The traditional justice system can be distinguished in three categories: law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Law enforcement is the “boots on the ground” and serves to ensure law and order in all aspects of American jurisdiction. Courts determine one’s crime and allow for habeus corpus and one’s legal defense. Finally, the corrections element determines the proper punishment for the crime, taking into consideration the circumstances and prior convictions before determining how a criminal should be treated (Gaines & Miller, 2008). As an example, a person who stole something would be stopped immediately by law enforcement. The courts would determine that the person was indeed guilty based on the evidence presented by the prosecution; then the corrections (perhaps jail time) would be delivered as a verdict.

You're lucky! Use promo "samples20"
and get a custom paper on
"The Areas of Traditional Justice"
with 20% discount!
Order Now

The first step in the court process is booking, which happens immediately after the arrest. At this point a suspect is taken into custody, searched, finger printed and photographed, and then jailed temporarily. An Initial Appearance immediately follows this, at which point the suspect can receive legal counsel and bail can be set, determining whether or not a suspect is a flight risk. The Initial Appearance is followed by either a Grand Jury or a Preliminary Hearing, depending on the circumstances: a Grand Jury is a jury of peers determining if there is substantial evidence (this is for more important cases) and a Preliminary Hearing is simply between a prosecutor and judge. In the case of a Grand Jury, the following process is Indictment; in the case of a Preliminary Hearing it is followed by Information, at which point it is determined that the case moves forward (Gaines & Miller, 2008).

The next step in the process is arraignment, at which point the suspect is brought forth before the judge and charges are issued. The suspect is asked to offer a plea of guilty or not guilty. After arraignment the suspect can accept a plea bargain, this means the case does not go to court, the suspect pleads guilty, and as a result, receives a lesser sentence. Finally, the case either goes to a guilty plea or a trial, in which case the suspect can legally reserve a defense from a trial attorney. To carry the example of the shoplifter applied earlier, the suspect would then either concede to the theft charge and receive six months probation or let it go to trial, risking more jail time in exchange for a chance at freedom.

Contrary to popular belief, probation and parole are not the same thing. While they are often used interchangeably, one is an alternative to prison and the other is a reduction of it. Probation means that the suspect has limitations to movement and freedom and must routinely meet with a probation officer. Parole is an early release in exchange for probation-like restrictions. Both are forms of restorative justice that aim to help charged felons escape life altering circumstances and work to improve their lives. An example of probation would be a shoplifter having to take regular drug tests and meet with a P.O. An example of parole would be a convicted murderer being let out early on good behavior but having to take drug tests, hold steady employment, and regularly meet a parole officer (Gaines & Miller, 2008).

Restorative Justice is a form of justice that aims to rectify the mistakes of the past. Unlike retributive justice, which just seeks to punish those who have committed crimes, restorative justice cares more about working to improve the lives of those who committed crimes, as well as those they committed crimes against. Restorative justice, as an example, would be having a criminal who dealt and used drugs take drug treatment classes, anger management classes, and find a job in a stable environment (Zehr, 2015). The goal in this example is not about punitive measures but about helping a person who has made poor decisions to make improved decisions in the future (Gaines & Miller, 2008). Retributive justice, to offer a contrast, would be jailing the drug dealer as a punishment for the damage he committed to the community. It helps no one, but the community feels it received justice for the crimes committed.

According to Roper v. Simmons (2005), juveniles do not truly begin to understand the consequences of their actions until they are eighteen years of age (Gaines & Miller, 2008). The rationale therefore is that they cannot be truly culpable. It is for this reason that crimes committed as a minor are treated differently than crimes committed as an adult. The “diminished culpability” of minors is based around the widely held belief that juveniles succumb to peer pressure and lack the wisdom and decision making skills of adults. Additionally, mentally ill adults, those who were abused as children, and those with extenuating circumstances may be relieved of culpability. Judges specifically are given the power to make decisions that take all factors into account. If a person loses control and commits a violent act against a person who committed a heinous crime against that individual, the judge may determine reduced culpability because of those extreme circumstances. Similarly, a person who was abused and neglected may be given rehabilitative treatment instead of jail time because of a belief in reduced culpability.