Leasdership in Criminal Justice Organizations

This paper will describe my understanding of the text and of the lectures provided in the class. Unlike most classes, where I understood only my view of the text, this class was geared so each student would understand each other’s view. An organization is a collective that has some boundary and internal structure that engages in activities related to some complex set of goals. Members of organizations attempt to meet their psychological, ego and emotional needs within the organization. Criminal justice organizations are particularly unique compared to other public or private sector organizations because of the governmental granted authority. Management within these organizations can be defined as the process by which the elements of a group are integrated, coordinated and/or utilized so as to efficiently achieve the organization’s objectives.

In Law enforcement and correctional organizations, the front line officers manage people. This is especially true in the control of inmates. In these organizations, we must consider the hierarchy to be inverted. The front line officers, not limited to sergeants and lieutenants, influence the direction of the organization. Leaders in criminal justice establish direction by developing a vision of the future, align people through shared values and vision, and motivate and inspire people to move them toward the shared vision. Leaders will challenge existing processes and systems, focus on the future of the basic assumptions, values, and beliefs and create the basis for structural or programmatic change.

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Conversely, leadership in corrections is often more complex. Prison and jail overcrowding, along with the increasing number of geriatric, mentally ill and an influx of younger and more violent inmates requires the managers of the organization to increase the training and motivation of line officers in order to deal with problems. In law enforcement agencies, leaderships must recognize the need for more community policing programs. These criminal justice organizations must look inside themselves and adapt change in order to meet their goals and objectives. The goals of organizations not only provide direction but also serve as constraints or limits. An example in the criminal justice model would be for an agency to make more arrests to meet the public outcry, but also to insure the judicial and correctional systems handle the increase in business. Organizations have very common structural dimensions.

But some models are different, such as centralized and decentralized. In the centralized hierarchy of organizations, the decisions or personnel actions, planning, formulation of policies and procedures, adjudication of conflicts and other significant issues are made from the top. In decentralized organizations, the decision on these major issues is routinely made throughout the organization. Whether an organization is centralized or decentralized mostly depends on the type of agency and the beliefs of the top managers. This decision depends on the expertise of all the managers and the staff personnel.

Mission statements, if properly understood and accepted by organized personnel, is the framework by which an organization will operate. A mission statement can be defined as a statement or description of an organization’s common purpose and continuing purpose for existing responsibility of it’s client or constituents, at least by implicating it’s ideology, values and operation’s principals. An example of a mission statement by a business may be: Customers are the focus of everything we do. Continuous improvement is essential to everything we do. Employee involvement is our way of life. Dealers and suppliers are our partners.

An example of a criminal justice organization may be: “ The mission of the department is to safely incarcerate convicted felons; to keep inmates secure, safe from physical and psychological harm and deterioration; and And to provide inmates with opportunities for a successful, crime-free reentry into Into society, while providing a safe, secure and stress-free work environment for Even though, both are different types of mission statements; both have one thing in common – “Quality.” Mission statements can drive policy, procedures and the different structures of organizations, whether public or private. Communication can be define as glue for organizations. It will create a coordinated effort to achieve attainment of goals and objectives. Poor communication, however, can result in many management problems for it.

If directions are not clear and well communicated, subordinates will inadvertently disobey the meaning of the directive. Managers must be sure when a directive is not followed if the employee was wrong or if the directive to the employee was poorly communicated. A directive, whether spoken or written, is one person sending information to another. This process if referred to as encoding and decoding. Words are our most familiar means of sending messages to others. However, the message we intend to send and the way out message received may differ drastically. Many communication barriers may exist which may cloud or distort the meaning of the message. Communication barriers definitely exist within the criminal justice system. Police officers and courts and lawyers have differing views of offenders. Police officers arrest offenders whom they view as probably guilty, whereas the court system assumes the offender is innocent until proven guilty.

An important move towards improving communication in criminal justice agencies and in the criminal justice system as a whole, is for agencies to move away from “boss-centered management and towards subordinate-centered management.” One of the most difficult issues in the criminal justice systems, especially the corrections departments, is motivation. What really motivates people? Some theorists define it as a state of mind. This state of mind will cause the employee to exhibit certain behaviors. Some say it’s the “psychological contract between the individual and the work to be performed. One interesting portion of the text discusses the “need theory.” The need theory states that all people have needs, both physical and psychological, which effect their behavioral patterns.

As the great psychologist, T. Maslow argued, people have 5 basic needs:  physiological needs – food, water and other “must have” things in order to survive; the need for safety and security; belonging needs – the desire to be loved;  self actualization needs higher-order needs, which include sense of belonging and esteem. The rank and file workers consider the lower level needs, as most important, but most organizational managers perceive the higher level needs as the most important. While reading the material in the text and reviewing my own organizations mission statement, the path–goal and achievement – oriented leadership method of motivation is practical in my agency. Senior management attempts and most of the time succeed, to use this theory for its success.

The achievement values are as follows: Seek to achieve success through one’s own efforts and not have their success attributed to other factors. Work on projects – which are challenging, but not attainable. Receive identifiable and recurring feedback about one’s work and avoid situations where the level of achievement is in question. Individual performance is one’s ability to complete a task along with motivation to do the task. If criminal justice managers understand these issues, involving the employee by explaining the expectations, understanding one’s ability, create the motivation, the end result will be maximum performance from the employee.

Another major factor in the success of the criminal justice system is effective leadership. There are several models mentioned in the text. Particularly in the “path-goal theory,” there are the following:  the directive leadership behavior, supportive leadership behavior, the achievement-oriented behavior, and the participate leaderships behavior. All great leaders all, but most have less and some have only one. As demonstrated in my interview of a criminal justice manager, my organization has mostly achievement-oriented leaders. Mostly became of the external factors of our contract with the Department of Energy. Effective leaders and command staff-level management must possess at least five leadership traits: possess traits indicative of a proactive approach to leadership;

Be aware of the importance of building professional relationships with employees; balance the needs of employees with concern for production;  Incorporate a sense of “vision” within the organization and serve as a transformer of culture when necessary; and  have an array of contingent strategies. All of management and leaders within the organization must utilize all their skills to ensure agency goals and objectives are met, especially in the criminal justice system. The organization culture is very complex in nature within the criminal justice system. The law enforcement, judicial and correctional systems, even though essentially in the same business, are different.

Each level of the justice system belongs to it’s own subculture. Each also, has subcultures within it. They act on individual socialization within themselves. A great example would be life within a prison institution. The warden, of course, is in charge of the institution but when off, the ranking correctional officer is in charge when he/she is with the inmates. The individual group leader of the inmates (according to the “pecking order”) is in charge when the correctional officer is not around. The examples given are of formal and informal socialization. Before taking this course and thoroughly reading the text, I was only exposed to law enforcement organizations. Most of the professors were either lawyers or law professionals. It was enlightening to read the text and to hear a different perspective from a corrections professional.


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Leasdership in Criminal Justice Organizations. (2018, Aug 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/leasdership-in-criminal-justice-organizations-essay/