Most of us recognize the importance that laws play in our society. As members of a community, country or society, we have a sort of “social contract” with the people around us to create laws which create a safe environment for everyone and make us feel secure walking the streets and dealing fairly with one another.
However, though we abide by these laws and rules each day, we are not the ones responsible for their enforcement, whether we choose to break or follow the law is up to each person and enforcement falls into the hands of the criminal justice system.
Without the law enforcement branch of the criminal justice system, each person would need to enforce the laws around them. This, of course, brings up many problems such as differing interpretations of laws, personal bias, making emotional decisions and the physically weak being vulnerable to the strong.
This has been part of the evolution of society as people band together for safety from bandits and the other benefits of civilization a system was needed to police each person to make sure the town ran fairly. Without law enforcement we have an “everyone for themselves” situation whereas law enforcement organizations like the police provide an organized and well trained force with the goal of protecting everyone equally under the law.
Without a court system to deal with those suspected of crimes we have problems as well. A fair and honest court system is designed to take a look at all the evidence in a calm and rational manner and give an unbiased opinion.
You may have heard the term, “judge, jury and executioner”, which describes someone given extreme power to determine guilt or innocence and to deliver punishment. While it is important to hand down punishments to people who choose to break the law, it is important that we first find out the facts to determine if they are indeed guilty.
This is why the criminal court system operates under a “innocent until proven guilty” mindset. Without a fair and uncorrupt court system, guilt and punishments would likely be determined by one person with overwhelming power or a mob mentality based on whatever most people feel is the right choice.
Without a corrections system to remove offenders from the rest of society and attempt to help rehabilitate them or determine what led to them breaking the law we would have fewer, and more extreme options for dealing with people.
Though the death penalty still exists in some states it has mostly been abolished, though in the past this was a much more common form of punishment for crimes. Punishments have also included public torture or embarrassment, whipping or imprisonment with no oversight in extremely poor conditions.
The modern corrections system works to provide a system where those accused of crimes are monitored, punished and provided with help to not re offend with the goal of creating a more productive and less dangerous society.
While these systems are not perfect they allow us to enjoy the society we live in today where people feel safe and comfortable going about their everyday activities without expecting crime at every turn. It takes a proactive and evolving criminal justice system with bright and upstanding people in all three branches as well as a society of people willing to make and follow the laws to create and improve our modern world.