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Cultural Competence Paper

Author: Janet Peter
by Janet Peter
Posted: May 10, 2019
criminal justice

The American population is becoming increasingly diverse and requires a proper understanding of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to value diversity. Cultural competence is a major factor that enables educators to be effective when dealing with people of different cultures other than their own. Cultural competence involves having an awareness of one’s cultural identity and views about the difference, and the ability to learn on the different cultural and community norms of people. It can also be considered as the ability to understand within-group differences that make every person unique, while still celebrating the between-group variations within a nation. The understanding helps to inform and teach about competent cultural aspects.

Value of cultural competence in criminal justice field

The cultural competence levels in public organizations are a significant part of serving the citizen populations. This field has not received adequate attention by professional and academic disciplines such as law enforcement. Cultural competence policies can be effective in improving service delivery in the criminal justice field. Law enforcement officers with cultural awareness abilities have a better understanding of the needs of citizens and take actions that consider the cultural context of their interactions with citizens. It is usually to establish whether the actions of law enforcers are racially motivated or out of their responsibilities. However, with a clear understanding of cultural competence, the leadership within the criminal justice system can enforce policies that enhance culturally competent behaviors and attitudes. All the professionals with a mandate of serving the public ought to be trained on how to respond appropriately in the cross-cultural situations which entail developing cultural awareness sensitivity when dealing with diverse populations. An understanding of cultural competence in the criminal justice field enhances fairness, ethics in policing, and also adherence to the prescribed guidelines (Herbert, 2015).

Cultural competence in the criminal justice system plays a critical role in addressing inequalities encountered in the conduct of law enforcement officers. There have been various incidents where police officers have been accused of discriminating against certain groups and races which is an aspect of failing to appreciate diversity and also having limited knowledge on cultural competence. There are no standard solutions to the disproportionate black and minority ethnic groups of people in the criminal justice system, but it is important for the organization and the staff to enact provisions that can bring a difference.

The judicial, prosecutorial, and defense agencies of criminal justice system across the United States face significant challenges as they strive to serve effectively amidst the increasingly diverse communities. Cultural competence is relevant to the many issues regarding effective public defense representation. The common issues at play include; the client’s cultural backgrounds that affect their willingness to share with the defense attorneys, the mode of communication, and the type of defenses to be raised in court. Other issues include the differences in the practices of criminal offenses and how different communities perceive the criminal justice system. Cultural competency is also valuable in determining how defense attorneys build trusting relationships with their clients and witnesses from different cultures (Fletcher, Michelle, 2014).

Elements to include in a cultural competence assessment of criminal justice agency

The major elements that should be included in a cultural competence assessment of criminal justice agency include value, communication, and attitudes. The value of cultural competence to the criminal justice agency is an important consideration. Criminal justice agencies value cultural competence since the staff is trained on how to understand the activities of the community about the different cultures practiced in the U.S.A. The value of cultural competence is also evident in the various experiences of the criminal justice agencies as they interact with diverse groups of people. Social convictions, practices, and beliefs of individuals are different as long as they subscribe to diverse cultures, which make cultural competence a necessary aspect. Cultural competency, in this case, is more than just learning a different language or understanding the cultural symbols of people. Instead, it is changing prejudgments and predispositions that individuals may have on other people’s social convictions and traditions (Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olson & Harris, 2008).

Communication is an important element that ought to be included in a cultural competency assessment of criminal justice agency. Communication allows people of different cultures to learn from one another and thereby have an easy time to interact despite their differences. The criminal justice agency should enact strategies that enhance the methods of communication between the public and the officers entrusted with law enforcement which goes a long way in enhancing cultural competency.

Attitude is also an important element to include in the assessment of cultural competency of criminal justice agency. The people working in the criminal justice system need to develop a positive attitude when dealing with the American citizens, whether minorities or the majority groups. The staff in the criminal justice system needs to have an open mind regarding the social views and cultural practices of others. It is common for some minority groups to experience challenges in practicing their culture amidst the majorities since some issues may not be acceptable in the foreign land, but acceptable in the mother country. As such, it is important to have a positive attitude towards their culture and gradually assist them to adapt to the existing cultural practices without harassing them out of ignorance. Cultural competence is developed through an attitude of appreciation, acceptance, and being open towards people with various social observations and desires different from own (American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, 2010).

