The Criminal Justice System

A crime is an act of wrongdoing committed against the society that is decreed by law and which is punishable by the criminal justice system if committed under certain circumstances (Gaines, & Miller, 2013).  The law is therefore a set of rules which is used to determine if an act is criminal or not. The relationship between the two, crime and law, is that the strict enforcement of the law helps in the prevention of crime. The two most common models used by a society to determine if an act is criminal or not are the consensus model and the conflict model. The consensus model argues that a society agrees on certain norms and values and passes laws to deal with those people who deviate from the norms and values. The conflict model argues that only a select few members of the society who have political, economical and social power in the community have any significant influence on the content of criminal law.

The government structure is divided into three branches, the judiciary, the executive and the legislature. The criminal justice system is spread across all three branches of the government. The legislature, at both the federal and state levels, classifies crimes and determines the right sentences; give funding for the criminal justice system (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2014). The judiciary reviews legislative decisions and determines if they are within the precincts of the constitution. The executive appoints heads of agencies and judges.

The choice theory argues that individuals commit all acts after first considering the costs and benefits of the action and determining that the benefits outweigh the costs. Its main assumptions are completeness, independence of inappropriate alternatives and transitivity. In regard to completeness, it assumes that every individual is able to rank a set of actions in order of his preferences (Gaines, & Miller, 2013). Transitivity on the other hand argues that all dealings can be contrasted with each other. Independence of inappropriate alternatives argues that introducing a third action to a set of two actions does not affect the order of their preferences.

The components of the criminal justice model comprise the police, the courts and the corrections. The role of the police is to patrol the communities and maintain law and order. The courts on the other hand provide a platform where disputes are resolved and laws are tested and upheld in a rational and fair sense (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2014). The courts should be impartial and judges are allowed to determine disputes as they wish without regard to the opinion of governments and public opinion. Finally, the correction systems meet action on wrongdoers. They are responsible for managing those found guilty of crimes while they are in custody.

The goals of the justice system are to reduce and prevent crime and assist crime victims, ensure those who are forwarded to the legal system over wrongdoing are fairly and promptly dealt with, condemn and acquaint the guilty and the innocent respectively, to punish the guilty suitably and where possible discourage wrongdoing, and to do this at a reasonable cost, efficiently, and effectively (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2014).

The criminal justice system is not arguably a system. Instead, it is a set of organizations and agencies which are sponsored and managed by various non-governmental and governmental entities. The different organizations and agencies play different specializations and responsibilities. The criminal justice system is the only area in which a case or individual can access all the three levels of government.


Gaines, L., & Miller, R. (2013). Criminal justice in action: The core. Cengage Learning.

Cole, G., Smith, C., & DeJong, C. (2014). The American system of criminal justice. Cengage Learning.

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