Criminal justice system performs three distinctive roles. These roles include investigations of crimes, prosecution of offenders and delivery of punishment to individuals who are proven guilty of committing an offence. In other words, the main function of a criminal justice system is to ensure that every citizen is protected. This in turn makes the general society to function productively. The system has various components, which help it to carry out its roles. The components are mainly the police and courts (Cole and Smith 77).
Through the police, the system investigates crimes. To ensure transparency, more than one law enforcement agency helps in carrying out the investigations. The agencies include the ones based in the city, federal, county and state. These agencies are required to participate in the entire process of investigation until it is concluded. If the investigating team succeeds in gathering sufficient evidence that would warrant prosecution, the team makes a referral of that case to a prosecuting attorney (Cole and Smith 78).
The second role of the system involves prosecuting the individuals who are suspected to have indulged in criminal activities. During the prosecution process, suspects’ basic rights are still provided for by the constitution. The suspects have the right to be tried before a panel of judges of their peers. It is not automatic that prosecution will certainly lead to a suspect being found guilty. The case can be dismissed on the ground of lack of enough evidence. The case can result into a local settlement if the defendant establishes a deal with the prosecuting attorney. However, if suspects are proven guilty, then their fate lies in the court (Cole and Smith 80).
Criminal justice system is the one responsible for delivering punishment to suspects who are found guilty by the court. The system punishes offenders according to the degree of seriousness of a case. The common forms of punishments include fines, probation and incarceration among other penalties. The system together with other governmental bodies design rehabilitative programs for the criminals.
The system also ensures that people who have been offended report the crimes as fast as possible. It does this by setting time frames for every case, depending on the nature of the case. For instance, the system operates on a statute of limitations that determine time limit in which a crime cases should be reported. However, very serious cases are not subject to such time limits. These cases include, murder, kidnapping and robbery with violence among others. The final time frame helps to determine the jail term that a convicted criminal should spend in prison (Muraskin and Roberts 108).
Even though criminal justice system has been carrying out its roles in a very encouraging way, there are challenges, which hinder it from delivering its services to the public as expected. The system has many cases that are yet to be handled and this causes congestion within the system. Another challenge is caused by the government’s interference in the functions of the system. Lastly, the system experiences corruption especially at the investigation level (Neubauer 223).
First, to avoid the challenges caused by corruption, the criminal justice system needs to impose tough measures over the officials of the system who indulge in corrupt deals. Secondly, the system needs to be regarded by the government as an independent entity, which should operate purely on its own principles. This will help reduce government’s interference in the system. Lastly, the system needs to reduce time frame that it takes to argue and make judgment on a case. This will reduce congestion of cases within the system (Neubauer 224).
Cole, George F, and Christopher E. Smith. The American System of Criminal Justice. Belmont, CA: Thomson, 2006. Print.
Muraskin, Roslyn, and Albert R. Roberts. Vision for Change: Crime and Justice in the Twenty-First Century. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.
Neubauer, David W. America’s Courts and the Criminal Justice System. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.