Criminal Justice Agencies

Management is not central to the concept of an office. In most cases, people link management to a specific office. However, management is a function that does not place the responsibility to a particular office. In the criminal justice sector, there has been a focus on the creation of managers, with a disregard of the importance of leadership. The managers in the criminal justice sector have come out strongly to defend the system and culture to avoid any intrusion. Unlike managers, leaders are risk takers, creative and able to align an organization to the prevailing market conditions. Therefore, they stand a better chance of running the criminal justice system than managers. A limitation among managers is that they tend to follow procedures of work, which limit them from exploring creative methods of solving problems. The paper will put forward an argument and evidence as to why leadership is important in the criminal justice system.


Management, like leadership, is a process involving the coordination of a group, with an objective of achieving some goals. Management is ongoing and often directed towards the realization of organizational aims. Various staffs working in the criminal justice sector, such as wardens, police, chiefs of police perform managerial work on a daily basis. Moreover, the frontline police such as the correction officers depict some management role (Stojkovic, Kalinich, & Klofas, 2012). In this respect, executives are not the only people responsible for executing management roles (Stohr, & Collins, 2014). Regardless of their job description, these staffs are part of the management team. This view of management shows that the study of management is crucial for people interested in pursuing criminal justice careers.


Leadership is a process, which aids in directing and mobilizing people and ideas. Also, leadership focuses on the culture, symbols and rituals of an organization. Comparatively, managers create, protect and enable systems. They also focus on developing organizational structures, executing controls and solving a myriad of organizational problems. Management emphasizes the achievement of rationality by focusing on goals, control and relevant laws (Stojkovic, Kalinich, & Klofas, 2012). On the other hand, leaders focus on the development of visions, align people with common values, motivate and inspire people to realize the set vision. Moreover, leadership is diverse, with transformational, charismatic, visionary and other features. The availability of various types of leaders allows organizations to choose those that will help it realize particular long-term goals.

Criminal Justice Agencies

The criminal justice sector is comprised of agencies created by governments that have the role of ensuring control in the society. The task is complex, which the agencies achieve through crime deterrence, and sanctioning offenders. Certainly, this is not an easy role as it involves people. Currently, criminal justice agencies are facing problems because of a culture created by managers. Subsequently, they attempt solving the same problems using ready-made methods. If this is the trend, then, problems in the sector are not likely to end (Allan, & Sawhney, 2010). From such a perspective, what does the criminal justice agencies require? Does the sector require managers or leaders? Managers and leaders play an important role in the system, but their way of doing things is quite differently. Comparatively, management and leadership may appear similar, but they have distinct features.

Management or Leadership

Certainly, management is imperative in the criminal justice sector. The concept of problem solving can help meet the needs of criminal justice system. However, it is important to note that, the criminal justice sector faces problems. Most of these problems depict the dynamic nature of criminal activities, people, and society. For example, the world is currently experiencing unprecedented levels of terror activities. With managers who work from a constrained description, the criminal justice agencies need leaders because they work broadly (Stojkovic, Kalinich, & Klofas, 2012). In addition, when problems arise in the criminal justice system, managers tend to look for solutions, which worked elsewhere.

The move results in redundancy that makes the criminal justice sector remain stagnant. In the corporate world, particularly corporations, they hire leaders. Leaders tend to solve problems using new methods. Moreover, they do not care about what worked in another organization. Leaders want to be the point of reference to the society because of their unique way of doing things. Furthermore, not all people like the criminal justice agencies, particularly the police or law enforcement. Their roles are difficult, and in most cases, they encounter conflict from the members of the society. If police lack leadership skills, they are likely to facilitate conflict in the society.

Therefore, they need to appear in charge or control when things go wrong. Besides, they have to show resilience, commitment, dedication and courage to try new things so that they can control the society, effectively (Schaffer, 2010). The same applies to top officials in the criminal justice system. Matters of the law are not easy; thus, there is a need to embody or symbolize the law. The law is considered double-edged; thus, the people administering the law should reflect the attribute of the law. Most importantly, there are varieties of leadership styles. All the styles fit a particular need in organizations. Therefore, with the inevitability of change, regardless of the sector, the criminal justice system needs leaders (Wright, 1999).

On the other hand, compared to leaders, managers appear lenient, and inappropriate for the criminal justice system. While their role remains documented, the problems facing the criminal justice system require a figure with power. Comparatively, even with the mention of the term leader, someone is likely to deduce much about the term. Leaders are associated with seriousness, some fear and focus. On the other hand, managers appear interactive, and while this is an important trait, such does not work well in sectors as crucial as the criminal justice system. Through much interaction with their peers, respect starts to diminish gradually.

In addition, the goals of the criminal justice system are broad, and they are central to the betterment of the society or country (Karimu, 2012). Therefore, a simple mistake or failure could have adverse effects on the system or a complete disintegration. Organizations that employ leaders tend to achieve their long-term objectives, and align the company to the prevailing change. The criminal justice system requires people who can work under pressure to realize complex goals for a society or the country. Additionally, these people must be in a position to take criticism. Evidence suggests that people with such qualities are leaders.


Allen, J. M., & Sawhney, R. (2010). Administration and management in criminal justice: A service quality approach. Los Angeles: Sage.

Karimu, O. (2012). Understanding leadership standards and ethical practices in criminal justice. Asian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 1(3), 23-31.

Schafer, J. A. (2010). Effective leaders and leadership in policing: traits, assessment, development, and expansion. Policing-an International Journal of Police Strategies & Management. doi:10.1108/13639511011085060

Stohr, M., & Collins, A. P. (2014). Criminal justice management: Theory and practice in justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stojkovic, S., Kalinich, D. & Klofas, J. (2012). Criminal justice organizations: Administration and management. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Wright, K. N. (1999). Leadership is key to ethical practice in criminal justice agencies. Criminal Justice Ethics. Retrieved from

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