liberal | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee


Course: Introduction

The label liberal is used to denote a political view that focuses on change and a tendency to disregard tradition as valuable.

Contrast with liberal court decisions

The label liberal has been used in politics and society for decades. In general, it refers to a political view that values change and progress and is willing to question and challenge traditional values and beliefs. Liberals tend to advocate for greater individual freedoms and civil liberties, including the rights of marginalized and disadvantaged groups. They also tend to support government intervention in the economy and social policies aimed at reducing inequality.

In the context of the criminal justice system, liberal policies often center around rehabilitation and restorative justice. This means focusing on addressing the root causes of criminal behavior, such as poverty, addiction, and mental illness, rather than simply punishing individuals for their actions. Liberals also tend to be skeptical of harsh punishment, such as the death penalty and are more likely to support alternatives to incarceration, such as community service or probation.

While the term “liberal” is often used in a political context, it is also used more broadly to describe cultural and social attitudes. In this sense, liberal values may include a willingness to challenge traditional gender roles, support for LGBTQ rights, and a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity. Liberalism has historically been associated with social movements such as the civil rights movement and the feminist movement, which sought to challenge entrenched social norms and promote greater equality.

However, the term “liberal” is also often used as a pejorative by those who disagree with liberal values and policies. Critics of liberalism may argue that it is too focused on individual rights and freedoms at the expense of social stability and traditional values. They may also argue that liberal policies are too lenient on criminals and too reliant on government intervention in the economy.

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Last Modified: 04/08/2023


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