What Is Criminal Justice Policy?

If you are curious about the way that the United States’ operates then you wouldn’t be the only citizen who is unsure as to how the federal government works.

One of the areas in which many members of the public are sometimes unsure of themselves is that of policing policy, of how the criminal justice system operates.

You might wonder, if you have heard the term criminal justice policy, what exactly does it mean. You might be curious as to how criminal justice policy works and how it impacts all our lives. 

Luckily, you’ve come across an article which will tell you exactly what criminal justice policy is and how it works. 

What is criminal justice policy?

Let’s begin by answering the most direct question first – what is criminal justice policy? Criminal justice policy or policies are the solutions provided by the criminal justice system to the various things that they come across. For example, a criminal justice policy for prisons would be the mandatory drug testing of all prisons at unspecified times.

The idea of this policy would be to find a solution to illegal drug taking in prisons and therefore stop prisoners becoming addicted to drugs by identifying the perpetrators or users and asking them where they got their drugs from. Criminal justice policies are of course not limited just to criminals but also to prevent crime. 

This is important to remember – criminal justice policy can also apply to the ways in which the police deal with criminals or react to crime – for example, installing speed cameras can be seen as a criminal justice policy because it allows police departments to be able to identify which individuals are speeding and therefore hand out fines to them.

They also, through the fines, act as a deterrent to either stop drivers from speeding in the first place or ensure that if a driver is caught and handed a fine then they will not speed again. Criminal justice policies aren’t simply there for prisons or prisoners but for all aspects of the criminal justice process. 

As such, criminal justice policies are designed to not only catch offenders or ensure that offenders aren’t breaking the rules of the institutions they have been placed in, but they also ensure that the criminal justice system is fair and can function as it should do.

Good criminal justice policies include well-funded court buildings and ensuring that those who are selected for jury duty are able to do so without too much discomfort by providing them with adequate facilities to stay in if the trial is a long one. 

Now that we’ve explained exactly what criminal justice policies are, let’s explain how they are implemented and why there is so much debate surrounding them. 

How are criminal justice policies implemented?

Now that we’ve explained what criminal justice policies are, it’s time to explain how they are implemented. Whilst there were some examples listed above of how criminal justice policies are generally implemented, they are not the full extent of criminal justice policies implementation. 

For example, many criminal justice policies are implemented by police departments themselves who come up with the criminal justice policies based on what they believe is most effective for ensuring that criminals are caught and punished.

They may suggest that shops install more security cameras to help protect themselves and detect criminals and they may go around schools giving talks on drug abuse. These are only some examples as the implementation of criminal justice policies is a wide and complex field. 

However, in the multi-layered system that is the criminal justice system in the United States, many criminal justice policies are produced by the local District Attorney; some by local state representatives and some by the approach that the Governor or the Federal Government take to crime.

For example, Ronald Reagan’s “War on Drugs” is an example of criminal justice policy being conceived at an executive level and passed down to other branches of government. 

This of course means that the implementation of such policies depends on which area or state you live in and how much the local law enforcement officials agree or disagree with the appr

oach. Of course, if the law changes they must abide by it but if the policy is more of a suggestion than a directive, different law enforcement officials will take different approaches to implementation.

Why is there such a debate surrounding criminal justice policies?

Now that we’ve explained both what criminal justice policies are and how they are implemented now let’s turn to answering a question that might puzzle you – why is there such debate around criminal justice policies in the United States?

The reason for this is simple – criminal justice policies are often influenced by politics and what is seen to be politically important. As mentioned above, one of the main political issues was the spread and abuse of drugs hence the “War on Drugs”.

Politicians will often influence or introduce criminal justice policies because they believe they are what the public wants rather than necessarily whether they are effective or not. Similarly, those of different political opinions have starkly different approaches to criminal justice policy because each believes that what they are advocating is in the public’s best interest. 

Why you should take an interest in criminal justice policy 

Criminal justice policy dominates all our lives. It forms not only the way that the police enact laws but also the way that they engage with criminals and with the court system.

Well thought through criminal justice policies can help keep us safer whilst ones that are simply there to help politician’s win votes can damage not only individuals but our entire belief in the criminal justice system. 

This is why we must all take an interest in criminal justice policy because it has such an impact on all our lives and is crucial to how we engage with the major institutions that govern our world – the police, the courts and the government.

We need to be able to identify when bad criminal justice policies are being followed and ensure that good ones get the praise they deserve. 

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