local government | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee


Course: Introduction / Policing

Local governments are the governmental bodies that run particular cities, towns, counties, or districts.

Local governments are an essential component of the criminal justice system in the United States. They are responsible for the administration of justice in their respective jurisdictions, including law enforcement, prosecution, and the operation of jails.

Police departments, sheriff’s offices, and other law enforcement agencies are typically under the authority of local governments. They are responsible for maintaining public safety and order, investigating crimes, and making arrests. Additionally, local prosecutors handle the prosecution of most criminal cases within their jurisdiction, from charging decisions to plea bargaining and trial preparation.

Local governments also operate jails to detain and incarcerate individuals who have been charged or convicted of a crime. These facilities are responsible for the safety and well-being of their inmates, as well as for ensuring that individuals are able to access necessary medical care, legal representation, and other essential services.

Beyond their direct involvement in the criminal justice system, these governments also have a significant impact on the administration of justice through their policies and programs. For example, local governments may establish diversion programs for low-level offenders, which provide alternatives to incarceration, such as community service or rehabilitation programs. They may also fund and support community policing initiatives, which aim to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

In many cases, local governments work in collaboration with state and federal agencies to achieve their goals in the criminal justice system. This includes sharing information, resources, and best practices to improve the overall effectiveness of the system. However, local governments also have a significant degree of autonomy in determining how they will approach issues such as policing and sentencing within their jurisdiction.

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Last Modified: 04/07/2023


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