What is Criminal Justice in the 21st Century?
All nations have a system of criminal justice though it has to be said that some are decidedly unjust by the standards of western democracy. That being said, criminal justice is a system, or a coalition, of all those procedures and practices initiated by governments which are in place to protect a nation from the activities of the criminal mind. At one end of the scale there will be a collection of laws and statutes delivered to the nation by its parliament in a democracy, or by diktat under other regimes. Flowing from the laws and legislation will be the systems of law enforcement and its administration. These things taken together make up the criminal justice system of a country.
In the sense that this article is addressing criminal justice it is an all embracing term covering every aspect of the enforcement of law in a given nation state. But the system can operate at lower levels than nationhood and reduced systems might operate at regional or federal state levels which are likely to mimic in some way the senior systems to which their citizens will have to conform. Subordinate law can not be in opposition to national law or chaos would ensue!
The application of the system varies from country to country and all readers will be aware that in some parts of the world this can be particularly harsh. The way the system is used tends to be related to the political ideology of any given state. It is also very responsive to the degree of corruption operating at street and national levels and all in between. If the system is corrupt then all that can be guaranteed is injustice.
In a nutshell, criminal judicial systems cover all of the legislative process excluding the political aspects, the administration of the laws through law enforcement by police and others, and the putting into effect of the laws where they are breached by the courts and the prison and corrective services. There are a host of lateral activities which are also an integral part of a system of criminal justice such as fire fighters, medical and para medical, attorneys and para legals, criminologists, forensics, security services etc.