Education for Criminal Justice and Police Socialization

The education and training of new employees play an immeasurably significant role in criminal justice. While the judicial system has a substantially long history, education and further professional training for judges and prosecutors appeared only at the beginning of the 20th century (Kania & Davis, 2018). Multiple states formerly permitted the election and appointment of judiciaries who had not received appropriate education or training.

However, due to various enforcement laws and programs, from the middle of the 20th century, higher educational standards and formal training for the employees in the system of criminal justice were obligatory. In the present day, professional degrees are determined by the person’s occupation. For instance, police officers need a college education, while a master of social work degree will be highly beneficial for correctional managers, and the position of a judge or an assistant district attorney requires a law degree.

According to the educational curriculum that estimated what professional competencies should be acquired by specialists in the judicial sphere, four fundamental categories were identified – professional, social, contextual, and individual (Kania & Davis, 2018). The professional category focuses on skill acquisition, appropriate education, and training for employees in order to introduce their professional duties.

In turn, social competencies are related to “the diverse social and cultural environment in which policing operates” (Kania & Davis, 2018, p. 193). The contextual category encompasses procedural and organizational learning to explain to employees the mechanism of the organization’s operation. Finally, the category of individual competencies implies the worker’s personal development for efficient practice and career advancement.

The concept of socialization is substantively connected with the justice system and defined in a specific way. First of all, occupational socialization is regarded as “the process by which a person acquires the values, attitudes, and behaviors of an ongoing occupational social system” (Kania & Davis, 2018, p. 200). Similar to people who work in various organizations with their own corporate cultures, all new employees in the criminal justice system inevitably face occupational socialization. This process may be substantially influenced by the worker’s personality.

Policing may be regarded as a highly insular occupational culture, and police officers commonly socialize with their colleagues. Strong socialization in policing leads to either positive or negative results. On the one hand, in negative circumstances, the occupational culture of the police may create a “blue wall of silence” that hides or even support the employees’ unethical and corrupt behavior (Kania & Davis, 2018, p. 205).

On the other hand, a solid and trust-based relationship with colleagues helps peace officers to create a supportive environment and contributes to their effective performance (Yüksel & Tosun, 2015). Peer socialization may be regarded as one of the key factors that attract candidates to police work. In addition, the socialization with senior police officers may be highly beneficial for young recruiters as they have a chance to gain essential experience.

In general, there is no one common perception of communities by the police that would be determined by socialization. Some officers are certain that society does not understand the significance and meaning of their job. That is why misunderstanding and mutual enmity may occur that result in the absence of cooperation between communities and the police and the weakening of law enforcement. At the same time, in the case of community-oriented policing, when the public is treated with respect, and all claims from people are considered, officers substantially positively contribute to law enforcement.


Kania, R. R. E., & Davis, R. P. (2018). Managing criminal justice organizations (3rd ed.). Taylor & Francis.

Yüksel, Y., & Tosun, H. (2015). Understanding organizational socialization process of police officers and job satisfaction. Elektronik Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, 14(52), 170-182. Web.

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