Norway, England, Wales, and the United States Essay

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.....criminal justice system protects the public from criminals and criminal activity by investigating, catching, and thwarting crime. Although some countries have similar methods of punishing criminals and preventing crime, many countries have different methods and strategies. Norway has its own way of handling criminals and criminal investigations that often involves a decentralized police and investigative force. The United States operates via tiered system: federal, state, and local (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2013). England offers a tiered system as well, with most investigative efforts occurring in London. This essay will highlight the differences and similarities of the criminal justice system in England/Wales, the United States, and Norway.


The United States has only been a country for a few centuries. It operates with peace and justice in mind. Operating under three branches of government, the judiciary branch allows for the government to arrest, prosecute, and imprison criminals and criminal suspects. Other government agencies, especially on the federal level, perform investigations to understand and assess situations/problems in the country (Hirschel, Wakefield, & Sasse, 2008. These problems could be regarding the law and fall under an umbrella of categories like the environment, health, and organized crime.

Norway has a similar aspect to its government regarding its judiciary section. However, because Norway is a small country, with a small, fairly homogenous population, the police force operates in a decentralized way (Walgrave, 2003). The same goes for its investigative efforts. This means government agencies are not split into local, state, or federal, but act free from geographical or district limitations.

England/Wales acts within the United Kingdom but has a tiered system for handling criminal cases. Regarding investigative efforts, England has a high number of private investigation agencies with government-run investigative efforts concentrated in London. England's police force and court system operate on a tiered level with various sub agencies working under a main agency (Barton & Johns, 2013). The next sections will describe in more detail, what similarities and differences England/Wales, the United States, and Norway have regarding their respective criminal justice systems.


The tiered system of the courts is seen in the United States, Norway, and England/Wales. The main differences however, is the focus on certain areas and the means of labeling specific government agencies/bodies. For example, both Norway and the United States have a Supreme Court. This is the highest tier in its court system. Here the justices decide what laws will be upheld by the country. However, unlike the United States, Norway has conciliation boards or an Interlocutory Appeals Committee that allows for examination of the information before it reaches the court. Furthermore, decisions made in the Norwegian Supreme Court are upheld with no chance for appeal or complaint. The only exception is the Court for Human Rights (Sriramesh & Vercic, 2009).

The United States Supreme Court rulings can be overturned by a future U.S. Supreme Court decision or a constitutional amendment. Although similar to the Supreme Court in Norway, no further appeals can occur should a case reach the American Supreme Court. Although England has no Supreme Court, there is a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. This court represents the ultimate court for any civil and criminal matters in Wales, England, and Northern Ireland. This change was made on October 1, 2009 and replaced the judicial functions of the judicial House of Lords. "the Supreme Court has been established to achieve a complete separation between the United Kingdom's senior Judges and the Upper House of Parliament, emphasizing the independence of the Law Lords and increasing the transparency between Parliament and the courts" (Lee, 2011, p. 37).

Going back to the United States, the court systems operate under the judiciary branch with courts operating at the district, state, and federal level (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2013).

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Unlike Norway, which has its own section for conciliation, the Supreme Court can decide to take on a case or not, but not operating under a formal agency, separate from the Supreme Court. Both countries, operating independently, use its own judiciary branch to uphold its country's legislation, unlike England/Wales that operates under the United Kingdom umbrella. "The Judiciary is supposed to comprise a relatively independent branch of government. Its role is to implement legislation adopted by the Storting, but also to monitor the legislative and executive powers to ensure that they comply with the acts of legislation" (Sriramesh & Vercic, 2009, p. 99).


One of three major components in the United States criminal justice system, law enforcement acts semi-independently from its two counterparts, courts, and corrections (Conser, Paynich, & Gingerich, 2013). Law enforcement agencies in the United States operate at the federal, state, and county level. There are sheriffs at the county level, and federal and state police respectively (Conser, Paynich, & Gingerich, 2013). England operates in a similar manner with the centralizing force being the United Kingdom. Additionally, the Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories work with separate police forces that follow the British model (Jackson, Bradford, Stanko, & Hohl, 2012). This is a key difference is these territories do not answer to the British government, but their own.

Norway has a police force that carries out the country's law enforcement. They operate in a decentralized way. "Norway has a national police force under the Ministry of Justice. The organization of the Norwegian Police is largely based on the principle of a decentralized and integrated police, where all functions of the police are collected in one organization" (Sullivan, Rosen, Schulz, & Haberfeld, 2005, p. 1216). This can be attributed to Norway's size and population, along with its mainly homogenous citizens. Norway represents a big difference in law enforcement compared to the United States and England and Wales, especially regarding corrections.


Enforcement of laws in England and Wales is similar to the United States in that the general aim is to incarcerate rather than rehabilitate convicted criminals. Although both countries have attempted to take the route Norway has towards rehabilitation, the main problem with law enforcement and enforcement in England and Wales and the United States is the high rate of incarcerations and life sentences. The United States has seen a step increase in incarceration rates in the last few decades alone. "In the near future, demands for harsher punishment most likely will persist, especially for violent offenders. This will continue to push incarceration rates higher and higher, which will create long-term problems not only for corrections departments, but also law enforcement" (Conser, Paynich, & Gingerich, 2013, p. 419).

Norway enforces it laws accordingly, uses the police force and the court system. However, there is no life sentence in Norway. In fact, the maximum prison sentence remains at 21 years (Ugelvik & Dullum, 2012). This can be seen as lenient. However, Norway has a much lower crime rate than its American and British counterparts. Therefore, the differences in enforcement are clear due to the lack of need from reduce crime rates.


The corrections aspect of the criminal justice systems for the United States, Norway, and England and Wales are what create….....

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Barton, A., & Johns, N. (2013). The policy-making process in the criminal justice system. London: Routledge.

Cole, G. F., Smith, C. E., & DeJong, C. (2013). The American system of criminal justice. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Conser, J., Paynich, R., & Gingerich, T. (2013). Law enforcement in the United States. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Hirschel, J. D., Wakefield, W., & Sasse, S. (2008). Criminal justice in England and the United States. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Stanko, B., & Hohl, K. (2012). Just Authority?: Trust in the Police in England and Wales. Routledge.

Lee, J. (2011). From House of Lords to Supreme Court: Judges, jurists and the process of judging. Oxford: Hart Pub.

Sriramesh, K., & Vercic, D. (2009). The Global Public Relations Handbook, Revised and Expanded Edition: Theory, Research, and Practice. Routledge.

Sullivan, L. E., Rosen, M. S., Schulz, D. M., & Haberfeld, M. R. (2005). Encyclopedia of law enforcement. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Travis, A. (2017, March 14). England and Wales have highest imprisonment rate in western Europe | Society | The Guardian. Retrieved from

Ugelvik, T., & Dullum, J. (2012). Penal exceptionalism?: Nordic prison policy and practice. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Walgrave, L. (2003). Repositioning restorative justice. Cullompton: Willan.

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