What Are The 5 Pillar Of The Criminal Justice System?

Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

In various civilizations, even when human civilization actually began, criminal laws have been distinguished by the severe punishment that would be faced by someone breaking a law, whether it be an act of violence or an act of theft.

Regardless of the cultures in the world at the time, every crime is a set of circumstances that must be proven in order to justify the sentence by using some substantial evidence, with the exception of most monarchies, military dictatorships and communist countries.

There have been five pillars, or objectives, that have been established over the many years that are associated with criminal cases.

These pillars of judicial procedure are still widely accepted today. We are going to break down those five pillars and find out what each pillar means.

The Five Pillars


Taking revenge, being angry, and being hateful are goals of this pillar. In other words, there ought to be some form of punishment for the offender. We believe that this pillar is seen as enforcing justice against the offender when they harm a victim.

Another way of putting it is that, if an offender takes advantage of another, or inflicts harm on others, then the criminal law places the offender at some disadvantage to restore balance to the justice system.

To be protected from being imprisoned or executed, people submit to the law.

The law stipulates that if one breaks these laws, one forfeits all rights that the law gives him/her. In view of this, a murderer should be put to death if he or she takes the life of another person according to this pillar. 


There are two parts to deterrence. Deterrence geared toward each individual offender is the individual deterrence. In order for the offender to be discouraged from committing future criminal acts, it is imperative that they receive a sufficient penalty.

In this case, the judge would aim to sentence a repeated offender to a period of time in jail in order to discourage future offenses. An offender’s behavior needs to be changed for the better rather than the worse by changing his or her actions.

The other type of deterrence is general and this is aimed at society as whole. The penalty imposed on those who commit an offense should help to discourage others from committing the same offense. Crucifixion served this purpose for the Romans.

In Roman provinces, onlookers would think twice before offending the authorities if they saw a criminal on a cross. This is a message sent out to the community about crime in hope it scares others off and keeps the streets clean.


There are five pillars in this system, and this one is the most simple. Criminals should be incapacitated in order to secure the public’s safety from the harmful behavior of these criminals so that they can be kept out of society. Many people consider jail time as a way of accomplishing this.

However, it is possible to serve the same purpose by including provisions of the death penalty and custodial punishment in one’s sentence.

The only way to illustrate to the worst offenders that what they did is wrong and that they are parasites to society is through punishment.


The criminal justice system has been emphasizing rehabilitation more recently. This is especially evident in a number of states. Offenders are gradually transformed into useful members of society using this approach and can be seen as a second chance at life.

Treatment focuses on treating the issues that are causing the criminal behavior in order to prevent further crimes from occurring.

For instance, drug rehabilitation has proved effective in stopping future crimes from occurring. People who are addicted to drugs are more likely to commit crime. Criminal behavior often ceases to exist when the addict is treated for his or her addiction. 


Any of the four objectives above can be achieved with this goal. In this case, it is hoped to fix any harm caused by the perpetrator to the victim. Individuals who take money from someone else without their consent will be expected to repay the amount as part of their sentence.

Generally, society wishes to return the victim to the original position he or she held before the injury was inflicted by the offender.

It is imperative to make the victim whole. In an effort to prevent further punishment, these governments are trying to restore things to their former state in an effort to not need further punishment.


There is a great deal of value that each of these objectives can bring to human society in their very own way. Each of the five objectives has been put into action by the United States in different ways. There are, however, significant differences between states.

The death penalty is still used in the most brutal of cases in many Southern and Western states. There are other states that have abolished the death penalty and use very lenient parole regimes.

Our understanding of the nature of addiction, mental illness, and other behavioral problems is generally shifting the focus to rehabilitation across America. The decrease in incarceration costs and the increase in tax revenue from offenders enable states to save millions of dollars by focusing on rehabilitation.

Naturally, those who commit violent crimes and those who continue to serve lengthy prison terms do not receive the same treatment as those with no criminal history and those with nonviolent drug offenses. Accordingly, depending on where you live, you will find that one of these pillars will be the main focus.