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Criminal Justice from a Global Perspective Essay

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Updated: Jun 21st, 2020


Advances in technology and globalization have widened the scope of crime and increased the demands on criminal justice systems across the world. In the modern day society, it is common for criminals to make use of complex technological systems for personal gain and to carry out criminal activities. To a certain extent, technological systems that are used by offenders may be quite sophisticated for enforcement agencies to untangle, even after they have been detected.

Globalization is particularly a problem for agents of the criminal justice system around the world. This is due to the fact that it expands the reach of criminal gangs besides creating new opportunities for their operations. Globalization, which refers to the process of creating transnational markets as well as political and legal systems, has now shifted the focus of crime from a local to an international outlook.

This paper looks at a number of issues about globalization and the criminal justice system. Apart from talking about the impact of globalization on the American criminal justice system, various international criminal justice systems are discussed. The effect of technological developments on the global justice system is also examined. In addition, major crimes and criminal issues as well as worldwide policing systems are looked at.

Impact of Globalization on the US Criminal Justice System

Drawing from a study by Ward (2000), globalization has created serious challenges for the American criminal justice system. Besides creating a diversified culture in the United States, globalization has also given an international dimension to crime. Other aspects of change caused by globalization are increased legal and illegal immigration, cross border organized criminal activities, and the use of technology to carry out criminal activities (Ward, 2000). Apparently, changes as a result of globalization have greatly influenced the US criminal justice system which comprises the police, courts, and correctional facilities. In order to be effective, it has become necessary for the American criminal justice system to adapt to new approaches of dealing with crime. More than ever before, the United States now cares so much about activities around it borders. In addition, there is increased recognition of the need for the US to cooperate with members of the international community in order to control the activities of organized criminal groups.

As a result of increased globalization, the United States has been forced to make radical changes to its laws and policies in order to guarantee the safety of its citizens. The 9/11 event was a serious incident that drastically changed the way Americans perceive security. Because of the intensity of the damage caused by the attack on US citizens, a number of legislations had to be passed so as to make the US national security stronger. Allegedly, a huge number of American citizens have greatly benefited from the changes made by the US government following the 9/11 attacks. However, there are those who are of the opinion that the United States is making unnecessary expenses to improve security while hurting the economy.

Global Justice Systems

Common law is one of four criminal justice systems used internationally. Others are civil law, Islamic law, and socialist law traditions. While common law is characterized by feudal practices, customs, and equity, civil law is based on the Roman law and canonization. The socialist law tradition is based on the Russian law and law is generally considered to be artificial. Unlike the other traditions of law, the Islamic law is characterized by witnesses and oaths and the requirements of Shari’a take precedent. Under the socialist law, courts are generally inferior to the national assembly. On the other hand, the Shari’a is considered to be more powerful than courts and other branches of government. When it comes to the primary source of law, common law is mainly based on the customs in a society while civil law originates from written code that is provided by rulers and legislators. Socialist law on the other hand has its origins in the principles of socialist revolution while Islamic law is based on divine revolution.

To a large extent, common law is founded on precedent. This means that cases are decided by making reference to past rulings in similar cases. For this reason, strict legal rules are not necessary. On the contrary, civil law is characterized by legal codes that are continually modernized. Under the civil law, a presiding judge is expected to determine the facts of a given case and based on his or her findings, he or she applies the provisions of an existing code. Ostensibly, judges are controlled by an existing legal framework and have very little influence on the outcome of a case. Unlike other systems of law, power sharing is encouraged under the common law tradition. On the other hand, courts have equal though separate power under the civil law tradition.

The laws under common law are made by judges while civil law is as a result of variation in reasoning and definition and identification of issues as either questions of law or fact. Under the socialist tradition, the formulation of laws is directed by superior courts. Another aspect of Islamic law is that it is linked to mazalim courts which function like tribunals.

Impact of Technological Advances on Global Justice Systems

According to Wall (2011), the relationship between crime and technology has been around for ages and the potential for creating harm is never far away from any beneficial technology that is developed. Despite the fact that the hardware used to implement technological ideas may change across a given time, many of the basic crime ideas remain familiar, especially those that exploit chains of trust supported by technology.

As a result of technological advancements, criminals now have an easy time planning and executing criminal activities around the world. Ostensibly, criminals exploit new technologies while investigators make every effort to catch up and use the same technologies to conduct investigations, take offenders into custody, and prevent possible occurrence of further criminal activities (Wall, 2011). Because of well established global communication networks that are now available almost everywhere, the speed of communication in the present day society has drastically changed. Consequently, the time it takes for harmful behavior to occur is now much shorter.

Policing Systems

Policing systems across the world are designed to enforce law and create an environment that is secure enough for people to live and work (Byrne & Marx, 2011). Considering that the needs of different countries vary significantly, policing systems are never the same. While some systems are designed in such a way that ordinary citizens can be involved in matters of security, there are some that are quite discreet and do not allow the participation of the public.

Community policing is a recent development that creates room for members of the public to work closely with members of the police force in order to create a healthy and secure environment. This is especially important since those who commit crime live together with others in the society and the best way to get them out is to use ordinary citizens. Regardless of the method use, however, the ultimate goal is to ensure that people live in a secure environment.

Major Crimes and Criminal Issues

Because of globalization and technological advancements, the level of crime has been taken to another level. Through technology, organized criminal gangs are today able to plan ad execute serious crimes while operating from locations that are miles apart. According to Victoroff (2005), one of the greatest challenges faced by nations throughout the world is terrorism. Many countries are today victims of terror activities that have led to loss of life and livelihood among different communities in the world. Another crime that is rampant and now a burden for some nations is illegal immigration. To a large extent, illegal immigration leads to an increase in criminal activities, economic burden for target countries, and unnecessary pressure for providers of social services.

The effects of globalized criminal activities have been felt in countries such as Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur, and Congo. The approach used by the governments of these countries to deal with crime has drastically changed.


Definitely, the advent of globalization and growth in technological have created a very complex problem for security enforcement agencies throughout the world. As a result, law enforcers are forced to come up with innovative countermeasures for criminal activities. Despite the fact that different approaches may be adopted in different countries to address security concerns, the ultimate goal is to ensure improved security for every citizen.


Byrne, J. & Marx, G. (2011). Technological Innovations in Crime Prevention and Policing. A Review of the Research on Implementation and Impact. CPS, 3(20), 17 – 40.

Victoroff, J. (2005). The Mind of the Terrorist: A Review and Critique of Psychological Approaches. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 49(1), 3 – 42.

Wall, D. S. (2011). Policing Cybercrimes: Situating the Public Police in Networks of Security within Cyberspace. Police Practice & Research: An International Journal, 8(2), 183 – 205.

Ward, R. H. (2000). The Internationalization of Criminal Justice. Criminal Justice, 2: 267 – 321.

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