The American criminal justice system is made up of three major components, each with their own set of responsibilities. Police agencies, the criminal court system, and the correctional agencies must work together in order to provide a smooth process, however each agency has their own agenda and interests which often conflict with one another (Schmalleger, 2011.)
Law enforcement agencies are the first component to the criminal justice system. Police are generally the first agency involved in the justice process after a crime has been committed. They are responsible for investigating the crime and apprehending the offender. By doing so, they ensure community safety and maintain public order. The presence of a police agency may act as a deterrent for some criminals, reducing the amount of crime.
The second component to the system is the criminal court system. It is up to the courts to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. They are responsible for ensuring each defendant receives a fair and impartial trial and that his or her rights and freedoms are not violated during the justice process. The courts can accomplish this by checking that the other agencies involved in process do not abuse their powers. Once the courts determine a person is guilty they must uphold the law by imposing a sentence upon the offender.
Once the offender is sentenced he or she moves to the third part of the process involving the correctional agencies. These agencies are tasked with providing supervision of offenders in a safe and humane environment. While offenders are in their custody, correctional agencies may try to rehabilitate the offender before the eventual release of the offender in hopes he or she will not commit another offense.
All three of these components have a major role in the criminal justice process. Without any single one of these agencies the process would come to a halt. Society would not need corrections or court systems without the police to apprehend the offender, nor would it need police if there were no one to mandate a sentence or a place to detain the offender. The only way to ensure a smooth justice process if for all agencies involved to work together towards the common goal of public order and safety.
Schmalleger, F. (2011). Criminal justice today, an introductory text for the 21st century (11th ed.). Prentice hall.