Criminal Justice System of U.S., Russia and Japan – Term Paper





Criminal Justice System of United States, Russia and Japan.

The criminal justice system is the set of institutions and procedures created by governments and whose aim is maintaining societal control, discouraging and mitigating lawbreaking, and sanctioning individuals who break laws with criminal consequences and rehabilitation efforts. Around the world, there exists several distinct kinds of criminal justice system to keep and maintain law, peace, and order inside their area of control. The criminal justice system aim is to discourage persons from unsettling the existing order and peace by pressuring them with the idea of penalty making hence making them abide by the law. The penalties vary from being punitive or rehabilitative in nature (Ebbe, 2013). The criminal justice system can be broken down into three main parts; law enforcement where investigations are done and finally arrest, the courts where disputes are settled, and justice is administered in the form of judgments, and finally the corrections where the type of punishment spelled out by the court is applied (Terrill, 2015). As stated earlier there exist several distinct kinds of criminal justice system, and this essay will compare and contrast the United States criminal justice system with the Russia’s and Japanese’s systems.

In the United States, the law enforcement component of the criminal justice system comprises of sheriffs and deputies, patrol officers, federal agents and other persons that typically make the first contact with suspects. These persons are accountable for upholding the law, investigating lawbreaking and arresting the persons answerable or alleged to have committed a crime (Harry R. Dammer, 2013). The Constitution protects a suspect from abuses from law enforcers through a number of rights such as the Miranda rights and the Fourth Amendment barring against unreasonable searches and seizures to name a few. Officers also need to be conscious of an individuals’ civil rights to avoid violating those rights or compromise an investigation if indeed a crime was committed (Ebbe, 2013).

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In Russia, the police structure is decentralized. The police are called Militia and fall under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Militia is subdivided into the Criminal Militia which is directly subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Public Security Militia which is subordinated to the local authorities. In serious cases, the law enforcement is divided into two stages: an informal inquest, conducted by the militia, and a formal preliminary investigation, normally performed by a legally trained investigator who is under procuracy (Terrill, 2015). For less severe cases, the investigations are conducted by the police and their findings are submitted directly to the courts.  During an inquest, the role of police is supposed to be restricted to arresting suspects, safeguarding crime scene, and taking preliminary accounts from suspects and witnesses. The police inform the procuracy within twenty-four hours of the arrest. The case is taken over by an investigator to decide whether to start a formal investigation (Ebbe, 2013).

In Japan, the police are referred as Prefectural police. Prefectural police can only be 278,300 as according to the Cabinet Order. The police law came into force in 1947, entirely revised in 1954 to offer a competent and capable police body showing substantial respect to the principle of local sovereignty (Harry R. Dammer, 2013). The police law specifies the obligations of the police as the defense of life, individual and possessions of individuals; deterrence, suppression and uncovering of crime and arresting of suspects; control of traffic; and other roles essential to uphold public peace and order. According to the police law crime, discovery is one of the key responsibilities of the all the police officers as well as patrolmen in all police authority. The police can legally hold a suspect in custody for up to 23 days without charging them (Terrill, 2015).

The second constituent of the criminal justice system is the courts. In the United States, the key players in this stage comprise judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and members of the jury. If an individual cannot afford a private attorney, a public defender is appointed by the state. The members of the jury are selected from a pool of voters who are registered, and they are further reduced to a group of 6-12 members by the lawyers involved with the case. A trial normally has the defense and prosecution sides. The prosecution represents the interests of the victim or the state while the defense represents the interests of the offender and fights to have the suspect acquitted. Sometimes a trial might result in an appeal at higher court where the decision of the lower court is either upheld or overturned. One has a right not to testify against self (Terrill, 2015).

In Russia, the court stage is similar to that of the United States. Many of the criminal trials are prosecuted in the district courts while cases whose punishment is five years of incarceration and above are heard and determined by one specialized judge. Cases that attract a penalty of between five to fifteen years of incarceration are determined by the mixed court of a single specialized judge and two people’s assessors. The second-level trial courts determine cases of serious homicide and certain other serious crimes (Ebbe, 2013). The mixed court is the one that normally tries the cases. In locations where a juries operates, the accused has a right to choose to be tried by a jury, controlled by a single specialized judge, a mixed court with people’s assessors, or by a bench of three qualified judges. Jury members are selected from the cross-section of the population. After the mentioning of the accusatory pleading, the accused is then requested to enter a plea. If the accused pleads guilty, the case does not bring the case to a conclusion as it is in the United States. The guilty plea is regarded as part of the evidence, and the procurator will corroborate the guilty plea with other evidence. If any of the parties does not agree with the verdict, an appeal to a higher court is lodged (Harry R. Dammer, 2013).

In Japan, depending on the seriousness of the case, most crimes are tried before or three judges in the district courts. Just like the United States and Russian jurisdictions accused are protected from self-incrimination and have a right to counsel. The 1923 Jury Law allowed trial by jury but was suspended in 1943. The judge presides a trial and is authorized to pass a sentence, autonomously call for evidence and question witnesses. An accused is compensated by the state if found not guilty depending on the number of days spent in custody. The conviction rate is over 99% in Japan.

The third part of the criminal justice system is corrections. In the United States, the corrections component comprises of corrections officers, probation officers and parole officers who are mandated to ensure that the sentenced offenders serve their sentence as meted out by the courts and supervises the convicts as they serve their sentences. The correction system of Russia and Japan is similar to that of United States. The only difference is that in Japan and Russia there exist wide spread reports of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (Harry R. Dammer, 2013).

The United States criminal justice system is considered one of the most progressive systems in the world. It protects the rights of an accused from the point of arrest until conviction. One of the advantages of the United States system is the right to a fair and speedy trial. The accused has a right to be tried by Jury. Another advantage is the right to appeal a judgment. In the United States criminal justice system, the jury can be a disadvantage because they may want their obligation to end quickly for them to return home sooner, and hence may come up with a quick verdict (Ebbe, 2013). Questions on how the jury decided the verdict are not permitted. Another shortcoming in the criminal justice system is the tendency towards judgments that are very severe for petty crimes.

In the face it, the criminal justice system of Japan looks efficient since the crime rates are very low as compared to both Russia and United States. There are allegations of forced confessions hence the 99% conviction rate. In fact, an accused is at a risk of severe punishment if he or she pleads not guilty. There is also the issue of extended detention in police custody for up to 23 days without being brought to court. The Russian system guarantees the rights of an accused just like the United States (Ebbe, 2013).

Even though the three countries have some variations in their criminal justice system, there is not much of distinction. Most of the rights of an accused are protected in the three countries.


Ebbe, O. N. (2013). Comparative and International Criminal Justice Systems: Policing, Judiciary, and Corrections, Third Edition. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.

Harry R. Dammer, J. S. (2013). Comparative Criminal Justice Systems. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Terrill, R. J. (2015). World Criminal Justice Systems: A Comparative Survey. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge.