In the United States of America, the criminal justice system is the part of the government which is responsible for ensuring that social order prevails. It also is tasked with the prevention of criminal activity; it enforces the laws of the land, as well as ensuring that every citizen receives justice due (Coates, Robert, Kalanj, Boris & Umbreit, Mark, 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 judgments and deliver judgments by correctly interpreting the relevant laws. The courts also determine the magnitude of an offence and determine the applicable punishment. After the criminal is sentenced, the prison department takes the mandate of carrying out the actual sentence as passed by the courts.
Therefore, problems in any of the department could affect the functioning of the rest of the departments as the reason why this paper addresses pressing issues facing the criminal justice as well as the challenges facing the prison and efforts being put to implement positive changes in the criminal justice. 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.
There has been continuous evolution of criminal justice since the early times. This has been as result of invention or adaptation of new forms of punishments and the ever-changing policies concerning the criminal justice system (Pollock, 1994). In addition, the debate on the rights of the offenders or the victims has caused reforms in the criminal justice system geared towards achieving a more humane justice system. All these reforms also are designed at improving the social, political as well as economic conditions.
During the medieval times, very harsh punishments were meted on offenders such as being sent on exile, as well as other various forms of corporal punishments, without any one raising objection (Crank, 2000). However, recently the calls for reforms have not only targeted cleaning the criminal justice of corruption but also on ensuring that, alternative correctional measures are implemented so as to achieve effectiveness in the prisons. In modern times, there has been a rise in the number of jails and prisons that have replaced corporal punishments.
For example, corruption has been a major issue worthy addressing in the criminal justice and has been a challenge in the administration of the criminal justice in the United States of America. Efforts geared towards streamlining the criminal justice include; diversifying the hiring process of the criminal justice officers, greater coordination between the government and the local community is also a reform which has been adapted in many communities to allow for greater effectiveness at the community level.
This has been achieved through the establishment of policies which encourage positive community relations. This in turn has seen the criminal department become effective in fighting crimes such as, racial discrimination, elder abuse as well as the problem of violent crime and drug abuse. 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. 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 (De Gruchy, John 2003). 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 judgment. 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. How effectively criminal justice is administered has an implication 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 (Peter-Alexis, & Otto, 1989). 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. Sterngold, (2005) defines prison reforms as the efforts which are geared towards improving the living and functional conditions in the prisons.
The drive for prison reforms is informed by recent studies showing that, the criminal justice and especially the prisons have become ineffective and are ending up piling up criminals in the prisons something which is having a heavy toll on the taxpayer given the fact that, the cost of sustaining a high number of prisoners is a daunting one, and required very high amounts of both human resources and funding. The call for prison reforms has also been occasioned by the fact that, there is a greater emphasis on whether the U.
S criminal justice is not based on an old model of retribution justice. Opponents of retributive justice have argued that, the capital punishment some states have continued to uphold is outdated and does not in any way help t resolve the ever soaring crime rates in the U. S. The above have also seen an increase in the clamor for prison reforms something which has led to the introduction and emphasis of parole commissions especially for cases deemed none serious.
The parole system allows for the decongestion of the prison considering the fact that, most U. S prisons are packed to capacity. The parole system also gives the criminals a chance to reform and it particularly works well for the juvenile criminals who still need to continue with school and therefore a very long sentence in the prison ends up messing up their lives and career prospects. Therefore the greater emphasis on paroles is a, key prison reform which is likely to achieve the goal of decongesting the prisons.
The other option in terms of prison reform has been the preference of life sentencing for capital offenders over the harsher death penalty. This again has seen critics argues their case based on the heavy burden it places on the taxpayer considering the cost of confining convicted criminals for the rest of their lives. The prisons have also in the recent past laid emphasis on rehabilitation programs which have been a success. However like all other reforms, they are faced with the challenge of acceptance from the public.
The fear with rehabilitation is the fact, some of the rehabilitation efforts fail to achieve their goals and therefore realizing the criminals back to the community poses the fresh threat of the same criminals repeating their crimes once released. There are many causes of violent crime key of which include, poor parenting, welfare dependency, as well as lack of parental attachment, poor educational backgrounds, as well as abject poverty, ineffective legislations and cultural influences.
Any prison reforms must also seek to address the root cause of the criminal behavior and let the criminal come out of prison a better person than the way the criminal entered the prison. Conclusion Besides the prison reforms discussed above, the criminal 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.
An efficient 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.
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Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Pub. De Gruchy, John W. (2003) Reconciliation: Restoring Justice, Fortress Press 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. Sterngold, J. 2005. U. S. seizes state prison health care: Judge cites preventable deaths of inmates, ‘depravity’ of system. San Francisco Chronicle.