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Policy and Criminal Justice Essay

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Updated: Mar 22nd, 2021

How is policy made and implemented in criminal justice?

Peak (2011) provides a very detailed explanation of policymaking in criminal justice. It is apparent that the specifics of the process will differ depending on a particular case: the object of the policy, the people involved, time and resources available, and the approach to policy-making are going to affect the finalized policy. However, several specific features can be pointed out. First of all, the justice system policy-making must be informed: it should be based on knowledge and evidence, and policy-makers are expected to investigate the object of the policy and the possible solutions.

Secondly, it would be best to make the investigation comprehensive: policy-makers need to take into account the varied aspects that affect the object of the policy, which allows them to be prepared for various eventualities. Thirdly, the implementation of the policy is most often concerned with change. Therefore, all the change management elements (gaining support, overcoming resistance, providing the means and motivation for the change) apply to the policy-making process at the stages of planning and implementation.

Finally, policy-making is, unfortunately, constrained: limited resources are dedicated to the processes of planning and implementing, and limited time is available for policy-makers. Also, often the solution possibilities are also subjected to similar constraints. As a result, all the principles that are mentioned above can be compromised, but, as pointed out by Peak (2011), the literature on justice system policy-making proceeds to praise them.

Also, Peak (2011) insists that the constant change in policies has become a norm for criminal justice, which implies that new policies are implemented, assessed, and reviewed simultaneously and continuously, which makes them flexible and adaptable. These two qualities are admittedly very important for the modern, rapidly changing world.

What is meant by a slippery slope, and how can it lead to further problems in the administration of a criminal justice agency?

A slippery slope is typically used to describe an action (decision) that might (or is expected to) give way to uncontrollable and most likely harmful developments. It is apparent that the prediction and prevention of such activities are of primary importance for politics and the justice system. An example is a case described by Connolly (2012), in which the Supreme Court created a precedent of proclaiming the “advice regarding the potential immigration consequences of a guilty plea is the type of information to which a defendant is entitled under the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel” (p. 746).

The author analyzes the probable consequences for the justice system, indicates that the number of claims of ineffective assistance is likely to soar, and makes suggestions for attorneys’ future practice (for instance, in requesting the assistance of immigration specialists). It is noteworthy that the author does not criticize the Court’s decision; in fact, Connolly (2012) believes that it is likely to improve immigration issues awareness (p. 782). Rather, he attempts to predict possible complications and find the means of avoiding or minimizing them. Also, the case explains that the reevaluation of the Constitution and its Amendments is a very difficult and dangerous activity, which invites slippery slope possibilities. This case study is an example of using the slippery slope notion correctly.

However, a slippery slope idea can degenerate into a fallacy. It happens, for instance, during debates on same-sex marriage, the opponents of which may insist that such a development will lead to uncontrollable and harmful relational chaos, including the flourishing of pedophilia and bestiality, which will ultimately lead to the destruction of monogamous heterosexual marriage (Sheff, 2011, p. 494).

As pointed out by Sheff (2011), a society with increased equality is unlikely to prohibit any non-harmful human inclination (like heterosexuality) but is likely to exclude the inclinations that are patently harmful and disrespectful of human rights (like pedophilia). Therefore, Sheff (2011) states, the people who use the slippery slope as a fallacy exhibit the fear of the change rather than its possible negative outcomes (p. 513). Such an example demonstrates the importance of the proper use of the slippery slope notion.

What is the personal loyalty syndrome, and how can it be problematic in the criminal justice workplace?

When describing the personal loyalty syndrome, Peak (2011) refers to the work by Souryal and Diamond (2001) that analyzes and describes the phenomenon in detail. Basically, the syndrome is concerned with justice system workers feeling obliged to remain loyal to their superiors even in case the latter prove to be unworthy. Naturally, there is nothing wrong with respecting a superior, but personal loyalty syndrome is mostly concerned with unhealthy, undeserved loyalty, which typically results in negative outcomes.

The reason for this kind of loyalty consists of the dependence on one’s superiors, which is common for various spheres of human activities, including the criminal justice system. While, as Souryal and Diamond (2001) state, there are no explicit rules that command personal loyalty, there are implicit and unspoken ones. They presuppose that a loyal officer is more likely to receive help and not encounter obstacles (especially deliberate ones) while doing his or her job.

The lack of loyalty can be punished in varied ways to the point of being fired. It is also apparent that if a superior demands personal loyalty in such a way, he or she is most likely to be unworthy of it and abuse it. This fact explains the choice of the term: “personal loyalty syndrome” is illogical, unhealthy, and harmful. The natural outcome consists of breaches of rules, policies, and even the law, which prevents the justice system from performing its function and fosters misconduct. Souryal and Diamond (2001) suggest that the solution to the issue consists in the development of higher levels of loyalty, for example, the institutional one (with respect to one’s institution or agency) and the integrated one, which describes the loyalty towards the profession and its values.

What are the major federal legislative acts governing public-sector employment?

According to the Department of Labor (n.d.), the following documents are currently of importance for public organization employment. The Fair Labor Standards Act is the legislation that defines the wages (especially the federal minimum wage), payments meant for working overtime, and some other aspects. For example, it also forbids the exploitation of child labor and determines the cases in which people under 16 can or cannot be employed depending on the level of danger at the workplace. It is meant for public and private organizations alike, but there are some exceptions: the Act does not cover all employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act has also produced programs that cover the public sector. It is concerned with workplace safety and health standards that are workplace-specific in most cases, but employees are typically guaranteed the right to be not exposed to some recognized hazards. Apart from that, there exist compensation acts for public and private employees, which vary for particular cases and occupations, and some more specific acts like the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, which permits the use of polygraph tests on employees only in special situations. Also, the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act is worth mentioning: it governs labor unions’ activities.

It is apparent that the majority of Acts covers public and private employment sectors. Still, as pointed out by Peak (2011), the development of employment rights differed for the public and the private sectors, and even nowadays, there are some differences between the two. For example, the bargaining rights of public employees do not only differ from those of the private sector in being more “clouded” and unclear; they are also quite diverse in different states (Antonellis, 2012, p. 36). It is apparent. Therefore, that state legislation also affects the employment of public-sector workers.


Antonellis, P. (2012). Labor relations for the fire service. Tulsa, Okla.: PennWell.

Connolly, C. A. (2011). Sliding Down the Slippery Slope of the Sixth Amendment: Arguments for Interpreting Padilla v. Kentucky Narrowly and Limiting the Burden It Places on the Criminal Justice System. Brooklyn Law Review, 77, 745-782. Web.

Department of Labor. (n.d.). . Web.

Peak, K. (2011). Justice administration (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Sheff, E. (2011). . Journal Of Contemporary Ethnography, 40(5), 487-520. Web.

Souryal, S. & Diamond, D. (2001). . Journal Of Criminal Justice, 29(6), 543-554. Web.

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