The Structure of the Criminal Justice System

Written by erica dresden
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The Structure of the Criminal Justice System
All citizens are equal in the eyes of the law. (Justice image by MVit from

The criminal justice system is comprised of agencies at the federal, state and local level. All three branches of the government--the legislature, the judiciary and the executive--work together to handle and prevent crime. There are three major parts of the criminal justice system.

Police Departments

The main responsibility of these public agencies is to enforce laws, maintain order and provide service to citizens in need. Police officers are charged with both preventing and controlling time in their area of jurisdiction.


The courts are where those accused of a crime are tried, either in front of a panel of peers (a jury) or a judge. The responsibility of the court is to both seek the truth and dole out justice to the citizens that have been victims of a crime.


After offenders move through the court systems, which is often a lengthy process, correctional agencies move in to rehabilitate and punish them. Correctional institutions include jails, prisons and halfway houses. There are also other sanctions that can be administered, such as house arrest, or tracking devices that are worn by offenders for the duration of their sentences.

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