The Criminal Justice Process

The Criminal Justice Process

1. Probation is the most common correctional treatment allowing the offender to return to the community under supervision

2. Incarceration may include jails or prisons

i. Jails house offenders convicted of minor crimes with relatively short sentences

ii. Prisons house offenders convicted of more serious crimes with longer sentences

3. Community-based corrections include halfway houses, residential centers, and work-release centers

4. The most frequent type of release from jail or prison is parole

B. The Criminal Justice Process

1. Debate about whether or not system functions as a “continuum,” smoothly processing cases

2. The criminal justice process functions as a continuing balance between its formal and informal nature

a. The formal criminal justice process “involves a series of routinized operations whose success is gauged by their tendency to pass the case along to a successful conclusion”

b. In the informal criminal justice process, each step is the result of decisions that must be made by those who work in the system

c. Herbert Packer’s Criminal Justice Process

1. Formal Criminal Justice System

IV. Discretion and Ethics

Learning Objective 6: Define ethics and describe the role that they play in discretionary decision making.

1. Using authority to choose between and among alternative courses of action

2. Informal criminal justice process relies on discretion to alleviate pressures

A. Informal Decision Making

1. Law enforcement discretion

2. Pitfalls of discretion

B. Ethics and Justice

1. Ethics and the Law

b. The line between ethics and justice is often difficult to discern, as ethical standards are usually not written into criminal statutes.

2. Ethics and Critical Thinking

c. The principle of critical thinking involves developing analytical skills and reasoning to address many ethical challenges inherent in the criminal justice system.

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