Why do we (as a society) need a criminal justice system?
Everyday, society is the respondent to rules and procedures that shape the way we interact with one another. Perhaps the most defining rules and procedures are those that deal with criminality and criminal justice. This paper will firstly look at the goals of the criminal justice system and how the criminal justice system tries to achieve them. Secondly, this essay will examine how the criminal justice system functions and whether this is effective in achieving the goals it sets out.
Perhaps the most obvious goal of the criminal justice system is to respond to crime. This goal is fulfilled through the apprehension of those who perpetrate crimes, and the subsequent punishment of these offenders. However, when looking at the full scope of the functions of the criminal justice system, it further aims to prevent crime and promote personal and community safety (Pink, 2007). In summary, the basic function of the criminal justice system is social control (Bryett, Crasswell, Harrison, Arch, & Shaw, 1993).
Social controls dictate what behaviours are acceptable in society, so as to ensure the best interests of society as a whole are maintained (Bryette, et. al., 1993). While the criminal justice system is not the only form of social control, it is perhaps the most obvious formal control. The government criminalizes activities and behaviours that are deemed to be harmful to society. This government then gives the criminal justice system the power and resources to enforce these laws and punish those who do not conform (Bryett, et al., 1993). This formal control is used to reinforce informal social controls such as family, education, peers and mass media: which, on their own are generally quite effective social controls. However, informal controls alone cannot be relied upon to enforce criminal justice processes, therefore the state imposes the powers of the criminal justice system to regulate...
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