Criminal Justice - Essay Samples And Topic Ideas For Free

Essay topics on criminal justice are not easy. It requires much research and knowledge of the justice system of a particular country and the law rights of residents. This topic combines much information, but you should focus on one to reveal it well in your essay. For example, you can write about the United States criminal justice system: its foundation, laws, and punishments. Along with this, you can mention certain problems that touch on criminal law or how the government should react to a range of crimes. Also, you can explain the consequences of breaking the law.

To start such an essay is always difficult. There should be precise thesis statements that will be a focus throughout the entire research paper. It is essential to highlight it in the introduction so you will hook the reader and keep them interested until the end of the essay, its conclusion. If you don’t know what to start with, we recommend you get familiar with research paper examples about criminal justice. They will surely guide you in coming up with your own thoughts and assumptions of what problem to raise. Remember to get started with an outline that is a good predecessor for your successful essay. By doing so and studying essay examples on criminal justice, you will improve your writing skills.

Corruption of the Criminal Justice System

There is a long history report of police violence against civilians in the United States which has resulted in creating laws by the government so that citizens may find a way to find a possible solution when their rights are violated. Section 242 of the constitution allows police officers to be fined or even imprisoned for any law enforcer who deprives a person of their rights on the basis of their colour or race (Kevin). The corruption investigations done by […]

Three Problems of the Criminal Justice System and how to Fix them

The criminal justice system has an important role in society to maintain order and to ensure that law is equal and fair; no matter age, ethnicity, race, sex, or social economical status. Unfortunately, this is not true within the current judicial system. Racial discrimination, youth incarceration, and health related infirmities result from incarceration (Simonson, 2017). Three Problems of the Criminal Justice System and How to Fix Them There are many problems that plague our current criminal justice system. The problems […]

Gender Equality and Crime

The court and the Judiciary, in general, are guided by the basic principles of justice to all. Judges usually give rulings based on the rule of law with the intention of protecting the public, deterring crime, rehabilitating law offenders, punishing offenders and offering reparation to the victim. The principles of justice mean fairness, protecting the rights of all regardless of gender, race or religion. However, gender equality has been a significant issue for many years, and there has been a […]

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Dispute Resolution in Criminal Justice

In my class of Sociology of Criminal Justice, we are learning what happened socially in the United States to cause the criminal justice policy to change so dramatically into a punishment policy, where we deliver harsher punishment to individuals to incapacitate and deter them from committing punishment. The class also explores what the aspects are of this punishment policy and what the consequences have been for the past decades from this policy. One particular topic that has stuck with in […]

The Current Trends and Issues of Social Media and its Effects on the Criminal Justice System

Technology keeps changing and getting more and more in everybody's face we can't avoid it. With that being said the more it advances and what if has become from say 50 years ago takes a big effect on the criminal justice system in many ways. Now there are good and bad ways it affects it. A good way would be someone could record and officer doing something that is actually wrong and he gets in trouble for it or a […]

Gender and Crime

Gender has been attributed as one of the key factors that act a significant role in the crime patterns and the criminal justice systems. For a very long time, it has become a fact that women and men differ in their rates of committing crimes as well as their victimization pattern experience. However, from this report, we find that the victimization risk of violence among the male adults almost equal to that of female adults. My perception, however, is different […]

Presenting Juveniles as Adults in the Criminal Justice System

The word most frequently used to describe the growth in the rate of violent crime among children 17 years old and younger is epidemic. The alarming rate at which children are committing crimes has increased the amount of questions on what should be done with these juveniles. The National Center for Juvenile Justice states how “Every state but Hawaii now allows juveniles to be tried as adults for certain crimes,” so why are people struggling with laws allowing young offenders […]

How the Media Portray Crime and the Criminal Justice System?

Crime has become one of the most consumed topics in America media. Since the U.S citizens greatly believe, rely, and get fooled on whichever the media spit out to them mostly with anything regarding crime, therefore, they do not take a moment to find, think, and analyze what they have heard, watched, or read from the media to compare with statistical facts. Rather, they digest any news that is being released from the media as true and credible. In fact, […]

Juvenile Correctional Counselor

Introduction In the criminal justice system there are numerous available career opportunities one can choose. By definition, criminal justice is “the system of law enforcement, involving police, lawyers, courts, and corrections, used for all stages of criminal proceedings and punishment” (D. 2018). Any career one may choose will follow the three-tiered system found within criminal justice: law enforcement, the court system, or the correctional aspect of criminal justice. For this paper, I have chosen to discuss what entails the career […]

Latinos in Criminal Justice

Latinos have a large presence in America, and have for a long time. This large Latino presence is due to the freedoms that are afforded by the United States government since the founding of our nation. Latinos may come to The United States for many reasons, one reason that Latinos may have the desire to come to the states is due to the corruption and violence in Latin America and their home countries. Countries in Latin America may not be […]

Racial Profiling Within the Criminal Justice System

Abstract There are many different reasons for people to engage in criminal activities. Unfortunately, there is no way to pin point the source of crime. The purpose of this research paper is to reveal the influences that race has on the Criminal Justice System. More specifically, the researcher (Danielle Clarke) will be discussing the ethical issue of Racial Profiling within the criminal justice system.? Introduction Sampson and Wilson (1995) stated that, “The discussion of Race and Crime is mired in […]

Constitution of the United States and the Fourth Amendment

The method by which law enforcement should treat people is based on the Bill of Rights section of the Constitution of the United States. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable search by law enforcement. Police must show evidence, that a threat to public safety exists, and probable cause that a crime is, or will be, committed for courts to issue a search warrant. The details of the what, where, when and whom they are searching must be provided. Items […]

Women Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System

Veronica Sutton COUN 603 Prof. Clarisse Domingo October 20, 2018 Foundations of Mental Health Counseling Based on some estimates, as much as 50% of the U.S. prison population suffers from some form of mental illness. As a consequence, each year thousands of mentally ill men and women are sent to prisons because of limited community resources. Which, has lead to mass incarceration within correctional institutions that are poorly equipped to treat the mental ill as they are subjected to punishments […]

Spain Criminal Justice

Spain, one of the oldest and most successful countries in the world. One of the biggest countries in all of Europe, and one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world. The history of Spain can be traced back hundreds of years when monarchs ruled the country. Of course, over time many things have changed. The economy, politics, tourism, etc. But, one thing that obviously changed over time is there criminal justice system. How it has developed from the past […]

Careers in Criminal Justice

Education and Professional Law Enforcement The American police officer execrate a promise to defend and aid the people they embody. They are presented by the administration to implement the law by detaining offenders and sensing and averting misconducts. Germann (1967) commences by stating that “there was a time when the American policeman would be inclined to define his job and role in a very narrow fashion” (p. 603). However, he continues that policing obligations are no longer simple responsibilities necessitating […]

Supervision in the Criminal Justice Field

Abstract Law enforcement agencies understand the importance of a true partnership with the community. Positive relationships with some segments of the community are easier to come by than others. Most communities in America are rich with many different cultures. However, it is because of this diversity that many organizations struggle to build trust and secure relationships that lead to success. Law enforcement agencies have an obligation to make proactive efforts to bridge the divide between the officers and community. Existing […]

The Constitution of America and Laws

The constitution of America established fundamental laws and guaranteed certain rights for its citizens. It was written in 1787 that replaced the Articles Of Confederation which had been governing character of the United States. The law of the United States was predominantly gotten from the precedent based law arrangement of English Law. Nonetheless, U.S. law was drawn significantly from its English ancestors both as far as substance and method. It has fused various common law developments. It had proven a […]

Why is it Necessary to Teach Ethics in Criminal Justice Law Business and Medical

Babies are born into the world with no knowledge or understanding of what is “good” or “bad”. You learn from the world around you and the people within it, what constitutes “good” or “bad”. Ethics plays a major role in one’s daily routines, judgements, and decision making. Why do we study ethics? From previous lectures, there are so many people in the world that truly believe they are ethical, and live in moderation. Ethics is understanding the difference between good […]

Alaska Natives Criminal Justice System

In 1993 the Alaska Native Commissioned Report revealed that 32 percent of the state's incarcerated population is Alaska Native, even though Alaska Natives represent only 16 percent of the overall population. More recent reports have found that these number have not drastically changed (The Alaska State Offender Profile, 2015). In this paper I will briefly outline and address what some scholars, researchers, and reports have cited to explain why Alaska Natives are disproportionately represented in Alaska’s prison system, as well […]

U.S. Criminal Justice System Overview

Mr. President, I would like to thank you and your front office for taking the time to read about my concerns during such a busy sports season. I know you’ve grown particularly fond of basketball and football games since your presidency. I recently tried to reach out to you in my recent letter, but I have assumed it never arrived. As I have previously stated, I represent the many Americans who would like to discuss with you the current state […]

Is the Criminal Justice System Prejudicial?

At first, I thought that it is not. But after doing some research, I was convinced to believe the opposite. Prejudice can be defined as the preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Bias is the prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. To introduce why I have come to believe that the criminal justice system is prejudicial, I want to […]

Source of Information about Crime

Violent wrongdoings (otherwise called violations against people) rule the vast majority's contemplations of wrongdoing and wellbeing. Regardless of criminal justice experts explanations that an individual's probability of being victimized little depends on him avoiding certain places, for instance, street gangs and drug peddler spots (Koper, Taylor, & Woods, 2013). This accumulation characterizes brutal violations as murder, persuasive assault, burglary, and irritated assault. Property violations are wrongdoings that are arranged as offenses against property. This incorporates robbery, theft, thievery, pyromania, misappropriation, […]

The Virtual Criminal Justice Alliance

The operational director for the visual security force Mr. James Dunbar has a very distinct job responsibility; some those responsibilities include dealing with prison reconstruction and decongesting those prison at large to minimize the high over population of those prison. Based on this, Mr. Dunbar has also partner with other entities to mitigate the risk of overcrowding of prison by advocating for other avenues such as private prisons and the community-based correction programs. This however, has enabled him to be […]

Criminal Justice System

Criminal justice is known to be the system exercises, and institutions of government mandated to sustain social control, discourage and lessen crime or sanction those violating the law through rehabilitation and subjecting them to criminal penalties. People who are accused of crime also have constitutional protections from abuse of prosecution and investigatory powers (Abdolsalehi, 2013). Law has the purpose of providing a set of rules which govern the conduct and order in society. The law provides the rights of the […]

Racism in Criminal Justice System

Scott Woods once said, The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people's expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn't care if you are a white person who likes black people; it's […]

“Just Mercy” is Bryan Stevenson’s Perspective on the American Criminal Justice System

Stevenson argues that the society should be aware rather than punishment. His personal stories share a representation of the criminal justice system. Stevenson is responsible for reducing the amount of wrongly accused victims. Throughout the story Just Mercy, the author, Bryan Stevenson, uses an optimistic tone. During cases, he would notice that things weren't going the way he expected. However, he still had hope in those situations. Bryan Stevenson uses real life experiences to bring awareness to incarceration. He uses […]

Care of the Mentally Ill in Prisons

A common problem facing the mentally ill inmates today is whether or not the use of restraints is safe and effective, or a deadly abuse of power. There are a plethora of articles that support either side, but in order to form an unbiased opinion, one must hear both arguments. There are several positive aspects of restraints. For example, when restraints are used inmates no longer have the ability to inflict damage upon oneself or others, additionally inmates are stabilized […]

Social Issues and Criminal Justice

The first key social issue is justice in the media. The subject of justice has become a hot topic in America this year, finding itself not only in the Criminal Justice field, but also addressed as in Social Justice, Racial Justice, and Economic Justice. In fact, Merriam Webster has chosen “justice” as its 2018 Word of the Year. It was chosen because it was searched 74% more times in 2018 than in 2017, and was the top-searched word this year […]

Racism and the U.S. Criminal Justice System

Introduction The primary purpose of this report is to explore racism issues in the United States justice system and addressing the solutions to the problem affecting the judicial society. Racism entails social practices that give merits explicitly solely to members of certain racial groups. Racism is attributed to three main aspects such as; personal predisposition, ideologies, and cultural racism, which promotes policies and practices that deepen racial discrimination. Institutional racism is also rife in the US justice system. This entails […]

Core Components of Criminal Justice System

When one looks at the criminal justice system core components, and their functions one can develop an understanding of how our country is able to balance justice if each core is applied properly. There are three cores of the American Criminal Justice system; police, courts, and corrections (Schmalleger, 2016). While many people may claim to know how each core component functions, many are like most that watch football games; they do know the role of each component on the field. […]

Related topic

Additional example essays.

  • Crime and the Why
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  • The Murder of John Orner: Unveiling Justice Through Ballistic Forensics
  • Cons Police Discretion
  • Does the Death Penalty Effectively Deter Crime?
  • War On Drugs and Mass Incarceration
  • Leadership and the Army Profession
  • Letter From Birmingham Jail Rhetorical Analysis
  • Compare And Contrast In WW1 And WW2
  • Why College Should Not Be Free
  • Shakespeare's Hamlet Character Analysis
  • A Raisin in the Sun Theme

How to Write an Essay About Criminal Justice

Understanding the criminal justice system.

Before writing an essay about criminal justice, it's important to understand the breadth and complexity of the criminal justice system. This system encompasses several institutions and processes established by governments to control crime and impose penalties on those who violate laws. Begin your essay by explaining the main components of the criminal justice system, typically including law enforcement, the judiciary, and corrections. Discuss the roles and functions of each component and how they work together to maintain law and order, protect citizens, and uphold justice. It's also important to consider various perspectives on the criminal justice system, including its effectiveness, fairness, and the challenges it faces.

Developing a Thesis Statement

A strong essay on criminal justice should be centered around a clear, concise thesis statement. This statement should present a specific viewpoint or argument about the criminal justice system. For instance, you might examine the impact of new technology on criminal investigations, analyze the challenges of prison overcrowding, or argue the need for reforms in the juvenile justice system. Your thesis will guide the direction of your essay and provide a structured approach to your topic.

Gathering Supporting Evidence

To support your thesis, gather evidence from a variety of sources, including academic research, government reports, and case studies. This might include statistical data on crime rates, research findings on criminal justice policies, or examples of criminal justice systems in different countries. Use this evidence to support your thesis and build a persuasive argument. Be sure to consider different perspectives and address potential counterarguments.

Analyzing Key Issues in Criminal Justice

Dedicate a section of your essay to analyzing key issues within the criminal justice system. Discuss current topics such as racial disparities in sentencing, the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs, or the impact of legal reforms. Consider both the theoretical aspects of these issues and their practical implications. Explore how these challenges affect not only the criminal justice system but also society as a whole.

Concluding the Essay

Conclude your essay by summarizing the main points of your discussion and restating your thesis in light of the evidence provided. Your conclusion should tie together your analysis and emphasize the importance of continued study and reform in the field of criminal justice. You might also want to suggest areas for future research or action needed to address the challenges identified in your essay.

Reviewing and Refining Your Essay

After completing your essay, review and refine it for clarity and coherence. Ensure that your arguments are well-structured and supported by evidence. Check for grammatical accuracy and ensure that your essay flows logically from one point to the next. Consider seeking feedback from peers, educators, or criminal justice professionals to further improve your essay. A well-written essay on criminal justice will not only demonstrate your understanding of the system but also your ability to engage with complex legal and societal issues.

