1. How has penal populism changed the role of the public in the making of criminal justice policy?
The answer requires an understanding of the extent to which penal policies might be designed to win votes and satisfy the public, rather than purely being focused on addressing criminal justice problems. You might therefore identify the importance of public opinion in influencing criminal justice policy and the reluctance of policymakers to pursue policies that they think will be unpopular. As a result, you might discuss how the public have become more powerful in influencing which policies are adopted with populist policymakers attempting to introduce tougher penalties that they assume the public wish to see.
2. How have recent policies affected the principle of adversarial justice?
Adversarial justice is a system where the defence and prosecution are pitted against each other, each side vigorously pursuing its case, before judgment and sentencing occur, all within the setting of a court. In answering this question, you might consider, for example, out of court disposals such as community resolutions, different types of caution and Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs), and examine how these bring people into the criminal justice system without the benefit of a trial where the adversarial system would allow them to fully defend themselves.
3. What does due process require for admitting disputed confession evidence in a criminal trial?
To examine this question, you should think about the potential impact of confession evidence and why safeguards are important where the validity of a confession is disputed. You should explore the six ‘tests’ that are in place concerning the admissibility of disputed confessions (see table 25.3) and the provisions of PACE that relate to the admissibility and exclusion of evidence.
4. Why can the sanction of unpaid work (formerly known as community service) be said to have ‘protean’ qualities? Do you know of any other punishments with this characteristic?
The question requires you to consider first what we mean by ‘protean’ qualities and to think about the way community service can be adapted to suit specific circumstances, and deployed as a flexible form of punishment. You should then think about other forms of flexible and adaptable punishment, such as restorative justice.
5. What are the two key elements of Community Payback?
In answering this question, you should identify the importance of public confidence in community payback as a form of sentencing. The two key elements are:
1. That any work carried out by offenders should be visible.
2. That members of the public should be able to nominate projects that offenders carry out.
6. Why might the label ‘McJustice’ be appropriate for today’s criminal justice system?
To address this question, you should consider Ritzer’s idea of ‘The McDonaldization of Society’ (1993). If applied to criminal justice, your answer might explore how today’s criminal justice system prioritizes speed and efficiency as the hallmarks of a ‘good’ criminal justice system. This approach also demands more from its customers (think of the way that fast food chains require customers to carry their own food and dispose of their own rubbish) so that some of the burden of delivering the product is shifted onto the consumer. In addressing this issue, you may also examine the way in which there has been a focus on improved administrative and management processes within today’s criminal justice system.