Criminal justice is a comprehensive social science whose primary purpose is to bring offenders to justice and protect the innocent in society. If you are interested in this field of study, you have to lead by example to uphold the justice system.
A criminal justice system is a series of several government agencies like the police, prosecution and defense attorneys, the court and prisons that together reinforce criminal law. Since all felonious cases are in the hands of the state, it takes a team to do this.
Constituents of the Criminal Justice System
This justice system is subdivided into three main parts. It is up to you to decide where you lie best depending on your interest.
Law enforcement body
It is made up of the police and detectives. Their primary role is to maintain law and order in society. In the case of unlawful acts, the police are supposed to investigate it and come up with sufficient evidence before it can become a case. The police also apprehend suspects.
In cases where the accused are violent or dangerous, the police can be instructed to use force when arresting them or even shoot them on sight.
The court is responsible for the settlement of disputes and serving justice. It constitutes of:
- The accused and their defense lawyer
- The prosecutor and their attorney
- The judge/ jury to issue a verdict
The correction body of a justice system has the responsibility of ensuring that those apprehended by the police and found guilty by the court are punished for their crimes and become better people thereafter. It includes the prisons, probation and correctional centers.
What to Expect As a Student of the Justice System
You may have heard a lot about the justice system and have different ideas on what is expected of you if you major in this field. How is it taught in campus – will you have to write piles of argumentative essays to score highly in academia or cramming the constitution is all that counts?
Shall you practice as a parole officer, a legal secretary or the police with the most respectable titles in town? How long does it take to get a job in the police department? Do I need a degree to work in court? Wonder no more.
a) While in School
You shall handle all sorts of topics in criminology, psychology, public administration, constitutional law, political science, and the likes. You should be prepared to be a role model with a high level of integrity, impartiality and critical thinking. It gets easier when you try to relate real-life examples of situations when studying the availed theories.
Like any other course, you will need to write several essays as assignments and proposals. Your thesis statement for each has to be catch and well researched and written in the APA format. Attend all classes and take your exams seriously: the qualification paper you get from school is what you need to jumpstart your career in the court, the police unit or correctional department.
You should not have a criminal record if you want to succeed in the criminal justice system – lead by example. As you have fun in school, do not be the police trainee who keeps appearing in the court for possession of illegal stuff or drunk driving and bribery. Practice the following qualities and skills:
- Leadership skills
- Research and writing skills
- Critical and fast thinking
- Personal ethics
- Physical fitness
- Stress management
- Anger management
- Technology skills
While in school, ensure that you know each aspect of the government and master the roles of each part of the criminal justice system. Be well versed with all that is expected of the police and detectives in law enforcement, roles of attorneys and magistrates in the court and how to reform a convict. This is regardless of the topics you will specialize in.
It is important to note that not all those who practice in the justice system went to college for this knowledge. The police, for instance, go to training school because this is more crucial. With a college education, you are likely to get higher salaries, be promoted in the police unit and actualize your brilliant ideas in the court.
However, the experience is vital in this field. Dealing with felonious individuals and restoring sanity in the society needs more “do” than books. Get out there.
b) Your career path
In recent years, movies and TV shows have made this career path look very interesting. In reality, it still is. What are you more interested in? The courts as an attorney/magistrate, the police system or are you more like a probation officer?
Below are examples of the most common careers you can consider and become an expert in the criminal justice system:
- Private detective
- The Police Officer
- FBI agent
- Bloodstain patterns analysis
- The police/ sheriff’s parole officer
- Crime scene investigator
- Forensic psychology
- Forensic computer
- Ballistic expert
- Legal secretary
- The court clerk
- Probation officer
- Prison Warden
- Parole officer
You may be lucky to land a great job at the court or law enforcement agencies after completing your training and education. In most cases, however, an internship will be an excellent place to start. It will give you the exposure you need while still new in this career path.
Be patient and learn while on the hunt for a job since the whole process may take 4-6 months. There are vacancies to be filled in the criminal justice system, but the hiring process is lengthy. It involves the following steps (depending on your line of specialization, it may go through some or all of the steps.):
- After applying for a job at the police department, correctional office or the court, you shall be required to provide your educational history and your criminal record history evaluated. Have every relevant paper ready.
- Your physical fitness shall be tested. It is thorough if you are in the law enforcement part of the justice system. The police, FBI, and correctional officers serve best when physically fit.
- A background investigation shall be conducted. You will be required to take a polarography and/or a psychological exam to test your sustainability and trustworthiness. Your personal life and employment history will also be looked into.
- If you qualify, you will be shortlisted and expected to appear before a board for an oral interview. If you pass, then congratulatory messages are in order. You just joined the justice system, and you are free to serve – be the police, warden, attorney – whatever you desired.
It goes without saying that the justice system is the most organized arm of the government. It is through it that law and order are enforced by the police, offenders and brought to trial and judged accordingly in the court and convicts are reformed.
If you major in the justice system, you will need to be disciplined and match the standards set. You will be the face of the police department, the court system, the probation centers, name it, in all that you do. Abuse of office makes you one of the societal problems to the police needs to rid of.
Be the best you can be.