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Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System

(21 reviews)

what is criminal justice essay

Alison S. Burke, Southern Oregon University

David E. Carter, Southern Oregon University

Brian Fedorek, Southern Oregon University

Tiffany L. Morey, Southern Oregon University

Lore Rutz-Burri, Southern Oregon University

Shanell Sanchez, Southern Oregon University

Copyright Year: 2019

Publisher: Open Oregon Educational Resources

Language: English

Formats Available

Conditions of use.


Learn more about reviews.

Reviewed by Darren Stocker, Professor, Cape Cod Community College on 5/27/24

The text covers a wide range of topics relative to the CRJS. It was nice to see the TOC cover the three pillars of criminal justice and further delineate police, courts, and corrections in a more detailed and comprehensive presentation. The... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 5 see less

The text covers a wide range of topics relative to the CRJS. It was nice to see the TOC cover the three pillars of criminal justice and further delineate police, courts, and corrections in a more detailed and comprehensive presentation. The glossary includes both historic and contemporary terminology found throughout the CRJS lexicon.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

Each of the topics provides an accurate depiction of criminal justice and is very inclusive of individuals, groups, communities, and agencies. Many of the examples provided align well with contemporary issues.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

The text does a good job covering contemporary issues while including relevant historical events and applicable case law. There is a need to be inclusive of Treatment Courts, such as drug courts, mental health courts, and veterans courts. This should also include some mention of the drug court model that is currently employed throughout the country. The illustration of probation and parole was nicely done. The increased use of biometrics for identification should also be included.

Clarity rating: 5

Overall, this is an easy read and provides enough information to satisfy the student at the introductory level. The text does a great job creating a voice that portrays each of the three major topics, police, courts, and corrections.

Consistency rating: 5

Terminology was well defined and explained. There were good examples that supported this.

Modularity rating: 5

Each chapter is broken down into very readable sections, making the text comprehensive overall. Any of the sections would be seen as providing a solid foundation for a first-year student, or those interested in knowing more about criminal justice.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

The organization of the text is very consistent with other introductory textbooks currently used at the college level. The information is clear and properly illustrated.

Interface rating: 5

There were no noted concerns with the means in which this is designed and presented. From an electronic presentation, it was very easy to navigate and find topics of direct interest.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

There were no issues that I was aware of, but I do think it should be formatted in APA. The use of "Understand" in the learning objectives is not consistent with the action verbs found in Bloom's Taxonomy.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

I found nothing in the text to be offensive.

I would like to have seen the text formatted in APA. Some of the Critical Thinking Questions are not actually questions.

what is criminal justice essay

Reviewed by Meg Chrusciel, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin - Superior on 11/27/23

The textbook does an excellent job covering the wide array of topics relevant for an introductory level criminal justice class. Rather than digging in too deeply, this book really focuses on skimming the surface of each topic (as a strong... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

The textbook does an excellent job covering the wide array of topics relevant for an introductory level criminal justice class. Rather than digging in too deeply, this book really focuses on skimming the surface of each topic (as a strong introductory book should). What is especially noteworthy is the organization both overall and within chapters. There is a lot of information included and it can get confusing quickly without proper structure and organization. This book has both. Further, the use of text boxes including example and discussion questions are so helpful for the reader and could be useful for classroom discussions. I would like to see more inclusion and discussion of drugs embedded throughout, if not made into its own chapter. Drug policy has shaped so much of the criminal justice system, it seems to warrant a deeper discussion than is made here. It is worth noting, however, that the chapter dedicated to policy is one of the strengths of this textbook. The glossary is excellent, but an index page would be helpful as well.

There were no glaring inaccuracies in this book. It addresses some controversial subjects clearly and objectively.

Because this book takes such an objective stance, it sometimes brushes over, if not omits entirely, some key concepts related to crime (e.g., drug use, gender, race). This hurts its ability to remain timely, though its discussion of underlying systems will remain relevant. Because the book includes example boxes and news boxes, these will likely need updating as time goes on, but even when older, the examples still make for good discussions or thought pieces.

The clarity of this textbook is one of its greatest strengths. It avoids jargon without explaining and contextualizing the language. The definitions provided are written in simple terms and straightforward. The authors use terminology commonly used by practitioners and researchers and does so in a way that an undergraduate student can understand. It is easy to follow and clearly written.

There are difference in tone and writing style between chapters written by different authors, though they are subtle and likely will go unnoticed by most undergraduate readers. The authors did adopt similar language and word choice throughout which helps the book read more cohesively, while still capturing different perspectives.

The modular approach of this textbook is outstanding. The book is broken into sections which each include a number of chapters. Within each chapter there are subsections which further help structure the content in a way that is easy to follow and interpret. An added benefit is that the chapters feel a bit shorter (despite containing the same content and page length as a traditionally written chapter). This helps make the sections feel more manageable and likely less intimidating or overwhelming for students.

This textbook follows the traditional four section (overview, policing, courts, and corrections) structure of most introductory books do in this field. As noted above, its modularity makes this a very well organized book that is easy to follow and makes sense for someone brand new to learning in this field.

Interface rating: 4

The interface is excellent, however it is really unfortunate that there is no index that allows you to jump around more easily. It is a long scroll in its PDF format. The use of images, tables, charts, and other graphics is immensely useful and really strengthens this book.

I did not notice any grammatical errors, at least any that impeded my reading.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

I did not find any of this textbook to be culturally insensitive or offensive. However, it could make more effort at being inclusive and representing a more diverse breadth of experiences. In trying to avoid insensitivity, it almost felt afraid to talk about some of the more problematic realities of our CJ system (such as the racial disparity in mass incarceration).

This is a great alternative to the very expensive introductory books in our field. Just as with all textbooks, its needs some adjustments and contextualization by the course instructor to really be appropriate in a respective classroom, but it certainly offers a great tool for those teaching introduction to criminal justice courses.

Reviewed by Summer Diamond, Lecturer II, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on 12/21/22

I was impressed with the wide range of areas this text covers. It begins with the history and makes its way through to current issues, which I appreciate. The Learning Objectives and Critical Thinking questions at the beginning of each section are... read more

I was impressed with the wide range of areas this text covers. It begins with the history and makes its way through to current issues, which I appreciate. The Learning Objectives and Critical Thinking questions at the beginning of each section are beneficial for students to know the "why's" of what they are learning and how to apply. I however, wish that there were more definitions in each section as this is an Introduction course and most students have not heard of a lot of these important terms being discussed.

Content Accuracy rating: 3

The content in the text is shown to be unbiased as it does come from different view points and authors. However, I found there to be some issues with accuracy of delivery of certain terms/subjects. Such as the dark figure or hidden figures of crime, the funnel effect and the delivery of jails and prisons. These particular points are crucial to teaching this topic and it was lacking in full details of each of these areas and only briefly touched the importance of them. Intro students and even higher levels need to know that jails and prisons are not interchangeable terms and although it did give a good list of the differences there could have been even more discussed to differentiate the two.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

The topics covered in this text range from the history of the CJ System to the current times which will be easy to update with any current relative events dealing with these issues and topics as time progresses. The stats listed provided a historical context but also the current stats such as those listed in the probation section provide context to what is being discussed and can be kept up to date easily.

Clarity rating: 4

The text uses personal perspectives and stories from the authors and not strictly from an academic setting that helps student relate more to the subjects and understand the application of certain situations. This is helpful in not only a lecture setting but in online courses as well.

Consistency rating: 4

The text has a good flow between the chapters and subheadings. Since it is from more than one author some areas were less informative than others and could have had more content added.

This text will be easy to pick and choose certain topics to the relative sections being covered in a specific module of my course and will be a good addition to assigned readings.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

The topics chosen are clear and in a logical order that is easy to read and assign to students.

The text is an easy read especially for undergraduate students.

Grammatical Errors rating: 4

There were a few grammatical errors as the stories provided for better understanding were from personal perspective the tone and language used was appropriate for them.

The text seemed to provide more current issues/stories in the media and therefore more sensitive to certain hot topics that we are dealing with in our current society.

This will be a great up to date supplement to my current required textbook. It will be easy to assign students to read additional material without them feeling overwhelmed as the sections are shorter than most textbooks which students these days will appreciate.

Reviewed by Jessica Peterson, Assistant Professor, Southern Oregon University on 12/4/22

This book is a nice and easy-to-understand introduction to the criminal justice system. As a policing scholar, I wanted to see more of a historical and analytical overview of policing. Some chapters provided more detail/in-depth discussion than... read more

This book is a nice and easy-to-understand introduction to the criminal justice system. As a policing scholar, I wanted to see more of a historical and analytical overview of policing. Some chapters provided more detail/in-depth discussion than others.

More than one perspective is provided in this book.

The field of criminal justice is constantly changing; at the time it was written, the stats/charts were recent. This text is still relevant and - as a new volume is soon to come out - will be a nice intro for students throughout the 2020s.

The book is written in a relatable tone - rather than strictly academic prose - that students appreciate.

The chapters are written by different individuals, so there are differences in tone throughout the book. However, there is consistency within chapters and components of the CJ system (e.g., cops, courts, corrections).

I was able to assign sections of the reading according to what I planned to cover, even if that meant dividing up chapters.

Again, it is relateable for undergraduate students.

This book reads pretty easily.

There are some noticeable grammatical issues, but the book is meant to provide undergrad students with an introduction to the system that is less academic in nature and more relatable. From that perspective, it does a nice job of remaining conversational.

Overall, the text - particularly certain chapters - tends to address diversity, inclusion, and the lack of attention to diverse perspectives throughout the study of criminology and the criminal justice system.

I survey my students on course materials and they appreciated the local examples and relatable content in the book. This book provides a brief overview of the US criminal justice system and allows a lot of room for faculty to lecture/cover what they would like to. Assigning readings does not feel overwhelming from a faculty perspective and allows you to provide other outside materials without overburdening students.

Reviewed by Frank D'Agostino, Professor, North Shore Community College on 11/3/22

This textbook covers all the major content areas required for an Intro to CJ class. Each content area is covered in a clear and comprehensive fashion. read more

This textbook covers all the major content areas required for an Intro to CJ class. Each content area is covered in a clear and comprehensive fashion.

The textbook cites legal sources which indicate that the text has been thoroughly researched and therefore is accurate.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 3

The textbook cites resources from within the last 10 years. My only comment here is that its unclear when the text was last revised, and in the Criminal Justice field the law/practice/procedures can change quite rapidly. This OER source may need to be updated.

Despite drawing on numerous authors, the textbook does flow and the prose is both lucid and accounts for any jargon used in the criminal justice field. e.g. specific terms like a "wobbler" (a criminal act in CA that could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony) are clearly explained. I would give this category a 4.5 if allowed to.

Consistency can be an issue when relying on numerous authors (see comment to Clarity above) but this text does a good job blending the writing styles as well as the terminology/framework. Not an easy task when doing an overview of an entity as vast as the American criminal justice system. Once again, I would give this category a 4.5 if allowed to.

Perhaps the greatest strength/asset of this text is the ease within which the reader can move between different topics and subtopics. This makes initial reading easier, but also makes reviewing text passages (say while preparing an assignment or studying for a quiz/test) also quite facile.

This text employs the classic organization for an Intro to CJ textbook. In short, it works, and if it isn't broke then don't fix it!

I didn't find many interface issues, most links work well, and moving back into the text was efficient, in that it brought you back to the place in the text you previously were. However, I did find that in some cases additional software was required. For example, in 7.3 the structure courts section, the 360° virtual campus tour of The U.S. Supreme Court requires the Adobe Flash Player. Perhaps this requirement is disclosed to the user up front, but if it isn't, I suggest that the authors do so.

There were no grammatical errors that I found. Of course, I am not an English teacher!

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

While I don't think the text is offensive, it does miss the opportunity to examine cultural, as well as racial, gender and ethnic, issues in a more detailed and up to date manner. For example, in 5.9 Strain Theories, 5.10 Learning Theories, 5.11 Control Theories of crime, the author relies on the seminal works to explain the topics, but misses on the opportunity to use more recent research. Although, in 5.12 other criminological theories, the author does briefly mention critical thoeries.

This is a solid Intro to CJ book. While I didn't see an associated test/question bank, I assume there is one available in the Library (perhaps?) I would suggest including some more recent cases/examples from media sources to make the text more relevant to the reader. Otherwise, great job.

Reviewed by Bahiyyah Muhammad, Associate Professor of Criminology, Howard University on 1/31/22

This book cover an array of different topics connected to the American criminal legal enterprise. Readers can find all traditional topics that one would cover in an entry level criminal Justice course. For example, Introduction to Criminal Justice... read more

This book cover an array of different topics connected to the American criminal legal enterprise. Readers can find all traditional topics that one would cover in an entry level criminal Justice course. For example, Introduction to Criminal Justice or Principles of Criminal Justice. Students who use this text will be introduced to all the classical and traditional works needed to comprehensively understand the legal system.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

The content for this text is presented in an unbiased manner. Each of the chapters are written in prose that are easy to comprehend for dual-enrollment high school students and early year college students.

This book has relevance for now and can be used for the future. The historical components discussed about the criminal system have relevance for the contemporary and will still be relevant as the system progresses forward. The topics in each chapter serve to frame and contextualize the major themes of the system. Ultimately, these (police, courts and corrections) can be taught during any timeframe.

The text is very clear. It is written using short sentences, examples and without subject matter expert jargon. It is written in a format that many will be able to understand without confusion. Each chapter is broken into sub-sections. This makes the content easy to digest. It also gives readers an opportunity to gain full clarity before moving into a new topic. The chapter exercises are clear and connect to real experiences. This helps readers to triangulate course information with real life. This is also helpful because it allows the instructor/course facilitator to bring in additional resources to help explain concepts further.

Each chapter follows the same layout. This helps young readers and growing scholars know exactly what to expect in each section through the text.

The textbook modularity is GREAT! The information is broken in smaller topical sections that contribute to the larger argument. This is helpful for both the reader and instructor. This modularity helped me to break the syllabus into weekly content that was consist throughout the semester. With this format student success in the course was increased. Because they knew how much they needed to read each week in order to complete each section. The book format allows consistency in contact and number of reading pages.

The organization of the book flows logically.

Images and chart are available throughout the text. This is helpful for visual readers.

There were no grammatical errors that students brought up. I also did not pick up on any of these kinds of errors.

This text provides culturally relevant content. Students in evaluating the course requested to have more of such content. Specifically, to highlight the critical ways in which race intersects with the criminal legal system.

I have used this book for 3 semesters. It has worked well in my large and small classes. I have one section of Principles of criminal Justice with 50 students. I have another with 300 students. This book is a good choice for teaching introductory criminal legal/criminology courses.

Reviewed by Wendi Babst, Instructor, Clackamas Community College on 1/2/22

The text is an excellent introduction to a wide range of topics. The structure of the text walks the reader through the topics and explains the concepts in simple terms which are appropriate for students who are beginning a criminal justice... read more

The text is an excellent introduction to a wide range of topics. The structure of the text walks the reader through the topics and explains the concepts in simple terms which are appropriate for students who are beginning a criminal justice course of study or those who are exploring the discipline. The index and glossary are adequate for navigating the information in each section.

I found the information to be accurate and unbiased. As an Oregon-based educator, I may not have noted information that was not applicable to another jurisdiction as was noted by other reviewers.

