Management Challenges in Criminal Justice
Management Challenges in Criminal Justice
The criminal justice arena is made up of law enforcement, courts, and corrections and is vast as well as it is its own environment when referencing the leading or management of special groups. Numerous components within the criminal justice realm require team cooperation to be successful. In the law enforcement branch organized special groups such as Multi-agency gang and drug tasks forces, SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), CSI Crime Scene Investigation), and fugitive recovery units made up of cooperative entities of different agencies make up some of the organized teams of the law enforcement side of the criminal justice system. Courts are composed of prosecution teams, some of which specialize in specified criminal cases. Corrections are comprised of management that stresses both rehabilitation and incarceration as ordered by the courts. All of these organizations are composed of personnel trained as basic officers, then were chosen to be a part of a smaller, elite, and pinpointed organized group. Management in a criminal justice agencies is a challenge all its own, managing smaller groups that carry specified responsibility within an organization carry different set of challenges.
The criminal justice system is an environment that consists of law enforcement, courts, and corrections, though all are different entities, they strive to meet the same goal. The leadership within each of these entities has many challenges to face and conquer, one of which is that each has a different protocol when meeting the same goal of serving justice, yet each must accomplish this mission by different means. The challenge is the means by which each of the different branches is tasked to prove and execute their judiciary authority while maintaining a freedom of society. Legislation and courts place law enforcement at the forefront of detainment for a crime, which then puts the courts in motion. One challenge that is faced by management within the criminal justice system lies between the courts and the correctional branches. The challenge between the courts and correctional branches is the court system favors incarceration and the correctional system emphasizes rehabilitation back to society.
The common ground between these two branches is the teamwork between leadership that ensures the mission of each is completed and without out compromise of societies trust in the criminal justice system. Another challenge that management within such a vast system faces is budget shortages. These shortages affect all branches of the criminal justice system as well all levels including local, state, and federal authorities. Over the past several years most states have decreased funding as much as 15% as well half the states in the union have either delayed in filling judgeships or not filled them at all, thus forcing judges to sit on multiple bench roles, while other states were forced to lay off staff or take furlough (Associated Press, 2010). Management within these organizations is expected by society to provide adequate protection though their operating budgets are being decreased. Managers must find a motivation for their employees to complete tasks without incentive or praise while increasing responsibilities due to lack of potential man-power.
Challenges such as ethnic environmental changes around the globe also have an effect on the criminal justice system both in this country and abroad. These changes brought about situations that the criminal justice system was not prepared for; at the top of this concern is terrorism. The first World Trade Center raised concerns about foreign terrorism in the United States, then domestic terrorism became an issue in 1995 with Timothy McVeigh’s attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Larger concerns were raised and changes demanded after September 11, 2001, when the most deadly terror attack in this country was spawned. The question was raised concerning the country being adequately protected against terror attacks of that magnitude.
Confusion within the laws that were created from past terror attacks have led to accusations of innocent persons being part of terror organizations. Confusion arises because of a structure that allows for terrorists to slip through cracks and loopholes within the system (Wilson, 1985). This confusion causes leaders within the law enforcement community to balance the sides of the system that society has lost faith in. These managers would need to address issues, such as stereotyping of Middle Eastern persons and persons of questionable faiths that society may associate with terror organizations. These leaders would need to encourage fair and unbiased treatment regardless of ethnical differences.
A challenge that affects the criminal justice system, preferably the correctional branch, is facility overcrowding. Prison overcrowding is a major problem in this country as the massive bed shortage continues to grow at a rate of seven percent a year (Daniel Dunne, 2010). Overcrowding in prisons and jails area a constant issue due to the work of the law enforcement and court branches, in short, doing their jobs of incarceration and sentencing. Since this issue is caused by the other two branches fulfilling their sworn duties, there is no certain method currently available to solve this issue, thus it is for this reason that leaders within the two active branches must take into consideration charges and sentencing of an offender.
