What is Comparative Criminal Justice?

  • A subfield of criminal justice
  • Area focused on the study/comparison of justice systems around the world
  • A subfield that uses descriptive, historical and political approaches to the study of crime
  • Study of criminal transformations over time

Depending on your interest and future career aspirations you could examine the law and legal systems across nations, focus on the study of law enforcement from the global perspective or the study of corrections and punishment.

Comparative Criminal Justice Programs

In order to specialize in this area of criminal justice a degree in criminal justice is your best approach. Criminal justice programs focus on a wide array of topics, as well as disciplines such as social science, psychology and sociology. Aside from the general course requirements covered by most degree programs, you would specialize in comparative criminal justice by taking courses focused specifically on this area of criminal justice. You would study global issues as they relate to crime, the legal systems as well as social order.

Most likely, if you chose this type of degree you will learn about the development of the criminal justice system around the world, the evolution of criminal justice systems in other nations and cultures. Additionally, be prepared to spend time learning and understanding the basic administration and function of police, corrections and courts, as well as the impact of customary law across the globe.

What can I do with this degree?

Given the global and international focus of this type of degree, you will be able to find employment in a number of state and federal agencies. This type of degree program prepares you to analyze transnational crime, understand and internalize foreign justice systems, terrorism and homeland security issues.

All of these skills are critical in a number of different jobs and allow you to become competitive for a career in multiple settings. You will find that upon graduation, you will qualify for advanced positions in security organizations, law enforcement agencies as well as teaching and training positions.

How Does An Online Legal Services And Internet Attorney Help?

If you are looking for online legal services you need to be definite that the law firm you are approaching is reliable, established and can handle whatever situation you have, but since the internet is a very huge resource, you may encounter the unreliable one. Now the question comes up whether these services can really help, the answer is depends on how they will manage a certain situation. There are several legal services offered online. You need to know the professional fees, the services they offer, their expertise and the experiences they have.

If you’re going to explore the Internet you will find lots of companies offering free online legal advice. There are also different types of online sources for grants which includes the law, justice and legal information. Just keep in mind, you must know the right lawyer for you. When consulting an online legal service, you could also review the legal advice options and call and speak with them about your case.

Prior to searching of the best online legal services, you should also consider the capability of finding an internet attorney for your case. For instance, if you are searching for a specific type, the most common lawyers are asbestos lawyer, assault lawyer, car accident lawyer, bankruptcy lawyer and criminal lawyer. While searching for an attorney you can use the Search Engines to get an extensive list of the attorneys in your area. You can then proceed to narrow down the list in order to help you find the best possible attorney for your specific needs.

You can surely find several internet legal services which are affordable. Legal advice need to be obtained from a legal counselor who has enough knowledge and expertise to assist you on the legalities required. Try to keep away from fraud or from people that the only objective is to trick you.

Consulting an online attorney is a smart idea if you need some general help and it saves your valuable time. Online legal services are ready to answer legal questions you have as long as you are willing to provide them the help you need and that you are willing to listen. There are many websites that allow you to ask a question through their form then lawyers will get back to you depends on what information you desired them to contact you. In order to get the best answer to your question you must be precise with the problem and provide all the information you have so that they know how they can help you with your problem. Then if you believe you will need to use an attorney, contact them immediately or visit their office. As long as you’re sure that you are approaching the right website, obtaining an online legal services and internet lawyers is easy.

Judiciary And The Chaos

Instances of judicial misconduct are reported by media off and on but they are very mild in character and do not qualify even as tip of the iceberg. Media can afford to be harsh on all other professions but certainly not on judiciary. It is difficult to say, whether it is out of respect or fear of judiciary. So, in any society, judiciary rules unopposed and unchallenged. Only higher judiciary is empowered to question authority and wisdom of a judge lower down in hierarchy. That too, only when the subject matter is placed before a higher judicial forum. But this may often be beyond the means of the learned and the most informed of the litigants. No doubt that this is a systemic constraint but it means that if a judge does not actively and aggressively delivers justice; he is likely to end up as R. Goldschmidt’s hopeful monster acting autonomously according to his own whims and fancies. He can easily override all criterion of reasonableness applicable to him. He can easily defeat all the safety mechanisms built into legal procedure as well as law, facts and legal procedure.

A chaos is a state of lawlessness and is inevitable in any society if its members loose respect and fear of law. Every individual is then at liberty to behave autonomously in the name of individual freedom/independence/self-interest.

If a system of governance is considered to be a stream, than Legislature and Judiciary constitute two banks of the stream, so that contained between its banks stream flows smoothly.

