Criminal Justice Jobs in the Different Branches of the CJ System
With various government agencies and institutions and many different types of career paths, multiple jobs encompass the criminal justice system.
The criminal justice system is made up of three main branches, each with their own goal to combat crime:
- The court system and accompanying lawyers – Uphold the law and determine if charges are justified.
- The corrections department – Prevents future crime by punishing and rehabilitating offenders.
- Law enforcement agencies – Enforce the law at the local and federal level.
With so many career options to choose from, the field of criminal justice is a well of opportunity for graduates. If you want to help rid your community of crime, check out top jobs from each of the following three branches.
Jobs in the Courts
The US court system is made up of cases at the local, state, and federal level. In each of these courts, legal cases are heard before a judge and possibly a jury of your peers. It’s up to the court to use their knowledge of the law to determine if there is a case, whether the accused can be proven guilty, and what punishment will be sentenced for the crime.
And it’s not just a judge in a white wig. Courts are comprised of clerks, reporters, recorders, administrators, and interpreters who all work to create a fair and just process. A prosecuting attorney works to prove guilt while the defense attorney takes on the job of proving their client’s innocence. Throughout the trial, physical evidence is examined, and eyewitness testimonies are given while the entire process is recorded.
The most common judiciary jobs, or court jobs, include:
- Attorney (defense or prosecution)
- Court clerk
- Court reporter
- Legal assistant
Careers in Corrections
The corrections branch houses a wide range of criminal justice careers, each of which comes together in an attempt to protect society from crime. This branch is responsible for dolling out punishments for offenders, keeping track of inmates released on parole or probation, and working to rehabilitate ex-cons after their sentences have been served.
There are many different people who work to rehabilitate wrongdoers, all of which don’t always work in a prison setting. Corrections officers are the most common job in this area, and they work in jails, prisons, and community-based programs throughout the correctional system to control and monitor offenders. Their jobs can be stressful, boring, and at times dangerous, yet rewarding.
Jobs in this field may also involve supervising previous offenders outside the prison. Probation, parole, and rehabilitation efforts seek to stop future crime from taking place, and these jobs may focus more on helping families of convicts and keeping people out of jail when possible.
Some positions may work exclusively with specific age groups, like underage offenders, as well. The most common jobs in the corrections field are:
- Prison guard
- Corrections officer
- Juvenile detention officer
- Public relations officer
- Probation officer
- Parole officer
Law Enforcement Jobs
Law enforcement is a branch that is comprised of police officers, sheriffs, and federal agents. This branch is the first point of contact between offenders and the criminal justice system, and those that work in these roles work to crack down on unlawful activity.
Law enforcement careers involve investigating crime, arresting suspects based on eyewitness accounts and physical evidence, and working with the prosecution to build a case that will hold up in a court of law.
You don’t have to become a police officer to work in law enforcement either. There are jobs where you can collect evidence at crime scenes or even track down serial killers at the federal level. Top careers in the field of law enforcement include:
- Police officer
- Police detective
- Juvenile officer
- Forensic science specialist
- FBI agent
- IRS agent
- Secret Service agent
- Deputy U.S. Marshall