A investigation of the criminal justice systems

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Criminal justice systems are critical to social order and safety: the heath, safety, well-being of each member of society and even social development itself are all considered to be dependent on the success of these programs. More than any other social institution, criminal justice is used as an indicator of social equity and order. Thus, there is a need to develop insights on how it can remain relevant and effective in society (Wall & Williams, 2007). Subsequently, this valuation of criminal justice systems is the reason for the varying perspectives and opinion. One of the most critical debates existing is between due process and crime control models. In the due process model, determination guilt or offense relies on the judicial decision while in crime control model guilt is established during arrest (Crime & Disorder Act Review, 2006; Criminal Justice System [CJS], 2008a).

In either perspective, there are requirements of proof for the determination of guilt and are both considered equitable. The source of the debate however are in the pre-crime and post-criminology treatment of suspected and actual offenders and in the crime prevention programs implemented (Zedner, 2007). The objective of this paper is to evaluate the debate between due process and crime control models and how they affect policies in criminal justice programs. In the course of this objective, the research will map changes in these perspectives and the mode of these developments. At the end of the paper, the research will be able to determine if the statement that continuous change is a predominant feature of contemporary criminal justice is valid.

Criminal Justice Reforms

According to Hepburn and Goodstein (1986), criminal justice reforms are organization initiatives to develop programs that respond and reflect to sociological perspectives on the development and prevalence of crime. Though reforms have been initiated mostly through social action, the implementations of reforms entail legislative or judicial action (Lupton, 1999; Lint, 2007). There are also a number of ways and modes for the advancement of reforms programs. In the United States for example, criminal justice reforms traces its roots in the Pennsylvania Prison Society, considered as the original society-based or lobby group for penal reform in the country (Pillsbury, 1989). While in the case of the United Kingdom, criminal justice reforms were developed in legislative assemblies and were enforced as acts of parliament considered to be more political than social actions (Stenson & Sullivan, 2000; Parks, 2007).

In the studies done by Gorton and Boies (1999) and Keith (2002) penal reforms are among the most sensitive to change and have historically been the focus of criminal justice reforms. However, recent trends have shown greater emphasis on crime prevention, social collaboration in rehabilitation and integration (Squires, 2006). Increasing cost of criminal justice proceedings, penal systems and rehabilitation programs as well researches emphasizing the rehabilitation of offenders have all contributed to the divergence from punitive regiments (Kemshall & Maguire, 2001). Hughes (1998; 2007) points out that this level of sensitivity and responsiveness is also dependent on changing trends in social perspectives and existing state capacity to implement criminal justice programs. He notes that the changes are not changes in held values but rather changes in the approach of providing a means to pursue offenders and deliver restitution to victims.

Trends and Modes of Change

Criminal justice programs were developed to create channels for the punishment and delivery of justice. Historical evidence suggests that they were established to prevent clan or blood feuds and to diminish the need for private security and arms building. Wilkinson (1997) credits this to the development of the Code of Hammurabi developed in Babylon, the Code of Ur-Nammi of Sumer as well as in the Roman Law of the Twelve Tables. The development of the programs was motivated by the need to assert the authority of the state or government.

The paradigm shift in criminal justice developed in England with the Norman invasion: William I sought to centralize authority in the realm, crimes were considered crimes of against the rule of the king which then eventually also developed to be treated as crimes against the institution of the state. With the establishment of stable governments, there was a move towards political action as a means of developing and enforcing criminal justice (Jensen, 2007). In contrast to earlier efforts which were motivated the rule of law rather than its rulers. Based on the Greek and Roman philosophers' treatise on the state, republic and citizenry, criminal justice programs sought to be a means of establishing social order (Fuller, 2005; Hughes, 2007).

Movements in the 18th and 19th century increased the involvement of social groups in criminal justice programs. Initiated by religious groups, there was greater emphasis on crime as a moral issue and the need for rehabilitation (Squires, 2006). This entailed the development of justice programs that were not just punitive but also a means of correcting and reinforcing social values to offenders. One of the early significant shifts in perspective that led to the recognition of sociological influences in the crime that occurred as a result of the American Great Depression which also has been the foundation of European criminal justice reforms can be traced to the shift between Freudian and Jungian psychology. The new perspective also developed the first efforts for cultural, social and gender sensitive in criminal justice programs (Lint, 2007 Pierpoint, 2006). By the end of the 19th century, there was significant effort to develop separate criminal justice programs for juveniles and those diagnosed with special conditions lobbied in the House of Commons. However, it was only by the middle of the 20th century that there was popular recognition and establishment of programs that recognized race, gender and disabilities as criteria for justice programs (Brown, 2003; Vontress et al, 1999)

Contemporary Criminal Justice Programs

Contemporary criminal justice programs generally have three main components: the police, the courts and corrections (Criminal Justice System, 2008). Corrections have historical stood independently from the other components and have at times operated as private enterprises or have been engaged in the utilization of inmates for labor ("Correctional Reform Associations - Historical Role of Nongovernmental Organizations", 2008; U.K. Parliament - House of Commons, 20028). In the case of police and courts, they have often operated under the auspices of one authority. This is particular prevalent in criminal justice programs that utilize crime control models (Ellis & Nash, 2003; Crime & Disorder Act Review, 2006).

