Justice is quite an elusive term. For example, justice could imply different things to different individuals within the same society. Justice is not just an ambiguous term during times of war or to the politicians, but even within the criminal justice system, the idea of how to achieve justice is sometimes very unclear. This is because of diverging social and individual needs. An individual within a given society may have a different perspective of justice from that held by the society in which he lives. An individual’s view of justice could as well differ from that of an entire nation. Owing to this apparent dilemma, there is the need to explore the nature of justice.
Benjamin Disraeli, a British statesman and philosopher termed justice as “truth in action” (Robinson, 2009). To me, justice means living up to the truth and doing what is morally right. In this case, it means that I have to go out of my way into ensuring that those who have committed crimes are held accountable and that freedom is restored to those who are innocent. Obligated to the versatile nature of today’s society, some of the earlier definitions of justice may appear somewhat out of place under different circumstances, at least in principle. In the same way, the definition of the term justice may be altered with a change in the situation at hand. For example, there is a difference between civil justice, social justice, administrative justice, and criminal justice. Viewed from different vantage points, the different views of justice become apparent. Some people may for instance envision the criminal justice agencies and the criminal justice system as biased towards the powerless. The laws that these institutions enforce appear to come from organized and well-financed interest groups. Consequently, the disenfranchised groups become very wary of such institutions. They therefore regard them as enemies, as opposed to their benefactors. This paper looks at what justice means from an employee of the criminal justice system perspective.
The criminal justice system in the United States is made up of the police department, the court system and correctional facilities (three C’s – cops, courts and correction). The law enforcement officers are charged with the responsibility of investigating crime allegations, apprehending suspected criminals, and assisting in their prosecution during trial (Robinson, 2009). This ensures that justice is done and that offenders in the society are put behind bars. On many occasions, those who are on the wrong side of the law perceive police acts as unjust in their work of restoring peace in the society. Through prevention of crime and administering of social justice, those who deserve justice often receive it. The police officers, the correction facilities, and courts are the three entities that ensure that justice will prevail in the society (Robinson, 2009). These three entities work together to ensure that justice and fairness are achieved. Putting behind bars those who have committed crimes is in keeping with the requirements of both the constitution and the law. The courts ensure that justice prevails in the society although they have sometimes been accused of manipulating the justice system, thereby sending the innocent to jail while the guilty are set free.
Schmalleger (2009) observes that justice is meant to restore the civil and human rights of citizens in the society. However, sometimes justice does not prevail and instead, good people suffer. This demeans the work of the police who work so hard to ensure that justice prevails. This has been supported by Robison (2009) who claims that the image of the crime has been distorted by the criminal law that sees the lower class as those who commit the most dangerous and most heinous crimes when in fact such crimes are usually committed by the upper class. The law is always biased towards certain segments of the society such as the poor and minorities. In this case, they do not get the required justice because fairness is not considered.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2009) defines justice as the administration of what is perceived as just by assigning of the merited punishments or rewards. From a person that’s an employee of the criminal justice system point of view, justice is understood to be accomplished when a criminal is put behind bars or incarcerated from the rest of the society and receives the punishment they deserve. When the rule of law is applied to all people in the society, justice prevails. The duty of law enforcement officers is to restore order, reduce violence, and related crimes. According to Schmalleger (2009), most people see criminal law as just a mechanism put into place to hurt or injure people and the society as well. However, criminal law involves rules and regulations that safeguard what is perceived as good to society by punishing those who do not conform to the law. Putting a criminal behind bars for a crime they committed and freeing the innocent is an act of justice.
Supporters of the crime control perspective believe that the justice system prevents “crime through use of criminal sanctions” (Siegel, 2011, p. 21). There has been a dramatic increase in crime rates within society and as a result, the public now demands that harsher sanctions be taken to those who commit crimes. However, the justice system has been hand- tied by some people in the society. This has hampered the effective and efficient functioning of the justice system. Justice shall only prevail when all this is controlled and prevented by ensuring that those who have committed crimes are apprehended, received a fair trial, and if found guilty get punished by being put behind bars. This would discourage any other individual with a mind to commit a crime from doing so.
Justice means punishing those who break the law and according them the punishment they deserve. Justice is doing what is morally right and restoring freedom to the innocent and punishing those who break the law. Justice prevails when we ensure that all the people in the society receive a fair trial and that they are not discriminated against. This helps to deter crime and to ensure that criminals are incarcerated. Lastly, justice is ensuring that impartiality and fairness is accorded to those who warrant it.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (2009). Justice. Web.
Robinson, M. B. (2009). Justice blind? : Ideals and realities of American criminal justice. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Schmalleger, F. (2009). Criminal justice today: An introductory text for the twenty-first century. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Siegel, L. J. (2011). Essentials of criminal justice. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.