Police are publicly funded by federal, provincial, and municipal governments. Courts and correctional
institutions are the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments.
Private or quasi-private organizations, such as universities and shopping malls, now rely on contract or in-house
private security officers to meet many of their policing needs. (e.g., Brinks, Memorial University Campus
Enforcement and Patrol). Privatization in the courts is demonstrated by the rent a judge service delivery method.
In corrections, several private agencies have for some time offered services (e.g., John Howard Society,
Elizabeth Frye, Salvation Army).
There are many ways that the public is involved with the criminal justice system.
The major public roles are reporting (reactive policing), serving as witnesses, volunteers, and voting. Justice is
political. Governments are sensitive to citizen responses to programs (e.g., parole), location of facilities (e.g.,
new prison), and changes in laws (e.g., drunk driving). Sound justice policies are supposed to depend on
informed public opinion, but many people lack accurate information about the extent of the crime problem
and the effectiveness of criminal justice.
The government creates laws, controls budgets, and develops and implement policy.
Law -- Crime basically refers to the intentional violation of criminal law without defence or excuse. Criminal
law has substantive and procedural sections. Substantive law defines the acts against people (e.g., murder,
robbery), property (e.g., theft, fraud), and the state (e.g., treason, perjury) that are illegal and subject to
punishment by government. Criminal law differentiates between serious crimes (indictable offences) and less
serious ones (summary offences). Indictable offences (e.g., murder) may allow for jury trial and stiffer penalties
(a maximum sentence of not less than two years in a federal prison). Summary offences (e.g., creating a
disturbance) are heard by a judge alone and provide for maximum sentences of up to six months in prison.
Procedural law outlines the rights of accused persons and stipulates the rules governing the action taken by
criminal justice workers for such things as police searches and the use of force. Its aim is to protect individuals
against the use of abusive actions by government officials, such as police. The exclusionary rule is closely tied
to procedural law. It refers to the general rule that evidence illegally obtained must not be used in a prosecution
(e.g., an unreasonable search and seizure by police ordinarily must be excluded from a trial).
Criminal law frequently undergoes both substantive and procedural law reform to ensure that it accurately
reflects public opinion, social change, technological advances, and other key social issues. Organized crime,
gang activity, and terrorism represent some of the most notable areas of criminal law reform implemented
recently by the federal government.
Budgets -- Government controls the assignment of criminal justice resources. Criminal justice costs are very
expensive for Canadians, totalling $20 billion in 2012. Police services continue to represent the biggest
expenditure (roughly 65%). That said, government expenditures for criminal justice services are relatively
meager (under 5%) compared with the provision of other social services (e.g., education, health). The limiting
of criminal justice resources by government can have negative consequences (e.g., overcrowding in prison and
removal of prisoner rehabilitative programs).
Policy -- Government sets and often clarifies criminal justice policy. Some examples include the recent move
towards the adoption of a more punitive as opposed to rehabilitative approach in prisons, the shifting of
rehabilitation in corrections to community settings, and the development of restorative justice
programs intended to make criminal justice more responsive to the needs of victims of crime.
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