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Introduction to Crime and Justice
The basics of criminal justice
What is it?
What are the three components of the CJS?
How is it a public policy issue?
Why is it important?
What is the process of justice?
What is criminal justice?
Criminal justice: discipline that examines operation of justice agencies
Criminal Justice System
enforce laws, investigate crimes, apprehend offenders, maintain public order, provide emergency services, etc.
conduct trials, ensure due process, determine guilt or innocence, impose sentences, etc.
carry out sentences imposed by the courts, provide safe and humane custody and supervision, rehabilitate, reform, and reintegrate of offenders back into society
What exactly is crime?
A specific act of commission or omission in violation of the law, for which a punishment is prescribed
What or who decides which behaviors are criminal?
Preferences of politicians
Is all crime immoral?
What do you think?
Mala in se: wrong in themselves
Mala prohibita: labeled criminal because they are prohibited by law
Types of Crime
serious crimes punishable by incarceration for more than 1 year in prison (e.g., murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault)
less serious crimes punishable by jail sentences for less than 1 year, probation, fines, etc. (e.g., simple assault, indecent assault, and theft)
Summary offenses –
even less serious offenses: traffic and non-traffic (e.g., disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, retail theft, and harassment)
What is justice?
The quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness
Rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason
The moral principle determining just conduct
Conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct, dealing, or treatment
The administering of deserved punishment or reward
Crime and Justice as Public Policy
Together, crime and justice are public policy issues
Priorities and actions are developed by the government to use public resources as a means to deal with crime
Institutions and government processes:
Produce laws to define crime
Create and operate agencies to investigate, prosecute, and punish criminals
Allocate resources to address problems of crime and justice
What does society have to do with this?
Why should society be concerned with criminal justice issues?
Society, Politics, and Justice
Society/politicians may impact the justice process
“Knee-jerk” reactions: A problem occurs and receives media attention; public wants something to be done
Politicians respond with:
Limited examination of problem
A law (often poorly thought out and with little regard of consequences)
Can you think of any examples of laws/policies like this?
Criminal Justice Models
Crime Control Model:
assumes every effort must be made to reduce crime
System must be able to catch, convict, and dispose of offenders
Criminal Justice Models, cont.
Due Process Model:
assumes freedom is so important every effort must be made to ensure decisions are fair and reliable, based on law and formal proceedings
Protecting individual rights
Politicians/individuals may emphasize one over the other
Criminal Justice Process
Note: 1) Not all states have summary offenses, but PA does
2) some crimes can fit more than one category – e.g theft can become a felony depending on amount stolen (over $2,000) or use of a firearm. Also, harassment and stalking can become a felony if 2nd or more offense