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The conservative approach to criminal justice:
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The untimely death of due process

| October 10, 2018

Since the founding of our great nation and the development of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, Americans have been protected by due process.  The purpose of due process is to ensure fairness in all legal matters, both civil and criminal, and to prevent prejudicial or unequal treatment in the justice system. Essentially, due process acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, and property by the government outside the sanction of law.

But in the last few years, due process rights for the individual accused of criminal and civil actions have drastically eroded, especially so in the court of public opinion. We need look no further than the Senate Hearings regarding the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court, which provoked a prominent debate over due process.

Outside of the Kavanaugh nomination we can look to other examples  where other public officials and private citizens were denied their due process rights. Police officers are often tried in the court of public opinion through social media, causing prosecutors to respond with charges driven by public outrage rather than the elements of a criminal statute, furthering the public’s outrage when an acquittal occurs.  For private citizens, the continued practice of civil asset forfeiture allows government authorities to seize property without due process rights for the owner in many cases.

The constitutional guarantee of due process provides, “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” American jurisprudence is no longer the arbiter of criminal or civil due process. Instead, due process is decided in the court of public opinion, government regulations, and by salacious allegations.

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SHERIFF (Ret) CURRIE MYERS, PhD, is a Visiting Senior Fellow with Right on Crime. Dr. Myers has a combined 30 years of professional experience as a state trooper, special agent, sheriff, criminologist, professor, and university executive. Dr. Myers ended his law enforcement career as the sheriff of Johnson County, Kansas which serves a population of more than 600,000 citizens in the Kansas City Metropolitan area and is one of the largest sheriffs’ offices in the Midwest with nearly 750 employees and a jail population of approximately 1,000 inmates. He is a nationally recognized expert in criminal justice public policy as well as organizational management and leadership and has spoken at more than 1,000 local, state, and national conferences.

Academically, Dr. Myers has developed and taught more than 25 courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level including disciplines within criminal justice, criminology, organizational management, leadership, ethics, business, and in the humanities. As a senior university executive (school dean and associate vice president), he has rolled out new degree programs, new product lines and program concepts, conducted program reviews, and has development outcomes-based, applied learning curriculum in various forms of modality.

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