Implementing a cultural competence assessment

Assessment is a crucial phase in the implementation of cultural competence in the criminal justice agencies. There are no fully effective national guidelines for screening and assessment approaches in criminal justice framework based on cultural competence. A probable approach to the implementation of cultural competence in the criminal justice agencies would be the use of assessment, training, and evaluation cycle to describe the process. It entails assessing the current state of affairs regarding cultural competence abilities of the entire agency towards the diverse groups of people whom the staff interacts with on a day-to-day basis. The assessment should be a true reflection of how the staff in the criminal justice agency handles the diverse nature of people in their work. Training should be emphasized after a comprehensive assessment of the state of affairs in the agency. Training of all the staff in the criminal justice agency on the need for cultural competency and its relevance to their work should be conducted with a clear understanding of the needs of the diverse culture. It is also necessary to practice cultural competence aspects in all the areas where people of diverse culture are involved (Kumagai & Lypson, 2009). The last aspect in the implementation of culturally competent assessment is evaluation which focuses on the impact of training and the ultimate adoption of the culturally competent practices based on evidence-based data. An evaluation of the agency should involve the use of checklists and surveys completed by persons in the community who directly use the services provided by the agency. The best type of evaluation should be based on self-reported data by the diverse community where the agency provides its services. With the use of a progressive cycle of assessment, training, and evaluation; it is likely that cultural competence practices would be implemented in the agency.

Advantages of intercultural communication skills in criminal justice

Intercultural communication skills are necessary due to the increasing cultural differences that are causing challenges to smooth and successful relationships between people. The major advantage is to avoid misunderstandings and also helps people to appreciate how culture can affect communication with clients and colleagues. Intercultural communication skills enhance cooperation among the working teams and efficiency in accomplishing the set goals. Intercultural communication skills in criminal justice also allow efficient sharing of information across various cultures and social groups which are essential in crime control (Samovar, Porter, McDaniel & Roy, 2014).

Summary of articles

One of the articles discussed in our collaborative group is: "cultural competence in criminal justice: The right kind of training can play a helpful role." The article highlights the importance of training of the employees in the criminal justice field regarding cultural competence. The author considers the role of cultural competence in the criminal justice system and specifically on the role that can be played if the right kind of training is provided. In the discussion provided, it is evident that there cannot be any quick solution to the disproportionality of the black and minority ethnic people within the criminal justice system, but adds that as individuals are jailed, it is necessary for the organization and the staff to have initiatives that can make a difference (Herbert, 2015).

Personal thoughts on the issue

I think that many criminal justice agencies have not been keen on enacting strategies that encourage cultural competence. The nature of practices such as racism and discrimination in the criminal justice system are clear revelations as to the challenges involved in implementing cultural competence practices. However, there is a need for offering the right kind of training that can transform the state of affairs in various criminal justice agencies. It is mandatory that awareness and training be embraced in all the criminal justice organizations to ensure that positive differences regarding cultural competence are realized shortly.


American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section (2010) Building Community Trust: Improving Cross-Cultural Communication in the Criminal Justice System model curriculum and instructional manual.

Angela Herbert MBE, (2015) Cultural competence in criminal justice: The right kind of training can play a helpful role, Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 23 Issue: 5, pp.39-42,

Fletcher, Michelle N., (2014) Cultural Competency in Law Enforcement: Assessing Cultural Competence Levels among College Campus Police Departments, Research Papers. Paper 504.

Kumagai, A. K., & Lypson, M. L. (2009). Beyond cultural competence: critical consciousness, social justice, and multicultural education. Academic Medicine, 84(6), 782-787.

Samovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., McDaniel, E. R., & Roy, C. S. (2014). Intercultural communication: A reader. Cengage Learning.

Shusta, R. M., Levine, D., Wong, H., Olson, A., & Harris, P. (2008). Multicultural law enforcement: Strategies for peacekeeping in a diverse society. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Carolyn Morgan is the author of this paper. A senior editor at Melda Research in Research Paper Writing Service. if you need a similar paper you can place your order for a custom research paper from A+ Affordable Paper Writing Service.

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