Criminal Justice System: Ensuring Safety & Well-Being of Society - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1742 Words
Date:  2022-12-27


The criminal justice system (CJS) consists of several agencies working in cohesion to ensure individuals do not violate laws, don't commit crimes and justice is upheld. The main task of the CJS is to ensure the rule of law is adhered, preventing crimes or violation of the law, punish illegalities, rehabilitate convicts and provide moral support to victims. It is composed of three primary agencies dealing with crime at different levels to ensure safety and well-being of the society by enforcing the law and making sure it is followed- Law enforcement agencies, e.g., the police whose role is to uphold the rule of law, detect and investigate crime and arresting violators. They are often the first to make contact with the violators; Courts and accompanying prosecution and defense lawyers; they ensure justice is upheld through a fair trial and ensure that the individual rights are not violated; Correctional and Rehabilitation Agencies, e.g., prisons, jails, cells, probation, and rehabilitation centers (Correctional, 2019). They detain all the offenders, emphasize incarceration and rehabilitation as ordered by the court.

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California is the most populated state in the US and accounts for 12.1 % of the American population at 37.3 million people. Therefore, it is only natural that it has the most extensive criminal justice system. The various agencies operating within the state perform their roles the best they can to ensure safety in the society, but it is not without challenge. Out of the three agencies, I think that the correctional and rehabilitation agencies have the most significant challenges.

The agencies in the system are interconnected with the courts acting as the link between law enforcement agencies and correctional agencies. The courts are an institution of enforcing justice in society and ensures that correction administrators and law enforcement administrators work seamlessly cohesively in a coordinated manner. Law enforcers need the court to deal with violators and pass judgment, and the courts need corrections to ensure judgment passed is adhered to, and convicted felons are rehabilitated to be better citizens when released. They must therefore cooperate. However, this is not the case. The agencies mostly don't coordinate their activities or fully involve each other in policy formulation and thus ignore the impacts of their decision on the different agencies. The correctional agents suffer the most because they are at the end of the hierarchy and must comply with what the court has to say. The California court system is failing incapable of performing its role as required, and all its misgivings and failures are amplified on the correctional facilities. E.g., Courts keep sending people without considering capacity and staffing issues.

Capacity is the biggest challenge facing correctional facilities in California. Most if not all prisons are operating at over 130% capacity (Wootton, 2016) and some such as valley state, Corcoran, Wasco, and Solano jails are operating at nearly or above 160% designed capacity(CDRC, 2018). The crowded conditions within the prisons are inhumane. There is a high risk of infectious or contagious diseases spreading through the population, increased rates of mental health issues and a high risk of violence that the general population. High populations lead to a high prevalence rate of diseases like hepatitis C, TB, STIs and HIV/AIDS in correctional facilities and is a severe public health issue that should be solved as soon as possible.

The main factors leading to overcrowding are inadequate rehabilitation programs and poor court decisions that are politically influenced by nature. The current rehabilitation and education programs within the state have failed to reform convicts and reduce recidivism rates. Also, the slow court process is also escalating the issue. About 70 % of inmates in county jails had not been sentenced by the court and were either incapable of post bail or awaiting trial (Taylor, 2013).

The role of Correctional facilities is to 'correct' convicted felons. They are supposed to ensure that society is free of criminals by securely handling offenders while rehabilitating them to ensure they come out as law abiding citizens and integrated into society as free capable people. Unfortunately, the prisons seem to operate like a revolving door where one can freely return, hang around, leave and come back later. The recidivism rate is very high in California. Within three years, over 67% or two-thirds of released prisons are rearrested, and 75% of released offenders are rearrested in five years. Out of three prisoners released in California, at least one will be rearrested within the first year (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 2019). The main reason for recidivism is that correctional facilities are overcrowded, understaffed, underfunded and lack proper programs to better the convicts.

Furthermore, the follow-up programme of released felons is non-functional. This reflects poorly not only on the correctional facility but also the entire justice system. What is the point of arresting and imprisoning someone if they don't come out better and learn their lesson? Recidivism affects society in general; it increases crime and threatens the wellbeing of the community.

