Should juries be informed of a defendant’s previuos criminal record? This is a question which could cause seriuous debate, depending on an individual’s point of view. One person might believe that only the facts or evidence of a particualr case are pertinent to the decision a jury should make. Another might take the position that any evidence is at best circumstantial and that the accuser’s character has at least as much bearing on the case as hard evidence does.
The existence of different perspectives is one hallmark of juries, which are supposed to be composed of a cross-section of the population. While some would be likely to hold, as indicated above, that tangible evidence and a person’s past are not related, i would not be one of them. What a person does in the past has a bearing on who they become in the future; history, and lives, are on a contiuum and events along that line are related, not mutually exclusive. Our past is certainly relevant when we apply for a job, for example, and we must present our potential employers with our employment history. Our ability in hte present nad future is judged at least somewhat by our past. At the very least, jurors must have the same opportunity as employers do. After all, they have a tougher task, to decide the fate of an accused person.
Is a criminal with a record more likely to commit crime again? Statistically, the answer is a resounding “yes!” Jurors, therfore, should not be required to make judement base in limited information. They cannot adequatly judge someone based only on what they know about one “moment in time.” Most people are able to present a good image when necessary, and we shoud not encourage juries to be swayed solely by momentary appearanc. “White collar” criminals are often able to get lighter sentence than they should because they do not look like the dtereotyped idea of a criminal.
Instead, they are able to look like respectable business people. The power to persuade should be balanced with the court room with the presentation off all available informatin about the accused from the past. Because recidivism is highly likely , knowing about a criminal ’s past crimes can prevent future crime.
The US is known as the land of the second chance, but the one thing we do not want to do is give criminals a second chance to commit crimes. We must not deliberately obcure their past. A person character is reflected in the access to all information about an accused especially a criminal record.