Introduction- When we think of the criminal justice system in the United States, we are referring to a broad collection of federal, state, and local agencies that are focused on crime prevention and upholding the law. In general, these agencies uphold the law at various levels, investigate crime, process the accused, compile evidence, work with the district attorney, and develop profiles and crime prevention techniques. The process of the criminal justice organization is designed to work in conjunction with the three branches of the U.S. government, and to uphold the Constitution. Organizationally, because there are so many agencies, personalities, interpretations and goals, there tends to be either a crime control model or a due process model. Many scholars see that this is one of the downfalls of the organization, because the tension and competition between the two viewpoints tends to cause negative issues within the system as a whole (Packer, 1964).
Organizational Issues and the Criminal Justice System- The manner in which the criminal justice system is organized is vital in understanding the system, as well as building consensus and improved performance. Since the early 1970s, there has been a robust movement towards reorganizing the system. One of the primary paradigms in the scholarly literature surrounding the organizational efficacy of the system is the issue of whether the elements of the organization are autonomous or cooperative units of a larger organization. Most do not find a structural or hierarchical linkage, and the adage "federal law trumps all" becomes commonplace when jurisdiction or authority is questioned. Most scholars also find that there should not be too much centralization, otherwise a more authoritarian bureaucracy could evolve (other than central financing) and, like the lessons learned during the aftermath of 9/11, increased cooperation between agencies becomes essential when dealing with more sophisticated and global crime issues (Skoler, 1977; Sawyer and Tyworth, 2005).
The nature of organizational design is a structured approach to the integration of human and capital resources, information and technology within any organization. Most Western organizations are more hierarchical in nature. Within this hierarchy there are rules, policies, and procedures that are based on the level of the hierarchy, law, and actions (Autry, 1996). When dealing with a functional bureaucracy as vast as the American Criminal Justice System, however, complications arise from jurisdiction, variation in law from state to state, federal law if multiple states or certain crimes, a consensus of leadership, and even a unifying philosophical set of strategies and tactics.
Analysis- The very definition of criminal behavior and deviance goes to the very heart of the debate on whether the individual organizations within the U.S. Criminal Justice System are actually autonomous or function as a synergistic part of a whole. We certainly know that deviant behavior has been noted for centuries and we know that humans are capable of horrible things: Jeffrey Dahlmer, Idi Amin, the Holocaust, etc. We also know that deviance is on a sliding scale -- based on cultural norms (dress and advertisements, for instance). This is likely why, for hundreds of years, people have been trying to understand the psychological concept of deviance. We know that it is never possible to "cure" 100% all the time; there are various psychological and biological aspects of behavior that we do not understand (Marsh, ed., 2006).
One of the issues surrounding the issue of autonomy vs. cooperative segments surrounding the way society wishes to deal with crime. Traditionally, though, society wishes to place those with defined deviant behaviors somewhere away from society. This punishment differs in degrees of severity and then asks whether individuals can ever be returned to society. The four major foci of this theoretical rubric are: 1) Retribution (punishment, usually to fit the severity of the crime; 2) Deterrence (punishment as a threat); 3) Rehabilitation (therapy and behavioral changes prior to reintegration into society), and; 4) Incapacitation (society must be protected from deviance) (Corlett, 2009). This punishment variation vs. rehabilitation is important as a concept because the organizational and operational system of the U.S. Criminal Justice System has no mission statement that would allow the divergent organizations to operate cooperatively.
Some of the organizations, for instance, are focused strictly on punishment, others on rehabilitation and reintegration, while still others are little more than holding troughs to remove individuals from society. Society must control crime, but as emerging nations have found, the conundrum revolves around centralization vs. decentralization -- or the so-called Central-Field-Central model (Kurtz, 2001). Within this model, the field would be the local jurisdictions that handle minor crime (traffic, local crime, etc.); the next level, but still in the field would be the state system (multiple jurisdictions, certain types of crime, etc.). The Central locus, though, would be a combination of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the District, Appellate, and finally Supreme Courts.
One can make both arguments regarding autonomy based on case law. For instance, in 1963 a series of minor crimes occurred in Phoenix, Arizona. Police detained a 23-year-old Hispanic man, Ernesto Miranda, for one of the thefts. Miranda was questioned but not apprised of his rights. During questioning, he confessed to not only the theft, but a rape and kidnapping. He was then arrested, convicted and sentenced to prison for 20 years (Vanmeter, 2006). This case was field oriented, autonomy by the Criminal Justice Organizations in Arizona operating with autonomy based on legal tradition and policy. However, through a series of motions, the Supreme Court (Central) heard arguments on the case and made a groundbreaking decision on June 13, 1966 (Longley, 2004). This decision reversed the Arizona Court and granted Miranda a new trial. In this new trial, anything he said during his confession would be inadmissible because his rights had not been read to him. The autonomous Field was overruled by Central and the legal precedent was changed to reflect not autonomy, but the Field as part of Central's dogma.
In contrast, Central cannot become involved in every case; the Court system is already backed up for years in some cases. But, if the organs of the Criminal Justice System are autonomous, their decisions would not move up the chain to Central through the appellate process. If we also think of the entire Justice System as emanating from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government, we find that the basis for authority lies in a central hub -- the Constitution and the Legislative Branch making, revising, and deleting law with the Judicial Branch enforcing that law. If authority and power are expressions of organizational design, then the Criminal Justice System is clearly not autonomous, since the final authority lies within the Central organizational model (Aman, 2008; Clark, 2008).
Even the policing system is now set up to be centrally oriented. As a direct response to the numerous agencies acting autonomously, and the ineffective means of mutual communication by those agencies just prior to 9/11, the Office of Homeland Security was created with the mission to:
. . . develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks. The Office will coordinate the executive branch's efforts to detect, prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks within the United States (National Strategy for Homeland Security, 2002).
The mandate for this Cabinet Level Department was a way to coordinate various parts of the Criminal Justice System for effectiveness in communication, response, investigation and prevention. Thus, in any situation, whether in New York State, or a small town in Georgia, the Central system trumps Field through Homeland Security and the Federal rules allowing for jurisdictional authority. Organizationally, this does not really fit in with the characteristics of the newer models of organization: it is not organic, does not give authority based on…