The Cost of Justice


Expenditures on corrections at the state and federal level in the modern American conception of justice have created a lot of concern and have prompted cost/benefit analysis of the processes and procedures. The founders of America in forming a democracy comprised of three main branches; one of them being the judicial branch meant to protect people's rights through the courts and the people's freedoms against the burden as may be applied by the other government branches (Aos et al., 2007). The constitution henceforth develops a judiciary that is autonomous although equal in stature to the legislative and executive branches. At both levels of the state and the entire America, independent courts are very imperative when it comes to preserving and maintaining the system of the constitution in ensuring checks and balances while defending the constitutional rights of the American people (James & Roger, 2004). However, there have been fiscal issues in the states that have severely affected the ability of the judicial systems of the state to accomplish their crucial duties as per the constitution.

The Constitution Project's Courts Initiative in 2000 produced uncertain justice which was characterized with bipartisan task force publications touching on matters of the independence of American courts like the selection in the judiciary, judges' criticism and the limits of legislation as well as the exclusion of the influence of the court (James, 2002). This report of 2000 showed that courts lacked adequate resources and that judges did not carry out their crucial functions as expected. It further went to show the restrictions made to people and how hard it had become to access courts. This was all in the quest of establishing the cost of justice. This posed budgetary pressure to the courts in America. The tax payer's money apparently was not being used for the right purpose but instead has been squandered in fruitless efforts of providing justice.  The results of budgetary cutbacks thus needed to be explored on the state judicial systems as a way of ensuring effectiveness (James & Roger, 2004).

The federal government established by the constitution was designed in a way that each branch functions without interfering with each other. Despite the importance of the judiciary, the cost of justice has been alarming over the recent years. The Justice system was meant to be accessible to all people through the courts both at the state and federal levels. Apparently, the cost of   seeking protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals from overreaching by popular and political majorities is becoming hard to come by. The judiciary appears like it is taking the form of the legislative and executive arms of the government where the majority has the say. Even though the judiciary has equal stature and important duties as per the constitution, there are indeed special political hindrances to enough funding. The cost of justice is thus becoming more and more due to politics. Only few people are able to access the courts and get justice (James & Roger, 2004). Due to the challenges that the judiciary is facing, there has been a lot of inefficiency in delivering its services to the people. It should appeal annually to the executive and legislative branches to uphold its existence (James, 2002).

Since not many people have an experience with the courts, there has been insignificant constituency supporting financing the judicial system. There has been little political will towards protecting the judiciary from sudden budget cuts that are a threat to its power to conduct its responsibilities as mandated by the constitution. With all this ignorance and neglect, the burden would weigh more on the poor and the vulnerable (Aos et al., 2006). The ambitions of the executive and legislative arms coupled with politics overrides the interests of the judiciary. The system thus becomes complicated and hard to reach to the mass. Crises of money in the states have amounted to huge cuts in their respective budgets.

The burdens of the states have shifted to the people of the land. The three branches of government including the judicial branch have found their options and resources ever limited (Adams, 2003). They have been forced to go through sudden cutbacks in some cases. These budgetary cuts have thus affected the work of the judicial system at state level. This again, replicates at the federal level. Ultimately, it costs the states very little amount to finance the judiciaries. Even after such a lesser funding, the cost of justice for the masses remains the same. With this little funding by the state, the burden is weightier on the side of the common man. In many of the cases, the whole budget of the system of justice has been found less than 4% of the annual overall allocation in the budget. It is even worse in some cases. Businesses, families, individuals and families go to courts to resolve disputes or even provide a forum of complaints for crime and deal with crucial matters with significant consumer, environmental as well as financial ramifications (James & Roger, 2004). With insufficient financing given to the judicial system, accessing justice has been highly threatened. This condition does not in any way protect the constitutional rights of many people to access the state and federal courts.

The shortages of court funding amongst the states in the recent past have been made manifest through a number of detrimental ways. A number of states closed courthouse doors and therefore limiting the access to justice for many people (James & Roger, 2001). With many cases and few courts, the cost of justice is therefore being greatly challenged. The consequences resulting from the cost of justice include the reduction of the judges together with the general staff: front office personnel, law clerks among others who are critical to the justice process. Thus, cases have been derailed and not been handled in a timely fashion. The increased time in dealing with the cases increases the cost of handling the cases. Thus, the cost of justice is alarming and requires a spontaneous remedy.