Correctional administrators must beat all the odds to ensure that all inmates' needs are met, regardless of their challenges. Mentally ill patients are among the main challenges administrators face in jails and prisons. They are unpredictable, can be extremely violent or aggressive and mostly uncooperative (Ball, 2009). Therefore more specialized is required to ensure they are not a threat to themselves, staff or fellow inmates. Most facilities lack proper monitoring methods and counseling leading to disruptive behaviors from the mentally ill. These patients are easily agitated and stressed whenever they are confined in one place or forced to follow strict routines making them aggressive. They are responsible for several staff injuries. Administrators have to cope with all these struggles considering they are understaffed and undertrained to provide the necessary supervision, behavioral therapy, specialized psychological care, and medications. Moreover, the situation isn't getting any better; mentally ill patients keep increasing each year (Romano, 2017).

Contrabands are a big challenge facing correction administrators in California State. Technology has become a double-edged sword for the correctional agents. Criminals are evolving creatively and quickly adapting to emerging trends. Drones are used to deliver contrabands such as phones, drugs, and small weapons, e.g., knives, forks, etc. into the prisons. The most common are contraband cell phones which circumvent monitoring processes in prisons (Bernstein, 2018). The cell phones are used by inmates to aid in criminal activities outside inmates such coordinate assaults or order hits on officers and witnesses, direct gang activities, harass innocent people in the community, pass threats, coordinate drug activities, etc. In 2014 alone, over 11000 phones were seized in California prisons up from 2811 in 2008 (Raphael, 2017). This clearly shows that the situation is worsening and the measures put up are not sufficient to fight smuggling activities in prisons. Presence of contrabands in correctional facilities contradict the objectives of correctional institutions. Presence of contraband material in correction facilities is compromising efforts of rehabilitation. Contraband trafficking may increase violent conflicts among inmates or between inmates and staff. Sometimes smuggling activities involve staff members who are bribed to deliver the items. The smuggling and availability of contraband in prison undermine the legitimacy and authority of administrators and staff members.

Correctional officers and administrators are the most crucial resource in a correctional facility. They are pivotal for efficiency and effective operation of any prison system. Dealing with convicted felons is a dangerous job as it threatens the wellbeing and safety of Cos (Ferdik & Smith, 2017). They risk being assaulted, injured or even killed by the inmates. They also have to carry the psychological burden that comes with the job. Most correctional administrators are very stressed from the job and worry about their safety and suffer emotional burnout due to job demands(Lambert, Barton-Bellessa, & Hogan, 2015). Lack of security compromises the Cos capability of performing their roles. Correctional facilities need to be adequately staffed to reduce the workload on the current staff. CO's must be appropriately trained and equipped to handle threats arising within the correctional facility. For the corrections and rehabilitation centers to work, officers' wellbeing should be the priority. Officers should also undergo regular counseling and enroll in PTSD programmes to ensure they can handle the work pressure and relieve stress.

Every job has its challenge, but on the flipside, it also has merits and satisfaction. Being a criminal administrator is one of the least appreciated jobs mainly because society has no idea what they go through daily to deal with convicts and the impact of the situation on the community. The foremost satisfaction gained from being a correctional administrator is assisting criminals through rehabilitation who turn out to be productive people in society. Correctional work is about people, not punishment. As a correctional administrator, one has the unique ability to help people, who are in many cases unable to help themselves. It ensures the safety of society buys turning criminals to patriotic, productive citizens. Other benefits of being an administrator are assured job security, good salary, and benefits

For the challenges facing administrators in correctional facilities to be dealt with, the three agencies must work together to ensure that their decisions don't affect each other negatively. The rehabilitation system should be revised to ensure prisoners come out better than they came. Specialized services and training of the staff will go a long way in dealing with biological factors and mental factors affecting staff and inmates. Additionally, creating awareness within society to understand the importance of correctional facilities will bolster support and trust. Finally, all stakeholders must be involved in shaping policies affecting criminal justice agencies.


Ball, D. W. (2009). Mentally Ill Prisoners in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Strategies for Improving Treatment and Reducing Recidivism. Journal of Contemporary Health Law & Policy, 24(1). Retrieved from

Bernstein, M. (2018, June 20). Flow of contraband cellphones into prisons a growing concern. Retrieved from

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. (2019, January 14). 2018 Recidivism report an evaluation of offenders released in the fiscal year 201314. Retrieved from

CDRC. (2018, December 12). Population report. Retrieved from

Correctional (2019). U.S. Criminal Justice System Overview. Retrieved from

Ferdik, F. V., & Smith, H. P. (2017, July). Correctional Officer Safety and Wellness Literature Synthesis. Retrieved from

Lambert, E. G., Barton-Bellessa, S. M., & Hogan, N. L. (2015). The Consequence...

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