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Probably the most common error is the “Manichean Fallacy”, the belief that a person is either all good or all bad, that there are no shades of guilt or innocence. Law enforcement suffers from this shortcoming, as does a student’s judgment when choosing a criminal justice major. The mistaken notion that the criminal justice system is simply a matter of applying “the law” to a case is very damaging to learning the subtleties of psychology, sociology, politics, and cultural studies. Also, a student who thinks that criminal justice will lead them to help make “a better world” makes the mistake of ignoring the complex bureaucratic web that obfuscates and interferes with the acting out of justice to all parties. If students don’t face the realities and limitations of their profession, they will always be frustrated. So the main shortcoming of criminal justice students is a romantic, idealistic view of the profession. Naivete, “innocence”, are dangerous traits for them to display without tempering it with a realistic notion of the practical limitations.
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