Published On: Mon, Aug 28th, 2017

Are You Guilty Of Forgetting What It Takes To Pursue A Career In The Justice System?

Nobody likes to see miscarriages of justice. Each time someone’s cleared of a wrongful conviction, it sends ripples through communities. What could be worse than being unfairly imprisoned? In many ways, the horrors don’t bear thinking about. But, the runaway success of programs like Netflix’s ‘Making a Murderer’ suggest that more of us are thinking about it now than ever before.

In many ways, that’s not because the problem has worsened. The justice system isn’t without its flaws, and there’s never been a foolproof way to prove innocence. The only difference now is that more people are aware of the issue. Plus, we’re seeing that those who are meant to see justice done often seem to rally against it. We all watched in horror as the officers on ‘Making a Murderer’ did everything possible to convince a jury of Steven Avery’s guilt.

Of course, it’s difficult to gain an accurate idea of how many people fall foul of wrongful convictions. In some cases, the truth never comes out. In others, it’s years before a conviction is overturned. But, rates of exonerations have been on the rise for the past few years, which suggests things are getting worse.

When we see these injustices, many of us go one of two ways. Either we turn a blind eye because it’s too terrible to bear, or we decide we want to do something. If in the latter group, we have a few options. We could sign petitions and join rallies. Or, we could take things further by opting for a career down the justice route.

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Criminal justice jobs cover a broad range of roles, all seeking to do justice. If you have a passion for that cause, this may be the route for you. You could return to school to study the subject, or enrol in one of the many criminal justice programs online. That way, you can study without leaving your day job.

But, as with any career, a qualification isn’t all it takes to make it in this field. You also need to ensure you have the right personal skills. The justice field isn’t easy to manoeuvre, and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

To help you decide whether you have what it takes, let’s look at a few skills you need to make it in this industry.

A desire to do what’s right

First, you need a desire to do what’s right. It’s no good going into a criminal justice field if you have no interest in the right thing. And, perhaps such individuals are to blame for the many wrongful convictions of our times. You could go as far as to say that the officers on ‘Making a Murderer’ seemed more concerned about proving their point than finding justice.

You have to want to uphold a fair and just society. That is, after all, the driving force behind any criminal justice role. And, that desire needs to be stronger than any personal agendas or beliefs. You may not like a suspect, but that doesn’t make them guilty. Which leads us to our next point.

An ability to set personal bias aside

It’s crucial that you’re able to put your personal bias aside. This is much harder than you might think. In everyday life, we’re inclined to dislike people based on first impressions, or signifiers, such as odd body language. But, such bias won’t do you any good in your new role.

It’s also important that you keep any past experiences away from your job. For example, you may have had a bad experience with doctors, and so have a bias against the medical profession. But, you can’t bring that into your job role with you.

Instead, you should look at each case with fresh eyes. Your professional self needs to be a clean slate, with no bias, and no preconceptions. Take everyone at face value. Remember how important it is that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. You are a dry sponge, and you need to wait until evidence comes seeping in.

People skills

As your job focuses on people’s fates, you need to have strong people skills to make a go of this. And, that applies to both your suspects and your colleagues. You need to be able to either interview or analyse suspects, depending on your role. In some cases, an understanding of psychology may even help you. This is particularly the case for police officers. You’ll be able to tell a lot about someone’s innocence from their body language.

Are You Guilty Of Forgetting What It Takes To Pursue A Career In The Justice System?

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While the ‘hard cop’ image has long been the forefront of police shows, good people skills will take you further. The justice system is in place to punish criminals, not you. Your job role is to see that justice is done and make sure that suspects are as free from distress as possible. Simple things, like asking how they are, or offering a drink are crucial.

Your people skills will also help you when it comes to your work colleagues. Together, you may all have to come to hard decisions. Being able to discuss with others and take their opinions on board is a must.

A strong stomach

Sometimes, we forget the technicalities of roles like these. You need a strong stomach to be able to cope with what you’ll hear and see. If you’re the kind of person who can’t sleep after watching a horror, then this may not be for you.

You’ll be dealing with individuals who have or haven’t committed a variety of horrendous crimes. You may have to deal with some terrible crime scenes and listen to accounts of awful events. And, you need to do so without letting it get on top of you. This is a job like any other, and if you get bogged down in the details, you’ll be unable to see things clearly.

You need to know that you can leave all that stuff at the office. Otherwise, this may not be the role you need.