What is crime? A crime is when someone breaks the law that is made by the federal, state, or local government with an unjustifiable reason. For example, if someone was trying to kill another person, the victim has a right to defend himself even if it results in the assaulter’s death. On the other hand it is considered a crime if you kill someone out of anger. To decide on what is or is not a crime there are two common models of how society determines which acts are criminal. The consensus model deals with how the majority of people within a society have the same beliefs and value as to what is right and wrong, such as the right to bare arms or freedom of speech. The conflict model deals with an economic or political group decision; what is best for the economy or business or the party that is in power. For example, prohibiting robbery. (1) It is then important to understand how society determines what constitutes a crime. There are four main choice theories that society may use to determine what is a criminal act. The first theory is legalistics. This theory means if there is no law about a certain behavior, then it is not illegal. The next theory is political. This is a law made by a political party to benefit themselves or their constituents. Another theory is sociological which is an act that is not a crime but is offensive to a society. The last theory is psychological which is an act by someone who cannot function by social rules. In our society, if a crime does occur there are procedures that are put in place as a result of our government’s criminal justice structure. The departments that deal with the criminal justice system are the police, the court, and the corrections department. These bodies of the criminal justice system are what help with our government’s criminal justice process. The early stage of the process most often involves the police. The job of the police is to investigate the crime, collect as much evidence as possible, and if need be, make an arrest. The middle stage usually involves the courts, which hold the pre-trials, trials, and sentencing. During pre-trial they set bail, determine if there is sufficient evidence, and decide if the case needs to go to trial. At the end of pre-trials the accused hears from the judge the indictment against him then the accused pleas guilty or not guilty. After pre-trials the case goes to trial. During trial the judge, jury, and lawyers go over all the details involving the case to prove if the accused is convicted or acquitted of charges. If convicted, the next stage would go to sentencing. This stage involves the judge giving the proper punishment to the convicted by paying a fine, giving probation, or sending the convicted to a corrections facility. If the judge does send the convicted to a corrections facility they will be held at this place for however long the judge sentences he or she for. This person may have a chance to be able to finish their sentence on probation or receive early parole. To help prevent crimes from happening the criminal justice system has determined some goals. The first goal is deterrence, which are warnings. For example, no trespassing signs which give people warnings that if you trespass you can be arrested. The next goal is incapacitation, which is sending a convicted felon to a corrections facility. Another goal is retribution. Retribution shows the perpetrator and others that the sentencing will be worse if he or she commits the crime again. The fourth goal is rehabilitation. This goal usually happens when the convicted is in a corrections facility and the criminal justice system helps bring them back to society. The last goal is restoration. This goal is to make it right for the victim of the crime. It is to make amends for what the criminal did. “Since a system is an assemblage or combination of things or parts forming a complex or unitary whole.”(2) , I believe the Criminal Justice system is a system because the police work with the courts by arresting criminals and collecting the evidence. A prosecutor presents the evidence to a judge or jury. Upon conviction, the courts work with the corrections department to carry out the sentence.
1. 1. Criminal Justice Today. (n.d.). Retrieved August 19, 2014.
2. The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.