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The Criminal Justice
System: An Overview
Fundamentals of Criminology
Dr. Lydia Voigt
Components of
Criminal Justice
The Criminal Justice System
American Criminal Justice in
Historical Perspective
Gradual organizational changes in the
CJ system have been brought about by
increased urbanization, increases in the
incidence of crime, and the expansion
of due process rules and procedures.
The Criminal Justice System:
Discretion at All Levels:
• Police: - whether to make an arrest or not
• Prosecutors – whether to reduce charges
against alleged offenders
• Judges – whether to set sentences within
some minimum and maximum range of
• Correction personnel – whether to assign
offenders to specific types of facilities, award
privileges, or punish disciplinary infractions
Police Work and Law Enforcement
• History of Police
The English legacy: The London
Metropolitan Police Act – 1829
Early American Police agencies:
York City police force – 1845
Current characteristics of the police force
Role of the Police
• Maintain public
• Provide
community service
• Enforce criminal
and traffic law
Maintaining Public Order
• Police intervene when public order has been
breached (e.g., crowd control, break-up
fights, manage traffic after accident).
• Peacekeeping function allows wide personal
discretion in how actual or threatened
breaches to public peace are managed.
• Emphasis is on creating a sense of safety
and security.
Providing Community Service
• Police officers devote considerable time
to such things as transporting the sick to
hospitals, finding lost children, giving
first aid, helping stranded motorists,
giving road directions, etc.
• 70-80% of police calls are service
related (Jerome Skolnick and David
Bayley, The New Blue Line (1986))
Enforcing the Criminal Law
• Police officers exercise their power to
sanction the breach of criminal laws by giving
warnings, making arrests, issuing traffic
citations, or searching for and collecting
evidence of crimes.
• Police in crime-fighting role have been
described as gatekeepers of the CJ system,
because their discretionary power can have
life-altering consequences for citizens.
Issues in Policing
Among the occupational hazards of the
police is the contradiction embedded
within the police mandate to achieve
maximum order within the framework of
maximum legality.
Police Effectiveness and Reform
• Foot patrol
• Community-oriented policing
• Problem-oriented policing
Foot Patrol
• Contributes to improved policecommunity relations by virtue of
“personalizing” the police presence in
the community, and to improved morale
and job satisfaction among patrol
• Police foot patrols deter crimes simply
being visible
Community-Oriented Policing
Foot patrol implemented
Elicit citizen cooperation
Public safety
Order maintenance
Inter-agency cooperation (schools, churches,
social services)
• Identify neighborhood problems and needs
• Set a course of action for an effective
Problem-Oriented Policing
• Community-oriented, problem-solving
• Emphasis on identifying, assessing, and
addressing crime-related community issues
• Crackdowns – involves targeting a particular
problem area and reallocating resources
• Hot-spots – focusing on high crime rate
locations, e.g., bars, malls bus depot, certain
• Stages: scanning, analysis, and response
Role of the Courts
• To seek truth &
obtain justice
• To adjudicate &
• Consists of:
– lower courts
– superior courts
– appellate courts
Prosecution and Defense
• Opponents in an adversarial system
• Prosecutor represents the people
• Defense represents the accused
Juvenile Justice System
Clients are:
Delinquents (juveniles
who commit crime)
Children in Need of
(Abandoned, abused
Status Offenders
(truants, runaways,
incorrigible or
of 1,000
The Common Law:
Historical Roots
Formal law in the colonies was
adopted from existing English law,
which today is known as common
U.S. Criminal Law Systems
• Common law
• Statutes
• Court decisions
Comparison of
Felony and Misdemeanors
• More serious than • A less serious
• Punishable by
• Punishable by fine,
death or
imprisonment in a
service, or jail time
(less than a year)
Procedural Law
Procedural laws control the action of the
agencies of justice and define the rights
of criminal defendants.
Bill of Rights
• First ten amendments to the U.S.
• Purpose is to prevent government from
usurping the personal freedom of
• Applied to state actions through the use
of the Due Process clause of the 14th
Fourth Amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not
be violated, and no warrants shall be issued,
but upon probable cause, supported by oath
or affirmation and particularly describing the
place to be searched, and the persons or things
to be seized.
