Criminal justice departments are touted to be one of the most inefficient and morally impaired sectors of the government. Among other reasons, financial problems have been the cause of disparities within the criminal justice system. Misappropriation of resources and poor financial planning has been the major cause.
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For a properly functioning criminal justice system, sound financial planning has to be done even where budget allocation by the government is in surplus. This is because the number of possible financial needs in the system is virtually infinite.
Proper allocation of financial resources will ensure optimum efficiency in the system. In addition, government policy must allow the administrations to be able to manage their departments’ spending. Administrators must also have good planning and monitoring capabilities for proper utilisation of the available resources.
Financial Management in Criminal Justice Systems
Public administration is the management of resources for effective running of a public department or sector. Like any other public domain, the criminal justice sector and its supporting public institutions need proper administration of resources for effective functioning.
Officials in charge of the sector have the responsibility of ensuring that available resources are used to counter the challenges of the particular public department with utmost efficiency.
Managing the criminal justice system is like managing a business enterprise. Different disciplines of operation are present in the criminal justice system. An administrator might have to deal with different and diverse fields such as narcotics, intelligence systems, terrorism, freedom of use of electronic resources, common homicide offences, fraud and a myriad of other crimes whose nature is obviously offensive (Allen & Sawhney, 2010).
Apart from management of other professional duties of subordinate staff, financial management of these disciplines is the most challenging of the tasks. To be successful in effective administration of these disciplines, the administrators have to create a governance substructure which is to be monitored and kept under control for good management.
For different disciplines in the sector, an administrator might choose to create an independent structure for each sector or decide to create a unified system of administration with differentiated branches for each discipline.
Once a challenge that needs to be countered or solved has been established, the management has to liaise between different levels of administration and come up with a possible solution. In modern governments, all financial strategies of a public sector are influenced by the government policies. Consequently, suggested solutions have to be compliant with government policies.
Since the law governs all aspects of administration, the adopted possible solution has to be sanctioned by the relevant institutions and offices before final financial strategy is laid down. A budgetary plan is then drawn on how to allocate financial resources to various stages of implementation.
After completion of laying down the strategies, the plan is then implemented. Furthermore, a follow up to establish whether the challenge has been solved is done (Allen, & Sawhney, 2010).
Administrators in the criminal justice system should be aware that the junior officials need to be financially controlled to a reasonable level. A budget projection in the criminal justice administration cannot be built on strict terms since crime and its implications can only be predicted to a limited accuracy level. In this essence, the management should avoid incurring unnecessary financial responsibilities.
Spending of the junior officers in a particular discipline affiliated to criminal justice should be controlled by their immediate senior manager. For example, avoidable mistreatment of a suspected offender may leads to adverse financial implications in the court process and disciplinary issues (Starling, 2010).
Most criminal justice systems loose a substantial part of their monetary resources in settling compensations for misconduct of their officials. Therefore, discipline in law enforcement officers and other members of the criminal justice system is essential for sound financial management. In addition, motivation of officers in the criminal justice system is vital and helps to boost morale and accountability of the officials.
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The nature of activities in the criminal justice system is random and often the financial requirements exceed the capacity of financial resources. Some activities in the system may be critical and thus are of priority in financial planning. An administrator should be able to make comparison and come up with an appropriate order of priority.
Financial management of the criminal justice system is conclusively a multidisciplinary task that requires more than knowledge of financial planning. An administrator in criminal justice system or an affiliated field must be acquainted with these multiple abilities. However, a manager must not necessarily be an expert in all these fields to accomplish effective financial management.
Allen, J. M., & Sawhney, R. (2010). Administration and management in criminal justice: a service quality approach. Los Angeles: Sage.
Starling, G. (2010). Managing the public sector (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.