billions of dollars has allowed state and local police departments to gain access to weapons and tactics created for overseas combat theaters – and yet very little is known about exactly how many police departments have military weapons and training, how militarized the police have become, and how extensively federal money is incentivizing this trend (n.p.). Officers walking around looking like combat troops patrolling the streets of Iraq can become very intimidating for civilians and cause distrust in the very neighborhood that they are sworn to protect. The ALCU goes on to list 10 different instances throughout the United States where billions of governmental dollars are being spent to outfit police forces with gear equivalent to their military counterparts. Police forces and military organizations operate under entirely different rules and regulations. Lines can become blurred when law enforcement officials begin to train as the military.

Martinot (n.d.) states “Profiling, probable cause, and a generalized paradigm of guilt by association become the engine of police activity and aggressiveness toward certain racialized ‘target populations’” (n.p.). The military does not always need probable cause due to the military intelligence in place where the law enforcement community does and through profiling can give the misconception that probable cause actually exists. Throughout history there have been instances where a more robust and better equipped law enforcement force may have been necessary, but to spend billions of dollars a year on making a Para-military police force in unnecessary and will only bring about trouble in the long run.

While there have been many things to force the evolution of the criminal justice system, none have been more influential than globalization, privatization, and militarization. They have altered the way the criminal justice system operates and how those outside of the organization view it. By learning the definition of globalization, privatization, and militarization and understanding the impact that each has on the criminal justice system, one can attempt to gauge what the future holds and attempt to plan and prepare for any issues that may arise.

American Civil Liberties Union (2013). The Militarization of Policing in America. Retrieved from http://www.aclu.org/militarization. Investopedia (2013). Privatization. Retrieved from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/privatization.asp. Larchi (2013). History of Globalization. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/larchi/history-of-globalisation. Martinot, S. (n.d.). The Militarization of the Police. Retrieved from http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~marto/milpol.htm. McClure, G. (2010). The Role of INTERPOL in Fighting Organized Crime. International Criminal Police Review. 1-9 Merriam-Webster (2013). Globalization. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/globalization. PICO National Network (2011). Unholy Alliance: How the private prison industry is corrupting our democracy and promoting mass incarceration. Public Campaign.

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