The American Bar Association (1986) describes criminal justice as a system that is put in place to deal with violation of criminal law. The criminal justice is divided into three subsystems to help it deter and investigate crime. These are; the police, the criminal courts and the correctional agencies (Haugen, D. M., & Musser, 2009). The police are tasked with investigating crime and maintaining public safety, the criminal courts are in charge of conducting fair trials and sentencing guilty parties according to the law. The correctional agencies implement sentences given by courts in a way that ensures the safety of the criminals and help to reintroduce them to the society. This paper looks into the needs of the different groups served by the criminal justice profession, and the effects of multiculturalism and diversity to service offered by criminal justice professionals as well as ways of address the needs of these people. Additionally, it looks at the negative perceptions the society has on the criminal justice profession/system and how this can be corrected.
How the Criminal Justice Profession Serves the Various Populations
The criminal justice system serves such groups as the mentally ill, the homeless, the convicts, the general public and the public or private organizations among others (Haugen, D. M., & Musser, 2009) . These different kinds of populations have different needs. First, the criminal justice professionals work to uphold the freedom that individuals have and maintain public order (The American Bar Association, 1986). This is aimed at protecting the public and promoting harmonious coexistence. Second, some aspect of this profession are tasked with scaring would be offender from engaging in illegal activities. Third, rehabilitation and reform of criminals is possible and easier with the aid of criminal justice professionals. Fourth, criminal professionals educate the public on how to observe the law. Training of criminal justice professionals helps in making all the stages of the criminal justice system connected, efficient and effective.
Multiculturalism is the peaceful co-existence of different cultures while social diversity refers to factors that surround a society; religion, disabilities, race and culture among others (Hanser & Gomila, 2015). Multiculturalism and social diversity are prevalent in America and may cause some challenges; for instance, criminal Justice professionals have a challenge in policing communities with different values from the perceived conventional ‘norms’. The impartiality of trials involving immigrants may be compromised due to difference in laws, procedures and language barrier. Besides, gangs are formed in prison based on cultural groups inside, which complicates correction of inmates (Hanser, R. D., & Gomila, 2015).
The criminal justice professionals have introduced various strategies address the needs of a multicultural and diverse population. Law enforcement agencies constructively engage various community group leaders representing different backgrounds even in the absence of chaos. This earns the trust and respect of these communities. Law enforcement personnel have also made efforts to treat every individual equally regardless of their race, age or religion. In addition to these, the criminal justice system educates the multicultural and diverse population on the duties and responsibilities of the criminal justice professionals including the standard procedures of law enforcement to develop public trust.
Many people do not understand the important role played by criminal justice system and professionals. Others focus on instances where the system did not perform well. For instance, some officers fail to discharge their duties well. Formerly, policy makers applied the policy of being tough on crime, which was carried out through long sentences (Haugen, D. M., & Musser, 2009). Americans now question whether this approach has helped to deter would be lawbreakers and whether it is practical in rehabilitating offenders. A survey carried out by the Open Society Institute to determine people’s perception on the criminal justice revealed that 54% of adults thought the system was ineffective while 35% thought it was necessary (Haugen, D. M., & Musser, 2009).
Americans are of the opinion that the criminal justice system should consider prevention as opposed to long sentences. 75% of Americans believe that more resources should be directed towards educating the public on the importance of staying away from crime (Haugen, D. M., & Musser, 2009). This can be in done through increasing after-school programs and various crime prevention programs which would in turn lessen the need for prisons. Another strategy that can reduce negative perception associated with this system is expanding treatment programs for nonviolent drug offenders instead of taking them to prison.
The important role that the criminal justice system plays in ensuring a safe society and rehabilitating offenders cannot be ignored. However, it has a long way to go and its success requires collective efforts of the public, the criminal justice system and all parties. The existence of multicultural and diverse societies has not made things easier but policies can be put in place to ensure that everyone is served in a fair way. This can lead to a significant drop in the crime rates in American
American Bar Association. (1986). Criminal justice. Chicago, IL: ABA Press for the Section of Criminal Justice.
Haugen, D. M., & Musser, S. (2009). Criminal justice. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.
Hanser, R. D., & Gomila, M. (2015). Multiculturalism and the criminal justice system.