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Free essay on criminal justice organization and administration

The United States Justice System

The United States Criminal Justice system comprises of processes, agencies set up by the government to promote the prevention, and control of crime in addition to providing correctional measures against those found violating the laws. The history of criminal justice systems in the United States can be traced to the American Colonial whereby philosophical and religious concepts influenced the criminal justice system. The US criminal justice system is structured in such a manner that it is strictly concerned with issues associated with the violation of criminal laws and when, interpreted, the UScriminal justice system strictly deals with the enforcement and procedures of criminal law. As such, the aims of the US criminal justice system are controlling crime and assuring due process (Gottschalk, 2011).

The US criminal justice system comprises of three components the police, courts, and correctional facilities and processes. These components interact with the criminal justice system depending on the nature of functions performed under these components. Analysis of the US criminal justice system reveals that these components are found in three other categories: military, state, and federal subdivisions. The components of the US criminal justice system can be reviewed as follows:

Law Enforcement (Police)

Historically, modern law enforcement is traceable to the ninth century whereby families were categorized together to ensure that members developed responsible behaviors. Constables were appointed to watch over the families by maintaining peace and performing security duties. Since, the structural administration of the police force has undergone different transformations that have enabled to perform additional functions other than controlling crime and apprehending individuals found committing criminal acts. Law enforcement is perhaps the most vital and equally dangerous component in the US criminal justice system. Law enforcement officers collect intelligent information relating to criminal activities within their areas of jurisdiction.

An investigation process whereby information is gathered follows this process and the evidence is protected. It forcefully crucial to ensure all information collected regarding criminal activities is strong enough for prosecution purposes in court. It also determines the level of discretion that will determine whether police officers will warn, arrest, or continue with the investigation. In case the suspect is arrested, law enforcement officers will present the information to prosecutors, who are charged with responsibility of leading the prosecution of suspected offenders. Whether the prosecutor will file the case or charge the suspect with a probable cause, he provides evidence based on actus reus and mens rea (Gottschalk, 2011). These entails providing evidence to proof that the suspect did commit the criminal offense and had mental knowledge that the action committed was a crime.

Issues and challenges faced by Law Enforcement (Police)

Several issues hinder normal operations within this component of the criminal justice system. Generally, law enforcement agencies are understaffed; lack the necessary technologies, and financial funding to facilitate their crime prevention initiatives (Gottschalk, 2011). First, corruption and fraud is very rampant among law enforcement officers. A clear example is the case where law enforcement officers receive bribes in order to let free crime offenders. However petty the crime might seem to be, it ethically in appropriate to accept bribes in exchange for criminal offenses. Second, the public have negative opinions and perceptions about law enforcement officers (Frank, Smith, and Novak, 2005). As such, members from the public are often dissatisfied with the police thereby leading to law cooperation in fighting crime. Third, law enforcement discretion often makes officers to misuse their discretionary powers when delivering individualized justice (Fox, Nobles, and Piquero, 2009). Regulatory measures must be put in place to ensure that police discretion is regulated. Lastly, information sharing among law enforcement officers and other agencies is very low due to the “need to know” verses “need to share” doctrines. Law enforcement agencies hide vital information from each other thereby affecting the strength of the police force.

The Courts

This component of the US criminal justice system comprises of defense and prosecution lawyers, juries, and judges. One of the most important aspects of the US criminal justice system is that all suspects receive fair trial and will remain innocent until proven guilty. Prosecutors are responsible for representing the federal or state government throughout the court process right from the time the suspected is arraigned in court until the suspected is sentenced or acquitted. As such, prosecutors review all evidences brought to them by law enforcement officers and make decisions as to whether to file for charges or prosecute the case. It is their duty to present evidence in court, cross-examine witnesses, and if charges are filed, they can engage the defendants in plea bargains. Prosecutors exercise great discretion and hence, the direction of any case depends on their choices. On the other hand, defense attorneys defend the accused against the charges filed against him. Judges are responsible for finding facts in the cases presented by prosecutors; they hear the cases, and presiding over participants involved in the case to ensure that rules and regulations are followed during the entire trial process.

A number of processes are followed before a sentence can be passed. The first stage involves prosecution and pre-trial. Here, evidenced brought by law enforcement officers is read and the prosecution makes informed decisions. The next process is the first court appearance whereby the suspect is brought in court after a case has been filed. The judge uses the provided evidenced to hold or release the accused. Another component in this section involves bail or bonds in case the suspect is released to provide a surety that the accused will appear during the next proceeding. Grand Jury or Preliminary Hearing involves hearing cases by the grand jury that passes an indictment in situations where enough evidence has been provided. Another process under this stage is the court arraignment whereby the defendant is brought to court and his charges are mentioned. The accused can either plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Pleading guilty or no contest leads to a situation where no trial is held. However, if the accused pleads not guilty, a date for trial is set and if the defendants agree to a plea negotiation, no trial will be held.

The Adjudication or the trial process is the next stage in the court process and determines the outcome of the case. Many a times, cases are resolved through plea agreements whereby the accused pleads guilty to the charges leveled against in exchange for a lesser degree of the charged offense, dismissal, or a recommendation for a more lenient sentence. If trials are held before a judge or bench trial, the defense attorney and the prosecutor produce evidence of the crime and cross-examine witnesses. If the jury finds the defendant not guilty, he/she will be released; if found guilty, the date for sentencing is set. The last stage in the court system is the post-trial stage whereby sentencing is issued. During sentencing, the case is read and the impacts to the victim as are mentioned. Judges often have a range of choices to make and this includes paying the offended the costs suffered (restitution), fines, imprisonment, probation, or death penalty. The case can also be appealed in special circumstances.

