Criminal justice is a system of public measures concerning crime. These measures consist mainly of law, police, prosecutors, courts, and incapacitation through the penitentiary system that control citizens by means of power with threats of punishment and by compulsion. In broader sense, it includes social, and societal institutions as childcare, education, social policy, housing policy, and more.
There are several distinguishing characteristics of criminal justice. First, the bodies within the criminal justice system belong to different branches of government. The courts form a separate branch, when other bodies are mainly a part of executive power. Second, there is a difference in determining the nature of law in the countries of continental Europe, rehearsed the classical Roman law (continental type), and the United States, being a member of the common law family.
In the first case, the concepts and principles are formulated first, then the structure of the sector and its institutions are determined and, eventually, certain legal norms are given definitions. In this case, most attention is paid to the major subjects of the study: charting patterns are made, administrative institutions are classified and their hierarchy is determined, specifies privileges are indicated, etc. Only after that, the smallest subject – a citizen – is determined.
Nevertheless, it makes sense to talk about criminal justice as a system. Despite the disunity (in each county, town, etc. has its own criminal justice system), they rely on the same principles, pursue the same goals, and have the same responsibility for their work.
The criminal justice system consists of three separate parts: the police, courts, and correctional institutions. Each of them has its own, well-defined task. However, we cannot say that these parts are completely independent of each other. Courts deal only with those who were arrested by police, correctional institutions face only those who were sent to them by a court. The success or failure of correction and re-education of convicts depends on whether the police will help ex-convicts to adapt and whether the correctional practice will be reflected in the decisions of the court.
Summing up, it should be noted that the system of criminal justice has a complex structure due to the fact that its bodies belong to the different branches of government, which has both a positive and a negative aspect. On the other hand, the branched structure makes the system of criminal justice sluggish for modernization and innovation, since, as noted above, each structural element is different from the others in the system of criminal justice.
Students, seeking to prepare a good research proposal on the subject, have to look through criminal justice research proposal examples. They can be of a great assistance for the beginners, having no or small experience.
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