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5 Important Issues Criminal Justice Professionals Tackle Every Day

Learn how you could make a difference with a career in criminal justice.

Justice is at the heart of the U.S. democratic system, yet today’s criminal justice system is facing increasingly complex issues—from human trafficking to terrorism to drug crimes. Professionals with careers involving criminal justice are confronting these tough challenges every day—working to reduce crime, improve public safety, and protect and serve society.

Whether you have a job in law enforcement or specialize in criminology, work as a criminal investigator or forensic scientist, a career in criminal justice puts you in a position to make a meaningful difference in your community and across the U.S. criminal justice system.

5 Important Issues Criminal Justice Professionals Tackle Every Day

Here are five big problems criminal justice professionals are combating in their daily jobs:

1. Human Trafficking

According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of State,1 there are roughly 24.9 million children, women, and men worldwide who are victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation—with the U.S. ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for this form of modern-day slavery.

It’s no wonder that addressing human trafficking is one of the top priorities in today’s criminal justice system. Human trafficking has become all too familiar for law enforcement officers in communities everywhere. And it is a point of focus for many criminal justice professionals and state and federal lawmakers who are working to shape policy, laws, and programs to reduce occurrences and protect and support victims.

2. Mental Illness

As criminologists work to understand why people commit crimes, a major factor has become clear: mental health.

Instead of getting the medical help they need, many people with a mental health crisis are finding themselves in trouble with the law. In fact, 44% of jail inmates have a history of a mental health problem.2 Tackling this issue in the U.S. criminal justice system is a big job, and one law enforcement officers, criminologists, mental health providers, policymakers, and other professionals with careers in criminal justice are all working together to address.

3. Drug Crime

In September 2019, nearly 75,000 inmates in federal prisons were there for a drug-related offense—that’s 45% of the total prison population.3 It’s also estimated that 65% of the entire U.S. prison population has an active substance use disorder.4

Drug crimes have long been a big part of the job for those in law enforcement, as well as for other professionals with careers involving criminal justice. And with the growing opioid epidemic, drug-related arrests are putting an even bigger strain on the American criminal justice system. Many professionals in criminal justice have dedicated their careers to fighting the war on drugs through better law enforcement, more effective policy, and new laws.

4. Cybercrime

Data breaches. Extortion. Cyberbullying. Identity theft. With internet-related crimes on the rise in the U.S., cybercrime has become one of the fastest-growing areas of focus in the criminal justice system.

From the criminal investigators who gather digital evidence, to the criminal justice leaders who influence policy and law around cybersecurity, to the prosecutors and law enforcement agents whose job is to bring the cybercriminal to justice, criminal justice professionals play a critical role every day in addressing this growing problem in today’s interconnected world.

5. Homeland Security

Securing our nation’s safety remains a pressing concern. And in today’s political environment, addressing homeland security issues without compromising individual rights and freedoms is an increasingly challenging job for policymakers, law enforcement officers, and other criminal justice agents.

Professionals with criminal justice careers that focus on homeland security work every day to combat terrorism, cybercrimes, human trafficking, and other threats to the safety of our country.

Prepare to Make an Impact With a Master’s in Criminal Justice

You can prepare to tackle these important issues and others in the criminal justice system by earning an MS in Criminal Justice at Walden University.

In this online master’s degree program, you’ll learn the latest strategies and tools for addressing today’s biggest criminal justice issues. MS in Criminal Justice online courses cover areas such as leadership and executive management, criminology, criminal justice research, ethics and social justice, and many other topics that will help you advance your criminal justice career.

By earning a criminal justice master’s degree at an online university, you can gain the knowledge and skills to make a greater impact in your career and community while still being able to balance the demands of your current job in law enforcement or criminal justice.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering MS in Criminal Justice, MS in Criminal Justice Leadership and Executive Management, and other criminal justice degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn a degree using a convenient, flexible online learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,