When one looks at the criminal justice system core components, and their functions one can develop an understanding of how our country is able to balance justice if each core is applied properly. There are three cores of the American Criminal Justice system; police, courts, and corrections (Schmalleger, 2016). While many people may claim to know how each core component functions, many are like most that watch football games; they do know the role of each component on the field.
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The first core police are various roles that when combines provides services, protection, and order for our great communities in America. Police work functions are apprehending offenders, enforcing laws, providing emergency services, investigating crime, and protecting fundamental rights of individuals (Schmalleger, 2016). The next core courts functions are conduct fair and impartial trials, decide criminal cases, ensure due process, determine guilt or innocence, impose sentences on the guilty, uphold the law, protect the rights and freedoms of anyone facing processing by the criminal justice system, and provide a check on the exercise of power by other criminal justice agencies (Schmalleger, 2016).
The last core, and maybe one that is viewed by many as a good and a bad core; corrections functions are carrying out sentences imposed by the courts, providing safe and human custody and supervision of offenders, protect the community, rehabilitate, reform, and reintegrate convicted felons into the community, and respect the legal and human rights of the convicted (Schmalleger, 2016). While many may have different views as to which core is the most harmful to the criminal justice system, as a criminal justice professional for over 38 years, I strongly believe corrections, if not given the right funding, effective programs, and strong correctional leadership will remain the most harmful core component. I believe that while the courts have changed some of their sentencing laws, corrections lack the proper resources to be able to make a positive effect on offenders.
Society wants offenders returned with positive attitudes, work experience, and better education. They also want a reduction in recidivism. To meet these expectations and reduce recidivism, positive prison rehabilitation programs are needed. These programs have to be implemented with challenging, but attainable goals. Strong corrections leadership can provide the vision, attitude, and sincere effort needed for positive rehabilitation programs. Without strong corrections leadership being involved in making prison programs positive, society’s desires will not be met and the programs will not reduce recidivism. Wright (1994), states this, Researchers have come to the realization that strong positive leadership results in high-quality prison operations.
Some may say that funding and corruption is the primary reason prison rehabilitation programs fail to reduce recidivism. I tend to agree; however, while funding and corruptions are problems that persist in the operation of a facility, strong leaders must take the funds given to them and prioritize and think outside the box, and provide the necessary programs to the offenders in their facilities. I believe us as effective corrections leaders are constantly working diligently to achieve the responsibilities that we have to all three branches of government.
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