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Why Do We Need a Criminal Justice System?

By CRITINI Jul 06, 2011 1328 Words
Why do we need a criminal justice system?

Essentially this paper aims to support the notion the Australian criminal justice system forms the backbone of law and order in society today, rather society wouldn’t function in an orderly or just manner, as we know it today without such a system. Six main arguments are raised, supporting the notion of the importance of a criminal justice system (hereafter referred to as ‘criminal justice system’ or ‘the system’) in Australian society today. Firstly we look at the criminal justice system and the framework or assemblage of arms involved in its operation. Second, the goals of the system and how these have changed over time to the needs of today’s society. Third, how the system implies social order and securing social control. Fourth, the framework and the measures implied through the system, such as the crime prevention measures. Fifth, the pivotal role public confidence in the system plays on the success of system as a whole (briefly touch on policing and government expenditure and . Lastly, briefly raise the pathological, biological and sociology factors associated with criminal behavior. It is concluded that there is a clear and definite need for a criminal justice system; the system proves crucial in promoting social order, crime reduction, and rehabilitation.

Firstly, the conjecture of correlative words used to describe the criminal justice system, in the first instance ‘criminal’ which implies perceptions of crime or criminality can be summated through what is widely viewed as acceptable practices and behavior in the wider society or community as a whole. For one to be found guilty of a criminal offence, one must have carried out a prohibited offence under the laws of that state known as ‘actus reus’ a further element is the criminal had a mental intention to carry through with the crime or been in present mind when the crime took place, known as actus reus.

In Crime and Justice: A Guide To Criminology, Daly, Israel & Goldsmith (2006) provided a useful descriptive of the term ‘justice’ as, both crime reduction and symbolism are essential to contemporary notions of doing justice. The state responds to crime to secure benefits to the wider society such as crime prevention and crime reduction. As second is symbolic or non utilitarian: the state must redrew imbalances caused by those people who take illegal advantage of another or diminish their human dignity.

‘System’ which can be described as a set of logical and sequential steps which when followed achieves a certain outcome. The Macquarie dictionary defines system an assemblage or combination of things or parts forming a complex or unitary whole, an ordered and comprehensive assemblage of facts, principles, doctrines or the like in a particular field or knowledge or thought.

This terminology loosely signifies the aims, which are many and varied of the criminal justice system in Australia. Similarly the components or framework which make up the system, are an assemblage of state based arms of law enforcing agencies, primarily investigative, adjudicative, correctional and regulatory bodies. These collective agencies with similar, but differing goals work collectively to attain and maintain social order and social control.

Secondly, goals traditionally were to control crime through apprehending and punishing offenders, whereas today the focus has shifted to a proactive approach of preventing criminal behavior or crime prevention, for instance the creation and implementation of proactive programs and strategies to prevent crime before it occurs, and to address and diminish the fear of crime. A further illustration is seen through youth programs, drug rehabilitation programs etc, as well as rehabilitation of offenders through parole programs, educating prisoners and providing a methodical approach to deter offenders re-offending. In brief, the many goals are loosely linked products of influences from the past and changes in society and social values over time.

Thirdly, the system aims to withhold a standard of moral principles which define what are considered as right and wrong practices, through social control we promulgate social order which benefits the wider society through and provide society a framework in which to cohabitate in an orderly fashion. The need for a criminal justice system is exemplified when considering that over time it has become apparent our criminal justice system and policing strategies have become a strong deterrent for criminal activity within society, crime levels would be astronomical without the threat of punishment for wrong doing, which in turn brings about a level social order.

As established through the paper ‘Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice’ (No. 387 November 2009) of paramount importance is the aspect of this is attaining public trust and confidence in the system, as with lack thereof the system will ultimately fail. For example, if victims didn’t trust in the police force protecting them against future violation of their human rights, reporting of criminal incidences would drop, thereupon criminal activity increase. In short, in attaining social control or securing public control through current practices in place we promulgate social order and social stability. As a measure of this, for instance without maintenance of social order in society, criminals at large would conduct criminal behaviors and with the lack of control measures, one might ask where this activity would leave society today, in a very dangerous and unsafe society.

As described in Crime, Criminality & Criminal Justice (White & Haines 2008), the differences between criminal and non-criminal individuals are essentially pathological, arising from deficiencies in biological, sociology and psychological circumstances that are better remedied through the application of social crime prevention. Consequently, through such a system, we are able to identify sources of criminal behavior, early intervention measures and ultimately crime prevention and reduction. Crime is seen to be a problem of social disorganization and lack of social control (for example, through ineffective parenting and/or low impulse control), and we therefore need to develop a social problem approach to crime prevention (Iadicola 1986: Crawford 1998). The system as it presently stands steers closely to mirroring findings such as Iadicola & Crawfords mentioned above. Through providing community inclusion programs for youths such as youth centers and government funded inclusion programs. The pie chart in Figure 1 translates the composition of expenditure on the criminal justice system. Government allocate the bulk to policing being the forefront of the criminal justice system, thus community policing patrols provide significant impact on maintaining social order. Highly functional policing services, promoting public awareness proves an outstanding crime prevention measure. In conclusion the absence of a criminal justice system in today’s society would see chaos, disorder and criminal activity manifest. The hypothesis and arguments aim to undoubtedly signify that in the absence of or lack of trust in the criminal justice system, runs the risk of having a society consumed in fear of a violation of human rights, and a society of perceive increased risk. To elaborate on this, without punishment or the fear thereof for wrongdoing criminals at large would prevail, society would live in fear and social order diminish.

Figure 1
Composition of government expenditure on criminal justice in 2006-07 (percent)

Total = $9,031,000,000

Ref: Australian Crime – Facts & Figures 2006

References
Brennan, J., ‘The Third Branch and the Fourth Estate’ (Speech delivered at the Broadcasting Society and Law Lecture Series, University College, Dublin, 22 April 1997).

Daly, Kathleen: Israel, Mark & Goldsmith, Andrew John. (2006) Crime and justice: a guide to criminology. 3rd Ed. Sydney : Lawbook Co. Ch. 13. pp 265-281)

Adler, Emily & Clark, Roger (2011) – An invitation to social research – how it’s done. 4th Ed. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning Australian Crime – Facts & Figures 2006

Bryett, K., Craswell, E., Harrison, A. & Shaw, J. (1993).The Australian criminal justice system. In An introduction to policing : Vol. 1: Criminal justice in Australia, (pp. 1-7). Sydney: Butterworths.

Australian Crime Commission (2009). Organised crime in Australia. Canberra: Australian Crime Commission, pp. 1-16.

White, Rob & Perrone, Santina (2010) – Crime Criminality & Criminal Justice – 1st Ed. Oxford University Press

Perrin, Robert, ‘Pocket Guide to APA Style’ 2012

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