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As already mentioned, it is widely known that America inherited its law enforcement system from the British, their former conquerors. With the passing of centuries, the country was establishing its towns and cities and thus increased the need to have order and peace in the streets. It was the year 1636 when the city of Boston introduced the first type of paid policing which was known as 'Night Watch'. When years started go by, more cities began to establish a police force in order to protect their inhabitants. (www.aphf.org)
The British influenced law enforcement in the United States so much, that its police force evolved from the same concepts. In fact like the United Kingdom, the police force in the United States has a limited authority, a local control and it's a fragmented organisation. The police's power is limited as it is defined specifically by law. Moreover there isn't one national police force but the total of 43 regional authorities which are controlled and directed by elected commissioners. (Cole and Smith, 2008:90)
Nowadays in the United States there are four main police forces which within them they hold various departments. These are Federal, State, County and Municipal. Federal Police not only has complete authority when it comes to all federal laws but also on other type of laws such as state and county. This is instructed by the 'United States Code'. This code also orders that Federal Police take over what it under the federal government only. The Federal Police has within it the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the United States Marshals Service, amongst others. Another type of policing is the State Police. These are responsible for the respective state's investigations and patrols. The third type of police is the County Police which have the jurisdiction of a whole county. Some of them are under the responsibility of a Sheriff. The last type of police is the Municipal Police which are the Police Squad of a large city which has its own municipal and thus its police force from which it derives its name. (http://en.wikipedia.org)
After almost 200 years after the establishment of the first police force in the United States, in 1813 Sir Thomas Maitland was appointed as the first governor of the Maltese Islands. His plan was to reform a lot of things. One of them was the Malta Police Force. It is said that our police force was a pilot study for the British in order to make a good and efficient police force themselves. Maitland divided the force into two; the executive police and the judicial police and so as from 1814 onwards, the control of the executive police was in the hands of the inspector general who received order from the governor and the judicial police were directed by the magistrates of Malta and Gozo. It was in 1921 that the police was taken under the control of the Maltese Government. (http://www.mjha.gov.mt/page.aspx?pageid=156)
The police in Malta have the responsibility of the safety of the islands and are also responsible for any investigations that have to take place. In fact the police force is legally bound to report any complaints that are issued to them and take action when need be. However as our law is divided into civil and criminal law, the police are only responsible of investigating queries concerning criminal law. We may say that the police collect all available evidence in order to take a suspect to court and begin a trial but before he or she is taken to court, the commissioner has to give his approval. If the victim does not agree with the charges that his or her perpetrator is accused with, he or she can challenge the commissioner by issuing a request to the magistrate in order to change or add the charges. (http://www.mjha.gov.mt/page.aspx?pageid=156)
Malta being a small island has only got one commissioner responsible for the islands. This commissioner like those in the United States is elected amongst other eligible candidates. The Maltese force has about 1,800 police officers within itself. Police rankings are the constable, Constable, Sergeant, 2nd Class Sergeant Major, 1st Class Sergeant Major, Inspector, Superintendent, Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and the Commissioner. The island is divided into two regions, A and B. Each region has 5 districts and two assistant commissioners are responsible of each region. All districts are controlled by a superintendent and inspectors head the divisions which are found in each district. The district police are mainly responsible of the day-to-day community policing. Other departments in the police force are the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the Drugs Squad, the Vice Squad and Economic Crimes Unit, the Protective Services, the Special Branch and also Administration. (http://www.mjha.gov.mt/page.aspx?pageid=156)
In the United States there are two separate court system which are the federal and the state. Federal courts, as their name shows, are in charge of cases that breech federal laws whilst the state courts handle the rest. The court system starts from the U.S. district courts which are ninety four in all, then to the U.S. court of appeals that constitutes of twelve and finally if need be, to the U.S. supreme court. However each state has its own court system and no system is like another. Trial by jury is also held in the federal system and in more or less half of the states. This type of trial was inherited by the British's common law system and it's written in the 5th amendment of the U.S. constitution. It is specifically written that whoever is accused of a crime which can be awarded the capital punishment, meaning the death penalty, has to have a trial by grand jury. (Pease and Hukkila, 1990:239-240)
Laws in Malta are not federal. They are divided into common and civil laws. Our criminal law is influenced a lot by the Italian style whilst the procedure is much more similar to the British method. The Maltese criminal code outlines the differences between a crime and a contravention. Trials are held either in the superior or in the inferior court, according to the seriousness of the action committed. Same as the United States, there is the court of appeal which is a step further after the first sentence is given. In Malta the most common punishment is a suspended sentence, then a conditional discharge, followed by fine, imprisonment and a probation order. Parole was never awarded as it is not in our legislation yet unlike in the United States. (Knepper and Calafato, 2009: 98)
When it comes to incarceration, the constitution of the United States clearly states that this is under the control of both state and federal governments. Incarceration is mainly used to punish those persons who commit a serious crime. On the other hand less serious offenders may be ordered to stay in a city or county jail. Halfway houses which are considered as community corrections or house arrest may also be given as a punishment. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States) In Malta halfway house are almost inexistent but like the United States, the prison is commonly kept for the serious offenders.
