History of Law Enforcement
In Ancient China law enforcement was carried out by “perfects.” The notion of a “perfect” in China has existed for thousands of years. In both the Chu and Jin kingdoms of the Spring and Autumn periods the prefecture system developed. Within the Jin kingdom, dozens of perfects were spread across the kingdom, each having limited authority and a length of service. Over time and under the rule of Dang Lin Wang, an new judicial system emerged in which perfects were considered government officials appointed by local magistrates, who in turn were appointed by the emperor of the dynasty; a figure very similar to a head of state. The prefects oversaw the civil administration of their “prefecture,” or what is known today as a jurisdiction. Prefects usually reported to the local magistrates, just as modern police report to judges. Under each perfect were “sub prefects” who helped collectively with law enforcement of the area. Over time the concept of the “prefecture system” eventually spread to other cultures.
For the most part, crime was viewed as a private matter in Ancient Greece and Rome. Even with offenses as serious as murder, justice was the prerogative of the victim's family and private war or vendetta the means of protection against criminality. Publicly-owned slaves were used by magistrates as police in Ancient Greece. In Athens, a group of 300 Scythian slaves was used to guard public meetings to keep order and for crowd control, and also assisted with dealing with criminals, manhandling prisoners, and making arrests. Other duties associated with modern policing, such as investigating crimes, were left to the citizens themselves. During the middle Ages, crime and punishment were dealt with through blood feuds or trial by ordeal between the parties. Payment to the victim or their family was another common punishment, including for violent crimes. For those who could not afford to buy their way out of punishment, harsh penalties included various forms of corporal punishment. These included mutilation, whipping, branding, flogging, and execution. The code of law specifies exactly how much to pay, if anything, depending who was slain. The primary form of state-administered punishment during ancient times and the Middles Ages was banishment or exile. Though a prison existed as early as the 14th century in, incarceration was not widely used until the 19th century.
The establishment of law enforcement and criminal justice during the Middle Ages and Ancient China was used as a model and other nations or civilizations formed their rules in which one should govern themselves by. When early colonists first came to America, they did not include trained lawyers or other law-knowledgeable persons. They followed the common law system; which included set of rules that were used to solve problems in society. It was based on the history of decisions that previous judges had made instead lawmaking codes or laws. This system made a distinction between two basic types of crimes: felonies and misdemeanors. The legal process, mostly for more serious crimes, involved a grand jury, composed of members of the community, which loved to commit crimes, which decided whether there was enough evidence for prosecution. However, in these proceedings no district attorneys or public prosecutors were available. The victim of the crime was responsible for instigating the prosecution and financing it. It was these fundamental principles that stuck with the colonists and were used selectively to create a new and unique criminal justice system. Many factors influenced the colonists’ selection process by which they constructed their approach to criminal justice. Being that there were no professional lawyers this left a lot of room for creativity and mistakes. The colonists were pretty much left to their own devices concerning the details of their developing criminal justice system. The new environment the colonists encountered in the New World, especially the western frontier, also affected the way the law was shaped. The system was molded to fit the colonists’ necessities as they settled further and further west. Vigilantism was an inevitable byproduct of the faults of the development of justice in America. Religion, especially early on in the colonial period, exerted a strong influence on law making. Legal codes, such as the 1648 Book of the General Laws and Liberties of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, contained very strong biblical references than did the ones in England. However, it should be said that this religious impact was felt most strongly in Puritan colonies. Similar ideas were evident in other colonists too. Many colonial makeshift criminal codes considered lying, idleness, drunkenness, certain sexual offenses, and even bad behavior as a crime. These moralistic crimes stemmed from the relation of crime to sin and sin to crime. Adding to the religious factor, the colonists held individual liberty in high regard. This later influenced more contemporary criminal codes.
Criminal Justice Today
A criminal justice system is a set of legal and social institutions for enforcing the criminal law in accordance with a defined set of procedural rules and limitations. There are separate federal, state, and military criminal justice systems. In addition each state has separate systems for adults and juveniles. Criminal justice systems include several major subsystems, composed of one or more public institutions and their staffs: police and other law enforcement agencies; trial and appellate courts; prosecution and public defender offices; probation and parole agencies; custodial institutions; and departments of corrections.
