Criminal Justice System

The criminal justice system is charged with the responsibility of enhancing justice to all individuals. In particular, it prevents crime, controls crime and takes practical measures to provide and maintain justice to all segments of the society. In order to achieve this goal, the constituent institutions of the criminal justice system work in collaboration with each other. The effectiveness of the system is determined through various factors that include its ability to treat all persons equally irrespective of age, sex and gender, ability to enforce the law accordingly and protection of the rights of every individual in a given population. It is against this background that this paper seeks to explore the specific roles of the constituent institutions of the criminal justice system and how the same contribute to the attainment of its fundamental goals. In addition, the paper will provide an intrinsic assessment of whether the criminal justice system has attained its goals or not.

The Courts
Essentially, the courts provide a viable environment within which the disputes between different parties are settled in an amicable manner. They comprise of various personalities that are both professional and non professional. These include the judge, the prosecutor and defense attorney (Chambliss, 2001). The judge that is in some instances represented by the magistrate is charged with the responsibility of administering legal proceedings. Individuals in this post are knowledgeable of the law and they use their skills to provide final decisions regarding the offense under review. In some instances, this position is assumed by panel of judges or a jury. Often, the disputants are given a chance to argue before the judge and  the individual that provides the most compelling and sound arguments that are in line with the provisions of the law is favored. By providing an informed and sound decisions to the arguments presented before them, judges play a fundamental role in ending disputes and ensuring that justice is enforced.

The prosecutor, also referred to as a lawyer plays the critical role of bringing charges against an individual or entity (David, 2003). Essentially, she represents the state and presses charges against the offender. She provides a clear and detailed explanation about the crime to the court. In addition, the prosecutor provides the necessary evidence before the court that would ascertain that the activity that the offender engaged in was against the law. Notably, the prosecutor works in conjunction with the police and other investigation agencies to attain sufficient evidence that would concretize the case.
The defense attorney on the other hand plays the role of counseling the accused about the legal process (David, 2003). Generally, she represents the clients interests and raises evidentiary and procedural concerns. The defense counsel can also challenge the evidence provided by the prosecutor. Furthermore, she may present vital evidence to the court and argue the same on behalf of the client. This goes a long way in enhancing justice and ensuring that the offender is only proven guilty based on sufficient evidence. Ultimately, it ensures that both parties are given an equal chance for fair trial. Furthermore, by providing access to the services of a defense attorney that is paid by the government, the US criminal justice system has played a critical role in ensuring that the legal needs of all segments of the population are addressed accordingly.

However, the procedures of the court have been criticized by Mark (2004) who agues that they are clouded by a high level of discrimination and bias. In this respect, it is posited that in some cases, the charisma and wit of the lawyers and the defense attorneys, rather than the evidence provided has greatly influenced the final decisions made by the court. Mark (2004) indicates that the prosecutor and or the defense attorney in some cases use their charisma to manipulate factual information that would benefit the clients. It can not be disputed that the failure to differentiate between facts and hearsay has in some cases led to unfair judgment.Nonetheless it is worth acknowledging that the US court system plays a fundamental role in enhancing justice at various levels. It takes measures to avoid delays in the enforcement of justice. In particular, measures are undertaken to ensure that all cases are addressed effectively and finalized in a timely manner and the accused brought to book accordingly (Hanes  Sharon, 2005). This has enabled the involved individuals to save a great deal of resources that would have otherwise been used in emergent expenses.

In his review, David (2003) indicates that legal services are often costly and as such, not all segments of the society can afford the same. This concern has been addressed accordingly by the court system that provided an option of legal aid. This has enabled various persons from the low income segment to access legal services accordingly. In order to identify the specific persons that need the services, a means and merits test is undertaken. Basically, this screens the population to ensure that only those that deserve get the services. However, there is still a segment of the population that opts for self representation. This trend was noted in cases related to sexual assault. In order to compensate for this, the sexual assault act prevents cross examination of the victims that are self represented. Instead, the court officials ask questions on behalf of the accused.  Such measures have gone a long way in preventing the possibility of manipulating these victims.

Additionally, Mark (2004) points out that the lack of knowledge about the legal system by the self represented individual is likely to undermine the justice that the victim is accorded by the court system. To address this, the law requires the judges to seek a fair for the individual that are self represented (Mark, 2004). This assistance to the self represented personalities is instrumental in according all parties a fair trial.