There have been also similar programs for adult offenders though they have mainly focused on social reintegration. Another key development is in the development of cultural competencies to respond to growing multiculturalism, changes in population demographics and psychographics. This has been apparent in establishment of psychological testing and evaluation, correctional counseling as well as the establishment of the establishment of legal representation for non-English speaking offenders (Keith, 2002; Besla et al, 2005). There has also been significant emphasis on collaborative efforts in developing interventions and the use of alternative justice programs such as restorative justice programs, family involvement in therapy, relapse prevention therapy, medication and community service (Guevara et al, 2008; Manchester Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership [CDRP], 2005).

In an assessment made by Henham (2004), there has been significant "internationalization" in criminal justice programs and at the same time greater awareness for cultural differences in implementing programs, a direct consequence of social globalization (Crime & Disorder Act Review , 2006). The establishment of criminal justice programs effectiveness as social status criteria has also prompted the development of performance measures of programs, consensus building and policy sensitivity analyses (Weisner et al, 2003; Brodeur & Shearing, 2005). Muncie (2005) points out that demands for criminal justice programs to develop preventive and post-correction programs, implying the focus of programs to recidivism. Current perspective in criminal justice programs have been changed significantly by legislation, in particular human rights and social justice rulings, as well as the emphasis on social responsibility regarding the etymology of crime and victimization (Flint & Nixon, 2006).

Evaluation and Discussion

Continuous change in criminal justice programs are part of its nature, function and role in society. Ulmer (2001) believes that these new realizations for criminal justice systems are in recognition of the changing nature of crimes and the developing insights on the prevalence of crime and victimization. The public is more aware of the role of the court and its obligations. There has been greater recognition of cultural and religious identities that have been reflected even in court proceedings (Ellis & Nash, 2003). Though some of the expectations maybe difficult to achieve particularly for the issues that the public is sensitive about like the justice for juvenile offenders and social justice, the courts nonetheless have to answer them or risk aggravating current crime and civil problems (Lundman, 1993; Besla et al, 2005). Society today is trying to find its footing in a global perspective and will no doubt to the justice systems as something that will remain constant (Brodeur & Shearing, 2005).

The dominant issues in contemporary justice programs include rehabilitation, social responsibility, juvenile delinquency and victimization and the development of alternative penal programs for offenders as well as transnational crimes (Manchester CDRP, 2005). In response to concerns to escalating juvenile delinquency and victimization, a number of literatures have emphasized the need for social-based interventions (Coatsoworth et al, 2001; Weisner et al, 2003). In addition to the juvenile penal statutes, state governments have prescribed the development family and community participation in interventions.

However this does not imply that due process models have always recognized the independence of the two components (Brown, 2003). In the case of London for example, before the establishment of the local police, the Bow Street Runners acted as the city's main police force working under the city's magistrate and even with the establishment of the police worked for a time under the judiciary (Stenson & Sullivan, 2000; Faulkner, 2007). In a related vein, they also trace the development of the modern criminal justice components and structures on the development of the police as a separate social institution which gave rise to contemporary criminal justice programs.

According to Keith (2002) and Zedner (2007), the rate and implementation of change is currently being driven by social concern and have reflected efforts by the government to reinforce its relationship with the public via the changes in criminal justice programs demanded. Thus, Henham (2004) as well as Mauro and Carmeci (2007) believe that from the perspective of criminal justice programs administrators, there is direct relationship to the rate of change and the degree of responsiveness it has with its constituents. Pierpoint (2006) also points out that current analyses and criteria of programs have had a greater degree of consideration for policies must to pass tests of reliability and validity, be economically sound, equitable, technical sound, politically viable and meet administrative feasibility standards. All of which would require a degree of sensitivity to needs or requirements and the reengineering of programs according to shifts in the population's demographic and psychographic characteristics.


There is universal recognition that criminal justice impacts all aspects of society as well as the each individual member of society: there is a need to consider public issues as well as private ones and in turn to develop policies and statutes that accommodate these considerations (CJS, 2008). Part of the motivation of contemporary justice programs in creating the platforms for sensitive and responsive change To ensure that policies serve this purpose, it is essential that policies undergo analysis regularly to ensure that they remain relevant and that they serve their purpose (Brown, 2003; Faulkner, 2007; Newburn, 2007). According to Hutchinson (2006) and Zedner (2007), this has been the product of the realization that criminal justice programs fundamentally change the relationships between citizens, the law and the state and that each, considered as prime factors in such programs, change invariably over time.

The CJS (2008b) recognizes that current legislation actually requires continuous development in response to research that programs have diminished ability to respond to social changes and demands on the volume and types of services. Recent development is technology and globalizations are changing perspectives in criminal justice, changing the requirements and definitions for jurisdiction, prosecution and corrections among others. There is no doubt that the capacity for change is one is a one of the most critical competencies for social institutions today. Contemporary criminal justice programs have made significant effort to develop this capacity to ensure that it remains to be socially relevant and effective in society.