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What are the Primary Goals of the Criminal Justice System?

The primary goals of the American criminal justice system are to maintain order, punish the guilty and remove threats from society.

All societies are based on the idea of trust in the system that governs the people. In order to maintain that trust, the system must have a set of rules for dealing with transgressions of the laws of the society. Essentially, having a criminal justice system takes away the anger and retribution of the mob by following a code to determine guilt or innocence in any given circumstance.

Without a civilized system, the angry mob can hand out severe vigilante “justice” that can be cruel, vile and, perhaps, wielded upon an innocent victim.

The criminal justice system with its ritualistic separation of judge, jury, prosecution and defense, is designed to be civilized and to temper the heat of emotion, anger and rage.

The main goal in any case – according to the foundations of law – is to find the truth, uphold the law and punish the guilty, but not unduly.

The way the system does this is through law enforcement officials investigating crimes and gathering evidence. The prosecutions – representing the “state” or the people – then most go over the evidence, sometimes perform interviews and then decide whether a case can and should be brought against individuals.

If the prosecutor determines there is a case, the goal is to “set right” the situation in the view of society. A judge is assigned and the accused person is represented by counsel.

Throughout the proceedings, the decorum of the court, the criminal justice system itself, must be maintained for a fair outcome, which in the end is the ultimate goal.

“The purpose of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is to deliver justice for all, by convicting and punishing the guilty and helping them to stop offending, while protecting the innocent. It is responsible for detecting crime and bringing it to justice; and carrying out the orders of court, such as collecting fines, and supervising community and custodial punishment.

The key goals for the CJS are:

• To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the CJS in bringing offences to justice;

• To increase public confidence in the fairness and effectiveness of the CJS;

• To increase victim satisfaction with the police, and victim and witness satisfaction with the CJS;

• To consistently collect, analyse and use good quality ethnicity data to identify and address race disproportionality in the CJS; and

• To increase the recovery of criminal assets by recovering £250m of assets acquired through crime by 2009-10.”

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