Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary tenth edition defines crime as an act or the commission of an act that’s forbidden or the omission of a duty that’s commanded by a public law and that makes the offender liable to punishment by the law. The criminal justice system has evolved over time, from the code of Hammurabi to today’s system. Today we have more violent crimes being committed. Today’s system was put in place after the 911 attacks that changed the lives of billions of people. The criminal justice system has three main components: police, courts, and corrections (F. Schmalleger 2009).
The Police In early British times all able bodied men were obligated to join a posse in the attempt to apprehend a criminal. The criminal used friends or neighbors for protection. Once an offender was caught it was assumed that he or she was guilty. The offender was always tortured and executed for the public to see. This act would act as deterrence. The words Sherriff and constable are modern terms from early British terms. Sir Robert Peel is known as the father of the modern police force. Sir Peel’s police force became known as the new police. The new police were also the first to wear a uniform and have some structure.
Early American policing is based on Sir Robert Peel’s model. Stephen Girard watched Sir Peel’s model and donated a large amount of money to establish Philadelphia’s credible police force. New York became the first police department in 1844 when they combined the night and day forces. Telephones, automobiles, and radios all had a significant impact on policing. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) became the nation’s investigative service to apprehend offenders quickly for committing federal crimes. THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM 3 Today the police are commissioned individuals that an oath to enforce the laws of the city, county, state, and nation.
They are charged with the investigation and arrest of crimes. Once a criminal act has occurred the police begin their investigation. They begin their investigation through the gathering of information. Many criminals are arrested on the scene of a crime, whereas others are arrested later through the issuance of an arrest warrant. Arrest warrants are issued a judge. During an arrest the criminal should be read his or her Miranda rights. The offender does not have to answer any questions because ofthe Fifth Amendment. After an offender has been arrested the booking process begins.
The booking process is an administrative process in which pictures are taken, finger prints are completed and personal information is taken (F. Schmalleger 2009). The Courts There are two types of court functions in the United States: the state court and the federal court. Lawyer and judge are required to pass Bar examination. All criminal cases begin in the state trial courts. At the court level the offender will go before a judge where the offender has now become the defendant and will be told of his or her charges and advised of their rights. At the same time bail is set.
Bond may take the form of a cash deposit or a property bond in which a house or other properties are put up for release. If a defendant does not have a lawyer one will be afforded for them to defend them from the alleged crime. After the bond process the court moves to the preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing establishes whether there is enough evidence to continue with the case. An indictment is written after the preliminary hearing so that the case can go to a grand jury. A grand jury is a group of jurors that have been selected and sworn to hear the evidence and determine whether the defendant is guilty or innocent.
The arraignment is the offender or defendant makes his or her first appearance. At the arraignment THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM 4 the accused is again notified of his or her rights and asked to enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, and no contest. The Sixth Amendment to the United States, states that every person has a right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district (http://www. djournal. com). Once the defendant has been found guilty the sentencing phase is next. During this process the defendant can be given a wide range of sentences from a fine to a long-term prison sentence.
Sentences can be given as consecutive or concurrent. Corrections The third and final component is corrections. Prisons are not the same large massive structures of the past. Prisons were built with large stone walls to isolate offenders. Today’s prisons are much larger than those from yester year. Corrections are charged with the rehabilitation and reintegration of all offenders that are wards of the state or government. The corrections portion is the most dangerous of the three components. The corrections component is divided into three different functions: probation, parole, and prisons or jails.
Today prison and jail population has more than doubled in the last 20 years. Early prison terms were some of the hardest and most inhumane to live in. Today offenders have just as many rights as someone that is not in prison. Every state prison system is dealing with the fact of overcrowding. For example, Texas has more than 158,000 offenders in 115 different state and privet facilities. The different levels of prisons rang from minimum custody (minimum security) to maximum custody (maximum security). Conclusion Today’s criminal justice system is better than the justice system of early American times.
Offenders are innocent until they are found and proven guilty. Early justice systems would have THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM 5 cut the hand of a thief if he or she were accused of stealing. All three components must work together to sustain one another. The criminal justice system is seen as the arrested, the sentenced, and the kept. THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM 6 References Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary (10th Edition) 1995 Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century Tenth Edition Frank Schmallerger, Ph. D. 2009 http://www. djournal. com.