The term ‘criminal Justice’ is much wider than what is normally perceived. As the words (criminal – justice) indicate, in simple terms it refers to the deserved justice to the criminal community at the various stages between the committed crime and punishment. Legally and literally criminal justice covers a wide gamut of activities beginning from the detection and includes apprehension, detention, pre and post trial releases besides the prosecution, adjudication, and rehabilitation of the criminals or offenders. Criminal justice also refers to the method used by the government in enforcing the law of the land, maintaining the control over the society and also in administering the justice.
Considering the scenario of criminal justice in the early year, if one turns back to the history of criminal justice one may find that the system was being evolved through ages by additions and reformations in the matter of punishment, the rights of offenders or criminals as well as of the victims. If we trace back to the various forms of punishments in the middle ages one may find that payment of compensation to the victims, exile etc were examples of punishment awarded even in the cases of violent crimes. It was only those few impoverished or unlucky who could not meet such penalties were subject to corporal punishment like flogging, mutilation or in extreme cases even execution.
While discussing about the criminal justice the most important factor, the police force or the enforcement system comes to lime light. The early police department commanded little respect among the public presumably due to their rude behavior and rampant corruption. It was after the reforms in the 1920s sparked by the Berkley and August vollmer the concept of training and social sensitivity imparted to the force. In spite of the professionalisation, modernization and technological advancement of the force the social acceptability for the force remained a mirage presumably on account of the autocratic attitude of the officials. The latest of the series of the reforms is the comp stat or COMPuter STATistics or COMParitive STATistics that involves a new dynamic and innovative multilayered approach with an end to reduce the crimes simultaneously improving the quality of life incorporating scientific, personnel and resource management. This information based system for mapping the crime patterns where the police is accontable in crime dealings and criminal justice is being replicated across the globe.
The next important link in the criminal justice is the prison. Though it is widely known that prison existed as early as 14 th century in Florence Italy it was in the 19th centaury the concept of incarceration was widely accepted as a corrective measure. The name of Mr. William Penn is renowned in the correctional reforms initiated in USA. These measures to be withdrawn later and to introduce again due to public pressure were reported to have reduced the crime rate in Pennsylvania.
Last but not the least, in this context of criminal justice is the debatable point of balancing the rights of the parties involved in crime say the offender and the victim and its relation to the social system. It is believed that the rights of the victims and the offender may pull in opposite directions and are inversely related. A similar view is also being propounded between the citizen’s right and social control and also of rights and responsibilities.