Correctional Facilities
After the court has made its final decisions and the offender is found guilty, she is handed over to the correctional facilities that are also referred to as prisons. These institutions are charged with the responsibility of administering punishment to the offender. Usually, punishment takes different forms and reflects the severity of the offense. In this respect, Hanes and Sharon (2005) indicate that it ranges from the traditional shame and exile to the modern forms that include payment of fines and community service. In addition, the punishment serves different functions that range from revenge to inhibition of the ability to perpetrate more crimes.

In order to prevent the recurrence of crime and ensure that the resources allocated to the criminal justice system are utilized in an effective manner, Chambliss (2001) posits that viable and sustainable preventive measures need to be put in place. To address this, rehabilitation centers have been established to cater for the needs of the guilty offenders. In this, programs are established to address their specific behavioral concerns. In the long run, they mend their ways and statistics indicate that it is often unlikely for them to engage in future crime.

The corrective facilities have also mainstreamed the principles of deterrence in their punishments. Essentially, this seeks to discourage the population from committing crime. This is achieved through taking measures to decrease their willingness to engage in crime. In this respect, Mark (2004) cites two approaches that are commonly employed. These include general and specific deterrence. The former strategy employs an example of a third party to discourage persons from breaking the law while the latter punishes the criminals to prevent them from engaging in crime in future. Despite the fact that this approach is often not effective for hardened criminals, Mark (2004) maintains that it has been instrumental in addressing minor crimes.

Further, it is indicated that retribution has been employed by the prisons to address crime in a sustainable manner. This refers to a means of payback of a form of revenge to the criminal for the crimes committed. In this regard, the community is involved in determining the punishment of the criminal. Usually, the commitment of a crime attracts various responses from the community groups as well as members of the community. In areas where the society perceives the punishment to be inadequate, it is allowed to resort to private revenge.

The correctional facilities have also employed the concept of incapacitation. The underlying goal of this strategy is to make the criminal incapable of engaging in crime in future. Specific actions employed in this regard include detaining the offender in prison or at home. In his study, Fuller (2005) indicates that this is instrumental in protecting the population and society at large from the harmful effects of hardened criminals and or those that are likely to re-offend.

In some cases, correctional facilities employ re-integrative shaming. This method has been instrumental especially when the offense is related to behavioral constraints. The offenders are usually encouraged to continuously confront their respective offenses are feel shame. The feeling of shame is usually embarrassing and it is believed that it makes the offender pay for the harm that is caused to the society by his or her actions (Fuller, 2005).

In an era that is characterized by scarce resources, it is imperative for the criminal justice system to use the resources that it is allocated in an effective manner. One approach that has been devised to enhance efficient use of resources by the court system is the establishment of alternative punishment. Ideally, imprisonment is relatively expensive and it requires significant resources for smooth operation. Alternative punishments like fines, probation orders, home detention, community service and periodic detention have been instrumental in enabling the criminal justice to reduce the costs that are used in running the same (David, 2003).

The correctional facilities also provide relevant compensations to the victims and the society. However, this has been compounded with various controversies with regard to the effectiveness of the same. In this respect, Mark (2004) indicates that the compensations are not effective in cases that the offender receives more amount than the victim.

The correctional facilities have also provided for the needs of the juvenile criminals. In this regard, Mark (2004) ascertains that it is often difficult to determine whether the child offender engaged in the criminal activities intentionally or unintentionally. In order to effectively address the needs of the young offenders, the law has provided for several alternative conflict resolution approaches.  Of great importance in this respect is the youth justice conferencing program that seeks to come up with an agreement that may takes the form of penalty for the given offense, rehabilitation, apology and or reparation. However, the effectiveness of this has often been questioned especially when dealing with violent cases.

In addition, the offenders that are in the process of trial, those awaiting sentencing and those awaiting trial are often granted bails. When granting this, the magistrates and judges put in to consideration various factors that range from the nature of the offense, probability of the criminal to attend the court, the offenders interest and the protection of the welfare of the victims, the offender and the society at large (David, 2003).

The Police Force
These are also referred to as the law enforcers and they are usually the first to interact with the offender. Essentially, they undertake vital investigations and make relevant arrests in accordance with the law. The law empowers them to employ legal coercion and force during the execution of their duties. Notably, their fundamental goal is to enforce law and order. Nevertheless, they provide other relative services that contribute immensely to enhancement of justice.

