LSCJ 3113 – Comparative Justice Systems
The American system of justice is based on certain fundamental principles like trial by a jury of our peers, an impartial judge and the right of defendants to face their accusers. These rights are meant to balance the rights of the individual against the power of the state. These basic principles and rights are not universally granted in all criminal justice systems, however. Across the world, many different systems are called upon to address issues of crime, justice and order. An understanding of various justice systems of the world – even those dramatically different from our own – provides us with a wealth of knowledge from which to draw our own conclusions about the society in which we live.
Comparative Justice Systems addresses this issue by examining and comparing the legal and criminal justice systems of six different nations: England, China, France, Germany, Japan and Saudi Arabia. The course is designed to provide insight into the basic philosophies of justice and the many families of law (ancient legal traditions, civil law, common law, socialist law and Islamic law) that exist among these countries, and focuses on historical, political and social factors to explain their influence on legal institutions and systems of justice. Points of divergence between these societies and the United States are examined to determine perceived causes of crime, as well as various approaches to rehabilitation and crime prevention.
The type of knowledge students gain from this class is particularly unique. First, they learn how current criminal justice processes evolved in order to understand how and why these processes exist today. They also learn to compare each respective approach to policing, courts and corrections. Finally, students analyze current and future issues related to international crime and criminal justice, including terrorism, transnational organized crime and delinquency. All of these basic elements of a criminal justice system are important in their own right; understanding how they function as a whole, in any context, provides a rich appreciation of the roles of balance and fairness in our own.