Why Compare Criminal Justice Systems
The criminal justice system is a term used to summarize the work of all agencies whose sole purpose is to control crime. For that reason, police, courts, and all correction facilities fall under the criminal justice system. Comparing different criminal justice systems helps in interpreting and evaluating criminal offenses as well as understanding fundamental philosophies of law and justice. There are many reasons for comparing criminal justice systems. Firstly, countries can share rules and procedures. Secondly, through these comparisons, countries get an opportunity to understand each other better. Lastly, international crime is contained and controlled when most criminal justice systems are understood. This essay explains why criminal justice systems should be compared.
Most countries’ criminal justice systems have adopted rules and procedures that were pioneered by other countries. For instance, the right to counsel has become universal. Therefore, all defendants have the right to an attorney. In addition, some correction strategies are shared across borders. For instance, the idea of day fines has spread from the Scandinavian countries to the United States of America and other countries. The US’s criminal justice system gives the defendant more rights than most countries. Nonetheless, the criminal justice system is more fairly applied in countries such as France than in the US. Racism, poverty, and other social evils are a disappointment to the US’s criminal justice system. Comparative criminal justice, therefore, enables countries to fine-tune their criminal justice systems.
Studying the administration of justice in other countries broadens US’s and other countries’ understanding of the world. This helps understand other countries and their culture better. If the US fails to do so, it is likely to become a victim of ethnocentrism. In other terms, the US will develop a belief that it is the only country that does things in the right way. In the context of criminal justice, ethnocentrism leads to discrimination and oppression. It is worth noting that a criminal act in a given country may be condoned by another country. Therefore, understanding other countries’ cultures is very important for the US’s criminal justice system. In most instances, a country’s criminal justice system reflects its cultural realities. For that reason, the US must try to understand why Saudi Arabia authorizes the cutting of one foot or hand as a punishment for some crimes. Learning about these cultures will help the US analyze its criminal justice system more objectively.
Studying the criminal justice system from a comparative perspective also helps in addressing international crime. Due to globalization, the world has become more interdependent. For that reason, the actions of an individual or a government can affect the whole world. Therefore, there is a need to look at the impact of globalization on international crime. Just like trade, crime has been internationalized. For instance, there is widespread smuggling of human body parts and drugs across borders. Global cooperation is, hence, the surest way of bringing these crimes to an end. Without this cooperation, it will be very difficult to find, extradite or charge international criminals.
Comparisons of different criminal justice systems allow individuals and countries to understand the different approaches to crime, law, and justice across the world. In addition, knowledge gathered is useful in understanding the basics of crime prevention, law enforcement, and methods of punishing and rehabilitating offenders.