To prevent the occurrence of crime in different neighborhoods, the police have increasingly assumed community policing (Chambliss, 2001). In this, the public works in collaboration with the police and provides vital information about crime in the specific locality. It is contended that the public often has vital information regarding the occurrence and nature of crimes in the given locality. The police enhance their interaction with the public through foot patrols. During these, they have a chance to talk to the citizens and collect relevant information. Hans and Sharon (2005) affirm that this information enables the police to take timely measures to prevent the occurrence of crime in the neighborhoods.

By raising public awareness about crime, the police have played an important role in preventing crime. In this respect, Mark (2004) indicates that they visit learning institutions and educate the young people about crime. Further, it should be appreciated that this segment of the population is more vulnerable to crime than the rest of the population because of the nature of its developmental stage. This approach by the police can be considered an intervention measure as the youngsters are equipped with vital knowledge regarding how they can avoid delinquency. David (2003) ascertains that this measure has been particularly effective in reducing incidences of juvenile delinquency in California.

Further, by patrolling different areas and arresting the persons found breaking the law, the police have been elemental in restoring law and order. Often, these individuals are found within the population and their activities disrupt the normal functioning of the society. In addition, Mark (2004) indicates that the police often play a critical role in addressing various emergencies and accidents. As such, they save the lives of more criminals by for instance controlling traffic during accidents. The police have also been involved in random car searches. These are often geared towards preventing criminal activities like terrorism. Various tools like profiling are used to identify the suspects accordingly. This has been instrumental in reducing the incidences of terrorism across the globe.

The police also investigate various crimes and develop a comprehensive report regarding the causes, effects, offenders and victims of the same. By identifying the various variables of a crime, the police establish relationships between the same. This is fundamental as it enables them to develop a customized approach with regard to prevention of crimes. For example, studies ascertain that establishment of relationships between juvenile delinquency and the causal factors have contributed a great deal to effective design of youth programs. The investigative reports that the police develop are also used by the courts to provide evidence of crime (Mark, 2004).

Furthermore, the police help the prison department in transporting criminals from one prison to another. It can be posited that this has gone a long way in preventing the criminals from harming the society. In addition, it has enabled the prisons to operate smoothly without major disruptions through their provision of security services whenever they are requested by the government. Further, the police play an important role in saving lives during disasters. In particular, Fuller (2005) indicates that they provide security to the victims and train extra personnel to aid in disaster management. A classic example in this respect is exemplified by the role of the police in Iraq war. Of great importance however has been their ability to operate CCTV that detects crime. Fuller (2005) ascertains that CCTV is important in detection of crime in various localities and instances. Indeed, indoor crime has been reportedly monitored using the CCTV. It is also noteworthy that CCTV has been vital in prevention of terrorism. It is because of the fact that that it makes it easier for the criminals to be identified and apprehended accordingly.

At this point in time, it can be argued that the criminal justice system is still confronted with various challenges that undermine its effectiveness in service delivery. As indicated in the preceding analysis, the system has limited resources that undermine the execution of particular programs. This has made the correctional facilities to resort to alternative methods of punishment, apart from imprisonment. Nevertheless, it can be contended that the alternatives have also been instrumental in enforcing justice. In addition, David (2003) indicates that the complexity of the duties carried out under the system has in some instances led to internal conflicts. This happens when the fundamental code of ethics is contravened. For instance, the police are cited to employ lies during investigation. In some instances, they have been reported to use excessive force on the individuals. Despite the fact that all this is geared towards enhancement of justice, Hanes and Sharon (2005) indicates that it infringes upon the rights of the individuals.

Nevertheless, it can be acknowledged that the system has played an elemental role in preventing crime, controlling crime and providing justice to all segments of the population. Indeed, the efforts made to enhance fair trial by the courts, to provide factual information by the police and to offer preferential treatment to the juvenile offenders by the correctional facilities can not be over looked. Despite the shortcomings, this system has maintained justice to all.

In conclusion, it can be ascertained that the criminal justice system has made significant efforts in attainment of its goals and objectives. In particular, its constituent institutions have played various roles that seek to prevent crime, control crime and maintain justice. However, it is also certain that these have been compounded by various shortcomings. Nevertheless, the system has been instrumental in reinforcing justice and ensuring that all individuals are treated equally.


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