What Are the Elements of Justice?

posted on Wednesday, Oct 22 2008

While portrayed through numerous investigative drama television shows, law and order—otherwise known as criminal justice—stands as a valued aspect and crucial concern of American life.  However sensationalized on screen, criminal justice professions have continuously piqued the interest of American citizens.

However, the glitz and glam of Hollywood can often distort the realities of the daily tasks of justice officials. This article will explore the basics of justice as laid out by the Department of Justice. Therefore, if you are interested in a career in criminal justice or just wondering what the main objectives of the American justice system are, now is your chance to learn more.

Criminal justice, by definition, refers to both the practices and organizations designed by the ruling government body for the purpose of maintaining order, reducing and controlling crime, and enforcing the penalties against crime offenders. The Department of Justice originated from the creation of the position of Attorney General in 1789. This federal branch pledges “to defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”

To achieve these objectives as well as expand upon them, accordingly, over time, the Department of Justice has outlined several smaller missions to bring national security to every community in America.  This article will outline a few of these points of focus.

  • Combat Terrorism—Now considered one of the most recognizable aspects of criminal justice, combating terrorism has become a joint effort between the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Justice oversees several governmental branches geared toward combating terrorism, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism, the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, and the Law and Policy Office. Each of these organizations work toward the greater mission of preventing acts of terror and protecting the security of the American people at home and abroad.
  • Apprehend Fugitives—If you have ever wondered who maintains the list of most wanted criminals in America, the answer would be the Department of Justice. Whether looking to apprehend a criminal of national or local threat, the search for fugitives remains a key aspect of criminal justice.
  • Locate Missing Persons—Losing a child or loved one is an experience no American would like to go through. The Department of Justice, therefore, has implemented several programs, including the widely-used Amber Alert system and NamUs database, and developed several organizations, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, dedicated to preventing these tragic incidents.
  • Manage Prisons and Inmates—Part of the department’s mission is to protect American citizens through the safe confinement of criminal offenders within controlled, cost-efficient and humane environments, such as prisons. However, the management of prisoners is not limited to confinement. The department also aims to offer offenders work and other self-improvement opportunities in order to rehabilitate them into law-abiding citizens.
  • Uphold Disability Rights—This aspect of criminal justice was first established by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This provision, upheld by the Department of Justice, ensures all disabled American citizens maintain certain rights, including access to and nondiscrimination by business (e.g., hotels, restaurants, stores), state and local services (e.g., public transportation, medical services, education) and state and local employment services.
  • Uphold Civil Liberties and Rights—The establishment of civil liberties has led to some of the country’s most defining moments. Many lives have been lost in the battle to protect these revered rights. Therefore, the defense of these rights is a crucial part of the department’s overall mission. The Civil Rights Division was formed in 1957 in order to enforce federal statutes prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, disability, religion or national origin.
  • Help Victims of Crime—While it would be nice to think all crime can be prevented and controlled, this vision is not currently a reality in our modern world. Hence, the department has made it part of its goal to provide services and support to crime victims.
  • Foster Safe Communities—In order to ensure a safe living environment, communities must battle against several threats, including guns, drugs, kidnapping, vandalism and gang violence. Hence, the department has set up several resource centers and other educational programs so that local areas can implement community and neighborhood action initiatives.

Each of these smaller objectives, mentioned above, is part of a greater mission to maintain law and order throughout the nation. However, the department upholds several other prevention and security operations, including those combating gang violence, maintaining task forces, preventing youth violence, halting domestic violence, investigating fraud, fighting trafficking and promoting dispute resolution.

In short, the overall mission of the Department of Justice is vast. As a result, the department and its many subordinate branches and organizations are always looking for quality-trained professionals to become part of their criminal justice team.

If you are interested in learning more about criminal justice and possible career paths, check out these accredited online programs in criminal justice. You can make a difference in the nation’s security; begin today with an online degree in criminal justice.

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