Ideology and Its Worth for the Criminal Justice System

Many young people are eager to study criminal justice, know better its components and peculiarities, and, using opportunities of this scientific field, become a significant part of the contemporary world. Nowadays, students, who choose criminal justice programs as their majors, get access to many different options as for their further education. However, the most of them are introductory by their nature. In other words, students are able to learn how the criminal justice systems work, analyze and collect some social science data, and follow the requirements set by their mentors (Unnithan, 1999). However, to become true specialists in the chosen spheres of life, students should also develop comprehension and application of the material that allows them using their knowledge in concrete situations. That is the reason why ideology has to become a permanent hidden agenda within the criminal justice systems and help educators prepare their students for progressive changes (Williams & Robins, 2004). The current paper aims at analyzing articles by Williams and Robins (2004) and Unnithan (1999) evaluating ideology as the main tool of choice in the criminal justice systems. Although the latter are defined as a paradox of efficiency and fairness, the former helps to destroy the gulf between practical and abstract knowledge.

In the article, Unnithan (1999) evaluates the essence and effectiveness of the criminology as a discipline available for students. The author also underlines the importance to connect theory and policy for learners to gain a better understanding of the matter they deal with. Many scholars admit that American criminal justice systems are powerful tools of control; however, they are not perfect. It is not always possible for students to get a clear understanding of why some action takes place or how it should be analyzed properly. Students are in need of some piece of assistance and explanations. They are able to take a course of introductory juvenile system or introductory corrections by the means of which all basic details of practices will be mentioned (Unnithan, 1999). Additionally, criminology courses help to learn theory and understand the essence of crime. It is a well-known fact that the criminal justice system has three main components – police, courts, and corrections. Students may learn their meanings and usage in the system. Nevertheless, not all of them may comprehend all material clearly. Therefore, ideology should become a powerful tool in the educational process. Ideology is a kind of belief system, and criminal justice students are to have some beliefs to work properly in the system of their choice. Consequently, it is not for knowledge to be received. Students ought to comprehend (understand the origins, differences and similarities of crime explanations) and apply knowledge attained in concrete situations (Unnithan, 1999). It is the main call of the author, who wrote the article under analysis. Unnithan (1999) makes use of personal experience and observations to conclude that today’s students cannot always define the links between theory of crime and different criminal justice policies.

The second article under consideration is written by Williams and Robinson in 2004. It discusses ideology as an important principle of criminal justice that derived from two different perspective – sociological theory and political philosophy (Williams & Robinson, 2004). The authors have made a good decision to define criminal justice as a paradox. They use the investigations of Packer in far 1968, who indicated the importance of “the gulf between how police, courts, and corrections ought to behave and how they actually behave” (Williams & Robinson, 2004, p. 383). The point is that the criminal justice system contains the ideas of classicism and positivism. Some scholars prefer to follow a classical method of education where values are expressed with attention to deterrence, free will, punishment, etc. Some educators ignore classicism and use positivism with its rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention. Because of such discussions, students have to take one position and neglect the other. In this case, students are in need of ideology as a successful agenda for the criminal justice system. Educators get a chance to prepare their students and achieve the desirable progressive changes. Ideology provides students with a chance to understand and assess human behavior with the institutional social control (Williams & Robinson, 2004).

In general, the articles under analysis help to define how ideology may be implied to the criminal justice system. Students should take a number of courses to realize the inner sense of the criminal justice better. They are not to be familiar with the criminal justice, theory, and policy only. In addition, they ought to pay attention to ethics, symbols and meanings of justice, economics, politics, and even the use of crime and justice in art, music, and literature. Students are to be able to compare, use personal experience and knowledge, and state clearly their own points of view. It is impossible to improve the criminal justice system without considering all above-mentioned perspectives. Students have to learn how to use their knowledge in particular cases and understand how the same methods may be effective in other situations. Educators have to provide their students with options. Therefore, they have to relate ideology to the criminal justice and its three main components, such as police, courts, and corrections. Lastly, it is not enough to know what criminal justice means. It is much more important to use in practice the knowledge gained and think over future steps that can help to improve the system and make human life safer. This is what the analysis of the articles by Unnithan and Williams and Robins has assisted to define.

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