Policies of Two Components of the Criminal Justice System


Policies are considered to be the main sources of specific guideless which are aimed at helping a particular department operate in accordance with its needs, mission and vision. Criminal justice system consists of three agencies, police, courts and corrections. Each of these agencies operates individually, however, they all are closely interconnected and their actions and policies impact each other. It is crucial to remember that police departments, corrections agencies and community should have close ties. Policies are aimed at uniting these agencies by means of offering rationale and strong arguments aimed at explaining particular actions each of the agencies implements. Even though the ties of police and community have been ruined with the instability and increase of urban population, police tries to do all possible to return that connection (Thale, 2004). Having an intention to dwell upon policies of police and corrections agencies in California, we are going to conduct a secondary research and offer specific examples which point out strong and weak sides of the policies implemented in police department and corrections agencies.

Affect of Police Policies on Their Operations and Decision-Making Process

Police policies in California are aimed at maintaining order and law at the streets of the community. Considering the policies and the actions police implements, lobbying in California should be mentioned. There are many lobbying agencies on the territory of California related to criminal justice. The main idea of these interest groups is to focus on different crimes and solve those by means of referring to specific independent agencies (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, 2011). Helping police, these interest groups are unable to follow the police policies and make those help them due to their independent position. However, the help of those interest groups is useful and requires attention.

The Sacramento Safe Community Partnership is one of such interest groups which works in close collaboration with California Police Department, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, The California Endowment, and other agencies are involved in the policy implementation titled Ceasefire strategy. This strategy is directed at gun possession problem and covers five blocks, (1) identification of the person, time and place, pointing out the most violent regions in the relation to gun possession, (2) organization of the meeting with potential gun possessors, (3) helping those who accepted the invitation with employment, educational and training options, (4) initiation of “street outreach teams and faith-based outreach efforts” community programs, (5) coordination of law enforcement resources at local, state and government levels (Sacramento Safe Community Partnership, 2011). The importance of this strategy aims at helping police department cope with the problems devoted to groups which may possess guns.

According to Los Angeles Police Department website (2011), the following issues are considered to be the main consideration of California police, “management and supervisory measures to promote Civil Rights Integrity”, “critical incident procedures, documentation, investigation and review”, “management of Gang Units”, “management of Confidential Informants, “program development for response to persons with mental illness”, “training, “integrity audits”, “operations of the Police Commission and Inspector General”, and “community outreach and public information” (n.p.). All the measures taken by police in California are guided by means of Consent Decree.

The final version of the Consent Decree states the moments which are very important in police operating and may affect their decision in a specific situation. Thus, this document identifies the cases of force use, implements the scheme for search and arrest procedures, considers the procedure of complains initiation, points at the procedures of conduct and adjudicating of investigations, dwells upon discipline and non-disciplinary actions, underlines non-discrimination policy and highlights the actions in relation to motor vehicle and pedestrian stops (Consent Decree, 2009). Each of these “incidents, procedures, documentation, investigation, and review” (Consent Decree, 2009, p. 16) is discussed in detail. It should be stated that every step, every action is considered with thoroughness in case of specific situations each police officer should know what he/she should do, how he/she should operate and where he/she should report.

It should be mentioned that police deployment occurs in the accordance with the specific issues they operate, as “compliance with the Consent Decree is the baseline for, and not the ultimate standard, by which the Department’s commitment to excellence will ultimately be measured” (Los Angeles Police Department, 2011, n.p.). Therefore, Consent Decree is the main policy aimed constitutionally support and protect California police department.

Additionally, mass media reports about one case which may cause the police policy change. The situation is devoted to a man who committed suicide at a San Francisco beach. The police officers stood behind for an hour and watched a man to sink without doing anything. One of the main reasons for such actions was the policy which prevents police officers from acting in case they are not sure in safe outcome. Thus, police “felt that going into the water initially might not be the best idea because they were unsure if this individual was armed, the stability of the individual” (France-Presse, 2011, n.p.), therefore, they stood inactive. This policy prevents police from performing their jobs in some cases, however, it was adopted with the purpose to protect police employees. The change of the policy may cause many problems as protecting police officers from unjustified actions, a new edition of the law may make those act more active at any situation, without being warned about danger.

Thus, the police policies are important as they are aimed at stating the obligations, rights and procedures police officers should follow. California police department is a legal structure with mission to protect the citizens of its country. Only structured work and organized assistance may be helpful for people. Polices developed specially for police departments are created with the purpose help officers understand their duties and direct at making correct decisions and act accordingly in specific situations.

Affect of Policies on Operations and Decision-Making Process in Corrections

Corrections agencies are aimed at correcting “any behavior that society finds unacceptable or that has been made illegal by a legislature, typically through punishment or rehabilitation” (Marion & Oliver, 2006, p. 402). Considering the situation in California devoted to policies connected with corrections agencies, some specific cases should be dwelt upon. However, before getting down to detailed consideration of the specific sources, it is important to understand the nature of the corrections agencies in California.

July 1, 2005 was a remarkable day in California as commonly known Department of Corrections was transmitted into the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). It should be stated that rehabilitation is more an expensive affair in comparison with imprisonment, but California had to take such steps. What are the reasons? California is considered to be the state with the highest rate of imprisoned inmates and the highest rate of relapses. Moreover, the rate of reported murders, suicides and assaults are much higher in California jails than all over the world. The creation of the rehabilitation policy was really important and revolutionary for the whole corrections system in the state. One of the main ideas of the adopted policy is to help criminal rehabilitate. Many people who were accused for misdemeanors are released from prisons and the parole supervision is imposed over them (Petersilia, 2006).

