The Criminal Justice System and its Trends
Criminal justice is the system that prevents committing crimes and makes social control. It also presupposes protection of people that have been accused of a crime from abuse of a power and unfair judgment. Criminal justice system combines many organs that study, develop and improve it. They are: the police, which provide safety and investigate crimes; lawyers, which prosecute or defend people accused of a crime; and people who render decisions or make laws, like the Supreme Court. President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice (1967) states that criminal justice system is created to “enforce the standards of conduct necessary to protect individuals and the community” (p. 7). Thus, criminal justice plays an important role in the life of the society. It allows every person living in the country to feel safe and secure.
Nowadays, criminal justice system consists of three main branches: legislative, adjudicative and corrective. Legislative branch creates laws; adjudicative branch deals with cases and investigations; and the corrective one is in charge of prisons, probation periods and paroles. These three branches are interdependent and form entire criminal justice system. Furthermore, all these separate systems work together under the rule of law.
Formation of modern police began with establishment of sheriffs’ offices. In New York, the first sheriff’s office was built in 1626. At that time first police departments were not very popular because they were rather corrupted. Thus, they did not get much credit from the public. In the beginning of the 20th century, police started to pay more attention to training, forming new techniques and technologies. Police became more professional and centralized.
In the United Stated, judicature is performed by Supreme Court. Courts established by Congress also play very important role. Congress has power to establish courts and determine the number of judges in the federal judicial system. Some courts may also be abolished by Congress. Supreme Court is the highest judicial body of the United States and the only court the creation of which is presupposed by Constitution. Since formation of Supreme Court almost 200 years ago, there changed only the number of judges. The second level is the federal court system that consists of the courts of appeal that were established in 1891. District courts are on the next lower level. From time to time, there also appears a need to create some special courts. These courts are created by Congress. Now, among these courts there are many others, no less important: The United States Court of International Trade, The Court of Federal Claims, The Tax Court, etc.
Nowadays, there are five types of corrections in the USA: probation, fines, imprisonment, intermediate punishment and death. The signer of Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush, proposed penitentiary as a good way to substitute corporal as well as capital punishment. Due to the fact that during the last few years the number of crimes is rapidly decreasing, all prisons remain overcrowded. Therefore, the States must seek some alternatives to resolve the problem. The research conducted by Henrichson and Delaney (2012) states that in 2011 the budget of 40 states on prisons reached 39 billion dollars. That is almost 5 billion more than the states were planning to spend. The total cost the state spends per one prisoner is over 31, 307$ (Henrichson and Delaney, 2012). The Public Safety Performance (2007) informs that “The U.S. may need an additional $27.5 billion over the next five years to accommodate projected prison expansion and operation” (p.18). This all means that the government should take some measures to reduce spending on prisons in the future.
Thus, one cannot imagine his/her modern life without police officers, judges, juries and advocates. Today’s world is too complicated. Thus, people created a system that can regulate people’s every day relations. The criminal justice system is not ideal. Like its creators, it has many problems and drawbacks that have to be removed and corrected as soon as possible in order to secure safety and justice to every citizen of the USA.