Law enforcement agencies consist of both federal and state agencies. There are a wide range of federal offices which may include the protection of The President of the United States to the protection of mail. Most are more familiar with state police agencies those with general functions similar to local police and those with limited responsibilities, mainly involving highway patrol on state roads. A city police force is usually organized as one of several departments within the local government. The police are part of the local criminal justice system, which is the means by which society deals with criminals. The system includes the prosecuting attorney's office, the courts, probation offices, and corrections agencies. A police department's goals are to prevent crime, investigate crime and apprehend offenders, control traffic, maintain order, and deal with emergencies and disasters. In their efforts to prevent crime a police agency usually is composed of a patrol division, consisting of uniformed patrol officers and supervisors. However, the police force doe not end there; larger agencies are also composed of units that are responsible for criminal investigation, traffic control, special police units, noncriminal services, and police technology. All of the divisions of a police agency all come together to work in conjunction of the criminal justice system.
The courts serve as the venue where disputes are then settled and justice is administered. In accordance with laws and with regard to criminal justice a court setting is complied of people. The judge, is a person, that may have been elected or appointed and is knowledgeable with the aspects of law. It is the judge purpose to objectively and without bias administer the legal proceedings. Today guilt or innocence is decided through the system of law that relies on the contest between each advocate representing his or her party's positions and involves an impartial person or group of people, usually a jury or judge, trying to determine the truth of the case. This is also known as a adversarial system; where two parties will both offer their version of events and argue their case before the court. The case should be decided in favor of the party who offers the most sound and compelling arguments based on the law as applied to the facts of the case. In cases where a criminal offense was committed with sufficient evidence provide by the necessary policing agencies the prosecutor, or district attorney, brings charges against a person or corporate entity. A defense attorney counsels the accused on the legal process, likely outcomes for the accused and suggests strategies. The final determination of guilt or innocence is typically made by a third party, who is supposed to be disinterested. This function may be performed by a judge, a panel of judges, or a jury of one's peers. This process varies depending on the laws of the specific jurisdiction. In some places the panel is required to issue a unanimous decision, while in others only a majority vote is required. In America, this process depends on the state, level of court, and even agreements between the prosecuting and defending parties. Other nations do not use juries at all, or rely on theological or military authorities to issue verdicts.
Offenders are then turned over to the correctional authorities, from the court system after the accused has been found guilty. Like all other aspects of criminal justice, the administration of punishment has taken many different forms throughout history. Early on, when civilizations lacked the resources necessary to construct and maintain prisons, exile and execution were the primary forms of punishment. Historically shame punishments and exile have also been used as forms of censure. The most publicly visible form of punishment in the modern era is the prison. Prisons may serve as detention centers for prisoners after trial. For containment of the accused, jails are used. Early prisons were used primarily to sequester criminals and little thought was given to living conditions within their walls. Punishment in the form of prison time may serve a variety of purposes. First, and most obviously, the incarceration of criminals removes them from the general population and inhibits their ability to perpetrate further crimes. Many societies also view prison terms as a form of revenge or retribution, and any harm or discomfort the prisoner suffers is "payback" for the harm they caused their victims. A new goal of prison punishments is to offer criminals a chance to be rehabilitated. Many modern prisons offer schooling or job training to prisoners as a chance to learn a vocation and thereby earn a legitimate living when they are returned to society. Religious institutions also have a presence in many prisons, with the goal of teaching ethics and instilling a sense of morality in the prisoners. If a prisoner is released before his time is served, he is released as a parole. This means that they are released, but the restrictions are greater than that of someone on probation. There are numerous other forms of punishment which are commonly used in conjunction with or in place of prison terms. Monetary fines are one of the oldest forms of punishment still used today. These fines may be paid to the state or to the victims as a form of reparation. Probation and house arrest are also sanctions which seek to limit a person's mobility and their opportunities to commit crimes without actually placing them in a prison setting. Many jurisdictions may require some form of public or community service as a form of reparations for lesser offenses.
Effectiveness of the Criminal Justice System
In my personal opinion, the justice system is not effectively meeting the four principles of sentencing, which are punishment, deterrence, protection of the public and the reformation and rehabilitation of the offender. The offenders need to go through a stiffer system to be ensured that they meet all four principles. For this to occur sentences must be long enough for individuals to reflect the serious consequences of their intended acts and rehabilitation should be mandatory. In order to effectively meet the four principles of the justice system, changes need to be made. The justice system needs to evaluate each offender’s needs in order for them to become a productive member of society. No one should be ignored in the process of creating a better society. Punishment should be harsh and rehabilitation must be mandatory, while public safety is also kept in mind. There is no one perfect solution but ways need to be explored for the justice system to be efficient.
Hale, Sandra Beatriz (July 2004). The Discourse of Court Interpreting: Discourse Practices of the Law, the Witness and the Interpreter