Exclusionary Rule
• The Exclusionary Rule is not in the
Constitution. It is the product of the
United State Supreme Court.
• The rule disallows illegally obtained
evidence at trial, and effectively
enforces clauses of the 4th Amendment.
The “Handcuffing” Impact of the
Exclusionary Rule
• Research evidence indicates that only a tiny
fraction of felony cases (between 1% and 3%)
are dismissed or lost because of exclusions
based on Miranda or search and seizure
violations (e.g., C. Uchida and T. Bynum.
“Search Warrants, Motions to Suppress and
‘Lost Cases’ : The Effects of the Exclusionary
Rule in Seven Jurisdictions.” Journal of
Criminal Law and Criminology 1991 (81):
Fifth Amendment
• Deals with admissibility
of illegally obtained
confessions and selfincrimination.
• Miranda v Arizona
governs custodial
• Contains double
jeopardy clause.
• Contains “Due process”
as it applies to the
federal government.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
• You have the right to remain silent.
• It you decide to make a statement, the
statement can and will be used against you in
a court of law.
• You have the right to have an attorney
present at the time of the interrogation, or you
will have an opportunity to consult with an
• If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be
appointed for you by the state.
Sixth Amendment
Right to speedy and public trial
Right to impartial jury
Right to be informed of charges
Right to confront adverse witnesses
Right to be provided assistance of
Fourteenth Amendment
Used to hold states to similar standards
as the federal government.
Theories of
Procedural Safeguards of Due
of charges
A formal hearing
The right to counsel or other representation
The opportunity to respond to charges
The opportunity to confront or cross-examine
Freedom from self-incrimination
Opportunity to present own witnesses
Decision based on substantial evidence and facts
Written statement of reason for decision
Appellate review procedure
of Crime
Effects of the Crime Control
 Mandatory sentencing
 “Three strikes and you’re out”
 Preventative detention
 Abolition of parole
Effects of the Due Process
• Exclusionary rule
• Right to attorney at all stages of the
• Due process rights given to juveniles
• Granting prison inmates fundamental
legal entitlements
The Structure of the Criminal Justice
• The federal system
• State courts
The Criminal justice Process
Initial Appearance Hearing
Pretrial Release or preventive detention
Preliminary hearing
Guilty pleas
Criminal trial
Sentencing upon conviction
Major Actors in the Judicatory
• The public prosecutor
• Defense attorney
• Judges
Methods of Determining the Factual
Issues of Guilt or Innocence
• Plea bargaining
implicit pleas
explicit pleas
• Criminal trial
The Felony Trial
• Selection, instruction, and swearing of jury
• Reading grand jury indictment containing
specific charges at the arraignment
• Opening arguments of prosecutor and
defense attorney
• Direct and cross-examination of witnesses
• Closing arguments (summation), first of
prosecutor and then the defense
• Judges charge and instruct the jury
• Jury deliberation
• Jury’s verdict or mistrial
• Sentencing upon conviction
Criticism of the Courts
Overcrowded dockets
Assembly-line justice
Too many inducements to plead guilty
Too few jury trials
Speedy trials are unattainable
Sentencing Options
Community service
Restitution to victims
Capital punishment
Types of Sentences
• Indeterminate sentence
• Determinate sentence
• Mandatory minimum sentence
Death Penalty Issues
• The moral question: Is it right?
• The utilitarian question: Does it work?
• The fallibility question: Does it Kill
innocent people?
• The fairness question: Does it
Role of Corrections
• Community
• Probation
• Confinement
• Parole
The History of Prisons
• Pennsylvania prison system
• The Auburn system
• The modern prison era
Minimum security prisons
Medium security prisons
Maximum security prisons
Ultra-maximum security prisons
• Private prisons
Incarceration Issues
Aging prison population
Prisonization effects
Prison violence
Prisoner rights
Alternatives to Incarceration
Community based corrections
Shock probation and split sentencing
House arrest
Electronic monitoring
Fines and forfeitures
“The contemporary criminal justice system is
monumental in size. It consists of more that 55,000
public agencies, and now costs the federal, state, and
local governments nearly $150 billion for civil and
criminal justice; this amounts to more that $500 for every
resident in the United States” (Siegel 2003: 460).

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