Issues and challenges faced by Courts

Court systems within the US criminal justice system are tainted with various challenges, issues, and criticisms. Equally, court systems lack enough funding, the state of the art technological equipment, and enough administrative personnel to help with various court processes (Peak, 2001). This has created room for the proliferation of the following challenges. First, discrimination, biasness, and prejudice are extremely rampant among jury members, lawyers, and judges thereby leading to the destruction of court’s credibility. Second, the court systems have structured in such complex manner that it becomes extremely difficult for the nonprofessional to understand (leave alone participating in) the entire legal process (Peak, 2001). Third, corruption and bribery is another ethical challenge that impedes normal court operations thereby denying fair trial and justice delivery to the oppressed persons. Fourth, court delays and case postponement is another challenge that prevents the process of delivering justice. Lastly, court manipulations by prosecuting attorneys or lack of enough evidence from law enforcement officers can lead to wrong inferences and justice denial. Some decisions made in courts still warrants a lot discussion and equally varied debates as far as ethics and morality is concerned. Of notable complexity is ruling a death penalty to the offender (Peak, 2001).


This forms the third and last component of the US criminal justice system and it is aimed at upholding and administering sentences that were issued by judges. Correctional systems in the US justice system not only complex but it are important in the criminal justice system. Examples of components within correctional facilities include prisons, jails, parole officers, probation officers, and correctional officers. Majority of these individuals are responsible for ensuring that the victims suffer the punishment passed against them and in ensuring that other stipulations are enacted. Prison serves as the most popular form of correction in the US criminal justice system. This can be attributed to a range of different functions that prison authorities serve. The correctional feature of the prison is the removal of the offender from the community thereby limiting his opportunities and likelihood of committing criminal offenses. Additionally, prison systems are associated with a lot of discomfort and suffering thereby acting as a form of justice to the victim of crime committed. Furthermore, prison facilities provide ideal channel for rehabilitation whereby offenders can be offered more opportunities to enable them learn artisanship, further their studies, and learn how to trade among other skills. Religious institutions are also present in the criminal justice system to inculcate some morality and ethics to the inmates.

Challenges and issues faced in correction systems

A myriad of issues, problems, and challenges are faced within correctional facilities. Beginning with congestions, to sexual harassment, to drug use, and eventually capital punishment questions the practicability of correctional facilities (Fox, Nobles, and Piquero, 2009). Funding correctional facilities is an expensive venture due to complexities associated with the management and administration of correctional facilities. In this modern technological era, correctional facilities such as prisons are still managed using technological equipment that was installed decades ago. Levels of hygiene and living standards within correctional facilities are also low.

Proposed Administrative Model

The examination of the US criminal justice system has revealed some loopholes that should be addressed in order to restore credibility to processes within the criminal justice system. This new model proposes values that support values of the due process model of criminal administration and the crime control model. The later model places much value in the regulation of criminal behavior whereas the former model of criminal administration places much emphasis on the rights of the individual (Skogan, 2005). By having one improved system, the criminal justice system will not be understood from the perspective of being two separate value systems that compete in justice delivery within the criminal process (Skogan, 2005). The crime control model seems to propose some conservative values within the criminal justice system whereas the due process model presents some liberal values. As such, the criminal justice system has been subjected to loopholes emanating from political wrangles. Therefore, improvements should be within each individual component of the criminal justice system under the new model.

Law Enforcement officers (police)

Police functions is to uphold order and law within the society and hence, repressing crime should one of their major functions in order to achieve order within the society.

Police officers should carry out their independent investigations without necessarily having to vindicate victims’ rights or protecting the rights of defendants

There should be regulatory measures to control police powers during investigation, searches, and seizures, arresting or convicting suspects.

Police departments should be allocated more funding to strengthen their capabilities of investigating crime. Frequent funding should also be allocated for training law enforcement officers on new crime detection and prevention techniques

State of the art technologies should be incorporated into the crime investigation programs to provide more evidence.

The Courts

Court delays, under staffing; bribery, corruption, and lack of technological facilities are some of the factors that have hampered smooth operations within court systems. Under the new model, the following improvements should be added to the existing model:
Incorporate of state-of-the-art technologies to facilitate various court processes and as well to promote easier access of court documents and materials.

Increase remuneration of court judges and juries to minimize cases of corruption, bribery and biasness.

Review the legal processes to make it easier for the layman to not only understand but also participate in court proceedings.

Accept video materials as part of evidences if presented by victims or prosecuting attorneys.

Increase the number of staff members in court systems to minimize cases of court delays.

Implement new court systems whereby each particular court will be addressing particular types of crime to minimize congestions and backlogs within the court system.

Do away numerous trial processes.

Correctional Facilities having identified prison systems as the most important facilities, several changes will be made in the new model and these changes include the following:

Increasing funding to prison facilities to enable them cater for increasing expenses.

Categorize criminals according to the type of crime and duration in prison.

Develop a curriculum for prisoners pursuing their education within prison facilities.

Expand accommodation facilities to ease congestion.

Introducing new forms of technology in the management and administration correctional facilities.


Fox, K.A., Nobles, M.R., and Piquero, A.R. (2009). “Gender, crime victimization and fear of
crime,” Security Journal, 22, pp. 24-39.

Frank, J., Smith, B.W., and Novak, K.J. (2005). “Exploring the basis of citizens’ attitudes toward
the police,” Police Quarterly, 8, pp. 206-28.

Gottschalk, P. (2011). “Management Challenges in Law Enforcement; The Case of Police
Misconduct and Crime”. International Journal of Law and Management. 53 (3): pp. 169-

Peak, K. J. (2001). Justice Administration: Police, Courts, and Corrections Management.
Prentice Hall

Skogan, W.G. (2005). “Citizen satisfaction with police encounters,” Police Quarterly, 8, pp.

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