This paper investigates the literature that is available on the criminal justice system with focus on Saudi Arabia and the United States. It establishes the range of differences that exist in the two criminal justice systems. In addition, the essay gives the similarities between each of these systems. The aspects that are compared in the paper are the police, courts, the legal profession, criminal procedural law, corrections, juvenile justice, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. According to the literal sources that are available on this subject, the Saudi Arabian criminal justice system was founded upon the Islamic Sharia law; thus, it draws much of its principles on the Islamic view of justice. On the other hand, the United States criminal justice system was founded upon the common law, thus giving it a great resemblance to many systems in Europe and the world. Although the two systems are basically driven towards the pursuit of justice, there are certain unique components that will form the basis of this essay (Metz, 1992).
The silent strife between the United States and the Arab world has been the focus of the international community in the past decade. In fact, this tension is only comparable to the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union after the World War II. Indeed, it has seen several suspects of Arabian origin arraigned in American courts and vice versa. This is the reason this paper seeks to establish the differences that exist in the two systems and the compromises that each should make in order to avoid the prevalent conflicts. In addition, the paper seeks to clear out the professional backgrounds of practitioners of the two systems. This will enable a better understanding of the criminal justice systems (Walker, 1977).
The Legal Profession
The legal profession in Saudi Arabia is a preserve of male members of the society, considering that the Arabian society is largely patriarchal. Although a few women are finally working their way into the system, men still dominate in the legal system. Legal scholars in Saudi Arabia can join two different fields; legal practice or legal consultancy. However, for one to be a practicing lawyer, he or she must be a citizen of the Saudi Arabia unlike legal consultancy which is open for any nationality. According to this principle, the legal practice, the privilege to appear before a court in Saudi Arabia, is reserved for Saudi citizens. The other aspects that technically block non-Saudi lawyers to practice law in Saudi Arabia are the professional requirement to have a degree in Islamic law besides a basic degree in Law. According to the literature, this legal system draws a lot from the Quran and uses the actions of Prophet Muhammad to define the boundary between what is legal and what is illegal. For a long time, the Saudi Arabian legal system has been disorganized and described by international scholars as both traditional and unpopular. However, some changes are beginning to take place, especially after 2001. This follows the introduction of the Code of Legal Practice that stipulates that any lawyer can appear in any court on behalf of any citizen, thereby eliminating issues of social class that have been quite prevalent. Basically, these courts consist of the Supreme Court as the highest court of the land. Other courts that operate under the Supreme Court are the General Courts, the Appellate Courts, and the Summary Courts (Metz, 1992).
On the other hand, the legal profession of the United States is generally open to any religion so long as applicants can show a strong mastery of law. This legal system borrows a lot from the common law; right from the court setting, procedures and representation of clients. The legal fraternity in the United States is more diverse than that of Saudi Arabia. For instance, while Saudi has the options of the legal practice and the legal consultancy, the United States has the private practice, legal advisors to corporations, and legal consultancy among others. However, the most lucrative option is a legal advisor to corporations. In fact, they form the biggest group of legal scholars in the United States due to their relatively high pay. However, legal consultants also make a significant population as they have a wide variety of clients. For instance, they have local authorities and other government agencies as their top clients for a legal consultation (Walker, 1977).
In the recent past, the United States legal profession has undergone some radical changes in its overall structure. For instance, the country has adopted legal changes that allow non-lawyers to start and run a legal firm. Although it was initially opposed on grounds that it will take away the entrepreneurial advantage of the lawyers, the fact that the legislation was brought forwards by a legislator who is himself/herself a lawyer has made it quite acceptable. In fact, this step has stimulated stiff competition in the legal fraternity, thereby leading to the overall improvement of the legal practice in the United States. In addition, these changes have allowed the United States lawyers and law firms to take part in the international legal practice, especially with regards to their business structures. However, the attempts to harmonize the legal professions of the different states have been the most significant. For instance, the introduction of the United Commercial Code was basically intended to make it easy to run businesses across different states. In fact, the decision to raise a drinking age in Wisconsin was a product of these changes in the legal structure (Medina, 2011).
The Police & Criminal Law Procedures
The police system of Saudi Arabia operates under three subdivisions: the secret police, the regular police, and the religious wing of the police. According to literature available, the Saudi Arabian system does not conform to the international standards of human rights. Basically, the system instills fear among the people through arbitrary arrests and persecutions instead of protecting their rights to fair treatment. For instance, the regular police are responsible for the law enforcement functions of Saudi Arabia and under a tight control of the royal family. On the other hand, the secret police ensure that domestic security is not compromised as well as providing counter-intelligence services. This wing of the police has always faced fierce criticism from the United Nations due to the fact that they arbitrarily detain people in the state-run prison, Ulaysha. Moreover, the religious police, also known as the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, are charged with the responsibility of enforcing codes of behavior in accordance with the Islamic law. According to the literature, this is the wing of the police that implements some of the unpopular religious laws. For instance, the law that forbids women to wear any dress other than the traditional dresses in public places is implemented by this wing of the police. In fact, it is accredited with the retrogressive practice of arresting women who violate the religious law that forbids them to drive a car (Metz, 1992).
The police system of the United States has a more professional role as compared to that of Saudi Arabia as the criminal law procedures are designed in such a way that they protect basic human rights of all suspects. In fact, the living conditions in the correctional facilities are as good as human habitat can be. This is a complete contrast to the Saudi Arabian correctional facilities that are never maintained as they are meant for prosecutions and not correction. Besides the mandate to maintain law and order in the public, this system also runs investigations into the conduct of suspected criminals and presents their findings to the court as evidence. At various levels of the government, various categories of the police service have the responsibility to mitigate criminal activity as well as prevent potential criminals from committing crimes. At the grassroots level, they provide basic security measures, like responding to emergency threats to public safety as well as guarding public infrastructures. The United States law enforcement works at different levels of the government, each with a different role. The Federal police, for instance, enforce law and order at the national level; while state police are confined to their states of jurisdiction. However, the agencies that operate at the federal level are limited in their investigatory role to delve only on matters of national interest by the US Code. They include the Drug Enforcement Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation among others and operate under the Department of Justice (Walker, 1977).
The US state police have roles that are quite different from those of the Federal police. They are mostly concerned with state patrols and investigations of crimes within the states in which they operate. Besides, they are subdivided such that they offer exclusive services to different department within the state like the Water police and the Campus police. There are also the county police; although they only tend to exist in the metropolitan counties. In fact, they are considered the most important as they operate at the level where most crimes are committed. According to the literature, the bulk of criminal activities take place at the level of the state and the county. This quite different from the Saudi Arabian system that is quite centralized and run by the royal family. Besides, the United States police service has an expanded role of securing the public and has no duties that curtail the natural privileges of humans as the right to drive a car. Although the two systems are geared towards ensuring a secure public life, their approaches are quite different and have a strong correlation with the types of the governments that they serve. Being a monarchy, Saudi Arabia has the police that focus on the security of the royal family; while the United States, being a democracy, focuses on the general public (Metz, 1992).