The criminal justice system in the United States is designed to enforce laws, ensure public safety, and bring justice to those who have committed crimes. It is comprised of government offices, private agencies and general policies that work together to maintain order in our communities. The law makes it possible to resolve conflicts and disputes between disputed citizens. It provides a peaceful and orderly way to handle complaints.
The main components of the justice system: Police, courts and correctional facilities prevent or deter crime by apprehending, prosecuting and punishing offenders. Criminal justice professionals tend to be detail-oriented, curious, highly organized, and have a natural affinity for leadership and problem solving. Then, too, state, county, and city criminal justice agencies provide most of the protection against thieves, rapists, and murderers. Police departments are public agencies whose purposes are to maintain order, enforce criminal law, and provide services.
At the federal level, Congress enacts criminal laws and federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, enforce these laws. Once seen as the duty and responsibility of all male citizens, maintaining safe and secure communities has now become a function of government. Criminologists act as sociologists who specialize in the study of crime, including its causes and effects. People who study criminal justice learn about all the different components and inner workings of the system.
While law enforcement and courts work to identify and intercept individuals involved in criminal activities, the prison system performs a variety of simultaneous functions, such as keeping criminal populations separate, enacting punishments for crimes, and promoting the rehabilitation of offenders. A convicted offender is the responsibility of the prison system until his or her full sentence is served or commuted. Modern goals of the criminal justice system include preventing crime, protecting the public, supporting victims of crime, holding perpetrators accountable for crimes committed, and helping offenders return to society as law-abiding citizens. If you ask 10 college students who plan to work as police officers what they are studying, chances are that half of them will tell you criminology and the other half will say criminal justice.
Law enforcement works to prevent crime, courts strive to enact justice when a crime is committed, and corrections focus on retribution and rehabilitation. Criminal law protects citizens from criminals who would inflict physical harm on others or take away their worldly property. Criminal justice careers span many law enforcement and legal specializations, including jobs that only require a high school diploma and on-the-job training and those that require years of college study. They cooperate with prosecutors in criminal investigations, gathering the necessary evidence to obtain convictions in court.