Before you get to deep into the Criminal Justice System you must first have some background on how it came about. The first real documented Criminal Justice System was back in 1764 by Cesare Beccari's famous writing On Crime and Punishment. He "made a convincing argument against the use of torture and capital punishment common practices in the eighteenth century."(Senna/Siegel pg.5) He went on to say that a "minimum amount of punishment was needed to control crime if criminals be convinced that their law violations were certain to be discovered and swiftly punished."(Senna/Siegel pg5) This was the beginning of the basis for our modern criminal system. However "not until 1919 that the concept of a Criminal Justice System began to be recognized."(Senna/Siegel pg5) The Criminal Justice System became national in 1921 when President Hoover "appointed the National Commission of Law Observance and Enforcement." (Senna/Siegel pg5) Once the foundation was put down we began to focus and separate the different areas of the Criminal Justice System. "The focus of the research shifted to an examination of these previously obscure process (investigation, arrest, prosecution, plea negotiations) and their interrelationships."(Senna/Siegel pg 6) When we did this we found much discretion was being used which means they used their personal choice.
By now you are wondering what exactly the Criminal Justice System is. The Criminal Justice System is a complex way of keeping our society safe from others and ourselves. It consists of an entry into the system (caused by a minor to major infraction of the rules set fourth in federal, state and city ordinances). If charges are placed "a suspect charge with a crime must be taken before a judge or magistrate without unnecessary delay."(Dushkin/McGraw-Hill pg9) After this happens an arraignment is scheduled. "At the arraignment, the accused is informed of the charges, advised of the rights of criminal defendants, and asked to enter a plea to the charges."(Dushkin/Mcgraw-Hill pg9) The person can plea guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere. At this time also the accused can decide to have a trial by peers or a bench trial. "After a conviction, sentence is imposed."(Dushkin/Mcgaw-Hill pg9) The deciding party or person must decide from the following penalties: death penalty, incarceration (prison, jail, etc.), probation (allowing to stay in public circulation), fines (small offenses), and/or restitution (pay compensation). If sentenced to incarceration, people of one year or less go to jail, but more that more than one year usually go to State or Federal prisons. A person may come up for parole in a long term sentence after a certain portion has been served. This completes the Criminal Justice System for people over eighteen years old. Once they are through this they can still be brought back in and go through the process so it is not a one time thing. In fact, "long term studies show that many suspects who are arrested have prior criminal histories and those with a greater number of prior arrests were more likely to be arrested again."(Dushkin/Mcgraw-Hill pg12) A watered down version of this is that the Criminal Justice consists of the Police, Courts, and Corrections.
The Government today plays a major role in the Criminal Justice System. In the legislative branch the laws are passed that "define criminal behavior and establish criminal penalties."(Senna/Siegel pg6) The legislative branch does not only make laws the also approve funding for criminal agencies. The legislative branch can not just make laws as they please however. They are checked and balanced by the judicial branch. This branch is responsible for interpreting the constitution and seeing that the new laws fit under this document. The executive branch is the third and last branch responsible for the way the Criminal Justice System works. This branch is responsible for appointing judges and heads of certain agencies. They can however remove people from these positions with the exception of the Supreme Court appointees.
Up to this point I have called Criminal Justice a "system", but some argue that this is not a system but rather a process. This is a very interesting concept. A system is a set structure that every one goes through while a process is open to variation. While the Criminal Justice System has three major steps. The Criminal Justice Process has about fifteen. The first is the