components of the criminal justice system

The Different Components of the Criminal Justice System & Where You Fit In

The criminal justice system is a complex part of our society, and most of us recognize the important law role it plays in our lives. And the individuals responsible for enforcing that rule of law are the dedicated members of that system.

At the core, there are three basic parts of our criminal justice system: law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Below we’ll discuss each of these parts, and how someone with a criminal justice degree from Goodwin University could interact with that system.

Law Enforcement

law enforcement in criminal justiceLaw enforcement officers investigate crimes, gather and protect evidence, and take reports on various crimes. Officers may arrest offenders, give testimony in court, and continue investigating after making an arrest. While many municipalities do not require law enforcement officers to attend a criminal justice school in Connecticut, studies have shown that officers who pursue an education are more effective at their job. Police officers with a higher level education are significantly less likely to use force during a citizen encounter than those with only a high school education or GED, according to a paper published in Police Quarterly in 2010.


courts in the criminal justice system

Courts are overseen by judges, whose role is to make sure the rule of law is followed and adjudicate what happens in the courts. Along with juries, judges hear evidence presented by attorneys who argue for the guilt or innocence of the accused. Judges can also accept or reject plea agreements, oversee trials, and sentence offenders convicted of a crime. At its best, a fair and honest court system looks at all evidence in a calm and rational manner, and then renders an unbiased opinion.


corrections in criminal justiceAfter offenders are convicted in the courts, the corrections system separates them from the rest of society. Professionals within the corrections system work to help rehabilitate offenders, and provide a system where those accused of a crime are monitored and released — hopefully to not commit a crime again. Correction officers supervise convicted offenders prison, on probation, or on parole in the community. They make sure that correctional facilities are safe and secure, and oversee the day-to-day routines of the inmates.

There are a variety of fields open to someone looking to enter the criminal justice field. Career options for protectors include: border protection; computer security; corrections; customs; cybercrime investigation; the Drug Enforcement Agency; emergency management; environmental science; fire science; first responders; immigration and customs; law enforcement; public health; and security. Goodwin has three programs focusing on the criminal justice system, offering both associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees:

Students in Goodwin’s Criminal Justice programs have participated in internships with the American Red Cross; Cheshire Correctional Institute; Community Court at Hartford; Community Partners in Action; Connecticut Adult Probation; the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security; the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection; the Department of Health; fire department; police departments; and the Connecticut court system.

Interested in learning more about why Goodwin University is a leading Criminal Justice School? Learn more today by calling 800-889-3282 or see our video for three reasons to pursue a law enforcement degree.