It is a fact that the United States has the highest amount of prisoners. According to the World's Prison Population list "The United States has the highest prison population
rate in the world, 756 per 100,000 of the national population, followed by Russia (629), Rwanda (604), St Kitts & Nevis (588), Cuba (c.531), U.S. Virgin Is. (512), British Virgin Is. (488), Palau (478), Belarus (468), Belize (455), Bahamas (422), Georgia (415), American Samoa (410), Grenada (408) and Anguilla (401)." During 2007 the U.S.A. had a prison population of 2,293,157 persons. (World Prison Population List, 8th Edition)
However incarceration is not only the sole punishment that can be given to a convicted person. Probation or Parole can also be awarded. By definition probation is a period of time awarded to a convicted person in order to be supervised and also directed whilst parole, a legislation which still does not exist in the laws of Malta, is an early release from prison but the person in question is still monitored. However convicts can still be awarded a combination of incarceration and probation. These two alternatives are very much popular in the United States. In fact by 2006, 5,035,225 persons were serving either parole or probation instead of imprisonment. Most of the persons who are given a probation order are non-violent criminals. In fact 7 out of 10 are non-violent criminals who serve a probation act. As regards parole, in 2006, 536,200 were awarded parole in order to be released earlier than the stipulated date. (Glaze and Bonczar, 2007: 1-6)
As part of the process of correction, boot camps are commonly used nowadays in the United States. Boot camps are also not present as part of our correctional methods. These are programmes which offer military training in order to rehabilitate the participants. A typical day at the boot camp will consist of a hard physical training, fixed rules, manual labour and the supervisors will often use a very harsh tone in order to break down the participants' resistance. Researchers did prove that boot camps help the participants change their behaviour and attitude towards society. They also improved their coping skills. However in the studies conducted, it was also found that boot camps which had a high level of supervision and obliged the participants to stay for a long period of time had much more success than those who did not. (Ashcroft, Daniels and Hart, 2003: 4-5)
The first programmes of boot camps consisted mainly of physical training, hard work and military discipline. However the boot camps that followed started to introduce treatments for drugs and alcohol. Moreover some of them even continued to supervise the participants after the completion of the boot camp. Although boot camps were specifically designed to decrease recidivism and also to lower the level of expenditure in prisons, this was not always the final result. However boot camps are still practiced till this day. (Ashcroft, Daniels and Hart, 2003: 6-8)
Malta has got only one prison, the Corradino Correctional Facility. Its prison population in 2006 was that of about 343 inmates. (Knepper and Calafato, 2009: 98) Unlike the United States that as already mentioned, it has 756 inmates for every 100,000 citizen, Malta has only got 76 per 100,000. However apart from the prison, Malta has got three other facilities equipped to keep in convicted persons. These are the substance abuse therapeutic unit, the Valletta lock-up and the forensic unit. Corradino's prison administration always seek to maintain prisoners in custody, ensure a safe environment and keep order, provide all the necessarily services in order to keep inmates in a decent condition, rehabilitate the inmates in a way that they become much more responsible for their own actions and finally help them in their return to the outside world. Nowadays the worst punishment that a person can be awarded is life imprisonment. However until the middle of the 20th century, the death penalty was still in practice. (http://www.mjha.gov.mt/Page.aspx?pageid=134) The death penalty is still awarded to very serious offender in the United States but not in all the states.
In Malta it was in 1957 that the probation of offenders act came into practice. This meant that from that year, offenders could be given a probation order instead of imprisonment. In 2002 there was also the introduction of community service and probation officers were also responsible of this service. Community service can also be ordered together with a probation order. When it comes to priority, this is given to young offenders which did not commit a number of serious crimes. Most of the times these offenders are found guilty of drug related crimes. Statistics show that only 12% of offenders on probation were found guilty of drug possession whilst 47% were found guilty of theft. (Knepper and Calafato, 2009: 99-100)
Although Malta and the United States seem to be two completely different countries, the fact that both of them where conquered by the same Empire made their basics in the criminal justice system more or less similar. As it was outlined, there are a lot of methods that Malta does not apply for example those of the parole and boot camps. However some other concepts are similar for example the probation act. In addition to all this, both criminal justice systems are based on the bases of democracy and on the rights that every human being has.