The term criminal justice is usually used to refer to all processes and activities that are carried out by a society in order to control crime.The main aim goal of criminal justice is to help control crime. There are several theoretical views that have been used to guide the selection of processes involved in criminal justice. Such views are called perspectives of criminal justice. The two views that are most frequently mentioned during debates on the right processes to be used in criminal justice are the crime control perspective and the rehabilitation perspective. The principles underlying each perspective are completely independent and justified in their own rights. No perspective has the ability to prove the other perspective is wrong. And no perspective can dominate the other either.
The crime control perspective is the perspective that focuses on the people against whom crimes have been committed. The main tool for reducing crime according this view is punishment. The control perspective emphasizes on the use of heavy penalties such as severe sentences during law enforcement. The argument in this perspective is that administration of heavy punishment would help deter crime in two ways: one, the potential offenders would fear committing crime because of the fear of the severe consequences, and two, the actual offenders would not repeat the crime because of the punishment that they have undergone. The two ways would help reduce crime in the society. An example of adoption of this view is where death sentence and life imprisonment have been in some countries to discourage specific crimes that are viewed to be very critical.
The rehabilitation perspective on the other hand focuses on the offenders in a crime situation. It portrays the society as the mother of her own enemy.Proponents of this perspective argue that societal issues such as unemployment, poverty, poor health services and poor education are the causes of crime. Rehabilitation view therefore emphasizes on training of the offenders so as to equip them with life skills that can enable them live well in the society. Example of this perspective is in countries where inmates are trained on technical skills such as carpentry so as to help them earn a living when they go out of prison.
Each of the two perspectiveshas its own strengths and limitations. in crime control perspective, punishing law breakers serves as an act of fairness and reward to law abiders. This is strength because it helps prevent more crime. However, the limitation is that sometimes criminal actions could be initiated by external forces that are without the control of the offender. In rehabilitation perspective, the act of counseling and training on life skills transforms the offender and enables him to be a productive member of the community. However, the limitation is that it may appear as injustice to law abiders who may also resort to committing crime as a way of demonstration.
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Diversity of culture has posed a major challenge in administration of criminal justice. Various cultures have different beliefs and different moral standards. Even different types of crimes are held with different weights in different cultures. This makes it difficult to come up with standard perspectives of criminal justice that are acceptable to all cultures. For example in some cultures killing a murderer is allowed while in some cultures killing is not allowed irrespective of who is doing it or why it is done.
The perspective of crime control has faced some ethical issues. For instance humanitarians feel that it propagates violation of human rights. Infliction of pain and deprivation which are the dominant types of punishment are seen to reduce the position of human beings to that of animals. Since all these perspectives have limitations, it is necessary that the two perspectives be considered in development of a criminal justice system.