JSB173 Lecture Notes – Week One: Introduction
Samantha Jeffries (Dr.) Phone: 31387121
Email: [email protected]
The criminal justice system serves two key functions:
a. The state needs to appear to be responding to crime. Needs to make sure it is doing something that
theoretically reduces crime.
a. The state must be seen as reducing the harm of criminal activity.
b. It is about reinforcing what is seen as correct behaviour.
The criminal justice system consists of a number of agencies who serve particular functions. Sometimes these
a. Responsible for investigations and crime control/prevention.
b. Also broadly may include bodies such as Crime Commissions who serve a similar purpose.
a. Responsible for assessing and determining guilt/innocence, sentencing and again crime prevention.
a. Responsible for the punishment and often correcting of criminals and once again crime prevention.
The Question of the Criminal Injustice System?
Agencies share an important power called ‘Discretionary Power’ which provides room for argument as to whether
the criminal justice system is really fair.
Because of discretionary power, the criminal justice system is therefore not entirely predicable, consistent or
certain. Important questions are posed as to whether certain people are treated differently within the system.
This has given birth to the argument that certain people or groups of people are favoured by the system – or
unfavoured – and this reflects a broader societal context.
Example: Police are given discretionary power and can exercise their right to use discretion when dealing with
people. Data has shown strong links between the negative treatment and ‘targeting’ of Indigenous people by police
which is reflected in the Criminal Justice System. Furthermore, Indigenous people are also more likely to be punished
more severely by the system, most likely as a result of being targeted to begin with.
Underlying Values/Models of the Criminal Justice System
The knowledge that this is not a flawless system leads us to question “what exactly are the values and models
behind the Criminal Justice System?” Understanding the values that underpin the system will help us to think more
critically about the sy