1. What are the 3 major divisions of the American Criminal Justice System? Explain in detail the
role and responsibilities of each division and provide at least one illustration/example of each.
Police, courts, and corrections are the three major divisions of the American criminal
justice system, and all have very different but equally important functions.
The police division is also called law enforcement. This division investigates crimes and
apprehends suspects; this is usually the first contact an offender has with the system. Police
departments are public agencies that maintain order and enforce the criminal law to develop
community safety. There are many types of police departments, such as municipal police
departments, school district police, airport police, campus police, and so on. They can technically
be divided into four broad categories: federal, state, county, and local policing agencies, but most
of the law enforcement is performed at the local level (Siegel, 2010, p. 208).
The law enforcement branch is structured in a paramilitary organization with a hierarchy
of power (J. Halstead, lecture, September 8, 2010). This branch involves technical investigative
organizations like crime labs, and specialized divisions like canine units, hostage negotiation
teams, swat teams, and many others. For minor offenses, the police may ticket or fine an
offender. For more serious offenses that involve victims, police will arrest offenders and bring
them to the court system for trial. For example, a patrol officer observes a person acting
suspiciously and concludes the suspect is under the influence of drugs, and takes them into
custody (Siegel, 2010, p.13).
The court system charges, indicts, and tries offenders. Their main function is to determine
guilt and sentencing of offenders by interpreting the laws. They are also given the job of
deciding who is right and who is wrong when there is a dispute, and sentencing people who have