General systems theory and criminal justice
Abbreviated Journal Title
J. Crim. Justice
PEACE RESEARCH; Criminology & Penology
Criminal justice agencies are organized sequentially - "output" from one agency is "input" to the next -but most scholars argue that criminal justice is not a system in a theoretical sense. In this article, it is argued that general systems theory (GST) reveals important insights into criminal justice structures and functions. Specifically, it is argued that the criminal justice system processes "cases" rather than people, and that the common goal of criminal justice processing is to "close cases so that they stay closed." It also is argued that processing capacity progressively declines, in that at each system point the subsequent agency cannot input as many cases as the previous agency can output. Each agency therefore experiences "backward pressure" to close cases in order to reduce input to the next agency. Overall, this article highlights that criminal justice agents and agencies are best understood as operating in the context of the larger whole, thus it is concluded that criminal justice is a system in the sense of general systems theory. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Journal of Criminal Justice
"General systems theory and criminal justice" (2005). Faculty Bibliography 2000s. 5002.