Functions of Criminal Justice Agencies and Recent Initiatives for their Improvement
The police, courts and corrections are all agencies of the criminal justice system. The agencies operate in synchrony to achieve their legal and ethical responsibilities of preventing and reducing the level of crime. The criminal justice agencies run together in a systematic and coordinated way but their objectives and functions are not the same. Different initiatives have been taken for improving the functioning of each of the above agencies. This paper explicitly reviews the role of the police, courts and corrections and also looks at the recent initiatives for improving the function of each.
Police play a crucial role; the functions of the police are varied and complex, they include; Upholding and enforcing the law impartially by protecting life, property, human rights and the dignity of people, they also promote and preserve public order. Law enforcement officers also guard public properties like vital installations, bridges and many others. They prevent crimes and reduce the opportunities for the commission of crime by employing preventive measures.
They also register and investigate offences that come to their notice. They collect intelligence from various sources which are vital in the execution of their duties. They ensure orderly movement of people by controlling traffic. They also provide relief to people who are in distress circumstances for instance those affected by natural calamities.
Different initiatives have been taken recently to improve the functioning of the police. Traditional methods of policing have been replaced with modern methods to ensure the efficient functioning of the police. The initiatives include; Development of an intelligence program which emphasizes on intelligence requirement, new intelligence products and the creation of a field intelligence group in every field office to act as the primary intelligence contact.
. The use of intelligence led policing to disrupt criminal activities unlike before. Training opportunities for intelligence analysts, line officers, managers and law enforcement have also been introduced to enhance efficiency.
Community policing is another new initiative that has been employed to improve the functions of the police. The initiative aims to bridge the gap between the community and the police by involving community members in policing thus boosting the confidence the public has in the police and improving police accountability in the execution of their duties. Community policing shifts is organized perspectives that emphasize community problem solving and police-community relations. (Corsianos, 14).
Courts are another agency of the criminal justice system, which has the functions:
Aiding in the resolution of various disputes in the society, different disputes in our society are taken to courts where they are resolved. Experts like litigants and judges are found in the courts and they aid in resolving disputes brought before them.
The courts also act, as sources of law, decisions that are reached by judges become part of the law; they form what is called judicial precedents, which are used to resolve future disputes.
Administering justice, justice is administered in courts; the judge is an impartial arbitrator who administers justice to both parties. The judge looks at the evidence presented before giving a fair judgment, which ensures justice.
Interpretation and elucidation of the law, the courts help people to understand different clauses of law. The laws are normally complicated thus; courts come in to help in their interpretation.
Protecting fundamental rights, they act as the custodians of rights including the individual rights that are enshrined in the bill of rights. They ensure that no one is denied the rights and that the rights are not violated or no one is placed at a disadvantage to the full enjoyment at the rights. They also deal with legal questions that arise for instance resolving a crisis between different institutions.
The courts have recently been improved by new initiatives that are aimed at making their functioning effective. Firstly, the courts have been accorded authority to operate independently without interference from other institutions like the legislature unlike was the case before. This has ensured that the elites of stakes do not influence decisions of judges. Alternate dispute resolution mechanisms have also been embraced so as to solve the problem of case backlogs in courts (Reinsk, 22).Restitution, which emphasizes justice to the victims is also another recent initiative being embraced by the courts, victims can now get justice unlike before where the state assumed the place of the victim (Benson, 223).
The functions of corrections include, controlling offenders, ensuring that offenders are secure punishing criminals, training offenders, rehabilitating offenders and supervising inmates.
Rehabilitating offenders, people who commit crime and are convicted are usually rehabilitated in correctional facilities. Criminals are thought to be abnormal people thus they under various programs in the incarceration facilities. They are placed under various programs, which help them to realize that their acts were bad, and thus need to reform to become useful people in the society. Special attention is given to offenders in prisons so as to make them reform and become law abiding citizens.
Controlling offenders, the movement and behavior of offenders is controlled when in correctional facilities Punishing offenders, criminals are punished in correctional facilities so as to prevent recidivism..
Vocational training, offenders under various training programs when incarcerated. The programmers help them to gain basic skills in life thus becoming useful members of the society. They get skills in many fields such as carpentry which help them to become productive people in the society Keeping society free of crime; this is another major function of corrections. Incapacitating hardcore criminals rids society of crime. The theory of incapacitation assumes that a hardened criminal is not replaced by another. Deterrence, corrections deter people from committing crime. When offenders are imprisoned the general observing public learn of the consequences of crime and individuals are deterred from crime
Various initiatives have been taken so as to improve the functioning of the corrections. The initiatives include; Non custodial sentences, education in prisons, restitution and probation
Non-custodial sentence, this is a new initiative towards the improvement of the effective functioning of corrections. Offenders with minor offences are placed under probation or on community service orders thus reducing overcrowding which has been a major problem. Overcrowding has been a major problem in correctional facilities for a long time. Reducing Population in different prisons is another recent initiative being employed to improve the functioning of corrections. It usually involves releasing offenders with minor offences and placing them under probation for a period of time (Pitts, Griffin, & Johnson, 133).Access to education has also been brought to correctional facilities and this has helped make the rehabilitation program to be efficient as offenders are taught the significance of being law abiding
Benson, Bruce. Let’s focus on victim justice, not criminal justice, Independent review, 19(2), 209-238. 2014, Web.
Corsianos, Marilyn. Responding to officers gendered experiences through community policing and improving police accountability to citizens. Contemporary justice review, 14(1), 7-20, 2011 Web.
Pitts, James. Griffin Hyden, & Wesley Johnson. Contemporary prison overcrowding: Short term fixes to a perpetual problem. Contemporary justice review.17 (1), 124-139, 2014, web
Reinsk, Judith. Alternative dispute resolutions: the public in the private arbitration: the private courts. Yale law journal, 124(8).2015, web.