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How Critical Thinking Relates to Criminal Justice

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Criminal justice consists of systems and processes designed to maintain social order and control. Criminal justice is generally composed of three main parts: law enforcement, adjudication and corrections programs.

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement refers to the policing and security agencies in criminal justice that actually enforce the law and maintain public order. Police officers rely on critical thinking to determine when a law is broken, how to respond, and when to make an arrest. Detectives and investigative officers use critical thinking to collect evidence, solve a crime, and determine who is suspect. In more dangerous situations, such as riot control, critical thinking becomes essential in deciding how to properly react and protect oneself and the populace.


Adjudication refers to the court systems and trial proceedings in criminal justice. Judges and magistrates rely on critical thinking to oversee legal proceedings and determine a final decision on a case. Prosecuting and defense attorneys use critical thinking in preparing and arguing for or against the accused party.


Corrections programs refer to the administrative punishment programs in criminal justice. Corrections and parole officers rely on critical thinking to evaluate the progress of individuals, sponsor reductions in sentences and maintain order within prison facilities. In dangerous situations such as prison riots, guards use critical thinking to react appropriately and protect themselves and the populace.


Andrew Baer resides in the Washington, D.C., area and has been writing political and international affairs articles since 2006. His work has appeared in "Global Security Monitor" and contributed to research by the Hudson Institute. He holds a B.A. in international politics from George Mason.

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