American Criminal Justice Systems and Policies Term Paper

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History U.S. Criminal Justice Systems/Police

It is undeniable that criminal justice and police activities are integral parts of every relatively peaceful nation in the world. Without the actions and standards set forth by the agencies that "protect and serve" many wrongs would go not only unpunished but possibly unnoticed as well.

The basic purposes of policing in democratic societies are: 1. To prevent and investigate crimes; 2. To apprehend offenders; 3. To help ensure domestic peace and tranquility; and 4. To enforce and support the laws (especially the criminal laws) of the society of which the police are a part." (Schmalleger Chapter 5 Summary)

Though the developmental history of modern policing and criminal justice there have been many changes, changes in focus and standard, and even crime and justice. The very term professionalism has completely evolved across the board, more so in the policing industry than almost anywhere else. A historical perspective on the field of criminal justice and policing in America will assist any scholar interested in the state of police work today.

The American policing system is largely associated historically with our British forefathers. So, much of the policies and standards are historically-based within the old standards of the English law enforcement fields.

Although not as decentralized as in the United States, the English system gave impetus for the emergence of the policing systems in the United States and a detailed examination of its organization, structure, and functions is required for a true understanding of how modern policing has developed both in England and in the United States.

(Hirschel and Wakefield 68)

Additionally the historical timeline of the two systems are unilateral in development, after the legitimating of American institutions began in the late 19th century.

Speaking of the standards and history of the English system will help to understand of the importation of practice associated with a close brotherly relationship between the two countries policing institutions as the systems evolved into what they are today. With the old English institutions of the "tithing man" come the first demonstration of organized police work. The dependence of the officials and government agents upon the common man to police his self through the representation of collectives can be seen here as well.

The origins of these markers are to be found in the tribal customs and laws of the early Danish and Saxon invaders (Reith, 1952a; Lee, 1971; Critchley, 1967; Smith, 1985). The earliest references to some form of a policing official are to a "tithingman" who was responsible for collecting fines levied on the people in his tithing.

Hirschel and Wakefield 69)

The dependence of the officials and government agents upon the common man to police himself through the representation of collectives can be seen here as well.

All males by the age of twelve had to be brought into a tithing, a group of ten men. These groups were then organized into a collection often tithings (called a hundred). The individual assigned the responsibility for the hundred was called a "hundred man." Since the Anglo-Saxons had divided the realm into shires, the hundred man was obliged to report to the shire reeve, who was the overseer for the ruler.

Hirschel and Wakefield 69)

It is from this collective institution that we receive the name for one of the earliest forms of overseers of a policing collective the, sheriff:

While in charge of order for the shire, the sheriff (as he came to be known) had responsibility not only for punishment for failure to pay fines, but also for other "breaches of the peace."

The men in a tithing were mutually responsible for each other's behavior. If any one man committed a wrong, the rest were held liable. This laid one of the foundations of a kinship-style policing system. After the Norman conquest of 1066, the tithings evolved into the frankpledge system, which was called the "most important police institution in the Middle Ages" by Critchley (1967:3).

(Hirschel and Wakefield 69)

It is from these institutions that we receive the standards for militia police, as well as the idea of the keeping of the "King's Peace," in this case the term King being used to represent not only the ruler or the top Liege lord but the King as an embodiment of the state.

The General Court ratified the appointment of a constable in each township. His duties included keeping the king's peace, apprehending suspicious persons and bringing them before the court of assistants, impaneling a jury to determine cause of death, "measuring of lands, and sealing of waights and measures," convening town meetings, collecting taxes, promulgating "Instructions" of the General Court, and serving executions by selectmen.

Ward 77)

Though the position of Sheriff was not always the most favored, to either behold or live under the standard was upheld through sanctions against men who refused the service.

Refusal to serve as constable necessitated a 50s. fine, and if a constable neglected to collect taxes or issue a summons, he was liable to pay himself the defaulted sums. Needless to say, an officer, who was both a plainclothes policeman and sheriff, was not entirely appreciated.

Ward 77)

Leaning in the direction of the state as the victim of the loss of peace upon the king's lands and roadways. It is from this that we receive the foundational concepts of the state as the prosecutor of crime, much of which being laid out in the Leges Henrici, or the laws of Henry I.

The Leges Henrici Primi is a collection of Anglo-Saxon laws of various kinds dating from the early 12th century, and therefore compiled before the common law began its great progress. Although supposedly the laws in force during the reign of Henry I, as a treatise on the current legal system, the Leges are incomplete but do follow a theme of royal jurisdiction. (Powell's "Leges Henrici Primi")

In addition to the Leges Henrici Primi there are additional sources for the origins of the modern policing system. American Colonial history records many linear ideas as the great documents, not the least of which is the Magna Carta:

In the course of Plymouth history, we find emerging from the enactment of codes and statutes an admiration for the fundamental rights of freemen derived-from the Magna Carta. In the preamble to the 1636 code, and subsequently re-enacted, no laws could be made except by the consent of the people "according to the free liberties of the State and Kingdome of England and no otherwise."

Ward 79)

The Magna Carta can be seen as a foundational work associated with the establishment of due process and many other legal ideals, the least of which the contitutional focus upon individuality and also inalienable rights of freemen, to be protected by a duly elected and/or appointed police system.

Concerning the administration of justice, a guarantee of substantive due process is found in the sweeping clause in the preamble ("The Generall Fundamentals") to the code of 1671: no person in this Government shall be endamaged in respect of Life, Limb, Liberty, Good name or Estate, under colour of Law, or countenance of Authority, but by virtue or equity of some express Law of the General Court of this Colony, the known Law of God, or the good and equitable Laws of our Nation suitable for us, being brought to Answer by due

(Ward 79)

It is within these texts of English heritage that the laws and standards of the policing system in America can be seen to dwell. Even before the first Congressional Convention in 1776 events were unfolding which demonstrated a need and a regional answer to policing needs of the new nation of the United States "1767 The Regulators, a vigilante group, emerge in the crime-ridden back-country of South Carolina."

Vila and Morris xxxi)

Many events and actions shaped the development of the policing practices within the United States between 1776 and 1850, some of which are listed by Vila and Morris in their 1999 book on the subject of the role of the police in American history.

In "1789 The office of U.S. Marshal-- the first federal law enforcement agency in the country-- is established by the federal Judiciary Act of 1789."

Vila and Morris xxxi) Demonstrating the centralized needs of the nation and in "1791 The Bill of Rights is adopted," establishing the standard of rights for which citizens must be protected by a police force.

Additionally this short timeline demonstrates the ideals of the state powered government as well and demonstrates one of the first real departures from the accepted English model, though still very decisive, as individual regions develop their own police forces to deal with specific regional needs.

1823 The Texas Rangers are formed to protect American settlers from Indian attack in the Mexican territory of Texas.

1829 Sir Robert Peel establishes a centralized, "modern" police force in London. The London force eventually would serve as a model for the first modern police forces in America.

The style of…[continue]

Some Sources Used in Document:

"Policing:-History-and-Structure" 

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