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The United States of America government employs various approaches in preventing the occurrence of criminal activities. These approaches constitute legal and social institutions that encompass the criminal justice system. Walker (1992) defines criminal justice system as “a set of legal and social institutions for enforcing the criminal law in accordance with a defined set of procedural rules and limitations” (p. 7).
The objective of the criminal justice system is to ensure proper enforcement of the standards of conduct in protecting the rights of the individuals and the community in a free society. The criminal justice system has three components namely, law enforcement agent, courts and correction measures to criminals. This essay explores the dominant approaches employed by the three components of criminal justice system: law enforcement, courts and corrections in preventing the occurrence of crime.
Law Enforcement Agency
In thecriminal justice system, the police officers have the responsibility to arrest all criminal offenders. The dominant approaches in which the police use in enforcing law and order are police patrol, community policing and the use of intelligent officers. Police patrol involves open vigilance of the police in crime prone areas to prevent real time crimes from occurring.
Community policing entails the use of community to assist the police in giving information and tracking of criminal activities in the society, while intelligent officers are responsible in gathering information about crimes and criminals and present them to the law enforcement agency. The most effective approach of law enforcement is the use of police patrol. The advantage of the police patrol is that there is a rapid response in case a crime is committed.
The patrolling approach is the backbone of policing because “it is the most visible element of policing; readily identifiable police vehicles operated by uniformed officers are often the first line of contact between the police agency and the community lending an atmosphere of safety” (Hess & Orthmann, 2008, p. 145). The patrolling police officers provide a link between the community policing and the law enforcement agency, which enhance effective tracking of criminals in the community.
The patrol approach is a fundamental method of dealing with criminal because without the patrol police officers, there will be hardly any arrest of the criminals. Hess and Orthmann confirms that, “if this division did not exist, there would be little need for the rest of the police agency, because nearly everything a police agency handles begins with the patrol officer” (2008, p. 151). Therefore, police patrol is the most effective approach of preventing crime activities in the community.
Courts form part of the criminal justice system and their function is to administer justice to the suspected criminals and the victims. In the court, the government appoints a judge who is responsible in administering justice by giving a fair and just ruling on a criminal case.
To avoid biases associated with unfair ruling, the United States of America employs inquisitorial system and adversarial system. The inquisitorial system is composed of judges who carryout investigation to determine the fate of the case without any further consultation with the advocates as in the case of the adversarial system.
The inquisitorial system does not provide for plea-bargaining, as Care (2004) asserts, “The fact that the defendant has confessed is merely one more fact that is entered into evidence, and a confession by the defendant does not remove the requirement that the prosecution present a full case” (p. 3). The confessed evidence makes it hard for the accused to appeal the case.
On contrary, the adversarial system ensures fair trial because its ruling depends on the arguments of the advocates representing the disputing parties before a judge who then determines the fate of the case. According to Hale (2004), “the advocates of both parties argue their case before the court and the case is ruled in favor of the party who offers the most sound and compelling argument based on the law as applied to the facts of the case” (p.31).
The adversarial system has advantage over inquisitorial system because it allows for the plea bargain in cases where the suspects confess a crime, gives a fair trial and is free from the state manipulation.
Despite the efforts to ensure fair trial, at some instances, “manipulations of the court system by defense and prosecution attorneys, law enforcement as well as the defendants have occurred and there have been cases where justice was denied” (Perri & Lichtenwald, 2009, p. 24). The adversarial system seeks to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of the court process.
Since a weak judicial system encourages crime, “absence of a justice system that is effective, fair and humane is a threat to the peace and security” (Costa, 2010, p. 1). Furthermore, the effectiveness of the judicial system does not only depend on the court process, but also on the constitution of a country.
The Corrections Agency
After the police arrest suspects and are charged in the court for committing criminal offences, the corrections agency effect the punishment to the criminals. The corrections agency employs different forms of punishments such as fines, imprisonment, probation, exile and execution.
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In minor crimes, fine and probation is employed to punish minor criminal offenders. Heinous crimes result into execution in some countries, while in others it leads to life imprisonment. The most effective and dominant approach used by the corrections agency is the imprisonment.
This approach is the most dominant because most criminal offences require rehabilitation of the criminals. Imprisonment of criminals comes with several benefits to the criminals and to the society alike. The main aim of imprisonment is to punish the criminal because the prison term is proportional to the type of crime committed.
Moreover, imprisonment benefits the community because it prevents criminals from perpetrating their criminal activities. The criminals also benefit from the imprisonment because they get a chance to reform their lives, attend vocational training or released as a parole (Hess & Orthmann, 2008, p. 160). This correctional approach has helped in transforming the lives of many prisoners to become reliable members of the society.
An effective Justice criminal system requires proper coordination of the law enforcement agency, courts and corrections agency in order to prevent the occurrence of crimes in the society. The dominant approaches in preventing crimes are the police patrol, adversarial system of justice and imprisonment, as a correctional measure.
Proper coordination of these approaches and support from other minor approaches will help in reducing crime in society. The need to have an effective criminal justice system is not only of a national interest but also of international concern because organized criminal gangs like terrorists need a strong criminal justice system. Hence, a strong criminal justice system needs a collective responsibility from the public, police, courts and the corrections agency.
Care, J. (2004). Civil Procedure and Courts in the South Pacific. New York: Routledge
Costa, A. (2010). Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Issues. United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime. Web.
Hale, S. (2004). The Discourse of Court Interpreting: Discourse Interpreting: Discourse Practices of the Law, the Witness and the Interpreter. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Hess, M., & Orthmann, C. (2008). Introduction to the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. Florence: Cengage Learning
Perri, F., & Lichtenwald, T. (2009). When Worlds Collide: Criminal Investigative Analysis, Forensic Psychology and the Timothy Masters Case. Forensic Examiner, 18(2), 23-28. Print.
Walker, S. (1992). Origins of the Contemporary Criminal Justice Paradigm: The American Bar Foundation Survey, Justice Quarterly, 9 (1). 1-13.