policy | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

The term policy is used in the collective sense to refer to a set of guiding principles adopted by an organization.

A policy can be described as a set of principles, guidelines, and procedures that guide decision-making and behavior in an organization. Organizations develop policies to help achieve their goals and objectives, and they typically reflect the values and mission of the organization.

Policies can take many different forms, depending on the organization and the context in which they are developed. Some policies may be formal, written documents that are reviewed and updated regularly, while others may be informal, unwritten guidelines that are based on tradition or past practice.

Criminal Justice Policy

In the context of the criminal justice system, they play a critical role in shaping how law enforcement, courts, and correctional institutions operate. For example, law enforcement agencies may have policies governing the use of force, the handling of evidence, and the treatment of suspects. Courts may have them regarding the types of cases they will hear and the procedures they will follow. Correctional institutions may have them governing the treatment of inmates, the use of disciplinary measures, and the provision of educational and vocational programs.

Policies can have a significant impact on the effectiveness and fairness of the criminal justice system. For example, policies that emphasize community policing and the use of nonviolent methods of conflict resolution can help build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Policies that require the use of evidence-based practices in corrections can help reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for inmates.

Policy Debates

However, they can also be the subject of debate and criticism. Critics may argue that some policies are too lenient or too harsh or that they are not being implemented effectively. In some cases, policies may be influenced by political considerations or the interests of particular groups rather than by the needs of the broader community.

Overall, policies are an essential tool for organizations and institutions in the criminal justice system to ensure that they operate in a consistent and effective manner. By developing clear and well-defined policies, these institutions can promote accountability, transparency, and fairness and ensure that they are working to achieve their goals in a responsible and ethical manner.

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Last Modified: 08/28/2023

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