Term Paper: Practices of Criminal Justice Organizations

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Criminal Justice Organizations

Since the inception of business practice, issues such as occupational socialization, power and political behavior, and organizational conflict have had their influences upon the functions of businesses in their environment, as well as upon the individuals within the businesses. As a primarily business environment, the criminal justice sector is not stranger to these elements. Indeed, factors such as politics and power may have a specifically important impact upon this business environment, as the law and politics are inextricably integrated. Specifically, the police force, courts, and corrections are considered in terms of the elements mentioned above to determine their impact upon the criminal justice sector.

Occupational Socialization

Occupational socialization refers to the extent to which professionals within a certain sector and/or workplace connect and socialize with each other. A high level of socialization may for example lead to a high level of loyalty within the organization, whereas a low level of socialization may lead to a higher level of individual creativity and contribution. Socialization is integrated not only with the type of organization in question, but also with the organizational culture involved. In terms of criminal justice, occupational socialization plays a particularly complex role in the police force.

Harrison (1998), begins his article by addressing the concept of organizational culture. Culture within an organization is integrated not only with the way in which people within the organization interact, but also with the specific vision and mission statements created by the organization involved. This concept, when applied to the police, is subject to a variety of factors. The level of occupational socialization among police officers is very high, and this influences the organizational culture significantly. Indeed, according to the author, the very solidarity encouraged by such occupational socialization has been blamed for the many cases of corruption and other forms of deviance found within the police force. In contradiction, the same level of solidarity enables police officers to perform exceptionally in their work.

According to Harrison, their level of occupational socialization tends to isolate police officers from the community that they serve. In additional, organizational culture plays an integral role in this isolation. As their core value, the police holds the well-known phrase, "to serve and protect," in extremely high regard. The basis for this is that police work helps to keep the community safe, and makes a difference in the lives of citizens. In concomitance with their relative isolation from the community, the perceived importance of their work might encourage police officers to attach an inflated value of importance to their duties. In addition, the solidarity among police officers, as well as their lack of contact with communities, creates what Harrison refers to as a "sub-culture" among police officers, in which ethical problems may result.

Being unable to create a realistic context for their mission by means of contact other than occupational socialization, it is possible that the police force has begun to see itself as superior to laws that govern the general community. This elitism could explain a large amount of the corruption and deviance cases within the police force. This is also a factor that played a significant role in the initial resistance among police officers to the concept of community policing.

Harrison also mentions leadership as an important element in creating and perpetuating organizational culture within the police force. Strong leadership is a very important factor in effective police work. Leadership is not only the enforcement, but also the encouragement of commonly important values and ethics within the police community. In order to curb problems relating to solidarity and deviance within the police force. The author emphasizes that a strong structure is necessary in order to encourage specific values and a targeted philosophy for adhering to these values. In this way, department-wide solidarity can be encouraged within the police force, rather than a divided solidarity. Without thorough leadership, the problem created within police departments is that sub-cultures tend to be loyal to each other to the exclusion of other sectors within the same department. In such cases, street officers may for example be loyal to each other when indiscretions occur. In such cases, superiors are seen as inferior to the loyalty among partners. Furthermore, divides can also occur among the different departments within the organization, in terms of street and administrative personnel. According to the author, targeted leadership can mitigate problems of this kind.

The police organization is therefore particularly subject to factors relating to occupational socialization that encourages intercultural solidarity. Unless thorough leadership is applied, the police organization will tend to be a number of individual sub-cultures, rather than an integrated department that interacts for the good of all involved.

In this light, politics and power may play a more important role in the upper managerial levels of the police force. This element can also be used for the benefit of the whole force, in terms of encouraging a common goal and philosophy. More particularly in terms of criminal justice however, power and politics play a significant role in the court system.

Power and Politics

The concepts of power and politics, when considered concomitantly, are often viewed as negative in terms of occupational abuse. A high-ranking official may for example abuse his or her position for a specific purpose serving either the specific official, or some other entity that the official endorses. Power abused in this way often fills news bulletins relating to politicians who have made themselves guilty of a number of different offenses, because they believed that their position entitled them to these.

Being a law-making entity, the government is deeply involved in court processes and rules. The problem is obvious: whereas occupational socialization tends to corrupt the police department, its affiliation with often indiscretionary political officials results in the same problem for the court system. This is most popularly proved by the events following the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

Attorney General John Ashcroft is perhaps the best proof of political and power abuse. Regardless of public outcry, the Attorney General has made a number of questionable decisions relating to the rights and freedoms of citizens. Previously guaranteed rights such as attorney-client privilege for example no longer applied in certain cases; prisoners could be detained indefinitely and without explanation when suspected of terrorism; and surveillance rights for federal agents were increased.

Cornell W. Clayton (2006) more specifically addresses the interaction between judicial and governmental power. "Judicial review" is a process that gives courts the power to strike down laws that are contrary to the Constitution. Historically, this power became controversial during the 1930s, with the confrontation between the New Deal Democratic Party and the Supreme Court.

The author cites suggestions to the effect that the final submission of the Court to governmental control was not only the result of political pressure, but also of internal tensions within the law and legal structures. When seen in the context of today's events and systems, this hypothesis is somewhat more sensible than the one that the Court and law systems were perfect, while the Government was not. Indeed, it appears much more likely that the Court and Government were subject to the same corruptions of power, and that each was as vulnerable as the other to upheaval.

Clayton cites studies finding that the Court has historically seldom overturned laws that favored the political party in power at whatever time the statutes were instituted. This, in the author's view, proves the powerful political influence over the Court. Indeed, the two entities work concomitantly to exercise power over the country's citizens, as the case has particularly been since the 9/11 attacks.

It appears obvious that the Government and Supreme Court collaborate to exercise the power of the political party in power. Decisions are therefore based not only upon the corporate culture, which plays a much… [END OF PREVIEW]

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