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Criminals have existed through out centuries. Some people will only commit a single petty criminal act in their lifetime while some people will be chronic criminal offenders. While criminals are sometimes involved in simple petty theft, others are involved in more serious violent acts such as battery, sexual assault, and death. Crime is considered to compromise public order and not just its victims; it is defined by the Oxford English dictionary as “An act or omission constituting an offence (usually a grave one) against an individual or the state and punishable by law” (“Crime,” 2011). There is an intricate relationship between crime and the law. If the law is not enforced, crime can not be prevented. However according to society, there are two common models that determine wheter or not an act is considered a crime. They are the consensus and the conflict model.
The consensus model argues that when people gather to form a community, its members will naturally form rules from shared values and norms. It will create and pass laws to control deviant behavior by setting boundaries to acts that conflict with their values and beliefs. In the conflict model, the group of people that hold the political, economic, and social power within a community makes the laws and set the rules to their advantage. Minorities believe to be affected by it largely because of their income, religious beliefs, morals, and race. Correspondingly, there has always been a search for reasoning behind humans who commit criminal acts, in fact since the 18th century theories have develop on why humans are involved in criminal behavior. The oldest and most acceptable theory is the Classical and Neoclassical theory, mostly based on writings by Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham. This theory grew from the form of barbaric punishment that was given to all criminals before the 19th century.
This theory argued that human behavior is the result of free will and rational choice and that people commit crimes because they gain some sort of pain and pleasure. So in order to prevent crime there must be a punishment that brings no pleasure from the crime. Aditionally, there are the Biological, Psychobiological, and Psychological theories. These three choice theories are based on individual’s genetics, DNA, mental health, and personal characteristics. Proponents of this theory argue that people are involved in criminal behavior because of their genetic makeup, body chemistry, or because of a disease mind, and that Medicine is the key in controling their criminal behavior but it is only temporarily. Then at we have the Sociological and Social Process theory. Proponents believed that the choice of an “individual to commit a crime is a product of society’s impact on the individual” (Schmalleger, “Chapter 3, The Search for Causes, 2011”).
Both theories share the idea that the individual’s family, friends, crowd, “gang”, education, their neighborhood, or location, serves an important role in their choice to commit crimes. However proponents of the Social process “build on the premise that behavior, both “good” and “bad”, is learned, and they suggest that “bad” behavior can be unlearned” (Schmalleger, “Chapter 3, The Search for Causes, 2011”). Last in the theory list are both the Conflict and Emergent theory. While the conflict theory proponents argue that crime is normal or inevitable given the social, political and economic disagreements, the emergent theory proposed the argument that the gender of the offender was a cause of higher rates in crime explaining that women could have as many or more rates of crime but would never show on a crime rate sheet because they where perceived as week and good or incapable of harm. Regardless of what drives a criminal to break the law there should be punishment in order to bring justice and promote change. When people commit a crime or are accused of a crime they go through a process that is intentioned to provide justice in the name of society administered and managed by the criminal justice system.
The criminal justice consists of various level governments. It reaches the federal, state, and local governments and helps each other and work in coordination to handle and prevent crime. No matter the government system, the goal is the same, but one must understand how the system and process works. The Criminal Justice System is composed of three major components, the police, courts, and corrections. The police component ensures to enforce the law by apprehension and by protecting their fundamental rights and freedoms by informing the individual of their 4th amendment rights and their Miranda rights. In addition, the police investigates the crime, and has the responsibility to reduce and prevent crime, as well as to maintain public order.
However the system involves a process, first is the investigation and arrest. “once a law enforcement agency has established that a crime has been committed, a suspect must be identified and apprehended for the case to proceed through the system.” (“Criminal Justice Process”, 1995-2011). Following the arrest suspects are booked by having their finger prints, pictures, and personal information entered in a data base. Then come the pretrial activities, “within hours of arrest, suspects must be brought before a magistrate (a judicial officer) for an initial appearance” (Schmalleger, “Chapter 1 American Criminal Justice: The Process,” 2011). Individuals are advice of their charges and rights, if possible they may be give them a chance for bail. The next step is to determine if there was proable cause and if the case is strong enough to go to trial, this is called the preliminary hearing. Given the outcome of the preliminary hearing the prosecutor might want to continue the case and submit an indictment.
Last in the process is the arraignment, “the first appearance of the defendant before the court that has the authority to conduct a trial.” (Schmalleger, “Chapter 1, American Criminal Justice: The Process,” 2011). If there is no plea bargain the trial will commence and a jury or judge will make a verdict. After the verdict is reached and the defendant is found guilty, the judge or jury will recommend a sentence. If there are no appeals the criminal will enter the corrections process of the criminal justice system and serve his sentence term in prison. Prison terms are served in county or state jails, depending on the terms. Not everyone is sent to prison, people are put in probation and have to do community service or are put in house arrest. The criminal justice system is indeed a system but as all systems with various organizations working together there will be flaws and mistakes.
With all three components of the criminal justice system efficiently and harmoniously working together justice will be served and the criminals will be punish as for the innocent will be freed. All three components must do their part of the process by upholding the Constitution of the United States. It may not always be understood by society when an offender serves such short time when they would have punished harsher but if society ignores the process it conveys to prosecute and the time and money it spends in one criminal but complain about the tax money it is taken from their check for county jails and prisoners, how is it that society expects good outcomes or better results? How does society know if the outcome of a case was the best outcome it could have received?
Crime. (2011). In Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/ Criminal Justice Process. (1995-2011). Retrieved from http://www.lawinfo.com/fuseaction/Client.lawarea/categoryid/142 Schmalleger, F. (2011). Criminal Justice Today. An Introductory Text for the 21st Century (11th ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.