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Understanding the role of the Justice Department

Updated on April 6, 2015

The Department of Justice has a critical role in the federal government and is supported constitutionally by the requirement to have a judicial system inferior to the Supreme Court. The basic mission of this department is provided below:

“To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”

This entity of the federal government has three goals in association with their mission. The first is to prevent terrorism and promote the nation’s security consistent with the rule of law. With respect to this goal the rule of law this department is tasked to ensure the security of our country in association with the laws passed by Congress. Disrupting and defeating terrorists operations before they occur is accomplished by integrating intelligence and law enforcement efforts to respond to these threats. This includes not only threats outside the country but also within as evidenced by recent arrests in New York and Pennsylvania. Prosecuting individuals involved in terrorists acts or the planning of them is also a responsibility of the justice department.

Cyber threats are a real issue with the technology we have today and is difficult to address these type of threats on its own. Working with public-private partnerships all available tools are used to investigate and prosecute individuals involved with these threats. All these actions in this paragraph and the previous one are part of the goal to address terrorism activity.

The second goal of this department is to:

“Prevent Crime, Protect the Rights of the American People, and Enforce Federal Law”

This is a critical element of the responsibility of this department. Enforcing federal law of which there are too many to name must to ensure justice prevails across the country. Enforcing federal laws should be based on the facts not political philosophy or policy. It is important when enforcing any law whether federal or state that all the facts be considered before jumping to conclusions. Making statements about events without all the facts is detrimental to the integrity and reputation of any law enforcement entity.

Another aspect of this goal is to investigate and prosecute corruption, economic crimes and transnational organized crime. In addition the responsibility of this government organization is to promote and protect American civil rights by preventing and prosecuting discriminatory practices. While this is an important element this department again must look at the facts in any given situation. All individuals have rights and there are always going to be two sides to situations. Civil rights should be about all individuals not just specific groups of individuals. The actions of this department must ensure before taking any action that the civil rights of one group should not overshadow the civil rights of another.

The last goal of this department is:

“Ensure and support the fair, impartial, efficient and transparent administration of justice at the federal, state, local, tribal and international levels.”

In this aspect it is important that the justice department in their actions create a cooperative environment to work with all law enforcement organizations and exerting the authority over something which should be under local control. They need to exhibit leadership not a dictatorial attitude. Reforming and strengthening the criminal justices system needs to be the focus of this organization which is an element of this goal. This needs to be accomplished within the current laws on the books not create new rules or regulations. The justice department is responsible for enforcing federal laws, all of them whether they agree with them or not should not make any difference.

There are four core values identified within this organization. The first is equal justice under the law. All individuals within the justice system need to be treated fairly and uniformly. Basically actions with regards to enforcing the law it should make no difference whether you are a celebrity or just an individual the laws need to be applied the same. Granted there may be cases where additional security may need to be utilized but consistency is the key when enforcing any law for the same violation.

Another principle is honesty and integrity. This principle should be part of all government entities along with private organizations. Ethical behavior in the justice department must be exhibited for its motives and actions must be beyond reproach. This principle does not always appear to be in place when decisions are made with regards to prosecuting specific violations of the law. Violations of public trust need to be enforced just as forceful and other violations especially if it involves a government official. This enforcement should not make a difference whether an individual is part of any particular political party.

Another principle is a commitment to excellence. This is something we expect of any government entity much less the Department of Justice. The American people deserve the highest level of service with regards to being an effective and responsible steward of the taxpayers’ dollars. Any government entity should be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars.

The last principle is respect for the worth and dignity of each human being. Individuals within any case being investigated by this department must be treated with dignity whether we feel they deserve it or not. There are some violent criminals who have no remorse for the crimes they have committed but they are still human beings. Today there appears to be more about the rights of criminals than the rights of the victims of a crime. The rights of victims are just as important as the rights of a criminal maybe more so. The justice system must ensure all the requirements of the law are accomplished with regards to a fair trial if such is the case.

The Justice Department with all their goals and principles presented above have a difficult job with the world as it is today. Ensuring justice prevails is an inherent responsibility of this organization. The American people demand and deserve that all laws are enforced not ignored regardless of political party affiliation. If a law is violated for which the Department of Justice is the enforcing agency than the appropriate actions/decisions must be taken.


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