I appreciate that the information is succinct and covers the basics of each topic leaving room for the adopter to supplement with their own online or other content. There are several links to some good resources that are not controlled by the author, and I have some concern they may become inactive or direct students to the wrong information in the future. I know this can be a frustration for students. As an instructor using an OER textbook, I would anticipate spending time proofing these links each time I use the textbook and providing alternatives as needed. I would expect most instructors are constantly looking for current content to keep up to date with legal changes and to keep students engaged, so using this text as a starting point for each topic is a great way to compliment other more current and easily updated resources, such as internet content.

The format of the text should allow for updates to be easily implemented. I recognize it is a huge undertaking to maintain updates, but the basic framework is solid, and this would greatly expand the shelf-life of the textbook.

I found the textbook to be well-written and easy to understand. There are simple definitions for most technical terms, and these are also referenced in the glossary. The textbook is written in a conversational style that I believe students will find appealing. I know some reviewers commented about the informal style taking away from the credibility of the text, but in a time when textbook publishers are creating comic book format materials, there is clearly an expressed desire for more informal reference material. This textbook strikes a good balance between authority and approachability I believe my students will appreciate.

Overall, the material is consistent throughout the text, but it is clear there are different authors for each section. There are subtle differences in the style of each author, but this allows for students to understand they are getting some diversity of input and it also reflects the author for each topic has specific expertise in that area which lends to the credibility of the information.

Each section is very short and easy to follow. The modules were organized well and flowed nicely from topic to topic. Each chapter was labeled, and the sub-categories broke down the material well making it easy to locate information quickly.

The topics were presented in a clear and logical fashion. The learning objectives were clearly stated and met in the content of each section.

The layout of the text is simple with limited graphics and color use. This works well for use with accessibility technology. There were some graphics that appeared distorted but were still readable. I did note at least one graph that didn’t contain any date range information which was bit confusing, but overall, the graphics worked well and were well labeled.

I noted a few grammatical errors in the text sections and the glossary, but none that greatly impacted the content.

The text provides a good balance of examples that reflect the diversity of the community. It was especially refreshing to have the perspective of a female law enforcement officer in the policing section. There was nothing culturally insensitive or offensive in the text.

This is an excellent basic text for use in course providing an overview of the U.S. criminal justice system, but sections also provide an excellent basic framework for other more in-depth courses focusing on a particular topic or topics. My hope is to adopt sections of this textbook for focused courses on corrections and juvenile justice which will necessitate supplementing other references for most topics, but this is one of the best examples of an OER criminal justice text I have found. I am very appreciative of the work the professors at SOU put into this project.

Reviewed by Scott Bushway, Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice, Massachusetts Bay Community College on 5/25/21

This text explains how a criminal case proceeds through the criminal justice system very effectively. Each of the three components of the criminal justice system - law enforcement, courts, and corrections - is fully covered. It explains the... read more

This text explains how a criminal case proceeds through the criminal justice system very effectively. Each of the three components of the criminal justice system - law enforcement, courts, and corrections - is fully covered. It explains the importance of data collection to measure crime, which is essential to effective resource deployment. The court system is explained in fairly simple terms for a rather complex subject. Jurisdiction, court structure, appeal process, and court staff are all described in detail. The chapters covering the court begin with a brief history of the court system, including the history and differences between prisons and jails, including the different types of each. Restorative justice is highlighted as well as alternatives to incarceration such as diversion, and community corrections. As a final topic, the components of juvenile justice are well defined, which include rehabilitation and the juvenile justice and delinquency prevention act of 1974.

Alison Burke, Ph.D. is co-author with five other subject matter experts who have provided research-based analysis of each subject.

This textbook is relevant to today's criminal justice system and addresses current issues and challenges with each component of the criminal justice system.

The textbook is written in such a way as to address each subject with clear and concise language. Each chapter is formatted so that each topic is easily located and easily explained.

There do not appear to be any contradictions of material.

This book is easy to navigate as each chapter is properly titled with each sub-section formatted clearly.

The text begins with an overview of the criminal justice system. Then, methodically addresses crime, criminal justice policy, and policing before moving into the second component of the criminal justice system, courts. The final sections address the third component of the criminal justice system, which is corrections.

There is nothing in the textbook to distract or confuse the reader.

I found no grammatical errors in this book.

This textbook address the criminal justice system, which is factual, therefore not culturally insensitive or offense.

Reviewed by Ziwei Qi, Assistant Professor, Fort Hays State University on 5/22/21

The overall structure of the textbook is comprehensive. The authors strategically design the book for readers who needs an overall introduction understanding on the American criminal justice system. It includes an overview on crime, deviance, and... read more

The overall structure of the textbook is comprehensive. The authors strategically design the book for readers who needs an overall introduction understanding on the American criminal justice system. It includes an overview on crime, deviance, and justice system, scientific measurement on crime and crime trend, legal aspects of the criminal/procedure laws, sociopolitical impact on legal policy, criminological theories, the three pillars of the criminal justice system (i.e., policing, court, and correction), and the juvenile justice system. In each of these sections, the authors were able to provide both case studies and statistical information to the readers. One drawback of the content is its information can be outdated due to some statistics were in 2017.

The information presented in the current textbook was accurate with empirical and theoretical evidences as backup.

As previously mentioned, the authors could update some of the statistical analysis and research results by incorporating most recent research. While updating the information, the authors could also consider to add an additional chapter on how the Covid-19 pandemic shifted the dynamic of criminal justice system.

The charity level of the current textbook was overall good. In some chapters, such as criminal trial procedure chapter, authors can consider to incorporate infographic for beginning learners.

Overall the text is internally consistent with minor terms discrepancies, which may due to multiple authorships.

Modularity rating: 4

The authors had done an excellent job in modularity. Each section has its own theme and content, and it can be taught in segment.

The organization of the current text is good with very detailed and professional edits in the fine details of the content matter.

The interface of the current text is good.

No grammatical errors were noticed.

No cultural insensitivity was detected.

I believe this is a great book for beginners in criminal justice, law, and political sciences. I applaud that the authors can combine both theoretical and empirical context in the current book.

Reviewed by Brittany Ripper, Adjunct Professor, American University on 2/26/21, updated 3/23/21

The book covered the core components of law enforcement, courts, and corrections. However, greater detail was needed in certain areas. For example, the book listed defenses to a criminal charge, but did not provide explanations of these defenses.... read more

The book covered the core components of law enforcement, courts, and corrections. However, greater detail was needed in certain areas. For example, the book listed defenses to a criminal charge, but did not provide explanations of these defenses. Also, life-course theory was never mentioned.

Overall, the content is accurate, but key details are missing in certain chapters. For example, the book tells readers that judges sentence individuals convicted of a crime. While that is true in most cases, Kentucky still has jury sentencing, and Virginia only recently abolished this practice. Moreover, juries are used in death penalty cases. In regard to bias, one author claims that the defense attorney in the Ford Pinto homicide trial won the case because he was friends with the judge. This case could have been described in a more neutral way.

Many current events and pop culture references are made. These events were usually contained within text boxes, so they could be easily updated over time.

Clarity rating: 3

The book needs a significant amount of editing. There are several sentences that are missing words, particularly in the first few chapters. Jargon like "district attorney" and "Schedule I" is sometimes used without explanation. Bolded terms do not have clear definitions.

Consistency rating: 3

Chapters are written by individual authors and there is no standard chapter organizational framework.

I would definitely recommend assigning particular sections of this textbook, as opposed to assigning the textbook in its entirety. Each chapter is broken down into digestible sections.

The book is appropriately organized by topic.

Interface rating: 3

Pictures included within the text are often fuzzy or unusually large. Additionally, there is inconsistent use of text boxes separating chunks of text from the main body of the chapter. Several links to websites are broken.

Grammatical Errors rating: 3

There are grammatical errors throughout the book, which affects its credibility and could inhibit students' learning.

The book does not go out of its way to be inclusive, but there are no insensitive or offensive statements within it. It would be nice if the term "offender" was replaced with "accused" or "individual convicted of a crime."

The chapters on policing are wonderful and full of practical information. They are written by a former police officer who discusses her firsthand experience. I will likely be using the chapter on police recruitment in my future criminal justice courses.

Reviewed by Riane Bolin, Assistant Professor , Radford University on 1/29/20

This textbook is comparable to most other introduction textbooks on the market in terms of the content. However, one topic included in this textbook that is often integrated into other chapters is criminal justice policy. I appreciate that there... read more

This textbook is comparable to most other introduction textbooks on the market in terms of the content. However, one topic included in this textbook that is often integrated into other chapters is criminal justice policy. I appreciate that there is a chapter specifically devoted to this topic as its importance is often understated in other texts. I also appreciate that there is a whole chapter on criminological theories as well. Several texts will either exclude this topic or will integrate it within another chapter, often not giving it the attention that it deserves.

I did not find any inaccuracies within the content. However, there are a couple areas throughout the text that I believe would benefit from further elaboration and explanation.

The textbook provides the "nuts and bolts" of the criminal justice system, including its history, development, and current issues. With that being said, the only information that will need to be updated with some frequency is the current issues facing the system and changes to the system as well as any current events and examples. This task should be relatively easy and straightforward and could be done every so often as opposed to yearly.

The book is easy to read and I think the content will be easily digestible for undergraduate students. The authors write in a conversational manner which I believe will be appealing to students. Unnecessary academic jargon is avoided and key terms are defined in ways in which someone new to criminal justice would be able to understand.

Overall, the text is relatively consistent in terms of terminology. Framework, on the other hand, varies by author. Some authors include lots of activities and external resources, while others include few to none. Another inconsistency is the tone and writing style of the different chapters. Some authors have a different writing style than others. A final inconsistency, which may not be of great concern, is the subsection length. There are some chapters (and even subsections) that are more detailed than others. One recommendation I would have for the authors is to make each subsection relatively equal in length. Most sections take up 3-4 pages, but there are some sections that are covered across 6-7 pages. This is not as big of a deal if the student has the print version, but online, the larger sections require a lot of scrolling, which may discourage them from reading all of the content.

The authors have done an excellent job of dividing each chapter into small reading sections. It would be very easy for a professor to tailor the textbook readings to meet the needs of how they teach the course.

The topics are presented in a logical and clear fashion and mirror the way in which information is presented in similar texts. However, I would encourage the authors to provide a more detailed table of contents for the online book. While the print version of the textbook, provides a detailed table of contents the online version provides only the title chapters.

Overall, I encountered few significant interface issues. However, there were places where the spacing was weird or there were inconsistencies in font type. There were also a few images that appeared distorted. In some cases, this was likely due to the age and quality of the original picture. Some graphs were also distorted (i.e., that appeared stretched out and disproportionate). While I did not click on every link available, I clicked on several and did not encounter any broken links.

Grammatical Errors rating: 2

I found a number of grammatical and typographical errors throughout. While most were minor and would not inhibit the student from understanding the information that was being communicated, they were still distracting. Also, there were numerous formatting errors with the references.

I did not find any of the content to be culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. However, examples from the book focus a lot on Oregon. While I understand this is where the authors are currently working, for those outside of Oregon, it would be nice to have examples from a wide variety of locations. There could be a more detailed discussion of the impact of race and gender within the criminal justice system.

This book has a number of strengths including that it is written in a manner in which an undergraduate or someone new to criminal justice would understand, it includes a number of links to current events and stories that could be used for class discussion, student activities are provided, and, most importantly, it covers the necessary content. However, there are some areas in which the book could be improved. Having a consistent tone throughout regardless of the author would make the book easier to read. Further, a thorough editing of the text is needed as there are a number of grammatical and typographical errors throughout. Additionally, adding more examples from states other than Oregon would make it more marketable to professors working in other states. Overall, I think the content is there, it just needs some editing and formatting.

Reviewed by Zerita Hall, Senior Lecturer, University of Texas at Arlington on 1/28/20

The authors of this book; "Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System", did a great job. Comparing it to my required textbook for purchase by other authors, this book covered most of the material and is comprehensive. This book is... read more

The authors of this book; "Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System", did a great job. Comparing it to my required textbook for purchase by other authors, this book covered most of the material and is comprehensive. This book is cultural and systemic relative to the topics of today. The glossary could be a little more expansive, but overall - good job. Although there is no index, considering this book is online a simple navigation of tabs - students can easily find what they are looking for.

Given the introductory text, it can be concluded that this book is unbiased. Dealing with Criminal Justice and its topics, I have it easy for authors to speak more from their view point than stats and facts. This book, however, gives actually data on issues that matter. For instance, in Chapter 6-Stereotypes in Policing; this could be guarded as opinion, but in this industry, they state the facts of groups as a whole. The reader can get a more realistic sense of how to view possible perpetrators as well as the police.

There is relevant information in the text. With current insight on gangs, juveniles, examples of immigration and genocide, to statistics, interviewing skills of police, surveys/studies - advances and updates to this text can easily be made. The examples given are contextualized so that whatever current event is going on a student will get the point being made. Additionally, because of the examples with hyperlinks, students/instructors can link more examples.

This book is an easy read and easy to follow and understand. Due to the nature of the criminal justice field, our terminology is steady and so is theirs throughout the book.

Although some chapters could have been flushed out a little more, there is linear connection quantity and quality among the chapters. Content is effective applicable.

The text is broken down into small blocks within the titles. This makes for easy reading and following. Certain chapters are referenced in other chapters and it was easy to understand the thought process behind it. I do think, certain topics could have been more defined in terms of identifying more content for example sake.

The topics in this text are presented in a logical, clear an linear fashion, which is very helpful to the instructor and student. Looking specifically at the Wedding Cake Model as an example, the authors expressed clear descriptions, pictures and explanations of content. Other topics flow well also.

All images checked- charts, graphs, hyperlinks, gray-text boxes pink-text boxes and pictures are problem-free. Pictures such as examples of classical conditioning is animated and well-placed in such a way, a student can easily understand the concepts presented.

I found no grammatical errors in this text. The book is well written and formatted.

I found this textbook is not to be culturally insensitive or offensive. The examples and photos used of races, ethnicities and backgrounds are appropriate and relevant to the subject and content being presented. Considering multiple authors on this project, a good variety of perspectives are included in the text. The student learns from a varied perspective throughout the text.

Overall, good textbook, I plan to use it along with other resources.

Reviewed by Jennifer Dannels, Lead Instructor - Criminal Justice/Paralegal Studies , Northshore Technical Community College on 12/5/19

Considering this is an introductory course, I thought this textbook did a nice job of covering a vast amount of material. I really liked how the book covered policy - particularly how and why criminal justice policies are created and change. The... read more

Considering this is an introductory course, I thought this textbook did a nice job of covering a vast amount of material. I really liked how the book covered policy - particularly how and why criminal justice policies are created and change. The textbook I am currently using does not cover fake news, myths, and how crime is portrayed in the media at all - so I am happy to see these topics covered here and I think my students will find these topics interesting as well.

While overall comprehensive for an introductory course, I did not see coverage of the following topics within each main category: (1) Police - their various duties including predicting crime through Compstat/crime mapping; 4th Amendment and how it relates to search/seizures and warrants; and police interrogations/Miranda warnings; (2) Courts - types of evidence, types of witnesses (lay and expert), and juries; (3) Corrections - eras of corrections and prison life/culture itself - such as prisoner's rights, security threat groups, discipline in prison, and grievance procedures. While I do think these topics should have been briefly mentioned, I do realize that other Criminal Justice courses cover these topics in great detail (i.e., Police Systems and Practices, Judicial Processes, and Introduction to Corrections). Thus, students will eventually cover these materials in great depth so these omissions do not necessarily concern me. However, I also would have like to seen a small section on drugs, terrorism, and cybercrime, in addition to a brief history of crime in the United States (i.e., prohibition and organized crime, increase in violent crime in 1960's/1970's, War on Drugs in 1980's, rise of white-collar crime and terrorism, etc.)

