Court Issues and Victims' Rights

Part A

The knowledge of English is vitally important for every person who comes to our country, especially if the purpose of their arrival is connected with work. Knowledge of the language not only promotes success in work, opens new horizons and gives the chance of communicating with people, but also allows protecting oneself in trial. However, many foreigners who come to the USA face a problem of a language barrier. Complex language support, including granting judicial translators for various affairs, has always been one of the priority issues for courts of the USA. In this regard, the judicial branch authorities of Nevada maintain the need of further expansion of language support services in courts. Courts look for new solutions of these problems, including a more effective use of the available resources for improvement and expansion of access to language support at the state level.

The population of the USA is one of the most diverse in the world. Though this cultural and ethnic alloy is one of the greatest assets of the country, it creates certain difficulties when providing the state services, in particular, those related to courts. About 7 million inhabitants of Nevada cannot get access to justice without essential language support. The regulator of the state's judicial system has to develop a plan to overcome this language barrier at the level of a state which will provide access to language support within the judicial system.

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Overcoming of a language barrier allows people to get access to a full range of services with limited-English-proficient (LEP). People use judicial services because they have problems which they cannot solve on their own. Without appropriate language support those people who have problems with English language but want to appeal to court are not able to take full part in the trial. Many participants of judicial proceedings with LEP appear in court without a lawyer, and courts cannot invite their friends or native speakers as translators, because they often do not know the judicial language and are not familiar with legal proceedings (Herman, 2001, p. 70). Besides, vital needs of a person who appeals to court and does not know English are not limited to the courtroom — a necessity for language support extends on all places of rendering of services, including advice centers, judicial clinics, and so on.

In order to show the essence of a problem concerning a language barrier, it is appropriate to give an example of a situation that has happened in Belgium. It is reported that the 25-year-old Brazilian was detained at the airport of Brussels. In a luggage carrier of the young man there were found about five kilograms of cocaine. The case of the Brazilian who transported drugs was immediately submitted to the investigator. However, as local mass media report, the alleged drug trafficker was released by the investigator for the silliest reason: it became clear that interlocutors did not understand each other. After unsuccessful attempts to find a translator of the Portuguese language, the suspect was released. It appeared to be difficult to find someone who knows Portuguese. And the investigator preferred to avoid the problems connected with the language barrier. Thus, the citizen of Brazil who was accused of storage and transportation of drugs, having left the courthouse, immediately took a taxi and went to the airport. There he bought a ticket and took off home where he would hardly be found or brought to trial. Now the case is investigated by higher instances.

The investigators working in America for a long time complain about a language barrier when communicating with individuals involved in criminal cases, witnesses, victims and colleagues from other countries, and also when working with documents. In recent years, foreigners treat law enforcement agencies equally: even if they know English well, during detention they urgently "forget" it. And to carry out the process of investigation without a translator means violating the rights of the suspect. Quality of a consequence and destiny of criminal case in court depends on the accuracy of translation. For example, a case can collapse if defendants declare that the investigator incorrectly understood their testimony.

All in all, availability of justice and courts to all people, irrespective of the level of proficiency in English, is the fundamental purpose of the judicial system of Nevada. It is essential to create and develop a plan for overcoming of a language barrier in courts of Nevada.

Part B

Thus, American prison conditions have been reformed over time, and along with those reforms the way of treating the offenders has also changed. New policies have been developed in regards to the treatment and punishment of inmates. In early American history, inmates had virtually no rights. Today, inmates are granted fundamental rights provided by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, at times these rights are not implemented. In the USA, there is a "business" operating work of prisoners. Every 10th prisoner in our country is kept in prison that has a commercial background. This is a rather new public phenomenon in the life of America violating the rights of prisoners. It deserves to be discussed in this paper. 

Nowadays, there are 220 thousand people in the USA who are imprisoned in "commercial prisons". In the modern literature of American authors this phenomenon was named "prison slavery", which means the use of prisoners’ work. It is necessary to specify that this means the use of prisoners’ work for the private capital. Privatization of human work in our country is usually made in two different ways: delivery of prisoners by the state prisons as labor in rent to the private companies; the ownership of prison establishments, their transformation into the private structures of different forms of privatization (including joint-stock). 

 The 13th amendment to the Constitution of the USA forbids forced labor but contains the boundary stating that slavery and violent coercion to work should not exist in the USA, except as a punishment for committing a crime. Thus, slavery in American prisons is quite lawful. The first rent of human work ("rent" of prisoners) appeared in the USA in the XIX century - immediately after the Civil War of 1861-1865 and cancellation of direct slavery for elimination of an urgent need in cheap labor. The slaves who were released to freedom were accused that they ran into debt to those owners who possessed small thefts and were kept in prisons. Then they were "leased" for collecting cotton, constructing the railroads, and working in mines. It is known that at the beginning of the new century, nearly thirty seven states legalized the use of the "rented" prisoners’ work by the private companies. 

Benefit from such "cooperation" is obvious to certain private companies: they pay the "rented" slaves the minimum wages established in a state. American prisoners of some Southern states (including Nevada) are in a difficult situation, as even now they work on the cotton plantations. The second form of "prison slavery" is used by private prisons that were developed in the 1980s during the government of President R. Reagan. However, J. Bush Sr. and Clinton continued this privatization of the state prisons. It is widely known that Massey Burch Investment was the first company that in privatized the state prison in Tennessee in 1983.

The private prison corporations sign long-term agreements with those who govern a prison. Thus they receive certain funds for each person who is kept in prison. Compensation of a prisoner is defined by the company. Compensation in prisons usually makes 17 cents for an hour. No more than 50 cents is paid for the most skilled work. In prisons, unlike production companies, prisoners are not able to organize strikes, create trade-union activity, and have holidays. In order to stimulate prisoners to work, employers promise "for well-done work" to reduce the term of "prison term". The prison industry of the USA is based on direct and indirect use by the private capital of prisoners’ labor. Indirect use means that the company production is carried out by administration of a prison, and production made by prisoners on the basis of the contract is delivered to the private corporations. The price of such production is usually much lower than the market price. It is rather difficult to count the scale of indirect use of work of the USA in terms of the private companies. There are a large number of abuses because of the administration in the state prison and private company.

To sum up, it is extremely vital to respect the dignity of the personality and the rights of all members of a society. It is also necessary to recognize that a prisoner can become a law-abiding citizen for the rest of life. In addition, people should always be treated as human beings, and it is not important who they are at the present – prisoners or free citizens. The fact that people who have consciously or by mistake committed a crime are imprisoned does not exempt the society from taking care of them.