As the world becomes even more complex by the day, it becomes necessary to apply technology so as to make life and work easier and this is the main reason why many sectors have employed the use of the latest technology. The criminal justice system is no different and it also uses technology to help it resolve crimes and provide justice. The criminal justice system strongly relies on specialized databases whenever it is carrying out investigations related to parole and sentencing decisions.
The criminal justice system is characterized by five steps, which include, the entry of one’s name into the system upon committing a crime, prosecution of the individual to determine one’s innocence or guilt, adjuration, which entails a judge arriving at a decision about the crime, sentencing and sanctions and lastly corrections (Bradley, 2004). Technology can now be used to make the above steps much easier to carry out. This paper will discuss the effects of technology on the communication capabilities of the specialized data bases in the criminal justice system.
New technologies and the criminal justice system
New technologies have transformed most components of the criminal justice system thus made the enforcement of laws a much more effective process. The use of electronic, biological and social science technologies have changed the nature of police work in relation to investigating crimes, gathering evidence and identification of suspects by making these processes a lot faster and easier. Advancement in technology has changed the way the criminal justice system fights crime and how law enforcement is managed. Technology has led to integration of the criminal justice systems which in turn has fastened the rate of information transfer of information across among officers.
There are different types of specialized databases in the criminal justice systems, and among these is AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems). AFIS is a national fingerprint system that helps investigators from all regions to trace criminals through automatic fingerprint searches. The AFIS database stores more than just fingerprint details and some of the other criminal details included in it are details of height, eye color, weight, and hair, among other details, which are matched to the respective fingerprints. The fingerprint details stored in this system are those of civilians and also of individuals who have previously served time in the federal, state or in the military confinements.
AFIS’ response speed is impressively fast as it only takes one about 10 minutes to identify the owner of the fingerprints if he or she is stored in the system as a criminal and less than an hour to identify the individual if he or she is listed in the system as a civilian (Komarinski, 2005). Before the introduction of the AFIS system, tracing fingerprints was a tiresome and cumbersome process since police officers could spend several months processing a single set of fingerprints, and even then, cases of false identification were still common.
Another example of a specialized database is the facial recognition system. The facial recognition system is an automatic identification system which utilizes stored videos and digital imaging to identify individuals. This technology enables a suspected criminal’s face to be picked out from a crowd and compared to the data stored in computer databases (Jain, 1999). This system is mostly used in areas requiring high security levels like banks and airports. With the advancements in technology, it is now possible to identify a face even in conditions where the light would normally affect the performance of camera lenses, and this has made the identification process even more effective and efficient.
There are many other types of technologies that have been develop to make it even easier and faster to identify persons regarded as potential danger to the society. As mentioned above, the AFIS system database helps law enforces trace a criminal from his or her finger prints while the facial recognition system can identify a potential threat from crowd as long as the individual’s data is contained in the national database. The two systems may be different in their way of operation but they are also similar in more ways than one. A common similarity is that both require the presence of an individual’s data in the database so they can compare the information fed into them with that in the database and the other is that they were all developed to help rid the society from dangerous individuals.
Overall positive effects of the new technology
New technologies have made it much easier to protect and rid potentially dangerous individuals from the society. Surveillance of criminals or potential criminals has also been made much easier with the implementation of advanced technologies. Another positive effect of technology is that the police can now utilize aerial surveillance to spy on criminals and track illegal activities. Advancements in technology have made it possible to detect weapons hidden in any part of the human body without having to remove even a single cloth or carrying out a body search.
Technology has also increased the level of police safety thorough the development of sophisticated firearms, safety equipment, police vehicles and protective gears like the bullet proof-vests. These innovations are especially important to the police whose nature of work sometimes exposes them to high risk situations that can lead to loss of life.
Efficiency of justice has been improved as the investigators are now able to carry out effective and speedy investigations by comparing available evidence to the records within police information databases. The use of technology is in fact, very crucial to some cases, for instance murder or rape where DNA technology is used to trace the perpetrators. Without technology, some of those cases would be difficult to prove in court.
Overall negative effects of technology
Privacy concerns have been raised especially when technology is used to spy or detect weapons on persons. Some of these technologies can enable the operator to see under the clothes of those being scanned and this is among the major reason behind privacy invasion legal cases. Other technologies, like the surveillance cameras, make people uncomfortable because they feel like someone is watching every action and everywhere they go (Hess & Hess, 2008).
Advancements in technology especially in computerization and wireless communication can be disadvantageous to provision of security when such technologies are accessed by criminals. When these technologies reach the wrong hands, fighting crimes becomes more difficult and complex since these criminals can use the technology to defeat any police efforts towards arresting them.
The application of new technologies has impacted law enforcing agencies around the globe in a big way, especially in terms of improving communication. Without efficient communication, it would be difficult for these agencies to effectively and efficiently perform their duties. This article has explored and compared two specialized databases used by the criminal justice system but there are many more other databases that are helpful to the criminal justice system. The article has also mentioned some positive and negative effects that come with the application of these technologies, and by comparing these effects, it is clear that the merits by far outweigh the demerits.
Bradley, R. (2004). Science, Technology and Criminal Justice. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Group.
Hess, K.M. & Hess. K.M. (2008). Introduction to Private Security. New York: Cengage Learning.
Jain, L.C. (1999). Intelligent biometric techniques in fingerprint and face recognition. London: CRC Press.
Komarinski, P. (2005). Automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS). London: Academic Press.