I also thought that some topics, while covered/mentioned, could have used just a bit more coverage - most notably, the pretrial (bail, arraingment, etc.) and criminal trial process itself. While briefly described in Chapter 1, I will probably spend a bit more time on this in my classes given that it provides a good overview of how the criminal justice system actually works. While this text dedicates a good amount of coverage to theory and policy, I thought it could have provided a bit more detail on the actual process itself. I also thought the "use of force" section was too short, but it would be easy enough for an instructor to find current examples in the news to discuss in class in more detail.

I am not aware of any substantive errors. Most errors I saw were grammatical and in the glossary (i.e., descriptions of new and older generation jails). Nothing major though.

This book has lots of references to current events which I think the students will find relatable. Of course, more relative events will continue to occur -- but the instructor will just have to be mindful of this fact and update as they teach the course. This is no different than with any other Criminal Justice textbook.

The writing was clear and to the point with lots of examples to help demonstrate concepts. Some reviewers found the text a bit too informal, but I think students will appreciate the straight-forward language.

The overall framework of each chapter was consistent, although the "voice" of the author differs between chapters. Some authors are more formal than others -- but I think it still flows nicely and works.

I really like how the chapters were divided up into smaller sections, making it easy to skip sections, add sections, or vary the order. Each section was also a relatively short size which makes it easier for students to identify the issues or put their notes into outline formats.

The topics are presented in a logical and clear fashion. Each chapter begins with learning objectives and critical thinking questions which could easily be turned into interesting assignments and class discussions.

I did not experience any interface or navigation issues. The Table of Contents made it easy to jump from section to section.

Overall, I did not see many grammatical errors (with the exception of a few minor grammar issues in the glossary).

The text was not culturally insensitive or offensive. While race and gender issues may not have been directly addressed in its own section, I think these issues can be easily inserted into other sections (i.e., police shootings, use of force, community policing, sentencing, death penalty, etc.).

Overall, I really like this text (more so than the book I am currently using), and I plan to recommend that my department adopt it. The writing is clear and will be easy for students to read and comprehend. I also think the examples and references to recent events will allow students to relate to the material and realize the significance of these events to their everyday lives. This textbook also includes several interesting assignments throughout the text that instructors can choose to assign (or not). I'm looking forward to developing my Intro to Criminal Justice course using this book. While some reviewers wished to see more supplemental material, the lack of it does not bother me. I have my own teaching style, and I like to create my own presentations/assignments/quizzes/exams anyway. This book gives me a great foundation on which to build.

Reviewed by Katie Cali, Instructor of Sociology and Criminal Justice , Northshore Technical Community College on 11/15/19

This textbook covers the major topics need for an Introduction to Criminal Justice course. Topics are not explained in deep detail, but seems to be decent descriptions for an introductory level course. I would like to see this textbook expanded to... read more

This textbook covers the major topics need for an Introduction to Criminal Justice course. Topics are not explained in deep detail, but seems to be decent descriptions for an introductory level course. I would like to see this textbook expanded to include a few more chapters, such as terrorism, cybercrime and drugs. Nonetheless, the book does seem to be written in a way that should be comprehensible for Intro-level students.

As far as I could tell from my readings, the information and content matter appears to be accurate; however, as stated above, the content could use a little extra clarity.

Currently, the textbook is up-to-date. As with all books, as new events emerge the book may need to be updated to accurately represent the issues in society. I like the "Current Issues" displayed in the text. This text would benefit from writing with inclusion to other races, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, etc. As a Sociologist with a Criminal Justice background, I have found the best way to discuss the CJ system is by presenting the various experiences from a variety of lifestyles. Nonetheless, the style of the textbook provides a relatively easy structure for making updates/additions to the text.

Academic jargon is explained enough to educate students in an introductory course, though some areas lack crucial details to ensure the understanding. As mentioned before, some of the examples and/or topics could use a little more detail or explanation to make the text have a higher clarity level. I find the style of the writing interesting for a textbook, as the authors refer to themselves in parts of the text. However, this style of writing may attract the readers attention while providing a connection between the book and the students in a way that other books cannot.

I find the textbook to be consistent, even if the writing style of the various authors are not consistent. The additional incepts and discussion topics help to promote a consistent structure for the text.

I find the modular structure of the textbook to be concise and beneficial to the instructors as well as the students. The clearly defined learning objective and the questions to ponder engage the reader and prepares the brain for the topic at hand.

I find this textbook to be well organized. The topics are presented in a logical and clear fashion. One may easily navigate themselves through the book with little to no struggle. Organized similar to other Introduction textbooks.

Throughout my use of this book, I did not find any major interface issues to be concerned about. Images were clear and organized and the book was very easy to navigate.

I did see a few minor grammatical errors. Majority of the issues were in the glossary. One more editing session would clear these issues right up.

During this review, I did not find culturally offensive or insensitive writing. However, I do feel this textbook needs to strength its level of inclusion, as mentioned earlier. This textbook seems to obviously be written from a white perspective and could use diversity to culturally enhance this text.

As a pioneer into the OER world, I believe this textbook is a great beginning, As with all pieces of work, there is definitely room to grow, which could enhance the overall experience from this text significantly. I plan to recommend this textbook to the department as a possible adoption.

Reviewed by Chris Palmore, Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Louisiana at Lafayette on 11/11/19

The text does a good job of covering the main issues of the American criminal justice system. There are chapters for the main topics, including crime, measuring crime, policing, courts, and corrections. There is also an interesting section on... read more

The text does a good job of covering the main issues of the American criminal justice system. There are chapters for the main topics, including crime, measuring crime, policing, courts, and corrections. There is also an interesting section on victimization, which many texts do not cover. Missing potential chapters like drugs and crime, mental health and crime, terrorism, bias-motivated crimes, cybercrimes, and comparative criminal justice. There is a discussion of Public Policy, which is great and something that I have not seen in any introductory text so far.

I did not see any accuracy issues, minus a few grammatical errors.

The text's omission of key social factors related to crime (i.e., race, sex) hurt the overall rating of content relevance. However, the organization of the text makes it so additions can be made with ease. The current issues boxes will need to be updated as time goes on, but that is also something that can be done easily. Some of the references were specific to a state, so a more multi-state approach could enhance the impact of the text.

The writing is clear and easy to understand. Jargon and technical terms are defined in easy to understand language. Overall, the authors used simplistic language suitable for an introductory course in Criminal Justice.

Overall the writing and framework were consistent throughout the chapters. It was a little clear that different people wrote different chapters by writing style, but I'm not sure how much that would affect the overall consistency of the text or if students would notice such a thing. Each module is set up similarly, and the overall critical framework remains in each section.

The modularity of the text is a strong point. Each section can be broken down into smaller chunks and lessons. The flow of information was nice and it laid out clear learning objectives from the start of each chapter. I also thought the critical thinking questions at the beginning of each section were a nice introduction to each module and got me thinking about the material prior to reading the material.

I thought the text was logically organized and easy to follow. Similar to other introductory texts.

I really liked the interface of the text. All the sources and links worked on my PC, but I did not attempt to pull them up on my phone or tablet. Overall, the interface made it really easy to navigate. The table of contents opened up into sections, which made skipping through to relevant sections easy.

Minor grammatical mistakes and would benefit from some copyediting.

The text is inclusive and does not alienate groups or individuals with specific backgrounds, however, it also pushes some of these major issues aside.

I did not see any teaching resources available with the text. Although many professors already have some made up, having some come with the text ensures that all the information is relevant. I thought this was a pretty good introductory criminal justice text and am considering adopting this for my Summer 2020 course.

Reviewed by Ami Stearns, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, University of Louisiana at Lafayette on 11/11/19

The textbook covers many similar topics as other introductory textbooks in the field, particularly in the areas of courts, corrections, and police. However, it lacks attention to "emerging crimes" (global terrorism, cybercrime, hate crime) and... read more

The textbook covers many similar topics as other introductory textbooks in the field, particularly in the areas of courts, corrections, and police. However, it lacks attention to "emerging crimes" (global terrorism, cybercrime, hate crime) and victimization. While some of these concepts are introduced, such as victim typologies in Ch 1, I believe emerging crimes and victimization should be stand-alone chapters. The Theory chapter does not prioritize or attend to feminist criminology, which should be added to the canon of Very Important Theories. Further, the book could benefit from either a chapter introducing concepts of intersectionality issues, or at least incorporate concepts of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and ability, as these identities relate to crime and punishment, among the existing content. The chapters are short and concise, packing in critical information along with relevant links to outside media, outside readings, critical thinking exercises, and incorporation of current events/news to bring relevancy to the content. Overall, I believe the book is comprehensive enough for an introductory level class, although I wish it had supplemental materials for instructors.

I did not see any factual errors, yet much of the content and examples are geared toward Oregon culture, laws, and customs, which I know little about. I'm not sure if this is a matter of Accuracy, but please, please, please do not link to Wikipedia. To me, this is the book's most significant drawback. Wikipedia is not used as an academic source for papers, it should not be used as even a source of information about people, places, or phenomena. This reliance on Wikipedia negatively impacts the validity of the entire textbook.

The incorporation of news items as examples and links to online media, along with attention to current events in the content, means this text is relevant and up to date. If I had to complain, the textbook authors should make the examples more inclusive of the national criminal justice system overall, rather than concentrating on Oregon. As far as longevity, I have concerns about web links that may change, and wonder if the book would be better served by including links for each chapter as part of supplemental materials, as it is far easier to update supplemental materials than an entire textbook. While it is difficult to publish a textbook that remains up to date without a tremendous yearly effort, yet this book will certainly be relevant for the next few years.

The text is very accessible for first year university students, but sometimes the writing is so casual, it would be better suited to, for example, a blog. I have gone back and forth on my opinion about this characteristic of the textbook's language. On one hand, I really do not like the casual writing because it may diminish the validity of the content. On the other hand, the casual writing does lend an air of having a conversation with the reader, rather than relying on traditional textbooks' standard one-way information delivery. After considering the pros and cons, I believe that the casual writing helps distinguish this textbook from others in the field that are extremely dry (and they are all, almost without fail, extremely dry), and that this should be considered a strength. It is a very different approach to communicating with students and I would be interested to assess students' reactions to the writing style.

The presentation of content is consistent among chapters, but I do notice that some of the writers are more casual than others, so that there are stylistic differences among chapters, though it is slight. For example, some chapters use the "I" voice and some do not. Perhaps this brings up a teachable moment in class, though. I often point out to students that textbooks are not created in a vacuum, but rather are a product of real people. Some authors structure the chapters differently, which may be problematic for students who need consistency.

The modules are self contained and very easy to read. A significant strength of this book are the short modules. These are beneficial to work with students' short attention spans.

The book is organized, logical, and clear. The organization of information is similar to many other introductory textbooks in the field.

The textbook is extremely easy to navigate. I did not see any distortion problems on my monitor. Distortion may occur on different monitors, or on an e-reader, etc.

There are a few errors throughout, mainly typos or missing punctuation. The textbook would benefit from more copy editing at some point.

I do not see cultural insensitivity in this textbook, however, as I mentioned at the beginning of my review, it would benefit from inclusion of matters related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc. The individuals in positions of authority in the textbook photos are not always white, which has sometimes been a problem in older criminal justice textbooks.

I have decided to pilot this textbook next year in my introductory class. If I am able to update my review with information about student reactions to the textbook and my own impressions of its value and use, I will do so.

Reviewed by Jolene Sundlie, Sociology Instructor, Minnesota State University System on 10/27/19

This text does a great job of covering a great majority of topics one would find in a typical Introduction to Criminal Justice textbook. The book combines topics that might be covered separately in a 16-17 chapter textbook, which I think is great.... read more

This text does a great job of covering a great majority of topics one would find in a typical Introduction to Criminal Justice textbook. The book combines topics that might be covered separately in a 16-17 chapter textbook, which I think is great. Instructors can expand on the topics they choose. I do wish there was more coverage on specific types of crimes, and I did not see any inclusion of cyber crime at any point in the text.

I did not see any glaring errors or inaccuracies.

This textbook is extremely up-to-date. There are many sections labeled "Current Issues" and they are, in fact, current! My only concern is how often can/will this book be updated so it remains relevant.

I found the writing to be inviting and accessible and think my students at the community college level would agree. Terms are explained well and the book includes a glossary that offers concise definitions.

I found the content and style of writing to be consistent from chapter-to-chapter, even though the authors changed from section to section. Each chapter included boxes containing additional information and discussion questions or assignment ideas.

I really liked the way this book was divided into 10 chapters and within each chapter there were several numbered sections. This would make it much easier to break up reading in a larger chapter (e.g. Chapter 1) into sections, rather than by page number. If an instructor wanted to reorder the chapters, the material would still make sense.

This textbook follows the typical and expected organization of topics for an Introduction to Criminal Justice book. Some topics that would usually be found a separate chapters were combined under more robust chapter titles.

My only criticism is that I did not care for how references were cited. Sometimes, there was a link within the text and other times a footnote. I would prefer a consistent method. Though the links all worked fine.

I found no grammatical errors throughout the book.

I did not find any comments or references that I found to be insensitive or culturally inappropriate, but there is not much coverage of race or ethnicity other than in statistics.

I could not tell if there were any instructor resources for this book. Some Open textbooks have them, some do not, but it would be helpful if there was a clearer indication if there were any. I would prefer an academic book not use Wikipedia as a reference when many of us will not accept it from our students.

Reviewed by Sarah Fischer, Assistant Professor , Marymount University on 7/26/19

This book has fairly comprehensive chapters, but lacks a conclusion or any acknowledgement of what it leaves out (gender issues in CJ, cybercrime, comparative criminal justice, etc.). It isn’t that the book needs a chapter on each of these... read more

This book has fairly comprehensive chapters, but lacks a conclusion or any acknowledgement of what it leaves out (gender issues in CJ, cybercrime, comparative criminal justice, etc.). It isn’t that the book needs a chapter on each of these additional topics, it just needs to acknowledge they are part of the field.

Unfortunately, this book contains a few substantive errors (such as stating murder is the only crime for which one can receive the death penalty in the United States).

The text was finished in 2019 and consequently is very timely. It is most relevant for CJ classes in Oregon, as many of the examples and links are Oregon-specific (many pages link to State of Oregon police agency application websites, for example).

Overall, very clearly written.

Consistent in terms of terminology. The framework of the chapters varies by author—some of the co-authors here include links to great resources (podcasts, television shows, and TED talks) that could easily be the basis of assignments. Other include almost no links to outside resources.

Very easily divisible.

Well-organized chapters. Some chapters repeat information from other chapters. Chapters do not flow into each other or have ideas/themes that carry across chapters (depending on how instructor wants to use the text, could be useful or not useful).

Some image distortion in charts, graphs, and text.

Grammar and formatting errors appear in every chapter.

The book is aimed at readers with no or positive previous experiences with police and/or the criminal justice system as a whole. If that is not the experience of your students, I would recommend looking at the specific chapter of this book you intend to use—the chapters vary in their inclusivity.

