On the Criminal Justice System of any country lies great responsibilities for the general well-being of the country itself and for the citizens. Without a well-organized Criminal Justice System, the world would be in criminal chaos.
Definition of Crime
The study of Criminal Justice System has certainly to begin with the definition of crime. Criminal lawyers have been disputing over it for years and still there is no consensus as to the only, profound and unified definition of crime. Surely, crime is an offence, with which criminal law deals. One more certainty is that criminal courts operate the notions of crime (Farmer, 1997, p. 175).
Crime may also be defined as an illegal activity or an offence that is forbidden by the law. Any activity forbidden by the law is a crime, whether the person who commits it is caught or not. The relation of the crime to the law seems clear; the law controls, regulates the society and is aimed at preventing crimes. The crimes very often reflect the moral state of the country ("What Is a Crime?", n.d., n.p.).
There are two most common models of how society determines the acts as criminal. They are the consensus and criminal models. According to the consensus model, when people form a society, it means that they have common norms and values, thus it is their duty to come to a shared agreement. Otherwise, there may be a threat to the welfare of the whole society. In order to provide this welfare, the law punishes the illegal acts (Gaines & Miller, 2004, p. 5). In the consensus model, its name speaks for itself: in determining the acts as criminal people have reached a consensus, that is the agreement.
In the conflict model, people are divided into different groups according to their political views, economic status and some other factors, thus the perception of the criminal act depends on the particular group to which people belong. This model of criminal justice is a response to the consensus model, and is based on the reason that in large, diverse countries it is impossible to share common norms and values (Gaines & Miller, 2004, p. 6).
Government Structure of Criminal Justice System
The structure of Criminal Justice System consists of not only government powers, but also of national government and state government. The national government has its powers, like coining money and raising the army; these powers are of national importance. Other powers belong to the states. Thus, on the local level, counties and municipalities control the law enforcement. On the state level, there are ‘state police’ and ‘highway patrols’. On the federal level, police agencies are the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The courts are present at the federal and at the state levels. The criminal court brings a verdict of being guilty or innocent. The next system, which follows the court one, is the corrections system (Gaines & Miller, 2004, p. 12-13).
There are various choice theories, which assume the choice to commit a crime. The rational choice theory represent three types of criminals. They are the rational, the predestined, and the victimized criminals. The rational criminal’s choice is to commit a crime. The predestined criminals cannot control their actions, because of the environment in which they live. The victimized criminal acts like a victim of the unfair society. The contemporary trait theory states that the reasons for people to commit a crime hide in the set of genes, neurological problems and disorders of blood-chemistry nature. According to the social structure theory, biology does not play a significant role in the criminal behavior, as opposed to social factors. One more theory is the psychodynamic trait theory, suggested by Sigmund Freud, who believed that criminals’ egos are damaged ("Varying Theories on Crime", n.d., n.p.).
Components of Criminal Justice System and Criminal Justice Process
Law enforcement, the courts and corrections form the structure of the criminal justice system. These components have been dealt with above. The components of criminal justice process include the police investigation; suspects’ arrest; criminals’ prosecution; grand jury’s indictment; judge’s arraignment; pretrial detention. The last point here is either punishment or rehabilitation.
Goals of Criminal Justice System
Criminal Justice System pursues three main goals. Firstly, to control the crime; secondly, to do everything possible to prevent the crime; thirdly, to maintain justice. The control is carried out by punishing offenders. Implementing harsh punishments for the crime represent the preventive goal of the criminal justice system. The third goal is the hardest to achieve, as justice often deals with subjective terms (Gaines & Miller, 2004, p. 11).
The Criminal Justice System is a complex notion. It took many years to obtain the today’s form. In addition, the Criminal Justice System would for sure be ineffective and insufficient without appropriate agencies on local, national and federal levels of law enforcement. The government has set clear goals, which the Criminal Justice System pursues. Some of them are comparatively easy to achieve, while others, such as providing and maintaining justice is the most complicated one. For some people a crime may seem a serious one, and at the same time, other people perceive it as a legal act. This perception depends greatly on the norms of morality, I believe.
Farmer, L. (1997). Criminal law, tradition, and legal order. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gaines, L. & Miller, R. (2004). Criminal justice in action. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
The Process of Criminal Justice. Cliffsnotes.com. Retrieved 6 May 2016, from http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/criminal-justice/the-criminal-justice-system/the-process-of-criminal-justice
Varying Theories on Crime. Criminology.regis.edu. Retrieved 6 May 2016, from http://criminology.regis.edu/criminology-programs/resources/crim-articles/varying-theories-on-crime
What is a Crime?. FreeAdvice. Retrieved 6 May 2016, from http://criminal-law.freeadvice.com/criminal-law/criminal-law/crime_law.htm