Between the two banks lie people and executives. In any society, politicians are primarily important not so much for their legislative function, as for their executive function. Legislature can be held responsible for laying down questionable laws. But to guard sanctity of established laws and to secure their implementation is solely the function of judiciary. Since in any conflict of interest judiciary is the final arbiter and therefore character of judiciary shall determine character of people in towns and villages. Hence in the event of general lawlessness or chaos in a society, it is essentially judiciary’s failure to discharge its function for whatever reasons.

It is only when judiciary fails to discharge its function and uphold sanctity of law that people and executive get an inspiration and opportunity to act arbitrarily. People’s experience with judiciary in the course of litigation often acts as determinant of their character. Failure to uphold sanctity of law means failure of system of governance and failure of justice which would mean truncated evolution of the society as a whole. Jungle Raj or Rule of the forest is inevitable under such circumstances. In a society with failed judiciary the only law that prevails over every other law is “Might is the right”. In a chaos, existence is a matter of perpetual struggle.

Judiciary perpetuates chaos actively as well as passively. Some of its ways and means are as under:-

1. Judiciary stubbornly refuses to evolve to discharge timely and affordable justice in a people friendly manner. Judges listen to litigants only when it is unavoidable and apply their mind only when unavoidable and that is generally at the time of final order. This means that even for the simplest of matters, one has to face a protracted trial lasting several years even when the dispute may be resolvable at the stage of framing of charges or issues, on the basis of material on record and may be a little persuasion of litigants. The only excuse given is that this is a court.

2. Judges generally do not critically examine their judgments on the touchstone of reasonableness and comprehensiveness. Therefore, either the personal opinion of the judge succeeds or the better advocate succeeds. This is more likely to happen when a judge is empowered to exercise his discretion under the law or arguments advanced from both sides are incapable of being literally and mathematically-logically precise with reference to established law and established facts. Such a situation may also be the result of ignorance. Under these circumstances, Judges instead of applying the test that for a judgment to be correct, it has to be correct from every possible point of view prefer to be guided by their personal point of view under the color of their authority even if it is unverified and basically absurd. Moreover it is a misconception that a neutral mind shall deliver the right judgment. There is no entity such as a neutral mind. What is really needed is an informed and enlightened mind.

3. Judiciary routinely fails to discharge its supervisory role in administration of criminal law machinery under the pretext of not interfering with investigations, effectively giving rise to rule of police instead of rule of law. Once an accused, all the human rights of the accused are in a state of suspended animation until proven innocent after a protracted trial. All the deficiencies in police investigation are just ignored.

4. In the name of reducing litigation, judiciary routinely promotes compromises contrary to law. Law requires that compromises must be legal and valid. This gives the strong every opportunity to prevail over the will of the weak and the sufferer.

5. Selective enforcement of law on one or the other pretext.

6. Judges often assume robes of an advocate in defending their judgments presumably delivered as speaking orders.

7. Justice can’t be expected to be awarded, it has to be extracted. It requires an advocate of skill and standing to secure justice for oneself. A litigant, howsoever well-informed about facts and law of his case is miserably dependent on his advocate, for advocate is the only one who knows how to extract justice for his clients.

8. Judicial orders during trial are often passed as a matter of routine rather than after due consideration of merits of the case and the applicable law. At times even objectivity and rationality is not kept and subjective justifications are advanced in lieu of speaking orders.

9. Illegal and contradictory orders are passed in breach of merits of the case and law, advancing such interpretation of law and justification to which no sane person in the street would agree.

10. Quite often judges have a propensity to decide those issues which they are otherwise incompetent to decide such as a judge in USA decided about merits of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution which 150 years of scientific debate have not been able to decide.

11. Often imaginary considerations and unfounded apprehensions guide their judgment. In one case before the apex court I was verbally asked to forget about the law and previous judgments of the apex court.

In any society, judiciary is the ultimate authority in conflict resolution in accordance with law and in this capacity judiciary is the custodian of law, system and justice. In the event of its failure in discharging its designated function, chaos is inevitable.

To do justice to its designated function, judiciary should aim at conflict resolution in accordance with law in a timely and affordable manner. Judiciary should not refrain from listening to common man and should attempt to deliver effective justice at the earliest in accordance with law. An understanding of law should expedite and not delay decision-making.

With 0.15% Of The Entire UK Population Behind Bars, Could Restorative Justice Be The Answer?

The number of prisoners detained in UK prisons has reached an epic of 82,000, which is around 0.15% of the UK population. 3% of these prisoners are children under the age of 18.

A BBC article on the 22nd of February 2008 reported that UK prisons were about 92 prisoners overcapacity and around 8,000 over what the Prison Service said to be a good, decent standard of accommodation. In the same month Justice Secretary Jack Straw asked magistrates to jail fewer people while officials attempt to manage the crisis. These comments followed what the Guardian reported was a 37% rise in prisoner suicides due to overcrowding.

Further criticism of the prison system came from outspoken Member of Parliament John Redwood on his own blog in March 2008 when he declared Prison does not work very well. We send too many people to prison.