Reviewed by Geraldine Doucet, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice/Juvenile Justice, Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA on 4/27/19

Extensive and thorough coverage of the three criminal justice segments, the functions, operations, interdependence and interrelation of the three are clearly addressed from the onset. The trends, current challenges, court cases, as well as... read more

Extensive and thorough coverage of the three criminal justice segments, the functions, operations, interdependence and interrelation of the three are clearly addressed from the onset. The trends, current challenges, court cases, as well as Constitutional, legal, moral, social, political issues relevant in the criminal justice system are scholarly presented. The manner in which this textbook is written, actually ‘engages with’ and ‘talks with’ the students throughout the book using statements like— “let us go back to our example (p. 18) …. or “Imaging sitting in the college classroom with (p. 17)…”). Then there are the Internet links presented throughout the textbook making further connection to the discussions at hand. These activities are presented within the discussions and not merely at the end of the chapter presentation as is the case with some textbooks. This allows the student to stay engaged with the topic of discussion as it is occurring, thereby making the knowledge powerful and impactful.

The book’s appearance is not as attractive as its content, which is rich with various illustrations, exercises, critical thinking challenges, and other activities that engages the student throughout the book. The content is easy reading both in terms of the knowledge shared as well as on the readers’ eyes. The organization of the textbook is one of its’ greatest attraction. The chapter discussions are well integrated with examples and Internet sources that illustrate the point(s) being made. Moreover, the chapters are short yet powerful with knowledge that is presented in a clear, concise, and synchronized manner.

The language used throughout the book is applicable for an introductory level course in criminal justice/criminology that makes this book student-friendly and easy to read. The use of language is crucial in any discipline, and the authors did an excellent job in their communicative delivery. In addition to the glossary at the end of the textbook, each chapter presents an illustrative use of the key concepts for students’ understanding. The modular presentation of the material does not overwhelm the student with information. By instead, allows students to absorb an adequate amount of information per chapters/sections. The materials presented in the book are powerful, descriptive, well balanced with knowledge, pictures, illustrations, activities, and especially critical thinking that engages students in the discussions.

The textbook is well organized; starting each chapter with learning objectives followed by thought provoking “knowledge probes” or “assessments activities” leading into the discussion(s). Writing (i.e., a written reaction to a situation…p.45 or p.187) and critical thinking (i.e., critical thinking questions or “what do you think” moments…p. 160) skills are highly demanding in a Criminal Justice career/field and this textbook presents opportunities to engage the students in doing both. Our students upon graduating will need scholar writing, legal writing, and some technical writing skills; therefore, any form of writing is of value.

What is in the textbook seems accurate. The problem is what is also accurate may be missing from the Textbook. More of the popular criminological theories in Criminal Justice could be more inclusive, as restated in the Clarity section of this Review.

It looks like the textbook does not address cybercrime, terrorism, nor environmental crimes. Also, there is no mentioning of hate crimes. All these types of crime are prevalent today in America and throughout the world. You may want to add these types of crimes in the revised textbook or future textbook. The textbook can also benefit and Index section, which I also mentioned under the Organization section of the Review.

In addition, it may not be a bad idea to add a brief section/caption on the growth and expansion of criminology since its origin. Discuss the subcategories of criminology, such as penology, victimology, peacemaking criminology (i.e., restorative justice), convict criminology, and green criminology (i.e., environmental crime and harm). Explain how these came about. This information can be presented either in Chapter 1-Crime, Criminal Justice, and Criminology or Chapter-5-Criminological Theory, of the Textbook.

Chapter 6-Recruitment and Hiring Websites for Future Careers—This chapter could have been more inclusive by addressing a brief history on changes in the qualifications of police officers, such as educational requirements, the introduction of on-going professional development, and/or the growth of specialization due to technology and globalization. The presentation of the Website listing of law enforcement agencies could have been accompanied by more relevant ‘TEXT’ information.

Lastly, in Chapter 10—Juvenile Justice and particularly 10.6—Due Process in the Juvenile Court the textbook acknowledged due process related landmark court cases from 1966 to 1976. The authors may want to update the due process information on juvenile matters especially since there have been over 16 more landmark cases since that time.

The clarity issue in this textbook has more to do with the presentation of materials, such as p. 201 the “Father of modern law enforcement”, yet his name is nowhere on that page where his picture is. One would have to find it on a page before. This is the same with various Tables or Charts (i.e., Mendelsohn’s Typology of Crime Victim which is mentioned as a title on page 57 and the Chart itself is presented on page 58. There is also the presentation of the positivist school of criminology with limited acknowledgement of Cesare Lombroso contributions and no picture of him; yet, there are pictures of the other men mentioned. There is no acknowledgement of Cesare Lombroso being credited with being the “Father of criminology” and why. This is somewhat missing critical information. Chapter 5 is the chapter that probably needs to be improve with greater content information and illustrations, when possible, on theories that are popular in criminal justice, like Robert Agnew’s general strain theory; Gottfredson & Hirsch’s self-control theory/general crime theory; the developmental theories, such as latent theory by Moffitt or others, and life course theories (Aged-graded Theory) by Sampson and Laub.

The picture on page 340, which is labeled “People Incarcerated in the U.S.” and the same picture on page 353 (i.e., labeled “Correctional Control by Type 1975-2016) are the same, However, on page 353 the caption underneath the picture says 'Correctional Control by Type 1975-2016', with no years are being shown. It this a mistake or is this how it is meant to be?;

Another strength of this textbook is the use of a modular approach to present the materials. This approach is manageable and self-directed, which makes it easier for students to read and absorb the knowledge. Given the fact that criminal justice/criminology are interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary studies, the modular approach is excellent. The integration of knowledge is more effective and successful. This is great for the students’ course enrichment, which is what every author/textbook should strive to achieve. It is certainly what every instructors want--for students to READ the BOOK.

Except for grammatical errors and a few suggested additions needed, the organization structure of the textbook is good. There are some problems with the flow or transition of materials when referring to pictures, tables, and/or charts. They are not always synchronizing perfectly with each other. Lastly, the addition of an Index section in the back of the book would be useful.

Excellent job combining/blending the criminal justice and criminology knowledge together without sacrificing one discipline over the other. If there is one exception, it would be Chapter 5 when blending the criminology theory that are more popular in criminal justice as oppose to sociology or psychology, for instance.

Several minor grammatical errors that needs corrections, such as font size corrections (p. 37). Revisit pages 40 and 41 with the exception of the material written in the gray boxes (or illustration captions) the words on page 40 is the exact same as the words on page 41. However, the numbered footnotes are different (8 & 13). The word “Misdemeanor” could be placed on page 56 (to include the work with the definition. Bring the caption “Mendelsohn’s Typology of Crime Victims from page 57 to page 58—with the chart—it makes for a better connection of the material. Do the same with Table 1 title (Criminal Justice Frames and Examples of Narratives) on page 114, move it to page 115 so that the Title is over the Table?

There is room for some improvement by showing greater diversity beyond black and white. This textbook is about America’s criminal justice system; let that also reflect all culture/subcultures in this great country

Overall, this is a very good beginner’s textbook for an Introduction Course and can further be useful as a supplementary and resource book as the student continues to pursue their criminal justice/criminology education. Chapter 4-Criminal Justice Policy is uniquely presented as a separate chapter. This is significant because often policy in Criminal Justice is a topic that is given a low priority or put-on-the-backburner in an Introduction course, nonetheless is vital. Nearly everything about criminal justice impacts policy, whether it involves, reform, re-entry, community corrections, sentencing, to mention a few. Chapter 4 is a great selling point for this textbook. This textbook will be read by the student because of how the material is presented—student friendly, simple, easy reading, which is significant. As an instructor, I want a book that my students would pick up to read because it is quick and easy to read with clear understanding. Moreover, the student learning outcomes postulated in the chapters can be achieved using this textbook. Except for the minor criticism offered, I like the textbook. It is my opinion that it well suited when working with students enrolled in dual-credit programs (with criminal justice as a college major) as well as an entry-level college student majoring in criminal justice.

Reviewed by Raymond Delaney, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Southern University at New Orleans on 4/18/19

The book addressed the key areas of the criminal justice system. Each component (courts, cops, and corrections) were reflected of key elements essential to the operation of the justice system. Please provide more detail information in a nuanced... read more

The book addressed the key areas of the criminal justice system. Each component (courts, cops, and corrections) were reflected of key elements essential to the operation of the justice system. Please provide more detail information in a nuanced form. For someone who may not be familiar with the operation of the system or an incoming majoring student, they may have more questions than answers for their curiosity. Subjects are briefly addressed and then the section abruptly ends. Definitions could be more defined, most of the key terms had one very brief but not concise definition.

Information in each section appears appropriate. The authors may want to consider providing more substantive and clarifying depth to the subject matter. After reading certain areas, I was looking for a follow-up example or closure to the subject.

Attempt to provide key cases that change public opinion. I reviewed the authors' insight on Michael Brown and the Ferguson incident. However, the author could have drawn parallels from other landmark incidents such as Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin. Consider including information that addresses the lack of reporting and tracking by law enforcement on excessive force. No mention of black lives matter existed.

Clarity rating: 1

Clarity would be an area or need for major or significant improvement.

The text is consistent in the subject matter. However, it is also consistently lacking depth.

The text is broken into readable and identifiable sections. Easy flow and follow through.

This section would be of great strength. The structure and flow of the text would align to most or traditional introductory textbook. The organization of the subject matter or key elements were notable.

No significant or major issues of concern.

The authors overuse too many pronouns. Perhaps, using clear subject-verb agreements as it relates to the topic could help minimize overly used terms such as “This.”

Cultural Relevance rating: 2

Cultural relevancy and sensitivity would be an area of strengthening. The text focuses heavily on the negative occurrences that affect African Americans. Rightfully so, since African Americans have faced such bigotry, hatred, and racism as an ethnicity. However, the authors may want to find leaders of significant roles in criminal justice. Search and include positive situations or stories that African Americans could be of a positivist in the criminal justice system.

I commend the authors attempt to provide a resource available to fragile collegiate students. However, the text overall lack clear and concise subject matters. The authors may want to focus on providing depth. If I were to include this in my syllabus, it would need additional resources or references that could potentially appear burdensome to an incoming freshmen/sophomore student. Please highlight major key cases and/or events that shaped and formed form public opinion and outcry.

Reviewed by Hollie Macdonald, Lecturer, Longwood University on 4/11/19

The book covers all areas and ideas briefly. The book could explain some concepts in more depth, and also explain them in a less casual way. The glossary is good but not extensive of all concepts and also lacks accurate punctuation. read more

The book covers all areas and ideas briefly. The book could explain some concepts in more depth, and also explain them in a less casual way. The glossary is good but not extensive of all concepts and also lacks accurate punctuation.

The content is accurate but the examples are not always clear. The general idea that the author is trying to convey comes through in most examples but some of the examples leave the reader asking further questions that are never answered. The examples are great but seem like they should be added in a lecture to supplement the book, not in the book itself.

The content is up to date, uses data and resources that are relevant. If updates are needed, they will not be difficult to add.

Clarity rating: 2

The text is written clearly and with accessible prose but the author refers to themselves, "I", many times which I do not think should occur in a college-level textbook. She gives examples based on her own experience which is fine but makes the book sound like a transcribed lecture, not necessarily an academic piece.

The text is consistent but also seems very causal in its presentation of concepts.

The text is easily readable and is broken up into logical sections. The flow is good. The author does give examples throughout and makes an effort to separate examples from the concepts and chapter content.

The book is organized in a clear and logical way. The book's structure is similar to all other introduction to criminal justice textbooks that I have read and used in my courses. The book touches on policy and theory which is important in introduction to criminal justice classes because that is the material that the students will study in depth towards the end of their undergraduate education and in graduate school.

The interface was fine, no problems. The table of contents was helpful and navigation was smooth.

The glossary has inconsistent punctuation. Sentences started with the word "Because". Grammar is casual at best. Does not come across to the educated reader as professional grammar and word usage. This might be intentional to connect with less educated readers (potentially first year students taking an introduction course).

The author uses first person throughout the book which undermines the "seriousness". When students are reading this material we want them to feel as if the information is important and coming from an objective source. The book gives good information but does not seem objective with examples and stories about the author.

Overall, the book looks promising. It covers basic concepts that set the foundation for learning but there are things that could be improved. As an undergraduate level instructor in the field, who has read many similar textbooks, this one seems casual in its prose and explanations. The book could be great for a high school criminal justice class but I would not recommend as the only textbook in a college level class. If this book were to be used at the college level it would need to be accompanied by supplemental materials that provide a clear more professional explanation of the concepts.

Table of Contents

  • 1: Crime, Criminal Justice, and Criminology
  • 2: Defining and Measuring Crime and Criminal Justice
  • 3: Criminal Law
  • 4: Criminal Justice Policy
  • 5: Criminological Theory
  • 6: Policing
  • 8: Corrections
  • 9: Community Corrections
  • 10: Juvenile Justice

Ancillary Material

About the book.

There is a dearth of OER textbooks in Criminology and Criminal Justice, which made creating this textbook all the more exciting. At times we faced challenges about what or how much to cover, but our primary goal was to make sure this book was as in-depth as the two textbooks we were currently using for our CCJ 230 introduction course. The only way we were willing to undertake this project as if it was as good, or better than the current books students read. We have had very positive feedback about the required textbooks in the course but consistently heard how expensive the books were to buy. We also needed to ensure we met the learning outcomes outlined by SOU for a general education course, as well as the state of Oregon, to make sure this textbook helps students meet those outcomes.

About the Contributors

Alison S. Burke is a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Southern Oregon University. She earned her Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and her MCJ from the University of Colorado Denver. While in Denver, she worked with adjudicated youth in residential treatment facilities and group homes. She has published a variety of journal articles and book chapters related to juvenile justice, delinquency, and gender, and her primary research interests involve women and crime, juvenile justice and delinquency, and pedagogy in higher education. Her most recent book is titled Teaching Introduction to Criminology (2019).

David E. Carter joined the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department in 2008. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. Dave served in the U.S. Army for 8 years as a linguist prior to attending school. He has published works in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency in the area of lifecourse research, as well as in the Corrections Compendium, where he wrote about U.S. inmate populations. He also works with local agencies (in a consultative role) providing evidence-based practices and evaluations for correctional programs in the area of effective interventions and evidence-based programming. At SOU, Dave has helped facilitate the Lock-In event and annual that provides students with a hands-on experience of the justice system.David E. Carter joined the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department in 2008. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. Dave served in the U.S. Army for 8 years as a linguist prior to attending school. He has published works in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency in the area of lifecourse research, as well as in the Corrections Compendium, where he wrote about U.S. inmate populations. He also works with local agencies (in a consultative role) providing evidence-based practices and evaluations for correctional programs in the area of effective interventions and evidence-based programming. At SOU, Dave has helped facilitate the Lock-In event and annual that provides students with a hands-on experience of the justice system.

Brian Fedorek earned his doctorate at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Criminology. He has taught classes in Terrorism, Comparative Criminal Justice, Theories of Criminal Behavior, and introductory courses. His research interests include media and crime, criminological theory, and criminal violence. He has served on the board of the Western Association of Criminal Justice.

