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The Criminal Justice System in the USA

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The criminal justice system is composed of those agencies which must enforce the laws that society has enacted for its self-protection and preservation. Theoretically, it is an integrated apparatus whose functions are to apprehend, prosecute, convict, sentence, and correct offenders. The US system is federal by its nature, i.e. it consists of three subsystems: state, local and federal criminal justice agencies. The system is composed of three components: police, court and corrections. Each component must contribute to the same goal – the prevention and control of crime and the rehabilitation of offenders. So the effectiveness of the whole system depends on the efficient functioning of each component and their efficient interaction. But at present the criminal justice system doesn’t work successfully. Of the several million serious crimes reported every year to police, ranging from murder to car theft, only one in nine results in a conviction. The rate of solution varies with different crimes. Murder is usually reported, and 86 per cent of all reported murders lead to arrests. Among those arrested, however, only 64 per cent are prosecuted and not more than 43 per cent of the cases prosecuted result in convictions. Of persons prosecuted for murder 19 per cent are convicted of lesser crime and 38 per cent are acquitted or dismissed. In contrast, only 19 per cent of all the burglaries reported to police lead to an arrest. Four out of five arrested are prosecuted and 56 per cent are found guilty. So, for every twelve burglaries reported there is one conviction. Robbery – taking property from a person by force or threat of force – is a crime of violence, dangerous to life and increasing rapidly. But chances of a robber being convicted are small. Only 27 per cent of all robberies lead to an arrest. Of those arrested, 63 per cent are prosecuted, of whom one-half are convicted. Less than two-thirds of the cases in which individuals are charged with murder and robbery are prosecutable. Often the reasons are: insufficient evidence, mistaken identity, unprofessional work of law enforcement agencies, etc. Long delays in trials may lead to dismissals because witnesses die or disappear, evidence is stale or lost. When we consider the performance of correctional agencies, the failure of the criminal justice system becomes quite evident. While there may be only one conviction for every fifty or more serious crimes, only one in four convicted will go to prison, and most who are imprisoned will commit crimes after their release. Thus from among the very small portion of all people who commit serious crimes and are finally imprisoned, the system fails to rehabilitate the majority.

2. Find English equivalents in the text:

- С применением силы или под угрозой силы

- Преступления, регистрируемые ежегодно полицией

- Коэффициент раскрываемости

- Длительные задержки в судебном разбирательстве

- Быть обвиненным в убийстве или грабеже

- Приводить к осуждению

- Предупреждение и борьба с преступлениями.

3. Answer the questions:

1. What is the structure of the US criminal justice system?

2. What are the components of the criminal justice system?

3. Does the criminal justice system function effectively?

4. Can you give any examples to prove it?

5. What is necessary for its efficient functioning?


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