How Technology is Revolutionizing Criminal Justice: Innovations and Impacts – Part 1

  • Criminal Justice
  • March 29, 2024
  • 4 min read
How Technology is Revolutionizing Criminal Justice Innovations and Impacts - Part 1

If you only listened to the mainstream media coverage of the criminal justice system, you might be convinced that the industry is in disarray. Various political factions have lost faith in the criminal justice system and are promoting movements such as “defund the police.” Despite these challenges, it is a very exciting time in the industry.

Technological advancements are playing a key role within the modern criminal justice system in transforming the techniques used by various criminal justice professionals as they execute their core functions of managing crime prevention efforts, legal proceedings, and the rehabilitation of criminal offenders.

This multi-part article will address several ways that innovative technologies are being used to enhance the efficacy, fairness, and efficiency of the criminal justice system. By explaining the significant impact of these technological innovations on the daily operations of various aspects of the industry, we hope to offer a vision of the potential future of law enforcement and judicial administration.

Read More: What Is The Study of Criminal Justice?

Catching Criminals with Advanced Technology

Modern technology has provided modern law enforcement agencies with incredible new tools to fight crime more efficiently and effectively. Below are a few of the most significant examples.

DNA Analysis

You have likely heard about DNA analysis being used in criminal prosecutions for many years (if you ever watched Law and Order or CSI, you know what I mean!). However, for many years, the applications of this technology were potentially overstated or sensationalized in popular media. 

That said, just like it has with the Back to the Future movies, real life tends to catch up with the imaginations of screenwriters and directors (albeit only eventually). Law enforcement agencies now use advanced DNA analysis to help solve cold cases. 

More recently, there has been a push to use DNA analysis to exonerate people who were wrongly convicted of crimes. This process has been much slower to ramp up than many critics would like, and the criticism is well-justified. There are significant structural barriers built into the criminal justice system that prevent such reviews, even though there is growing evidence that such efforts are likely to unearth additional instances of wrongful convictions. 

Finally, we must note that DNA analysis is not just used to re-examine old cases. It is also being increasingly leveraged to increase the effectiveness of current criminal investigation efforts. 

Modern technology allows law enforcement agencies to amplify ever smaller quantities of DNA found at crime scenes into usable quantities for assessment. Modern technology also enhances the reliability of assessments matching these samples against samples taken from persons of interest or stored in criminal databases. Both areas of advancement offer law enforcement a more reliable pathway to using this “gold standard” evidence in their investigations.

Facial Recognition Software Use During Criminal Investigations

Another technology that has purportedly been around for many years but is becoming increasingly effective is facial recognition software. This technology can be applied in various ways to enhance the effectiveness of criminal investigations. 

Facial recognition software can be applied to video footage from security cameras at or around the scene of a crime. As we know, not all video cameras are created equal, and sometimes the picture quality is inadequate to identify someone in a video using the naked eye. This can be due to suspects being too far away from the camera, poor lighting, or simply because the video camera lacks sufficient power. 

However, recent software advances have allowed law enforcement agencies to digitally enhance the quality of video footage so that previously unusable or inconclusive videos can be used to effectively identify criminal suspects. 

Another factor that is not acknowledged frequently enough is the explosion of security cameras placed inside and around the perimeter of personal dwellings, businesses, and in some public places. The sheer volume of video footage being captured each day has skyrocketed over the past decade, and the overwhelmingly predominant storage method is cloud-based, making this footage much more accessible to law enforcement than when security cameras used to back up onto VCRs or DVDs. 

As a result, there is a much greater probability that crimes are caught on camera today than even just a few years ago, and that law enforcement can get access to that footage using a warrant.

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Technological advancements are revolutionizing the modern criminal justice system and changing nearly every aspect of how criminal justice professionals execute their job functions. We will continue our exploration of how this technology can help law enforcement agencies catch criminals, and more, in Part 2 of this multi-part article. Stay tuned for more details next month!

Lisa Myers
General Education Department Director

Beginning her career as a Paralegal, Lisa soon advanced to the role of Senior Paralegal for various Family Law, Personal Injury and Corporate law firms in the Las Vegas community. She obtained her Juris Doctor and LL.M, completing her fellowship…Read Full Bio