Tiffany L. Morey has an almost three-decade career in the law enforcement arena. She retired as a Lieutenant from a police department in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her expertise is in the law enforcement, crime scene investigation (CSI), and forensics fields. During her tenure in policing in Las Vegas she worked in patrol, the crime prevention division, community services, recruitment, special events, problem-solving unit (first ever unit/substation for her department in a high gang and drug area), undercover prostitution and narcotics stings, search warrant service assistance, mounted unit departmental work, CSI (crime scene investigator), forensics, Sergeant and Sergeant field training program and master trainer, Lieutenant and Lieutenant field training program, and finally Acting Captain. During this time, she was also chosen and paid by an independent firm to travel the country and conduct oral board interviews and assessment center testing and recruiting for law enforcement agencies and fire departments. She developed a ground-breaking class to assist candidates in the law enforcement hiring process and is now under contract to publish the related textbook/study guide. Tiffany continues to operate in the field of CSI and forensics as an expert investigator and witness on violent crime. She also runs a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) business, offering citizens and owners of businesses CPTED reviews to ensure the safety of their homes and buildings. Finally, in her free time, she runs SOAR Wildlife Center (, which is a non-profit organization, that rehabilitates sick, injured, or orphaned fawns and other  baby mammals.

Lore Rutz-Burri is a 1982 graduate of Southern Oregon State College (now SOU) with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Criminology and Political Science. After graduating, she lived in Southern Austria until 1984. Upon returning to the states, she earned an M.C.J (Master’s degree in Criminal Justice) from the University of South Carolina. In 1985 she started in a Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland, College Park, but early on decided she would rather pursue a law degree. In 1989 she graduated “order of the coif” with her doctor of jurisprudence (JD) from the University of Oregon School of Law. Following law school, Lore clerked for the Superior Court of Alaska in Fairbanks for one year and then worked for 5 years as a deputy district attorney in Josephine County, Oregon. There, she prosecuted a variety of crimes, but mostly assault cases. In 1995, she began teaching criminology and criminal justice at SOU. Since 2015 she has been a part-time Circuit Court judge in the Josephine County courts. Lore has been married for over 27 years to her husband, Markus (a Swiss national). They have two sons– Severin (who studied at SOU and majored in psychology) and Jaston (who studied at U of O and majored in philosophy). She has both case books and introductory text on criminal law and criminal procedure.

Shanell Sanchez joined the Criminology and Criminal Justice department at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon in 2016. Prior to that, Shanell was an Assistant Professor in Criminal Justice at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln in Sociology in 2012. Her research and teaching interests are centered around social change and justice, inequality, and comparative crime and justice.

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104 Criminal Justice Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

Inside This Article

Criminal justice is a broad and complex field that encompasses various aspects of law enforcement, corrections, and the judicial system. If you are studying criminal justice or planning to pursue a career in this field, you will likely be required to write essays on various topics related to criminal justice. To help you get started, here are 104 criminal justice essay topic ideas and examples:

  • The evolution of criminal justice systems over the years.
  • The role of technology in modern law enforcement.
  • The impact of media on public perception of criminal justice.
  • The relationship between poverty and crime rates.
  • The effectiveness of community policing in reducing crime.
  • The ethical implications of using artificial intelligence in criminal justice.
  • The use of body cameras by police officers and its impact on accountability.
  • The role of forensic science in solving crimes.
  • The challenges of investigating and prosecuting white-collar crimes.
  • The impact of mandatory minimum sentencing on the criminal justice system.
  • The causes and consequences of wrongful convictions.
  • The role of rehabilitation in the criminal justice system.
  • The effectiveness of drug courts in reducing recidivism.
  • The relationship between mental illness and criminal behavior.
  • The ethical considerations of capital punishment.
  • The impact of racial profiling on minority communities.
  • The role of restorative justice in repairing harm caused by crime.
  • The challenges of addressing cybercrime in the digital age.
  • The impact of the war on drugs on criminal justice policies.
  • The role of victim services in the criminal justice system.
  • The effectiveness of probation and parole in reducing recidivism.
  • The relationship between poverty and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of the criminal justice system on marginalized communities.
  • The role of criminal profiling in solving serial crimes.
  • The challenges of addressing domestic violence within the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of the "war on terror" on civil liberties.
  • The role of eyewitness testimony in criminal trials.
  • The effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution methods in reducing court congestion.
  • The relationship between drug addiction and criminal behavior.
  • The impact of mandatory reporting laws on child abuse cases.
  • The role of private prisons in the criminal justice system.
  • The challenges of addressing human trafficking within the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of social media on criminal investigations.
  • The role of forensic psychology in criminal profiling.
  • The effectiveness of anti-gang initiatives in reducing gang-related crimes.
  • The relationship between gun control laws and crime rates.
  • The impact of the "three strikes" law on recidivism rates.
  • The role of community-based corrections programs in reducing incarceration rates.
  • The challenges of addressing police misconduct within the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of DNA evidence on criminal investigations and convictions.
  • The relationship between immigration policies and crime rates.
  • The effectiveness of sex offender registration laws in protecting communities.
  • The role of social programs in preventing juvenile delinquency.
  • The challenges of addressing hate crimes within the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of surveillance technologies on privacy rights.
  • The role of criminal justice policies in addressing the opioid crisis.
  • The effectiveness of rehabilitation programs for incarcerated individuals.
  • The relationship between mental health treatment and recidivism rates.
  • The impact of mandatory sentencing for drug offenses on minority communities.
  • The role of community-based organizations in reducing gang violence.
  • The challenges of addressing police brutality within the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of globalization on transnational crimes.
  • The role of forensic anthropology in identifying human remains.
  • The effectiveness of diversion programs for first-time offenders.
  • The relationship between poverty and juvenile delinquency.
  • The impact of the Fourth Amendment on law enforcement practices.
  • The role of victim impact statements in sentencing decisions.
  • The challenges of addressing elder abuse within the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of technology on the privacy rights of individuals.
  • The role of criminal justice policies in addressing human rights violations.
  • The effectiveness of drug education programs in preventing substance abuse.
  • The relationship between mental health courts and recidivism rates.
  • The impact of the "school-to-prison pipeline" on marginalized communities.
  • The role of forensic entomology in estimating time of death.
  • The challenges of addressing child exploitation within the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients on poverty rates.
  • The role of community supervision in reducing recidivism.
  • The relationship between police presence and crime rates.
  • The effectiveness of victim-offender mediation in addressing the harm caused by crime.
  • The impact of the Fifth Amendment on interrogation practices.
  • The role of criminal justice policies in addressing human trafficking.
  • The challenges of addressing cyberbullying within the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of surveillance cameras on crime prevention.
  • The role of forensic linguistics in analyzing written evidence.
  • The effectiveness of gun buyback programs in reducing gun violence.
  • The relationship between mental health treatment and criminal behavior.
  • The impact of mandatory arrest policies on domestic violence cases.
  • The role of criminal justice policies in addressing environmental crimes.
  • The challenges of addressing police corruption within the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of eyewitness misidentification on wrongful convictions.
  • The relationship between substance abuse and child neglect.
  • The effectiveness of reentry programs for formerly incarcerated individuals.
  • The role of criminal justice policies in addressing hate crimes.
  • The impact of predictive policing on law enforcement practices.
  • The challenges of addressing human rights violations within the criminal justice system.
  • The role of forensic odontology in identifying human remains.
  • The effectiveness of community-based drug treatment programs.
  • The relationship between poverty and gang involvement.
  • The impact of the exclusionary rule on the criminal justice system.
  • The role of criminal justice policies in addressing environmental justice.
  • The challenges of addressing cyberstalking within the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of community surveillance programs on crime prevention.
  • The role of forensic accounting in investigating financial crimes.
  • The effectiveness of gun control policies in reducing gun-related crimes.
  • The relationship between substance abuse treatment and recidivism rates.
  • The impact of mandatory reporting laws on elder abuse cases.
  • The role of criminal justice policies in addressing animal cruelty.
  • The challenges of addressing corruption within the criminal justice system.
  • The impact of false confessions on wrongful convictions.
  • The relationship between substance abuse and intimate partner violence.
  • The effectiveness of diversion programs for mentally ill offenders.
  • The role of criminal justice policies in addressing cybercrime.
  • The impact of community-based restorative justice programs on crime reduction.
  • The challenges of addressing international crimes within the criminal justice system.

These essay topics provide a starting point for your research and analysis in the field of criminal justice. Remember to choose a topic that interests you and aligns with your academic goals and career aspirations. Good luck with your essays!

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criminal justice

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Criminal justice is an umbrella term that refers to the laws , procedures , institutions, and policies at play before, during, and after the commission of a crime . As a modern concept, criminal justice expresses two central ideas: 

  • Suspects, convicted criminals and victims of crime all have certain rights ;
  • Criminal conduct should be prosecuted and punished by the state following set laws. 

By contrast, throughout ancient history, criminal acts were resolved privately, often by ”blood feuds” for murder and  trial by ordeal  for other crimes. The biblical phrase "an eye for an eye" embodied the criminal justice principles of ancient times. In  ancient Athens , for example, citizens were left to investigate and prosecute crimes with no government assistance. In this context, criminal justice referred to all available means private citizens had to avenge the harm caused by a crime.

Criminal justice has since evolved as a concept. In modern times, criminal justice reflects developments in legal theory, social science, politics, and changes in legal systems. Private citizens are no longer charged with the duty to investigate and prosecute crimes for personal vengeance. Instead, modern societies are built on a social contract that governments are responsible for maintaining order in their jurisdictions . To achieve order, governments created criminal laws, developed police systems, and established courts and facilities for incarceration ; including jails and prisons . Governments funded criminal defense lawyers to represent the indigent in legal proceedings and paid the salaries of judges to apply laws to the case at hand. In this context, criminal justice is the system that prescribes the fate of the criminal. It is also the system that provides recompense to the victim under the rule of law. Criminal justice seeks to deter future crimes by creating penalties for criminal conduct and rehabilitate criminals through incarceration. It is a system that delivers " justice " through a punishment proportionate to the crime.

In the United States, criminal justice evolved dramatically during the  Hoover administration  when President Herbert Hoover established  the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement , chaired by  U.S. Attorney General George Wickersham . Known as  the Wickersham Commission , the coalition studied the criminal justice system's current state, from policing tactics, prison conditions, and the root causes of crime. The final report documented rampant corruption among police officers, dangerous prison conditions, and hostile police tactics. Indeed, the  Wickersham Report  criticized the police for their "general failure... to detect and arrest criminals guilty of the many murders, spectacular bank, payroll, and other holdups and sensational robberies with guns." In turn, the Commission led to dramatic reform in the criminal justice system.

Criminal justice also refers to  reform movements  targeted at ending  mass incarceration . In the United States, criminal justice reform efforts highlight issues such as  discriminatory policing , the disproportionate number of poor people of color incarcerated, the high cost of incarceration, the  dangerous conditions  of the prison, and the questionable benefit of imprisonment to  public safety , among others.

 [Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team ] 

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Writing Guide

Effective communication is vital no matter what you study, including criminal justice. In fact, law enforcement officers do far more writing than many people think. Criminal justice report writing plays a central role in the field. Cops write arrest, crime, incident, and evidence reports, and they compose social media posts, community outreach posters, and internal memos. Like everyone else, they also communicate using electronic correspondence, including emails and texts.

Because of the authoritative nature of police work, law enforcement communications must use clear, concise, and articulate language.

Because of the authoritative nature of police work, law enforcement communications must use clear, concise, and articulate language. These documents might appear in trials or be used to obtain warrants, making accuracy and clarity absolutely essential. Good communication skills can also lead to promotion opportunities.

Writing skills are just as important in other criminal justice professions, including teaching, law, forensics, and emergency management. Criminologists write studies and research papers, teachers pen several types of documents, and emergency management professionals compose community reports and preparation studies. Likewise, lawyers write countless communications, and forensic experts prepare reports on their findings. Anyone who wants to continue on to a master’s, too, benefits from effective writing skills.

Types of Writing Criminal Justice Students Will Do in School

Personal statements.

Many colleges require applicants to write a personal statement. These short essays reveal the goals and intentions of students and can improve your odds of getting accepted into a preferred school. Admissions staff can quickly tell how well a student writes, how much effort they put into their statement, and whether they can answer simple questions. They can also compare an applicant’s ambition and imagination with their peers.

Many students find that writing about their own experiences, especially as they relate to their educational aspirations, leads to a successful essay. Criminal justice students, for example, could write about how volunteering with young, at-risk kids opened their eyes to the ways some children fall into a life of crime. Others write about how reading the police blotter in their small town inspired them to invent a solution to a common problem. Keep in mind that college counselors read thousands of these essays, and carefully think about why they should choose you over others. Think about the average applicant and consider what sets you apart. Put some time into your essay. Write an outline in which you lay out your points. Proofread what you write and consider getting professional help prior to submission.

Colleges look for statements that reveal the character of an individual. According to a survey of admissions counselors by the Guardian , they appreciate honesty, simplicity, introspection, and direct and confident language. They do now, however like punctuation errors, waffling, or overblown language. If admissions lists the personal statement as optional, make sure to set yourself apart by writing one.

Criminal justice programs often use long-form essay questions on exams. These writing prompts ask students to compose essays on topics discussed in class. Students must create thoughtful and clear answers using points of evidence along the way — showing that they understand the material. Students often do not get the questions ahead of time, which means they must not only study for the exam but answer on the spot.

Students must create thoughtful and clear answers using points of evidence along the way — showing that they understand the material.

Students can make essay questions must easier by taking simple steps. First, make sure you read the question closely and understand it’s requirements. Jot down a one- or two-sentence thesis that answers it. Afterward, compose a brief outline, sketching out your three main points and making sure that they address the question clearly. Fill in each point with a few pieces of evidence. This will keep you focused as you write.

Reread the essay after completing it. While editing, look for grammatical or thematic errors, keeping the specifics of the question in mind as you read. Your first draft will almost always have mistakes, so make sure you leave enough time to proofread!

Research Papers

At some point, almost every college student needs to write a research paper. These long-form reports generally require you to thoroughly explore a topic, investigating it from a variety of angles and writing about your findings. Research papers share similarities with essays, and some can take the form of an essay. However, research papers differ in that they typically involve articulating someone else’s point of view. The thesis of an essay tends to take a personal note and is chosen beforehand, but a research paper presents the end result of the exploration, analysis, and evaluation of an idea or theme. The Purdue Online Writing Lab suggests that you think of a research paper as a living document that will grow and change as you interpret your data.

A good research paper begins with the selection of a topic. People list differing ideas about how to write a criminal justice research paper, but there is no shortage of topics. Ideas could include the relationship between mental health and crime or drugs and recidivism. You might look at the ethics of mass incarceration or study police brutality. Your paper could investigate whether data-driven policing serves as another form of profiling or explore changes to the Fourth Amendment in law enforcement.

Once you decide on a main idea, you need to research several primary and secondary sources. After thoroughly investigating your topic, draw an outline, laying out your primary points logically. A research paper usually has an introduction, a review or discussion of methodology, a section on results, and conclusions you can draw from the research. At the end, list your sources and references. After writing the outline, compose the first draft. Write thoughts as they come within each section, knowing that you can go back and edit for clarity and simplicity later. Make sure you present sound arguments and qualitative research. Many people find it easier to write the introduction after writing the body of the paper.

How Do You Write an Essay?

Like other forms of writing, essays come in several forms. Most students, for example, write a personal essay for their college application and later write persuasive essays in their classes. Professors might ask for narrative essays or comparative ones, or any of the types below — each of which requires a different way of thinking and writing.


Cause and effect, citations guide for criminal justice students.

Students should cite the works that they use in their papers. Citing shows the reader that you’ve done your research, and gives them the tools to check your facts. It demonstrates that you used sources knowingly and acknowledge the work you reference. Not only do colleges require this of students, but students themselves can immunize themselves from plagiarism through citation.

