US Criminal Justice System

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international criminal court scales
The Development of the U.S Justice System has come a long way. Before the birth of the United States, Americans then used religion and the concept of sin as the way to gauge good and bad. Crimes were defined in Biblical terms and so was the punishment. The punishments were sometimes too harsh compared to the crimes committed, for example, whipping and stoning.

Over time, the American society grew, and the use of religion as a measure of justice started to weaken. Small towns grew to large cities made of people from different religions and customs. During the colonial days, the justice system was taken over by the English who imposed their laws, often seen as unjust on the citizens. The Articles of Confederation was the defining law then. There was no official judiciary, a major flaw.

Upon the American Revolution, the U.S Constitution was promulgated. In the third article of the new constitution, a supreme court was put up and other inferior courts as well. The First Supreme Court session would then sit on February 1, 1790. The new Constitution gave the citizens more freedoms and rights and was the onset of the three pillars of the US justice system, as we know it today: Police, Courts, and Corrections.

In the past, the police institution as we know it today was non-existent. People from the community, mostly men, volunteered to watch at night and warn the members in case of oncoming danger. Soon some individuals started hiring members to watch over their private property. The first formal police outfit was the New York Police Department formed in 1845. Soon other cities like Chicago and New Orleans followed suit.

The history of courts is also particularly interesting. Long before the United States became one sovereign country, each colony had its own court system and procedures that it used to govern its people. When the different states merged, the constitution allowed them to keep these laws and apply them. This would later lead to the now existing setup of federal and state court systems.

The dual judicial system is such that each level of government has its own courts. Both of them perform the same functions of enforcing law and order, but the procedures are a bit different. The state legislature makes most of the Criminal Laws, which are then implemented by both the federal and state police. Some cases can only be addressed by the federal courts while others are taken to the State Courts.

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