The importance of this policy was not questioned at the time when it was adopted. However, looking at the situation form the distance of five years, it is possible to draw some specific conclusions devoted to California correction system. The Supreme Court has stated that California’s prisons are overcrowded and should be cleaned up. Complaining on bad living and hard working conditions, California prisoners have managed to achieve the following outcome, “some 37,000 prisoners to be released through a variety of measures” (Cohen, 2011, n.p.). What are the main reasons for such court decision?

Jails are overcrowded. This leads to violation of a Federal right for having good medical care and appropriate living conditions. One of the main problems prisoners face is that being accused for a minor misdemeanor, they may be accused for long-term period due to the consequences based on prisons overcrowding. Basing on the court trial Brown v. Plata, a court has stated that prisoners should be released. However, the problem of making jails less overcrowded remains open as the immediate release of the completely required number of criminals may lead to the higher rate of crimes. There is no need to dwell upon too high interest of the community in the affair as no one wants to live in the country full of released criminals. Considering an outcome of this situation, it should be stated that the Supreme Court of California gave two years for reducing the number of prisoners. 9,000 prisoners should be released from the California jails and transferred, for example, to the country jails (Cohen, 2011).

Still, the court decision is extremely important for the whole corrections system in California. Each prisoner is going to be examined more carefully. Accused people with mental illness are not going to be permitted to imprisonment. This policy is going to affect corrections agencies greatly and it should be their direct responsibility to make sure that the conditions prisoners live in correspond to the required norms. Anyaso (2011) blames California politicians in making society fear of violent crimes and rejecting any reform devoted to the improvement of the situation in jails. To the word, the population in prisons increased from 25,000 (in 1980) up to 172,000 in 2008, paying attention to the fact that new jails are not built (Anyaso, 2011).

King and Mauer (2002) report about the reduction of the financial support in the corrections agencies and as a result specific policies and legal acts have been released. California adopted a policy in 2000 which helped drug offenders remain free for after the first and the second times of their accusation. Instead of being jailed, such criminals are sent to training or probation programs aimed at human rehabilitation. One of the main purposes of this Proposition 36 is to reduce the number of misdemeanor offenders in the jails due to their overcrowding.

Analyzing this policy, it should be stated that the problem s solved for the government as they can reduce the number of jailed inmates and cut expenses on their keeping. At the same time, many drug offenders may feel freer as they are sure for now that imprisonment is not a hazard for them anymore. However, corrections agencies are going to control these people better and it is going to result in more efficient monitoring of accused but left free. The policy under discussion is influential in the relation to decision making process and operating of corrections agencies (King & Mauer, 2002).

Much attention should be paid to elderly prisoners and the policies directed at their accommodation. First of all, it should be mentioned that there is no universally accepted age when a person begins to be considered as an elderly or an older one. General population treats people above 65 as elderly ones, however, corrections literature identifies 55 as an elderly age. There is no need to discuss in detail the needs of elderly prisoners, as being older they are more subjected to different diseases and require more care. Prison should give them everything they need as well as it should single out them among other prisoners by giving additional encouragements. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects the rights of elderly people and imposes corrections agencies to create the appropriate conditions for them (Gross, 2007).

This act has much affect on corrections agencies as to reduce the costs on keeping elderly people imprisoned, specific jails should be build. To make it clear, we would like to state a couple of examples to make sure that the problem is properly understood. Most jails may have too long corridors, high thresholds, rooms with contrasting dark and light space that may cause difficulties for elderly prisoners to see. Additionally, staff should be trained specifically as the needs of elderly people are differ. Hearing problems may make jail staff use gestures for communication and specific skills should be obtained to make sure that human rights of elderly people are followed in the corrections (Gross, 2007).


Therefore, it should be concluded that California criminal justice system remains in the condition of change and improvement. Implementing new policies and trying to reconsider the existing ones, California police departments and corrections agencies are making all possible to reach their mission and to reduced the number of criminal groups in the state. The policies discussed in this paper and the examples presented here show specific situations where policies cause a number of problems for the agencies mentioned above. Policies adopted in California affect the operations and decision-making process of the police departments and corrections agencies, as operating on their basis, most of the policies are guidelines for actions which offer specific recommendations how to act and which decision to make in a particular situation.

Reference List

Anyaso, H. H. (2011). California Policy Led to Corrections Tragedy. NortherWestern University: NewsCenter. Web.

Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. (2011). Interest Groups and Criminal Justice Policy. Web.

Cohen, A. (2011). The Supreme Court Declares California’s Prisons Overcrowded. The Atlantic. Web.

Consent Decree: United States of America vs. City of Los Angeles, California, Board of Police Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Police Department. (2009). CIVIL NO. 00-11769 GAF. Web.

France-Presse, A. (2011, June 1). California city changes policy after police watch man drown. National Post. Web.

Gross, B. (2007, Spring). Elderly offenders: Implications for corrections personnel. The Forensic Examiner, 16(1), 56.

King, R. S., & Mauer, M. (2002). State sentencing and corrections policy in an era of fiscal restraint. The Sentencing Project. Web.

Los Angeles Police Department. (2011). Consent Decree overview: Civil rights Consent Decree. Web.

Marion, N. E., & Oliver, W. M. (2006). The public policy of crime and criminal justice. Upper Saddle River: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Petersilia, J. (2006, May).Understanding California Corrections: A Policy Research Program Report. California policy research center. Web.

Sacramento Safe Community Partnership. (2011, January). Building a community approach to combat gun violence. Web.

Thale, C. (2004, Summer). Assigned to patrol: Neighborhoods, police, and changing deployment practices in New York City before 1930. Journal of Social History, 37(4), 1037-1064.

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