The Main Components of the Criminal Justice System
Criminal actions may have a considerable destructive impact on various aspects of society. Therefore, the criminal justice system is designed in order to control crime by a number of techniques. There are three primary components of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, the courts, and corrections (Burke et al., 2019). Each component has several functions, which are related to crime regulation. Law enforcement may be the basis of the criminal justice system as it provides preliminary counteraction to law violations (Naughton, 2018). It may be maintained by police officers, government agents, sheriffs, and detectives. The second stage of the criminal justice system is represented by the court system. State and federal courts maintain fair trials and prevent violations of rights. The system might be represented by judges, prosecutors, and lawyers (Neubauer & Fradella, 2019). The last component of the criminal justice system is the correction system, which is designed to separate deviant individuals from society and provide correction opportunities. The correction component involves such facilities as jails and prisons, and in some cases, its functions may be delegated to community correction.
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As the above-mentioned components are part of a systemic whole, they interrelate significantly on various levels. The majority of interactions are related to the transition of individuals from one component to another. For example, the law enforcement system may ensure the delivery of a criminal to the court system, whereas the court identifies correction measures (Cole et al., 2019). In addition, the criminal justice process may serve as a unifying element, which is divided into steps and delegated to these components.
Even though the elements are designed to maintain each other, several conflicts may occur between these three fundamental components. In many cases, the components of the criminal justice system may have distinct values and goals, which may cause a difference in approach to a particular case. Moreover, the whole system may seem to be overcomplicated and overwhelmed by diverse bureaucratic aspects. Such complexity may cause both overlapping fields of responsibility, which lead to unnecessary work and the occurrence of gaps, which may cause inconsistent functioning of the system.
Criminal Justice Process
The criminal justice process may vary depending on the case and the circumstances. Nonetheless, according to some sources, there are approximately fifteen fundamental steps (Study Lecture Notes, 2020). These steps may be divided into three groups each of which corresponds with a particular component of the criminal justice system. The law enforcement system is closely linked with the first four steps. These stages include initial contact, case investigation during which the evidence is collected, arrest, and custody (The United States Department of Justice, 2021).
Each of these steps influences the subsequent stages and decisions. For example, insufficient evidence may prevent further arrest and custody. The court system maintains charging, preliminary hearing, arraignment, bail, plea bargaining, trial, sentencing, and appeal. The decision-making during preliminary hearings, plea bargaining, and trials has an essential influence on further steps. Correctional treatment and release are conducted by the correctional system. Nonetheless, most cases do not go through all of the above-mentioned stages, and hence introducing well-developed decisions at each stage is critical (Burke et al., 2019).
I believe that even though the existing system may face some significant problems, it provides sufficient frameworks regarding justice administration. Criminal cases may be highly controversial and very complicated. Therefore, division of responsibilities between three primary components may be vital as it provides them with the necessary independence and provides additional supervision. Moreover, the law enforcement system ensures that the processes of court and correction systems comply with the law. The court system maintains the provision of just punishment, which is implemented by means of the correction system. Although the components may have some conflicts, they provide an almost optimal approach to reducing crime.
Burke, A. S., Carter, D. E., Fedorek, B., Morey, T. L., Rutz-Burri, L., & Sanchez, S. (2019). Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System. Open Textbook Library.
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Cole, G. F., Smith, C. E., & DeJong, C. (2019). The American system of criminal justice. Cengage Learning.
Naughton, J. (2018). Criminal Justice. McGraw-Hill Education.
Neubauer, D. W., & Fradella, H. F. (2019). America’s courts and the criminal justice system. Cengage Learning, Inc.
Study Lecture Notes. (2020). Criminal Justice Process Definition and Steps. Web.
The United States Department of Justice. (2021). Criminal Justice Process. Web.