So, what is the solution? After all; If people still break the law surely the public must be protected?

We need to ask ourselves:

  • Why isn’t the modern justice system working? – could it be its lack of focus on the victim in favour of the offender?
  • Is justice more preoccupied with proving guilt and satisfying legal agendas than restoring integrity to the victim?
  • Should none violent criminals be dealt with in the same way as violent offenders?
  • And finally, why is it that 50% of prisoners detained in the UK are re-offenders?

It would seam that the system, as it stands, is unsatisfactory to all concerned. The community; who witness the repercussions of crime, reflected in house prices and the feeling of safety on the streets; the criminals themselves who are led to believe that their crimes arent against victims but merely the impeding of written laws and lastly the victim(s) ; who are, in many cases, treated like just another witness and left in some cases with lasting trauma and fear.

Tax payers also stand to lose out when it comes to sending non violent criminals to prison. Bedford today http://www.bedfordtoday.co.uk/news stated in February 2008 that it costs about £3,500 a year for a community order, whereas a short sentence costs £3000 a month. Considering the typical sentence for most youths is around 18 months, thats a difference in cost to tax payers of £50,500 per year per offender. It is also important to remember that these young impressionable youths will be serving time alongside career criminals, perhaps even within the same cell.

What about Restorative Justice?

The answer could lie in a relatively new system called Restorative Justice whereby the criminal is made to face their victim and / or community and answer for their crime. To understand Restorative Justice, one needs to understand the impact a crime has on both the victim and the community. To understand real community we need to imagine an environment where our social framework is interwoven with individuals that care, understand and wish for our well being.

Our modern society has driven us out of these smaller supportive groups, we are now more concerned with personal privacy and autonomy rather than the good of the community. There are lots of causes of this ambiguity amongst most westernised cultures ranging from social economical divides and cultural pressure to age groups and inequality.

From a victim of crimes perspective, they can suffer in a number of ways, from post traumatic shock to displacement disorders and stress related depression. Victims are rarely thought of in the final verdict of most crimes and certainly not considered once the sentence is passed.

Because of these overwhelming factors, some trailblazing lawyers including New Zealands Moana Jackson looked back to non Western legal methods and in particular the Maori legal system. Maori justice is and always has been victim centred instead of offender focused. The Maori system involves the whole community, making the offender take responsibility for their actions. It is about restoring the balance to all involved in the crime.

The reason why this has been so successful for the Maori people is because it is about giving victims the change to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers to their questions and receive an apology. From the offenders point of view they get to understand the real impact of what they have done and are given the chance to repair the harm.

So what benefits have been seen in Restorative Justice?

The Restorative Justice consortium states in their 2008 handbook that 41% of victims who have tried Restorative Justice say they want to meet the offender; and 51% say they think RJ would work better than prison to reduce re-offending.

RJ has been shown to reduce the post-traumatic stress symptoms of victims, and help them return to work following serious crimes.

Offenders who meet and make active reparation to their victims are under no subsequent illusions about the impact of their crimes and this measure can often go a long way in preventing many from reoffending.

If as John Redwood stated 50% of prisoners are re offenders, could progressive use of Restorative Justice one to ones and community justice panels help reduce re-offenders crimes and therefore reduce the overpopulated prisons?

How is a Restorative Justice meeting organized between a victim and an offender?

Tony Marshal stated in his paper on Restorative Justice an overview that Such meetings have to be carefully facilitated by a skilled, specially trained mediator, whose prime tasks are to ensure a safe and comfortable environment and firm ground-rules for a fruitful exchange which is re-affirming and a positive learning experience for both parties

Mark Creitzman, an RJ Co-ordinator at Waltham Forest Youth Offending Team / Backstop YOT training courses. He has carried out over 250 conferences and mediations between criminals and their victims and attended many community panels within the Youth Justice System. He offers his insight into how Restorative Justice / community justice works.

Q; Do you believe that Restorative Justice could work to reduce criminals re-offending?

A; I do believe that there is a positive effect on recidivism when communication takes place, whether that is direct contact or indirect mediation. However, this process can not be regarded as a cure-all, more as the beginning of a healing process for the person harmed and a time of reflection for the person who has caused the harm.

Q; Why isn’t Restorative Justice more widely used in the UK?

A; The big issue is the difficulty to capture the information needed to prove the success of Restorative Justice, because of this fact funding has always been a major issue.

Q; Have you been involved in community Restorative Justice Conferences much like what is happening in Norwich?

A; Yes I have and I have found it to be very successful, probably more so than the one to one mediations.

Q; Why do you think community Restorative Justice is so successful?

A; Because people want to feel included, the more people involved the bigger the buy in. People like to feel part of the process and that they are making a difference in the community.

Q; What kind of reaction have you had towards RJ both from the victims and the offenders?