Leaders within the correctional branch find overcrowding more difficult during budget crises where programs are cut or dismantled in efforts to save money. Some wardens and other correctional managers have resorted to double or triple bunking of prison cells, some managers find this a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution as it does reflect cruel and unusual punishment. As this crisis continues, managers continue to show frustration as courts continue to sentence offenders to institutions with reduced room to house them properly.
The challenge mostly less obvious to the public is the political arena that criminal justice management faces. All three branches of the criminal justice system are affected by politics, from the legislation of laws to the employment of leaders within the system. Leaders must have the ability to adapt to both legal and political challenges (Allen & Sawhney, 2010). Most leaders and management of the criminal justices system are stuck in the middle between lobbyists for laws and annexations as well as other issues that benefit small entities of societies or communities but may not favor either as a whole. This political unrest faced by these leaders causes frustration, which leads to another challenge-communication to those employed in the system but not in management positions.
Communication barriers between management leaders and the subordinate group are commonplace. In any occupation there are two types of communication; one from the individuals within the occupation the other is from the organizations within the occupation. Management must overcome the challenge of communication from individuals’ interpretation of messages through clarity and explanation and the manner for which it was delivered. All three branches of the criminal justice system have their own terminology, language, and interpretation of messages. The main challenge for leadership is interpretation and standardizing of specified language to keep these messages on an even keel. Communication is among the most important tool in the criminal justice system and each individual organization; any failure can have a devastating effect on multiple individuals from the organization to the victim(s). Therefore, communication must be clear and concise with everyone in the criminal justice system with a strategy to overcome lapses.
Aside from the language barriers within the criminal justice system come two of the greatest challenges faced by the criminal justice system go together, as one usually does not occur without the other. Ethnical and cultural diversity issues can have an effect on society but even more so with a system of authority that operates off of communication and laws that may not be adhered to by people from outside of the observing community or country. Since this country is majority multicultural, it is important for the criminal justice system to recognize and respect these cultures as they have contact with them.
Because of this demand of recognition and respect, leaders within the criminal justice system must be open minded and go farther than the basic manager, they must become experts of these different ethnicities and teachers of their organized groups, thus educating them to better serving them as they have contact with them. Cultural diversity issues are the main argument in many criminal justice organizations. The lack of knowledge of groups lead to offense and distrust from groups towards authority, this then leads to hostility, non-compliance, and lack of involvement from communities of different ethnicities. For criminal justice agencies to be successful in a diverse environment, leaders must address religious differences, language differences, and cultural traditions that may need to be taken into consideration.
Lastly, the challenge of morality and ethics is always a concern for managing leadership in any organization. Management within the criminal justice system is always under scrutiny in reference to ethics and moral standards. Morals are instilled in individuals throughout life, ethics is taught through an organization’s environment. Leaders must find a happy medium when these two concerns clash and may cause a compromising situation. This common ground may need to appease both the moral of the organization’s personnel as well as the ethical conduct of the organization. Because the criminal justice field is held to standards higher than most of society, ethical conduct must be strict and understood when comparing to morals. Ethics will always be a concern, but superb leadership can stress adherence without improvising the system.
In conclusion, challenges within the criminal justice system’s management and leadership are never ending. Leaders and managers are vicariously held accountable for subordinate’s actions and must remain diligent with solutions to problems. To maintain proper adherence to policy and procedures, leadership must be diligent in their efforts of education and communication of their subordinate employees as well as receptive to their ideas and solutions to issues that may be a challenge to the system as well. These solutions can be instilled through training and promotion of ideas via strong structured leadership and motivation from within individual organizations in their entirety.
Allen, Jennifer & Sawhney, Rajeev, (2010) Administration and Management in Criminal justice.
Duelin, D. (2010) What are the Challenges Facing Leaders in the Criminal Justice Organizations. Retrieved from
Elias, P. (2011) State Budgets Clog Criminal Justice System. Retrieved from
Marwah, Sharpan. (2002) Report Shows U.S. Prisons Overcrowded. Retrieved from