Criminal Justice in Action


Portrait of a sad, depressed older woman, isolated on black

Criminal justice is a process for enforcing the law. People who are arrested face a number of penalties. Police, lawyers, courts, and correctional systems are used during the justice process. People who break the law receive some kind of punishment. Fines, time spent in jail, and other tasks are outcomes that result from breaking the law. In the past, people who broke the law were taught new skills as a way to prevent future criminal behavior. Today, there are more “get tough on crime” policies. Many people in jail have a mental illness, or suffer from physical problems such as substance abuse. People who have developmental disabilities may also be arrested for a crime.  Nationally, people with disabilities are more likely to be victims of crimes compared to people without disabilities (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2015).  Being a victim of a crime can contribute to behavior problems, especially if no victim services are provided or the crime is not prosecuted.

Positive supports are used to help people increase education and work skills so that people can be successful when returning to the community. Sometimes, positive supports help address negative thoughts and feelings that are related to mental or physical illnesses. Some juvenile justice settings are using positive supports. Sometimes these supports are provided on an outpatient basis, without committing a person.  These positive supports help improve social and behavioral skills for all of the children or youth in a facility.


Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics (2015).

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