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The historical development of police agencies and their jurisdiction has changed over the years in the years since the establishment of the first courts in the country. This essay will examine how this historical development of police agencies and jurisdiction has evolved with respect to the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, department of Homeland security.

In the state and local levels, law enforcement used to revolve around the try and true methods of searching, arresting and interrogation that did not give individual rights. These abuses called for the need to control police activities. In the 1960s, under the direction of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Supreme Court granted provision of individual rights during prosecution. This was later reached in 1966 in the case of Miranda v. Arizona where police are required to 'rights advisement' of suspects (Schmalleger F. 2007)


Restraint from police brutality stems from the US constitutional bill of rights from the 4th, 5th, 6th, and the 14th amendments which require due process to be followed. Police officers are thus required to obtain a search warrant if they are to search or confiscate a criminal's property. Police have to gather useful intelligence information from questioning suspects, informants and citizens but from the Miranda case ensure that the suspects know their rights. In America, there are two types of criminal justice system; state and federal courts (Kenneth H. 1995)

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The state courts developed out of the need to resolve civil and criminal disputes as early as 1629 in Massachusetts. By the late 19th century, increase in population, growing urbanization also led to increased civil litigation and criminal arrests. At the state courts we have; trial court where criminal cases begin. It does arraignments, sets bail, takes pleas and conducts trials. Lower courts hear less serious criminal cases like family disputes, traffic violations and small claims. The state appellate courts are used when people want to appeal a decision. This consists of the court of appeal or the state supreme court. This is generally to ask a higher court to review the actions of a lower court which can conduct a new trial if they deem it necessary. Some minor disputes like trespassing or petty theft can be resolved in without a formal court hearing. These are called dispute resolution centers. They began in 1970 and by today there more than 200 of such centers (Scheb. M. 2008)

The federal Court System

Unlike state courts that evolved from early colonial arrangements, the federal courts were created by the constitution which provides for the establishment of one Supreme Court and inferior courts. The courts have jurisdiction over cases arising under the constitution, treaties and federal courts. Congressional mandates have since expanded the federal court system which includes; district courts, courts of appeal and Supreme Court. The district courts are the trial courts which have jurisdiction to hear almost all federal cases. The courts of appeal hear appeals from the district courts. The US Supreme Court is at the apex of the federal court, it consists of eight associate judges and a chief justice (Schmalleger F. 2007)

The court does sentencing in practice and philosophy. Sentencing includes fines, probation and even death for serious offences. Limits on sentencing are specified by the law although the goals of sentencing have shifted. These goals include; retribution, incapacitation, deterrence, rehabilitation and restoration. Structured sentencing grew out of concerns with equity and proportionality (Scheb. M. 2008)

Police abuses that used to take place called for the need to control police activities. Individuals were granted bill of rights. This called for the need to resolve civil and criminal disputes from the two types of criminal justice; state and federal courts. While state court do resolve civil and criminal disputes, federal courts were created by the constitution and have jurisdiction over constitutional cases where limits of sentencing are limited by the law.

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