Crime & Law and The Criminal Justice System Essay

This essay paper will explain the knowledge obtained for this week lecture about the criminal justice system. There will be several topics discussed throughout this essay that will provide a better understanding of crime and its relationship to the law. The government structure as it applies to the criminal justice system and the ethical challenges in criminal justice.


Crime is characterized as conduct in breach of state, federal or local criminal law, for which there is no legally adequate justification or rationalization. Crime has a relationship to the law because the law is part of a judiciary system that was out in place to remand individuals who insist on committing crimes. One of the most common model of how society determines which act is criminal is the consensus view of crime. The consensus model is when most individuals share the same basic values and beliefs within a community. Another common model of how society determines which acts are criminal is the conflict view of crime. In a conflict model, the acts of criminals are decided in a model by an organizations holding financial, political and social authority in the society. The way they determine what actions or behaviors are deemed criminal depends on which group has the most authority.

Criminal justice relates to a set of federal, state, and local government organizations dealing with the issue of crime. Suspects, defendants, and convicted offenders are processed by these organizations. The system’s fundamental structure is given by the government’s legislative, judicial, and executive branches. The legislature is described as the law and imposes criminal penalties, identifies offenses, and resolve sentences. The judicial recognizes current legislation and decides if the criteria of the constitution. It also monitors the procedures of criminal justice and has the authority to decide if current actions fit both in the boundaries of the constitution of the state and eventually the Constitution of the United States. the state and eventually the Constitution of the United States. Lastly, is the executive branch which is accountable for the daily function of judicial institutions. It will not create or explain the legislation, but its enforcement is assured, it generates and supervise the judicial departments in this ability by deciding the budget, and coordinates their strategy and goals.

In the criminal justice system, there are several choice theory that is used by criminologist to assume the cause of criminal behavior. The trait theories were something criminologist discovered around the end of the nineteenth century. According to (Siegel & Worrell, 2014) “Some criminologists began to suggest that crime was caused not so much by human choice but by inherited and uncontrollable biological and psychological traits: intelligence, body build, personality, biomedical makeup” (P.93). The next theory is the psychological theories which suggest criminals who are experiencing long term psychological defect or anxiety. The effects of these psychological problems have been broken down into three separate branches which are psychodynamic theory, behavioral theory, and cognitive theory. The psychodynamic theory applies to someone who committed a crime while suffering from mental illness like schizophrenia.

Behavioral theory involves the social learning theory according to (Siegel & Worrell, 2014) “Social learning theorists conclude that the antisocial behavior of potentially violent people can be triggered by a number of different influences: verbal taunts and threats; the experience of direct pain; and perceptions of relative social disability, such as poverty and racial discrimination”(P.99). Individuals who have experienced these triggers are more likely to respond violently when exposed to these situations. The last branch of psychological theories is the cognitive theory which involves someone who commits crimes with the belief that they are defending themselves depending on how they perceive things and how aggressive they are.

There are three components of the criminal justice system and the criminal justice process. The first component in the criminal justice process is the police which is a government department with the determination of maintaining order, enforcing the criminal law, and protecting the community. They collaborate in criminal inquiries with prosecutors, collecting the required proof to acquire convictions in the judiciary. The second component in the criminal justice process is the criminal courthouse where juries or magistrates determine their criminal liability by individuals accused of violating criminal law.

The court intends to seek justice and uncover the truth. The court will involve the prosecutors, defense lawyers, and a judge. The last component in the criminal justice process is corrections with the purpose to provide a place for incarcerating criminals that have been found guilty of a crime by the courts. The purpose of corrections is for punishment, rehabilitation, and keeping the communities safe.

The ethical challenges of the criminal justice system been a concern for many years and some American journalist have suggested that the criminal justice system in the United States needs restructuring. One concern that has been brought up is the high prison population rate that has increased since 1980. According to (Webb, 2009) “Over the past two decades, we have been incarcerating more and more people for non-violent crimes and for acts that are driven by mental illness or drug dependence. We are warehousing the mentally ill in our prisons. With four times as many mentally ill people in our prisons as in mental health institutions, we need to understand that these people in prison are not receiving the kind of treatment they need in order to remedy the disabilities that led to their incarceration”(P164). I agree with this statement jail is no place for someone that is truly suffering from a mental illness they will probably commit the same crime again because jail is a form of punishment and not a source for treatment.

There is also a concern that the wrong people are being incarcerated and being exposed to sexual assault and violence. When this happens this changes how people view and trust the criminal justice system. If the prison is being filled with innocent people then that means the real criminal is still out there to commit more crimes. According to (Webb, 2009) “Fixing our system will require us to reexamine who goes to prison, for how long and how we address the long-term consequences of their incarceration”(P163). For people to feel safe within their communities there will have to be some changes to the ethical behavior of our criminal justice system.


  1. Webb, J. (2009). Now is the Time to Reform our Criminal Justice System. Criminal Justice
  2. Ethics, 28(2), 163–167. doi: 10.1080/07311290903181184
  3. Siegel, L. J. Introduction to Criminal Justice. [University of Phoenix]. Retrieved
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