To put it simply, the criminal justice system is the structure of agencies, rules, and laws designed to hold criminals accountable for illegal actions, allowing the victim to obtain justice for any harm or damages caused. There are three main types of criminal justice systems in the USA that work in tandem: law enforcement agencies, corrections agencies, and the court system. That said, these systems need many individuals to function correctly, uphold the law, and protect citizens. These include dedicated and trained police officers, agents, medical officers, detectives, administration staff, and more. So, keep reading to improve your understanding of the criminal justice system, the opportunities it contains, and how it is doing in recent times.
1. Careers In Criminal Justice
People who pursue careers in criminal justice do it for two reasons. Number one, they want to help reshape crime policy. And number two, they want to improve their earning potential while applying their traits in a diverse number of subfields in criminal justice. That said, education is a must to dive headfirst into such a field of work. Therefore, you will need to complete a minimum of a bachelor’s in criminal justice. If you are on the hunt for information like how long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, you can simply go online and search for an answer. Moreover, you’ll find all information related to a career in this field, including salary potential, growth percentages, career outlook, etc.
2. Components Of The Criminal Justice System
As mentioned above, the criminal justice system contains three primary components – the correction system, the court system, and the law enforcement system. Let us take a detailed look at them down below;
- Correction Systems
The correction system deals with all types of punishments and sentencing, including probation and incarceration. Criminals will be the responsibility of the correction system until their complete sentence is decided.
- Law Enforcement
This component is of the utmost importance to the criminal justice system as a whole. The police are usually the first point of contact the criminal has to go through in the criminal justice system. Police officers typically patrol communities and cities to arrest suspects, investigate incidents, and prevent crimes. When they capture an individual suspected of committing a crime or crimes, they’re handed off to the court to decide if they are guilty or innocent.
- Courts System
It consists of professionals such as juries, judges, attorneys, and ancillary staff. It is the court’s role to determine whether a suspect is guilty of a crime or not. If found guilty, the court gives a sentence, handing over the defendant to the corrections system.
3. Types Of Sentences
Sentences are various types of punishments for convicted felons. These are available in the State and Federal Statues. That said, the American Eighth Amendment imposes a few limitations on the severity of punishments the court hands out to criminals. Listed below are a few sentences;
- Jail Time
Prisons are temporary lock-ups operated by county sheriffs and run by the government. It houses felons serving jail time, unconvicted individuals awaiting trial, and convicts. Jail time can usually vary from a few months to life imprisonment. However, it depends on the severity of the crime.
- Community Service
Judges give community service sentences to defendants who commit low-severity crimes. It includes doing work that benefits the community, such as road cleaning duties, garbage disposal, and tree planting. Usually, a community service sentence lasts from anywhere between two months to a year.
- House Arrest
Offenders who’re given the house arrest sentence must spend most or all of their time inside their homes. Moreover, in some states, offenders must wear a tracking device on their ankles. Furthermore, offenders might have to do some community work or pay fines along with a house arrest sentence. However, that depends on the nature of their crime.
4. Some Facts And Issues Related To The Criminal Justice System
In the last decade, the course of the American criminal justice system has undergone great scrutiny. And citizens across the country are now focusing their attention on various facts and issues related to it. Some of them are related to;
There has been a drop of 35 percent in the crime rate recently—47 percent decrease in property-related crimes and a 58 percent decline in homicides. But, on the other hand, there has been an increase in drug-related arrests by 93.4 percent.
- Increase In The Prison Population
There has been a 340 percent increase in the USA’s prison population over the last thirty years. More people are being sentenced to jail time than those who are set free.
- Composition Of The Prison Population
In state prisons, the prison population comprises 53 percent violent offenders and 16 percent drug offenders. In federal prison, half of the population is drug offenders, while only 7 percent are violent offenders.
Around 95.1 percent of drug offenders in federal prison are drug traffickers, while only 0.8 percent are sentenced due to unlawful drug possession.
The modern criminal justice system is constantly evolving with every passing second due to the hard work done by law enforcement professionals and criminologists. Because of such a thing, more and more career opportunities are opening up for individuals who want to play a part in serving modern society.