A; Very positive on both sides. It should be noted that this process is not suitable for everyone, but I firmly believe that everyone who has been harmed or caused harm should have the opportunity to take part if the circumstances are appropriate.

The majority of my work is facilitating communication between parties and I have never been aware of anyone regretting taking part.

Q; Where do you see Restorative Justice in the next 10 years?

A; I believe RJ is becoming more widely used and in time will prove to be increasingly successful in the Youth Justice Service and the Adult Forum as well as in the community for all conflict resolution.

The important thing is to retain the voluntary element of the process to ensure the feeling of ownership that is so crucial to its success.

Restorative Justice in action

One community that have taken on the challenge and are winning are Norwich city council who have developed community justice panels that give criminals the choice to admit their guilt in front of a panel of local people and make an official apology to the community. The panel then decides on the type of community service that fits the crime, this might be removal of graffiti, rebuilding of a local landmark or local landscaping. Once this work is completed the matter is closed.

An article on www.norwichlibdems.org.uk on March 2008 stated that these panels empower victims of crime and the wider community and allow offenders to serve their debt to the victim and the community they have harmed without going to court. All panelists are trained in the practice of Restorative Justice and probation professionals help ensure that the panel’s orders are proportionate to the offence.

Restorative Justice is also being used; in schools to resolve bullying, in the community to stop antisocial behavior and in the workplace as part of disciplinary procedures. It does seam apparent that a return to community enforced justice is something we will be seeing a lot more of over the next few years although perhaps rebranded for a new generation.

If indeed the reason behind the lack of funding for Restorative Justice is the lack of performance indicators perhaps the government should take into account the UK prison services consistent failure to meet most of its own 18 key performance indicators. With the average cost per prisoner of around £37,000 each, re-offenders are at a record high, serious assaults by prisoners have increased, sexual assaults have increased, inhumane living conditions are rife and drug problems are still major issues.

An article on the public technology site in May 2007 reported that the new ministry of justice has £8.8 billion and 77,000 staff to tackle justice in the UK over 2007 and 2008; with the key themes set out by Lord Falconer being: a) Protecting the public b) Reducing re-offending and c) Sense in sentencing.

With all of this in mind, one only has to ask. Could Restorative Justice be the answer?

For further information on Restorative Justice – contact Backstop by emailing them at [email protected] or calling them on 0844 499 3398

The Characteristics of a Good Legal System

The law is a body of rules that is designed to control the blameworthy conduct of individuals. And whilst a lot of people may not agree with the existence of the law it is still an important and irreplaceable aspect of any society. But to curb the improper application of the law it is important to set down a few things that are expected of a good legal system.

There can never be a functional legal system if it is not transparent. When people turn to the courts they naturally expect the judges and prosecutors to act with ethics and honesty. But if the people responsible for applying the law are dishonest the very foundation on which justice rests will be shook to a standstill. The confidence which people will have in a transparent rule of law will somehow urge them to be law abiding and respectful of the law and its expectations.

Court cases are brought before the courts to be finalized and concluded. The remedies that the courts give are anticipated with much anxiety and nervousness so it is crucial that the law be applied with efficiency. The speedy conclusion of court cases means justice prevails instead of frustration and anxiety. Instead of postponing hearings over and over again the courts must see to it that cases are brought to a close speedily whilst at the same time bringing about a fair and equitable conclusion to cases.

The law is useless if it is applied unjustly and unfairly. Justice is best served when the best possible outcome that pleases both parties is achieved. There are enough instances where money prevailed over justice and criminals went on to commit the same offences as the ones they were charged for in the very beginning. So for a legal system to be deemed good it must see to it that justice and fairness prevail over any other competing interests.

Corruption is when a benefit is given or accepted in exchange for a favor. Even though corruptibility is inescapable like oxygen it is best fought in the courts than anywhere else. The people entrusted with applying and enforcing the law must not accept bribes from the wealthy who wish to have the outcomes of cases sway in their direction. There is no real use in having the law if the people entrusted with the responsibility of protecting it are corrupt themselves; they must lead by example if they want others to respect the law.

In any country there are lower courts and higher courts. Whenever a person isn’t satisfied by the decision in a lower court they have the right to appeal on the basis of the improper application of the law or procedures. This system of checks and balances is a healthy scenario to have and it actually rids the justice system of corruptibility and inefficiency.

For a justice system to run smoothly it must be free of government influence. There will always be situations where government officials get trapped in legal battles that threaten their political careers. As expected these officials do almost everything in their power to make sure that they remain free and out of prison. To avoid this guardians of the law must be independent of government influence and separatist.

And before anything gains precedence over the law there must be accountability. If any judge; prosecutor or policeman does anything wrong he should come out in the open and confess. This accountability raises the people’s confidence in the law.