Plagiarism, whether intentional or not, puts an ugly stain on one’s academic career. It can lead to probationary status or even expulsion, and it can make getting into another school difficult. It’s your duty to know where your information comes from and to make sure you cite your work properly.

American Psychological Association (APA) Style

A group of psychologists, anthropologists, and business leaders designed the APA style in 1929. They wanted to set clear and straightforward standards for scientific writing so that academic writers used the same format. Everyone would cite things the same way, using common punctuation, numeration, tables, and figures.

APA style caters to fields like psychology, nursing, and business. Many in criminology and sociology also use APA style. For citations, APA differs slightly from other major styles, such as MLA. For example, when referencing an author, MLA uses last name and first name (e.g. Mayo, Matthew), where APA uses last name and first initial (e.g. Mayo, M.).

The in-text citation looks like this: (Mayo, 2017, p. 90.). Always place the in-text citation after the last word of the sentence but before the final punctuation mark. The reference list at the end of the paper includes the full citation: Mayo, M. (2017). Stranded–A Story of Frontier Survival . Waterville, ME: Five Star Publishing.

Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)

The Chicago Manual of Style dates back to 1891 and the founding of the University of Chicago Press. Typesetters and editors at the publisher created a style sheet, which they distributed to their professors and authors. By standardizing the manuscripts coming in, they could simplify the cumbersome typesetting process. The style sheet became a pamphlet and grew into a book, now in its seventeenth edition.

Business, history, and fine arts departments typically use Chicago style. Many publishers also use this style. Chicago style cites things differently than APA, employing footnotes and often including a bibliography at the end of the publication.

In the text, you place a numerical footnote number after the reference. The bibliography at the end of the paper includes the full citation: Matthew P. Mayo, Stranded–A Story of Frontier Survival . (Waterville, ME: Five Star Publishing, 2017), 90.

Modern Language Association (MLA) Format

The Modern Language Association (MLA) created its style specifically for academic writing. Language studies, comparative literature, English, and media and cultural studies typically use MLA style. The MLA presents its guidelines and standards in its MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

Like with APA style, in MLA writers cite the author and source in parentheses within the text after each reference and collects the full citations at the end of the paper in a “Works Cited” section.

The in-text citation should look like this: (Mayo 90). The reference list at the end of the paper includes the full citation: Mayo, Matthew, P. Stranded–A Story of Frontier Survival . Five Star Publishing, 2017.

Associated Press (AP) Style

As its name suggests, the Associated Press style serves as the standard formatting guideline used by the Associated Press. Journalism and the media typically use this style, although some publications, like the New York Times, set their own standards.

AP style aims for brevity, simplicity, and accuracy, and, as such, reflects a more modern style. It allows for abbreviations, for example, more often than other styles, and tends to adopt new words and phrases at a faster pace. Because of its journalistic roots, AP style handles citations differently than the other, more academic styles. It does not use bibliographies, choosing instead to reference everything within the text.

In AP style you would simply write in the text: In Matthew P. Mayo’s novel “Stranded: A Story of Frontier Survival,” the young protagonist, etc. . .

What Writing Style Is Used in Criminal Justice

Because criminal justice falls under the broader heading of the social sciences, ALA style is probably the most commonly used style in the field. Some schools make it a point to teach criminal justice students ALA style. Utica College’s law enforcement program, for example, states that it requires students to use the ALA. You should check with your professor to find out the style he or she prefers and use that as your criminal justice report writing guide.

Common Writing Mistakes Students Make

Active vs. passive voice.

College students often make the mistake of writing in the passive voice. Passive sentences avoid direct writing and use more words, often muddling the syntax. Using the active voice removes excess verbiage and projects more authority.

How do you tell the difference? In a passive sentence, the subject receives the action. For example: “the sentence was written by the author” or “the girl was scratched by the cat.” In an active sentence the subject performs the action. For example: “The author wrote the sentence” and “the cat scratched the girl.” Be careful when using “by” or “be” constructions in your work. These often lead to passive sentences. Several helpful online apps detect passive voice, making it easy to correct.


Punctuation errors occur in any form of writing. They can completely change the meaning of a sentence when used incorrectly. For example, a film director saying, “let’s shoot people” means something different than “let’s shoot, people.”

Most people struggle with comma usage, employing too many, too few, or splicing them. A comma splice occurs when you connect two independent phrases with a comma. Students also often use semicolons when they should use colons. Semicolons indicate a pause between two independent clauses that communicates a related idea. Colons mark a hard stop, indicating a list, quotation, or the expansion of an idea.

Students should review punctuation rules using a style guide or by visiting the myriad online sites focused on punctuation rules.

Even the best writers make grammar mistakes. Writers get in mental spaces that sometimes block them from looking at their own work objectively. Writers using the wrong word occurs more often than some might think. The English language’s homonyms — words that sound the same — often lead to writers using the wrong word. The most common mistakes are mixing up” two, too, and to” and “their, there, and they’re.”

Other frequent slips include using “its” when you want the possessive “it is,” or using “which” when you mean “witch.” Still other writers slip in and out of different tenses. You can correct all of these problems by carefully editing your work and using one of the many writing guides available, like those mentioned below.

Writing Resources for Criminal Justice Students

  • The Elements of Style Written by William Strunk and E.B. White, many consider this short volume the Bible of college composition. Concise, inexpensive, and available at bookstores everywhere, it features everything you need to know to improve your writing for classes in criminal justice — or anything else.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab Hosted by Purdue University, “OWL” features more than 200 free writing resources, including formatting guides, tips for avoiding plagiarism, grammar help, vidcasts on writing, citation how-tos, and tutoring.
  • Amherst College Writing Center Amherst hosts a website replete with resources for writers. Broken down by subject, the school’s online tools include help with outlining, revision, editing, common problems, effective rhetoric, and writing in specific genres.
  •’s Writing Guide for Undergrads This site includes an array of writing tips and links to helpful guides. It features assistance with grammar, research papers, essays, and citation.
  • Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing Written by podcast star Mignon Fogarty, aka the Grammar Girl, this New York Times bestseller offers tips for improving communication. These include not only useful grammar ideas but also style guides, word-choice help, and ways to avoid common writing mistakes.

Take the next step toward your future in criminal justice.

Explore schools offering programs and courses tailored to your interests, and start your learning journey today.



How to Think about Criminal Justice Reform: Conceptual and Practical Considerations

  • Published: 20 December 2022
  • Volume 47 , pages 1050–1070, ( 2022 )

Cite this article

what is criminal justice essay

  • Charis E. Kubrin 1 &
  • Rebecca Tublitz 1  

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How can we improve the effectiveness of criminal justice reform efforts? Effective reform hinges on shared understandings of what the problem is and shared visions of what success looks like. But consensus is hard to come by, and there has long been a distinction between “policy talk” or how problems are defined and solutions are promoted, and “policy action” or the design and adoption of certain policies. In this essay, we seek to promote productive thinking and talking about, as well as designing of, effective and sustainable criminal justice reforms. To this end, we offer reflections on underlying conceptual and practical considerations relevant for both criminal justice policy talk and action.

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Across the political spectrum in the United States, there is agreement that incarceration and punitive sanctions cannot be the sole solution to crime. After decades of criminal justice expansion, incarceration rates peaked between 2006 and 2008 and have dropped modestly, but consistently, ever since then (Gramlich, 2021 ). Calls to ratchet up criminal penalties to control crime, with some exceptions, are increasingly rare. Rather, where bitter partisanship divides conservatives and progressives on virtually every other issue, bipartisan support for criminal justice reform is commonplace. This support has yielded many changes in recent years: scaling back of mandatory sentencing laws, limiting sentencing enhancements, expanding access to non-prison alternatives for low-level drug and property crimes, reducing revocations of community supervision, and increasing early release options (Subramanian & Delaney, 2014 ). New laws passed to reduce incarceration have outpaced punitive legislation three-to-one (Beckett et al., 2016 , 2018 ). Rather than the rigid “law and order” narrative that characterized the dominant approach to crime and punishment since the Nixon administration, policymakers and advocates have found common ground in reform conversations focused on cost savings, evidence-based practice, and being “smart on crime.” A “new sensibility” prevails (Phelps, 2016 ).

Transforming extensive support for criminal justice reform into substantial reductions in justice-involved populations has proven more difficult, and irregular. While the number of individuals incarcerated across the nation has declined, the U.S. continues to have the highest incarceration rate in the world, with nearly 1.9 million people held in state and federal prisons, local jails, and detention centers (Sawyer & Wagner, 2022 ; Widra & Herring, 2021 ). Another 3.9 million people remain on probation or parole (Kaeble, 2021 ). And, not all jurisdictions have bought into this new sensibility: rural and suburban reliance on prisons has increased during this new era of justice reform (Kang-Brown & Subramanian, 2017 ). Despite extensive talk of reform, achieving actual results “is about as easy as bending granite” (Petersilia, 2016 :9).

How can we improve the effectiveness of criminal justice reform? At its core, a reform is an effort to ameliorate an undesirable condition, eliminate an identified problem, achieve a goal, or strengthen an existing (successful) policy. Scholarship yields real insights into effective programming and practice in response to a range of issues in criminal justice. Equally apparent, however, is the lack of criminological knowledge incorporated into the policymaking process. Thoughtful are proposals to improve the policy-relevance of criminological knowledge and increase communication between research and policy communities (e.g., Blomberg et al., 2016 ; Mears, 2022 ). But identifying what drives effective criminal justice reform is not so straightforward. For one, the goals of reform vary across stakeholders: Should reform reduce crime and victimization? Focus on recidivism? Increase community health and wellbeing? Ensure fairness in criminal justice procedure? Depending upon who is asked, the answer differs. Consensus on effective reform hinges on shared understandings of what the problem is and shared visions of what success looks like. Scholars of the policy process often distinguish “policy talk,” or how problems are defined and solutions are promoted, from “policy action,” or the design and adoption of policy solutions, to better understand the drivers of reform and its consequences. This distinction is relevant to criminal justice reform (Bartos & Kubrin, 2018 :2; Tyack & Cuban, 1995 ).

We argue that an effective approach to criminal justice reform—one that results in policy action that matches policy talk—requires clarity regarding normative views about the purpose of punishment, appreciation of practical realities involved in policymaking, and insight into how the two intersect. To this end, in this essay we offer critical reflections on underlying conceptual and practical considerations that bear on criminal justice policy talk and action.

Part I. Conceptual Considerations: Narratives of Crime and Criminal Justice

According to social constructionist theory, the creation of knowledge is rooted in interactions between individuals through common language and shared meanings in social contexts (Berger & Luckmann, 1966 ). Common language and shared meanings create ways of thinking, or narratives, that socially construct our reality and profoundly influence public definitions of groups, events, and social phenomena, including crime and criminal justice. As such, any productive conversation about reform must engage with society’s foundational narratives about crime and criminal justice, including views about the rationales for punishment.

I. Rationales of Punishment

What is criminal justice? What purpose does our criminal justice system serve? Answers to these questions are found in the theories, organization, and practices of criminal justice. A starting point for discovery is the fact that criminal justice is a system for the implementation of punishment (Cullen & Gilbert, 1982 ). This has not always been the case but today, punishment is largely meted out in our correctional system, or prisons and jails, which embody rationales for punishment including retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and restoration. These rationales offer competing purposes and goals, and provide varying blueprints for how our criminal justice system should operate.

Where do these rationales come from? They derive, in part, from diverse understandings and explanations about the causes of crime. While many theories exist, a useful approach for thinking about crime and its causes is found in the two schools of criminological thought, the Classical and Positivist Schools of Criminology. These Schools reflect distinct ideological assumptions, identify competing rationales for punishment, and suggest unique social policies to address crime—all central to any discussion of criminal justice reform.

At its core, the Classical School sought to bring about reform of the criminal justice systems of eighteenth century Europe, which were characterized by such abuses as torture, presumption of guilt before trial, and arbitrary court procedures. Reformers of the Classical School, most notably Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham, were influenced by social contract theorists of the Enlightenment, a cultural movement of intellectuals in late seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe that emphasized reason and individualism rather than tradition, along with equality. Central assumptions of the Classical School include that people are rational and possessed of free will, and thus can be held responsible for their actions; that humans are governed by the principle of utility and, as such, seek pleasure or happiness and avoid pain; and that, to prevent crime, punishments should be just severe enough such that the pain or unhappiness created by the punishment outweighs any pleasure or happiness derived from crime, thereby deterring would-be-offenders who will see that “crime does not pay.”

The guiding concept of the Positivist School was the application of the scientific method to study crime and criminals. In contrast to the Classical School’s focus on rational decision-making, the Positivist School adopted a deterministic viewpoint, which suggests that crime is determined by factors largely outside the control of individuals, be they biological (such as genetics), psychological (such as personality disorder), or sociological (such as poverty). Positivists also promote the idea of multiple-factor causation, or that crime is caused by a constellation of complex forces.

When it comes to how we might productively think about reform, a solid understanding of these schools is necessary because “…the unique sets of assumptions of two predominant schools of criminological thought give rise to vastly different explanations of and prescriptions for the problem of crime” (Cullen & Gilbert, 1982 :36). In other words, the two schools of thought translate into different strategies for policy. They generate rationales for punishment that offer competing narratives regarding how society should handle those who violate the law. These rationales for punishment motivate reformers, whether the aim is to “rehabilitate offenders” or “get tough on crime,” influencing policy and practice.

The earliest rationale for punishment is retribution. Consistent with an individual’s desire for revenge, the aim is that offenders experience an unpleasant consequence for violating the law. Essentially, criminals should get what they deserve. While other rationales focus on changing future behavior, retribution focuses on an individual’s past actions and implies they have rightfully “earned” their punishment. Punishment, then, expresses moral disapproval for the criminal act committed. Advocates of retribution are not concerned with controlling crime; rather, they are in the business of “doing justice.” The death penalty and sentencing guidelines, a system of recommended sentences based upon offense (e.g., level of seriousness) and offender (e.g., number and type of prior offenses) characteristics, reflect basic principles of retribution.

Among the most popular rationales for punishment is deterrence, which refers to the idea that those considering crime will refrain from doing so out of a fear of punishment, consistent with the Classical School. Deterrence emphasizes that punishing a person also sends a message to others about what they can expect if they, too, violate the law. Deterrence theory provides the basis for a particular kind of correctional system that punishes the crime, not the criminal. Punishments are to be fixed tightly to specific crimes so that offenders will soon learn that the state means business. The death penalty is an example of a policy based on deterrence (as is obvious, these rationales are not mutually exclusive) as are three-strikes laws, which significantly increase prison sentences of those convicted of a felony who have been previously convicted of two or more violent crimes or serious felonies.

Another rationale for punishment, incapacitation, has the goal of reducing crime by incarcerating offenders or otherwise restricting their liberty (e.g., community supervision reflected in probation, parole, electronic monitoring). Uninterested in why individuals commit crime in the first place, and with no illusion they can be reformed, the goal is to remove individuals from society during a period in which they are expected to reoffend. Habitual offender laws, which target repeat offenders or career criminals and provide for enhanced or exemplary punishments or other sanctions, reflect this rationale.

