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Changes in Criminal Justice

Updated on October 22, 2014
Criminal Justice Careers
Criminal Justice Careers | Source

by Amber Maccione

Changes in the Criminal Justice Field

The area of criminal justice must change with the times. If we look over history, we see that people have changed, technology has changed, and amendments have been added to out constitution to adjust laws. Therefore, as we continue to advance in technology, people will learn new ways to commit crimes and new laws or amendments will need to be added. And as technology advances, law enforcement must keep up with it, or they will be left behind and become more of a problem than a solution to crime.

There are three reasons why law enforcement needs to understand technology as it advances: to anticipate the use of technology when it comes to terrorist and criminals using it, to incorporate the use of new technology into their police work, and to deal effectively with changes in society and cultures with the advancement of technology (Schmallegar 2011 p. 649). Some of the technical advances today and that we will continue to see in the next 50 years are technocrimes (uses emerging technology to get objective accomplished), biocrimes (use of chemical substances to alter genetic material), and cybercrimes (use of the internet to steal, launder, vandalize, and fraud others) (Schmallegar 2011 p. 649-651).

As the way criminals and terrorists do crimes advance, how law enforcement handles and investigates must change with the times in order to be effective. Criminalistics is the new technology being used to investigate criminal activities. It uses scientific techniques to detect and evaluate evidence brought in. The reason this is important is as criminals advance crimes through technology, law enforcement must have a system running that can detect and evaluate evidence that is found through new technology used by the criminal. Individuals that are skilled in this area are called criminalist (a police crime scene analyst or lab worker) (Schmallegar 2011 p. 659).

Face Recognition Software

Photo Pre-Crime Database

Some of the changes that will be seen in the next 50 years are DNA profiling, online databases, and computer based investigations. DNA profiling is something that has been changing investigations already and continues to change. It has already proven people innocent who where thought to be seen guilty. And it has proven people guilty that were suspects. DNA is a reliable scientific approach because DNA is like a code. Each person has DNA that is unique to them. They may share DNA from parents, but no two DNA codes are the same. With DNA profiling, when DNA is gathered in a crime scene, it can help pinpoint who the criminal is (Schmallegar 2011 p. 662-668).

Right now, we have online databases that tell us about sex offenders, who is in jail, and who is in prison. Eventually, law enforcement wants to create online databases that are accessible to the public so that the public can assist law enforcement with catching the culprit. For example, the FBI makes available to the public their ten most wanted list and they also use America’s Most Wanted TV show to get the public’s help with catching fugitives of the law (Schmallegar 2011 p. 668).

Computer based investigations are becoming more popular and will continue to advance as crimes continue to advance through technology. Police have many databases already. They are able to use all databases and cross-reference information to help them figure out who may have committed a crime. Computers are considered to be artificial intelligence. They are only as knowledgably as the information put in them. But they can be effective way of investigating a crime because you can use different programs to process the information inputted from previous crimes and present crimes to analysis who may be the suspect. Online databases help law enforcement use technology to process and analysis intelligence (Schmallegar 2011 p. 668-669).

One thing as a parent I have learned that also applies to criminal justice is being one step ahead of the other person. I always have to know what my child’s next move will be before he makes it. That is why I child proof my house and put up gates. In criminal justice field, law enforcement needs to be a step ahead of the criminal. It is important for law enforcement to understand new technology before the criminal does. It is important that they have systems up that can detect and investigate the next new crime. If law enforcement understands how technology can be helpful as well as harmful, then they can help prevent new crimes from happening in the future because they are one step ahead of the criminal.


Schmallegar, F. (2011). "Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st

Century." Retrieved from

Copyright © 2012


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