It is an unfortunate reality but as the economic conditions get tighter and people become more desperate, crime increases. The American Heritage defines justice as “The quality of being just; fairness. The principal of moral rightness and equality. The upholding of what is just especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards, or law. The administration and procedure of the law. Conformity to fact or sound reason.” In contrast-Injustice is defined as a violation of another’s rights or of what is right; lack of justice, or simply an unjust act; wrong. In viewing both definitions, it is clear to see why Criminal justice is important; Justice takes more than one person or group to uphold the law.
This complex matter requires multiple groups working together as a team to up hold justice. When applied to our society, criminal justice is the system that assures fairness and equal treatment to all under its supervision. Why is it important to society as a whole? Without a criminal justice system, we would rapidly decline into anarchy. The strong would take from the weak, the wealthiest among us would rewrite the laws to better serve their interests as they already try to do, and those who were not strong or wealthy would be powerless against the onslaught.
The nation’s founding fathers recognized; almost predicted this potential danger and considered the fairness and rights so important that they drafted an equal branch of power in the Constitution focused on this idea. The Judicial Branch was created for the clarification and enforcement of the law, the Executive and Legislative branches to ensure that every citizen would have equal rights and receive equal treatment. Law enforcement ensures that laws are being obeyed, judges ensure that those who violate the law are punished fairly, and attorneys ensure that everyone has a voice in a court of law.
There are other agencies on a Federal level DEA, Homeland security; FBI and CIA to name a few that maintain the investigative and preventative protection on a national and international level. However while all of these systems are very important in the justice field, our focus here will be in the law enforcement, probation and corrections and correctional institutions.
Without a productive criminal justice system, our country would resemble that of a third world country. It is our criminal justice system and the ideas behind the judicial branch that make America the land of freedom and opportunity, that many envy. Punishment and rehabilitation are two of the four acknowledged objectives of the criminal justice system, with deterrence and incapacitation being the others. The expectations that our society has for the criminal justice system is to punish and rehabilitate individuals who commit crime, (Larrabee, 2006).In personal opinion, police officers/patrol do little in the Justice field. They monitor, assist intervene and arrest. They provide a presence and appear to uphold the law. I believe the important work is up-held in the courts and after arraignment. However, with today’s standards in court, little in the justice process encourages offenders to understand the consequences of their actions or to empathize with victims.
On the contrary, the adversarial game requires offenders to look out for themselves. Offenders are discouraged from acknowledging their responsibility and are given little opportunity to act on this responsibility in concrete ways. Do these offenders really learn from their mistakes or are the “slaps on the hands” teaching them it is ok to reoffend? This is where the importance of the Probationary department comes into play. They must attempt to enforce the rehabilitation aspect of the justice department. When we focus on punishment and incarcerate offenders who are not dangerous (including those who have committed victimless crimes), we consume precious correctional system resources that should be reserved for those offenders whom we must incapacitate for our protection (Price, 2002).
Probation service is a meaningful alternative to serving a prison sentence since its objectives are (as are its methods), characterized by the pretenses that everyone deserves the chance to change. With this method, offenders are rehabilitated by treatment and or education. Others are monitored by society through methods such as electronic monitoring or community control. While I think this is a program to set most up for failure, it is successful for others whom wish to change and prove their sincerity. The correctional institutions are designed to house those whom are unwilling to conform to society’s rules. This system must work closely with the courts to ensure the correct path for each inmate. Each institution is specially designed to house the different offenders coming in. Without the cooperation of the courts an inmate may be mis-housed. For example, someone with a history of grand theft maybe housed with violent crimes. The courts determine the level of security for each inmate by doing complete background checks along with character classifications, by the time the inmate walks through the prison doors little is left to be learned.
Corrections offer vocational opportunities to keep the inmate busy and if time permits the inmate may receive an education. However, this method is not without its failures. With the violence levels in prison systems and the need for personal protection, many offenders learn to be better criminals, when an offender enters the prison setting, he or she is not decreasing their contact to illegal behavior. Often, prison entry increases an offender’s socialization with other criminals. Prison acts as a breeding ground for criminals, where they are taught advanced levels of criminality, leading to more extreme criminal behavior post release (Tittle, 1974).
Crime is an activity that will always be present. For some this is something they cannot help, perhaps the environment has created the criminal. There will always be a demand for patrol/police officers to maintain order, Courts to defend them and or punish them, Probation officers to monitor, corrections to house and parole board(except in Florida) to enforce the treatments. This will always be a never ending cycle, sometimes society is lucky and a few is actually rehabilitated and has learned something is more important than crime But this is why the justice system exists, to Stand up for victims, to punish the bad, and hope to find the ones that truly wish to change.
The American Heritage dictionary. (2001). New York, N.Y: Dell Pub. Price, Marty J.D.( 2002). Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP)
Information and Resource Center. Retrieved June 12,2012 http://www.vorp.com/articles/crime.html Tittle, C. R. (1974). Prisons and rehabilitation: the inevitability of disfavor [Electronic
Larrabee, A K(2006, Nov 28) Punishment vs Rehabilitation in the Criminal Justice System,[Msg 17]. Message posted to Yahoo voices, legal network list, archived at http://voices.yahoo.com/punishment-vs-rehabilitation-criminal-justice-119962.html?cat=17