5 Important Issues You Might Tackle With a Career in Criminal Justice
Justice is at the heart of the U.S. democratic system, yet the current issues faced by those working in the criminal justice system are increasingly complex—from human trafficking to homeland security to drug crimes. Professionals with criminal justice careers are confronting these tough challenges every day—helping others by 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 as a 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 Issues Criminal Justice Professionals Tackle Every Day
Here are five big issues in criminal justice professionals deal with in their daily jobs:
According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of State, there are roughly 27.6 million children, women, and men worldwide who are victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation.1 Human trafficking is one of the top priorities in today’s criminal justice system and for law enforcement officers in communities everywhere. It’s also a primary 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. When you choose a career in criminal justice to help fight human trafficking, you’re choosing a career that saves lives.
A whopping 244,000 Americans are sent to prison each year for drug-related offenses, and drug arrests make up 26% of all arrests in the U.S.4 It’s also estimated that 80% of the entire U.S. prison population abuses drugs or alcohol.4 Drug crimes have long been a big part of the job for those in law enforcement, as well as for other professionals in the field of 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 have dedicated their careers to fighting the war on drugs through better law enforcement, more effective policy, and new laws.
Data breaches. Extortion. Cyberbullying. Identity theft. In 2022, cybercrime cost U.S. companies and individuals $10.3 billion.5 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 cybercriminals to justice, criminal justice professionals play a critical role in addressing this growing problem in today’s interconnected world.
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.
This last issue certainly isn’t a crime, but it is something that regularly comes into play when you work in the field of criminal justice. That’s because instead of getting the medical help they need, many people with a mental health crisis find themselves in trouble with the law. While people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators, those with untreated mental illness, active delusions, or long-standing paranoia may be more prone to committing acts of violence.2 Further, a 2016 survey of prison inmates showed that 43% of state and 23% of federal prisoners had a history of a mental health problem.3 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 criminal justice careers are all working together to address.
4 Reasons to Study Criminal Justice
You can choose from numerous degree options.
Walden University offers ways to focus your degree in the areas that interest you most. If you’re earning an MS in Criminal Justice, you can choose from specializations in Behavioral Sciences, Cybercrimes, Emergency Management, Homeland Security Policy and Coordination, and International/Global Criminal Justice Issues, as well as a General Program. Those pursuing a bachelor’s in criminal justice can choose Corrections and Human Services, Criminal Justice Management and Administration, Crime and Criminal Investigation, Advanced Topics in Criminal Justice, or a Self-Designed concentration.
You can help your community.
Many criminal justice career roles involve helping members of the community, improving different aspects of the community, or working on issues that can make the world a better place. If you have a heart for helping others, criminal justice can be a very rewarding career.
You can become an agent of change.
Change agents inspire and empower others to change. They lay the groundwork from which others can lift up themselves and their communities.
You’ll find a variety of criminal justice career options.
A criminal justice degree can position you for a number of exciting and rewarding jobs. While the level of degree required can vary, some options include:6
Border patrol agent
Public safety officer
Information Security Agent
Crime scene investigator
Drug enforcement agent
Juvenile justice administrator
Is a Master’s in Criminal Justice Useful?
A master’s in criminal justice can be very useful, especially if you’re looking for a job that allows you to help people. You can prepare to tackle important issues in criminal justice 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 can 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 BS in Criminal Justice, MS in Criminal Justice, MS in Criminal Justice Leadership and Executive Management, and other criminal justice degree and certificate 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, www.hlcommission.org.
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Fill out the form and we will contact you to provide information about furthering your education.
Please use our International Form if you live outside of the U.S.