Criminal justice is a generic term that refers to the laws, procedures, institutions and policies at play before, during and after the commission of a crime. The police are a civil force responsible for enforcing laws and public order at the federal, state, or community levels. There is no unified national police force in the United States, although there are federal law enforcement officers. Federal officials operate under specific government agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Federal officials can only deal with matters that are explicitly within the power of the federal government, and their field of expertise is often limited. A county police officer may spend time responding to emergency calls, working in the local jail, or patrolling areas as needed, while a federal officer would be more likely to investigate suspected firearms trafficking or provide security for government officials. State police have authority to enforce state laws, including traffic regulation on highways. Local or county law enforcement, on the other hand, has limited jurisdiction with authority only in the city or county in which they serve.
Once a crime has been committed and the police have identified the offender, the case goes to court. A court is a system that has the authority to make decisions based on law. The court system is divided into federal courts and state courts. As the name implies, federal courts (including the U.S.
UU. Department of State) deal with federal matters, including trade disputes, military justice, and government lawsuits. Judges presiding over federal courts are selected by the president with the consent of Congress. Criminal cases are heard by courts of first instance with general jurisdictions.
A judge and jury are usually present. It is the responsibility of the jury to determine guilt and the judge's responsibility to determine the penalty, although in some states the jury can also decide the penalty. Unless a defendant is found “not guilty,” any member of the prosecution or defense (regardless of the losing party) can appeal the case to a higher court. In some states, the case moves to a special appellate court; in others, to the highest state court, often known as the state supreme court.
A jail provides temporary confinement, usually while a person awaits trial or probation. Prisons are facilities built for people serving sentences of more than one year, while jails are small and local, prisons are large and managed by the state or federal government. Increasingly, prisons function more like larger prisons, as institutions such as the Los Angeles County Jail have nearly 20,000 inmates (63 percent of whom are nonviolent offenders) in seven facilities of more than 4,000 square miles. Rikers Island in New York City, which is located in a 40-acre complex with ten different facilities (including a juvenile facility), houses nearly 14,000 inmates.
Probation refers to a temporary release from prison or prison that requires supervision and the consent of officials. Probation is different from probation, which is supervised time used as an alternative to imprisonment. Probation and probation may follow a period of incarceration in prison, especially if the prison sentence is shortened. This module described just a few of the sociological theories about deviance and crime; there are many more, as well as many approaches to preventing crime and enforcing laws.
Citizens, law enforcement and elected officials weigh a wide range of contexts and personal experiences when considering how best to address crime. In at least some cases, decision makers are motivated by a desire to protect the status quo or improve their political or financial position. Read this story about Kalief Browder, arrested at age 16 on a robbery charge, held on Rikers Island for more than 1,000 days, including two years in solitary confinement, and then released when his charges were dropped. Read about Kalief's experiences in prison and what happened after he was released.
Watch the following video from vlogger Hank Green on the messy situation of mass incarceration in the United States. Criminal justice is the administration of justice to those who have been accused of committing crimes. The criminal justice system is a series of government agencies and institutions. Objectives include rehabilitation of offenders, prevention of other crimes and moral support for victims.
The main institutions of the criminal justice system are the police, prosecutors and defense lawyers, courts and the prison system. Unlike most countries, the criminal justice system in the United States is not represented by a single, all-encompassing institution. Rather, it is a network of criminal justice systems at the federal, state, and special jurisdictional levels, such as military courts and territorial courts. Criminal laws at these levels vary, although they are all based on the U.S.
Federally recognized Native American tribes possess a form of sovereignty that preserves the inherent rights of each tribe to form their own governments, draft and enforce civil and criminal laws, collect taxes, and establish and regulate tribal citizenship. For example, in Tudor England, criminals accused of treason were not allowed to present arguments in their defense. The Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains the highest level of accountability in defending federal law enforcement; this is enforced through many agencies, including the FBI; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; U. The Warren Court (the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren) issued a series of judgments that redefined citizens' rights and substantially altered the powers and responsibilities of police and courts.
Although both serve the function of filing a lawsuit in court, the prosecutor is a State official who makes accusations on behalf of the State in criminal proceedings, while the plaintiff is the plaintiff in civil proceedings. Criminal justice professionals tend to be detail-oriented, inquisitive, highly organized, and have a natural affinity for leadership and problem solving. Criminal justice degree programs at four-year institutions typically include courses in statistics, investigative methods, criminal justice, police, U. In the criminal justice system, these different bodies function together as the primary means of maintaining the rule of law in society.
Criminologists act as sociologists who specialize in the study of crime, including its causes and effects. Each state also uses an office of the attorney general, which handles the work of civil and criminal detectives of a state's investigation office and functions as the state equivalent of the FBI. Among the various sections of the criminal justice system, local law enforcement represents the branch most people are most familiar with. At the federal level, there is a law enforcement agency designated to cover particular areas of criminal law.
Although each level follows similar procedures within the criminal justice process, federal and state courts remain independent of each other and differ in several key areas; these are defined primarily by their jurisdiction and the types of cases they hear. Visit the Study in the USA school search to find schools that offer programs of study in Criminal and Forensic Science. District courts conduct civil and criminal trials within the federal system, with one or two assigned to each U. .