Criminal Justice System Research Papers
This criminal justice research paper discusses the criminal justice systems in the United States, focusing on the police, the judicial process, and corrections. Brief histories of the origin of the criminal justice system may also be discussed in the research. Reference to plea bargaining is also focused upon in Criminal Justice Research Paper.
Basically, every organized nation in the world has some type of system whereby criminals are dealt with in order to preserve that society and protect its citizens. Most criminal justice systems are comprised of three segments. These include the police, the judicial process, and corrections. While the American system varies somewhat from municipality to municipality, county to county, and state to state, there are even greater variations among different countries.
Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, the criminal justice system of the United States cycled through a number of different philosophies and approaches. In the 1960s and 1970s, a move toward rehabilitation, paired with a relatively lenient approach to the prosecution of small-scale drug possession charges, resulted in declining prison populations in many states.
However, in the 1980s and 1990s, a number of factors served to increase the severity and duration of prison sentences. The crack cocaine epidemic that traumatized many poor, minority communities was met with increased penalties for possession and distribution of illegal drugs. In addition, a general sense that more rigorous sentencing procedures were needed to stem the rising crime rate also compelled a number of new sentencing guidelines. The end result of these trends was a precipitous increase in the prison population in the United States.
One of the innovations that dated from this period was the implementation of mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders in many jurisdictions. These statutes were created with the intent of targeting career criminals and deterring recidivism among this population. However, many critics now charge that these sentencing practices have been ineffective and unfair.
Overall, the American system of justice has its roots in the Constitution, which states the basic rights of all citizens. The process of justice has changed very little with regard to procedure since its inception. Due to the nature of their work, police are the most visible aspect of the criminal justice system. As a result, they are often scrutinized by the general public, and criticized for being too lenient or too harsh. This criticism stems from the fact that police have discretionary power in determining who will be arrested and for what reason.
Prison administration follows either one of the following systems:
- An open systems approach - In the open systems approach to prison administration officials seek input from outside sources who are directly impacted by administration decisions or who have a stake in the decisions made.
- A closed systems approach - In the closed system approach the prison operates much like a separate country. Prison administrators make all decisions and no effort is made to gain outside support or input.
I Other minimum-security institutions utilize the open systems approach by building prisons without guard towers and fences as a way to further the goal of rehabilitation. The open systems approach is viewed as more favorable in that it allows individuals from outside the prison to monitor how the institution is run. This approach greatly decreases the chances for prisoner abuse. The open system approach increases stakeholder satisfaction with decisions made and the willingness of stakeholders to support change initiatives. The open systems approach also facilitates the gathering of information by increasing the number of sources able to provide input.