Corruption in the Criminal Justice System


The criminal justice system is the part of the government which is responsible for ensuring that a country has social order, to prevent criminal activity, to enforce the laws of the land, as well as to ensure that every citizen receives justice due (Pollock, 1994). The criminal justice system is comprised by different professions such as the police who are involved in making of arrests, prosecution and investigation of crime. The courts are an important part of the criminal justice and constitute of juries who pass judgements and deliver judgements by correctly interpreting the relevant laws. The courts also determine the magnitude of an offence and determine the applicable punishment.

The functions mentioned above point to the great roles the criminal justice officials’ play.  It is due to the importance of their duties to the nation that the officials serving in the criminal justice system are required to observe ethics in the execution of their duties as indicated in the criminal justice code of ethics. Ethics are a set of rules and standards which spell the dos and don’ts in a given profession (Crank, 2000). These are important in reigning on errant professionals who if not controlled can act unprofessionally. The greatest ethical problem currently facing the criminal justice is corruption.

Although corruption in the criminal justice in America is not very rampant, the incidences tend to be more common in some sections of criminal justice than others. For example, lawyers and the police force have been found to be the most corrupt in the criminal justice (Boutellier, 2000). However, drawing comparisons on who is more corrupt in the criminal justice is not easy. This is because, while for the police and prosecutors may face allegations of bribery, juries are more likely to be faced with allegations of unfairness, usually based on factors such as impartiality based on factors such as racial background.

The Criminal Justice system is one of the most important departments in the US. All over the world, the society has always looked up to the Justice System for arbitration, for direction and for interpretation of abstract matters which the community is unable to solve. If well managed, the Justice System can unite the society in that every single member of the community looks up to the Justice System for truth, for liberty, for guidance, for assistance and for compensation when one has been offended. The Justice System which intervenes in disputes and cases putting members of the society against one another and/or entities in the society such as businesses is also very central to the functioning of the other arms of the government such as the executive and the legislature.

Therefore, for the people to have faith in the Justice System, the dignity, autonomy and independence of the Justice System must be guaranteed. Although there are other problems and challenges facing the criminal justice system such as slow pace of criminal procedures, lack of enough staff, failure to fully emirate information system, as well as congestion and piling up of cases, incompetence amongst some members of the bench as well as other law enforcers, none of the issues is as serious and attracts the attention and outcry of the public than corruption amongst law enforcers.

Corruption in the criminal justice system is not only unethical but it also is illegal and punishable. When the criminal justice which is empowered and looked upon by the society to solve and arbitrate in corruption cases has its members accused or participating in corruption, this can have far reaching complications for the criminal justice. First of all, corruption deprives the criminal justice of the much needed confidence by the public (Barker, 1996). The public looks up to the criminal justice as the ultimate source of truthful, fair and balanced judgement. Corruption alters the impartiality of the criminal justice system and leads to law enforcers loosing their credibility.  The other implication of corruption for criminal justice is the fact that a corrupt criminal justice can be easily infiltrated by offenders whose interests the criminal justice can affect the credibility of the criminal justice.

If offenders can commit atrocities and other forms of offences but still get away with it, offenders start to engage in a vicious circle of crime since they know that the offences will not be punished. Corruption in the justice system leads to wastage of resources and hence wastage of tax-payers money (Peter-Alexis, & Otto, 1989). The state allocates and spends a lot of resources, both human resources and finances facilitating court process only for such court processes to yield into nothing. The prosecution process involves a lot of investigation which often consumes a lot of time and money.

Corruption in criminal justice has implications for the governance of the citizens. The citizens have a right to be served in a just way by the government, in the process of co-existence of the citizens and the government (executive), incidences arise when the two parties can differ.  This calls for the intervention of the justice system. Unless the criminal justice is fair, tension can arise between the two parties and therefore this implies that relations between the two start to deteriorate. Eventually, the citizens start to lose confidence in the government something which can have implications for the future of the country and can fuel interracial tensions, tribal tensions, religious tensions as well as interclass tensions pitting one social class against another.   The criminal justice also plays a very important role in the economic growth of a country.  Investor environment and confidence are both dependent on the independence of the criminal justice system (Pollock, 1994). Therefore, a criminal justice system which is corrupt can lead to negative economic effects.


There is a need for efforts from human rights activists, the government and members of the criminal justice to put in place measures aimed at curbing corruption in criminal justice system before it gets out of hand. Measures aimed at preventing corruption in the criminal justice system can include; computerizing the criminal justice system something in order to make it very difficult for corrupt officers to penetrate the system and engage in corruption.

The Association of Juries, the police chiefs as well as the department of justice should tighten the vetting process before recruiting staff so as to weed out potential employees who lack integrity and are therefore more likely to engage in corrupt activities once employed in the justice system. A corruption free justice system is very important in this era of global terrorism which implies that terrorists and infiltrate the criminal justice system and cause unimaginable destruction.

There is a need for ethics studies to be emphasized in the process of training as well as in on-job training for already serving workers on the importance of adhering to ethical standard while on duty. If the above measures are enforced, the problem of corruption in the justice system will be solved and the nation shall have a corrupt-free justice system.


  • Barker, T. (1996). Police Ethics: Crisis in Law Enforcement. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher,
  • Boutellier, H. (2000). Crime and Morality: the Significance of Criminal Justice in Post-modern Culture. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers,.
  • Crank, J. (2000). Police Ethics: the Corruption of Noble Cause. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Pub.
  • Peter-Alexis, A. and Otto, B. (1989).Crime Prevention and Intervention: Legal and Ethical Problems. New York: W. de Gruyter.
  • Pollock, J. (1994) Ethics in Crime and Justice: Dilemmas and Decisions. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub. Co.