Embodied in the term “corrections” is the notion that those who commit crime can be reformed, that their behavior can be “corrected.” Rehabilitation refers to when individuals refrain from crime—not out of a fear of punishment—but because they are committed to law-abiding behavior. The goal, from this perspective, is to change the factors that lead individuals to commit crime in the first place, consistent with Positivist School arguments. Unless criminogenic risks are targeted for change, crime will continue. The correctional system should thus be arranged to deliver effective treatment; in other words, prisons must be therapeutic. Reflective of this rationale is the risk-need-responsibility (RNR) model, used to assess and rehabilitate offenders. Based on three principles, the risk principle asserts that criminal behavior can be reliably predicted and that treatment should focus on higher risk offenders, the need principle emphasizes the importance of criminogenic needs in the design and delivery of treatment and, the responsivity principle describes how the treatment should be provided.

When a crime takes place, harm occurs—to the victim, to the community, and even to the offender. Traditional rationales of punishment do not make rectifying this harm in a systematic way an important goal. Restoration, or restorative justice, a relatively newer rationale, aims to rectify harms and restore injured parties, perhaps by apologizing and providing restitution to the victim or by doing service for the community. In exchange, the person who violated the law is (ideally) forgiven and accepted back into the community as a full-fledged member. Programs associated with restorative justice are mediation and conflict-resolution programs, family group conferences, victim-impact panels, victim–offender mediation, circle sentencing, and community reparative boards.

II. Narratives of Criminal Justice

Rationales for punishment, thus, are many. But from where do they arise? They reflect and reinforce narratives of crime and criminal justice (Garland, 1991 ). Penological and philosophical narratives constitute two traditional ways of thinking about criminal justice. In the former, punishment is viewed essentially as a technique of crime control. This narrative views the criminal justice system in instrumental terms, as an institution whose overriding purpose is the management and control of crime. The focal question of interest is a technical one: What works to control crime? The latter, and second, narrative considers the philosophy of punishment. It examines the normative foundations on which the corrections system rests. Here, punishment is set up as a distinctively moral problem, asking how penal sanctions can be justified, what their proper objectives should be, and under what circumstances they can be reasonably imposed. The central question here is “What is just?”.

A third narrative, “the sociology of punishment,” conceptualizes punishment as a social institution—one that is distinctively focused on punishment’s social forms, functions, and significance in society (Garland, 1991 ). In this narrative, punishment, and the criminal justice system more broadly, is understood as a cultural and historical artifact that is concerned with the control of crime, but that is shaped by an ensemble of social forces and has significance and impacts that reach well beyond the population of criminals (pg. 119). A sociology of punishment narrative raises important questions: How do specific penal measures come into existence?; What social functions does punishment perform?; How do correctional institutions relate to other institutions?; How do they contribute to social order or to state power or to class domination or to cultural reproduction of society?; What are punishment’s unintended social effects, its functional failures, and its wider social costs? (pg. 119). Answers to these questions are found in the sociological perspectives on punishment, most notably those by Durkheim (punishment is a moral process, functioning to preserve shared values and normative conventions on which social life is based), Marx (punishment is a repressive instrument of class domination), Foucault (punishment is one part of an extensive network of “normalizing” practices in society that also includes school, family, and work), and Elias (punishment reflects a civilizing process that brings with it a move toward the privatization of disturbing events), among others.

Consistent with the sociology of punishment, Kraska and Brent ( 2011 ) offer additional narratives, which they call theoretical orientations, for organizing thoughts on the criminal justice system generally, and the control of crime specifically. They argue a useful way to think about theorizing is through the use of metaphors. Adopting this approach, they identify eight ways of thinking based on different metaphors: criminal justice as rational/legalism, as a system, as crime control vs. due process, as politics, as the social construction of reality, as a growth complex, as oppression, and as modernity. Several overlap with concepts and frameworks discussed earlier, while others, such as oppression, are increasingly applicable in current conversations about racial justice—something we take up in greater detail below. Consistent with Garland ( 1991 ), Kraska and Brent ( 2011 ) emphasize that each narrative tells a unique story about the history, growth, behaviors, motivations, functioning, and possible future of the criminal justice system. What unites these approaches is their shared interest in understanding punishment’s broader role in society.

There are still other narratives of crime and criminal justice, with implications for thinking about and conceptualizing reform. Packer ( 1964 ) identifies two theoretical models, each offering a different narrative, which reflect value systems competing for priority in the operation of the criminal process: the Crime Control Model and the Due Process Model. The Crime Control Model is based on the view that the most important function of the criminal process is the repression of criminal conduct. The failure of law enforcement to bring criminal conduct under tight control is seen as leading to a breakdown of public order and hence, to the disappearance of freedom. If laws go unenforced and offenders perceive there is a low chance of being apprehended and convicted, a disregard for legal controls will develop and law-abiding citizens are likely to experience increased victimization. In this way, the criminal justice process is a guarantor of social freedom.

To achieve this high purpose, the Crime Control Model requires attention be paid to the efficiency with which the system operates to screen suspects, determine guilt, and secure dispositions of individuals convicted of crime. There is thus a premium on speed and finality. Speed, in turn, depends on informality, while finality depends on minimizing occasions for challenge. As such, the process cannot be “cluttered up” with ceremonious rituals. In this way, informal operations are preferred to formal ones, and routine, stereotyped procedures are essential to handle large caseloads. Packer likens the Crime Control Model to an “assembly line or a conveyor belt down which moves an endless stream of cases, never stopping, carrying the cases to workers who stand at fixed stations and who perform on each case as it comes by the same small but essential operation that brings it one step closer to being a finished product, or, to exchange the metaphor for the reality, a closed file” (pg. 11). Evidence of this model today is witnessed in the extremely high rate of criminal cases disposed of via plea bargaining.

In contrast, the Due Process model calls for strict adherence to the Constitution and a focus on the accused and their Constitutional rights. Stressing the possibility of error, this model emphasizes the need to protect procedural rights even if this prevents the system from operating with maximum efficiency. There is thus a rejection of informal fact-finding processes and insistence on formal, adjudicative, adversary fact-finding processes. Packer likens the Due Process model to an obstacle course: “Each of its successive stages is designed to present formidable impediments to carrying the accused any further along in the process” (pg. 13). That all death penalty cases are subject to appeal, even when not desired by the offender, is evidence of the Due Process model in action.

Like the frameworks described earlier, the Crime Control and Due Process models offer a useful framework for discussing and debating the operation of a system whose day-to-day functioning involves a constant tension between competing demands of different sets of values. In the context of reform, these models encourage us to consider critical questions: On a spectrum between the extremes represented by the two models, where do our present practices fall? What appears to be the direction of foreseeable trends along this spectrum? Where on the spectrum should we aim to be? In essence, which value system is reflected most in criminal justice practices today, in which direction is the system headed, and where should it aim go in the future? Of course this framework, as all others reviewed here, assumes a tight fit between structure and function in the criminal courts yet some challenge this assumption arguing, instead, that criminal justice is best conceived of as a “loosely coupled system” (Hagan et al., 1979 :508; see also Bernard et al., 2005 ).

III. The Relevance of Crime and Criminal Justice Narratives for Thinking about Reform

When it comes to guiding researchers and policymakers to think productively about criminal justice reform, at first glance the discussion above may appear too academic and intellectual. But these narratives are more than simply fodder for discussion or topics of debate in the classroom or among academics. They govern how we think and talk about criminal justice and, by extension, how the system should be structured—and reformed.

An illustrative example of this is offered in Haney’s ( 1982 ) essay on psychological individualism. Adopting the premise that legal rules, doctrines, and procedures, including those of the criminal justice system, reflect basic assumptions about human nature, Haney’s thesis is that in nineteenth century America, an overarching narrative dominated legal and social conceptions of human behavior—that of psychological individualism. Psychological individualism incorporates three basic “facts” about human behavior: 1) individuals are the causal locus of behavior; 2) socially problematic and illegal behavior therefore arises from some defect in the individual persons who perform it; and, 3) such behavior can be changed or eliminated only by effecting changes in the nature or characteristics of those persons. Here, crime is rooted in the nature of criminals themselves be the source genetic, biological, or instinctual, ideas consistent with the Classical School of Criminology.

Haney reviews the rise and supremacy of psychological individualism in American society, discusses its entrenchment in legal responses to crime, and describes the implications of adopting such a viewpoint. Psychological individualism, he claims, diverted attention away from the structural and situational causes of crime (e.g., poverty, inequality, capitalism) and suggested the futility of social reforms that sought solutions to human problems through changes in larger social conditions: “The legal system, in harmony with widely held psychological theories about the causal primacy of individuals, acted to transform all structural problems into matters of moral depravity and personal shortcoming” (pg. 226–27). This process of transformation is nowhere clearer than in our historical commitment to prisons as the solution to the problem of crime, a commitment that continues today. Psychological individualism continues to underpin contemporary reform efforts. For example, approaches to reducing racial disparities in policing by eliminating officers’ unconscious racial bias through implicit-bias trainings shifts the focus away from organizational and institutional sources of disparate treatment.

In sum, the various narratives of crime and criminal justice constitute an essential starting point for any discussion of reform. They reflect vastly differing assumptions and, in many instances, value orientations or ideologies. The diversity of ways of thinking arguably contribute to conflict in society over contemporary criminal justice policy and proposed reforms. Appreciating that point is critical for identifying ways to create effective and sustainable reforms.

At the same time, these different ways of thinking do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, they collide with practical realities and constraints, which can and do shape how the criminal justice system functions, as well as determine the ability to reform it moving forward. For that reason, we turn to a discussion of how narratives about crime and criminal justice intersect with practical realities in the policy sphere, and suggest considerations that policymakers, researchers, and larger audiences should attend to when thinking about the future of reform.

Part II. Practical Considerations: Criminal Justice Reform through a Policy Lens

Criminal justice reform is no simple matter. Unsurprisingly, crime has long been considered an example of a “wicked” problem in public policy: ill-defined; with uncertainty about its causes and incomplete knowledge of effective solutions; complex arrangements of institutions responsible for addressing the problem; and, disagreement on foundational values (Head & Alford, 2015 ; Rittel & Webber, 1973 )—the latter apparent from the discussion above. Many note a large gap between criminological knowledge and policy (Mears, 2010 , 2022 ; Currie, 2007 ). While a movement to incorporate research evidence into the policy-making process has made some in-roads, we know less about how policymakers use this information to adopt and enact reforms. Put differently, more attention is paid to understanding the outcomes of crime-related policy while less is known about the contexts of, and inputs into, the process itself (Ismaili, 2006 ).

We identify practical considerations for policy-oriented researchers and policymakers in thinking through how to make criminal justice reform more effective. Specifically, we discuss practical considerations that reformers are likely to encounter related to problem formulation and framing (policy talk) and policy adoption (policy action), including issues of 1) variation and complexity in the criminal justice policy environment, 2) problem framing and policy content, 3) policy aims and outcomes, 4) equity considerations in policy design and evaluation; and, 5) policy process and policy change. These considerations are by no means exhaustive nor are they mutually exclusive. We offer these thoughts as starting points for discussion.

I. The Criminal Justice Policy Environment: Many Systems, Many Players

The criminal justice “system” in the United States is something of a misnomer. There is no single, centralized system. Instead, there are at least 51 separate systems—one for each of the 50 states, and the federal criminal justice system—each with different laws, policies, and administrative arrangements. Multiple agencies are responsible for various aspects of enforcing the law and administering justice. These agencies operate across multiple, overlapping jurisdictions. Some are at the municipal level (police), others are governed by counties (courts, prosecution, jails), and still others by state and federal agencies (prisons, probation, parole). Across these systems is an enormous amount of discretion regarding what crimes to prioritize for enforcement, whether and what charges to file, which sentences to mete out, what types of conditions, treatment, and programming to impose, and how to manage those under correctional authority. Scholars note the intrinsic problem with this wide-ranging independence: “criminal justice policy is made and put into action at the municipal, county, state, and national levels, and the thousands of organizations that comprise this criminal justice network are, for the most part, relatively autonomous both horizontally and vertically” (Lynch, 2011 :682; see also Bernard et al., 2005 ; Mears, 2017 ).

Criminal justice officials are not the only players. The “policy community” is made up of other governmental actors, including elected and appointed officials in the executive branches (governors and mayors) and legislative actors (council members, state, and federal representatives), responsible for formulating and executing legislation. Non-governmental actors play a role in the policy community as well, including private institutions and non-profit organizations, the media, interest and advocacy groups, academics and research institutions, impacted communities, along with the public at large (Ismaili, 2006 ).

Any consideration of criminal justice reform must attend to the structural features of the policy environment, including its institutional fragmentation. This feature creates both obstacles and opportunities for reform. Policy environments vary tremendously across states and local communities. Policies championed in Washington State are likely different than those championed in Georgia. But the policy community in Atlanta may be decidedly different than that of Macon, and policy changes can happen at hyper-local levels (Ouss & Stevenson, 2022 ). Differences between local jurisdictions can have national impacts: while urban jurisdictions have reduced their reliance on jails and prisons, rural and suburban incarceration rates continue to increase (Kang-Brown & Subramanian, 2017 ). Understanding key stakeholders, their political and policy interests, and their administrative authority to act is critical for determining how effective policy reforms can be pursued (Miller, 2008 ; Page, 2011 ). Prospects for, and possible targets of, reform thus necessitate a wide view of what constitutes “policy,” Footnote 1 looking not only to federal and state law but also to state and local administrative policies and practices (Reiter & Chesnut, 2018 ).

II. Policy Talk: Framing Problems, Shaping Possible Solutions

While agreement exists around the need for reform in the criminal justice system, this apparent unanimity belies disagreements over the proposed causes of the problem and feasible solutions (Gottschalk, 2015 ; Levin, 2018 ). This is evident in how reform is talked about in political and policy spheres, the types of reforms pursued, and which groups are its beneficiaries. Since the Great Recession of 2008, bipartisan reforms have often been couched in the language of fiscal conservatism, “right-sizing” the system, and being “smart on crime” (Beckett et al., 2016 ). These economic frames, focused on cost-efficiency, are effectively used to defend non-punitive policies including changes to the death penalty, marijuana legalization, and prison down-sizing (Aviram, 2015 ). However, cost-saving rationales are also used to advance punitive policies that shift the costs of punishment onto those who are being sanctioned, such as “pay-to-stay” jails and the multitude of fines and fees levied on justice-involved people for the cost of criminal justice administration. Economic justifications are not the only arguments that support the very same policy changes; fairness and proportionality, reducing prison overcrowding, enhancing public safety, and increasing rehabilitation are all deployed to defend various reforms (Beckett et al., 2016 ). Similarity in rhetorical justifications—cost-efficiency and fiscal responsibility, for example—can obscure deep divisions over how, and whom, to punish, divisions which stem from different narratives on the causes and consequences of crime.

The content of enacted policies also reveals underlying disagreements within justice reform. Clear distinctions are seen in how cases and people are categorized, and in who benefits from, or is burdened by, reform. For example, many states have lowered penalties and expanded rehabilitation alternatives for non-violent drug and other low-level offenses and technical violations on parole. Substantially fewer reforms target violent offenses. Decarceration efforts for non-violent offenders are often coupled with increasing penalties for others, including expansions of life imprisonment without parole for violent offenses (Beckett, 2018 ; Seeds, 2017 ). Reforms aimed only at individuals characterized as “non-violent, non-serious, and non-sexual” can reinforce social distinctions between people (and offenses) seen as deserving of lenient treatment from those who aren’t (Beckett et al., 2016 ).

The framing of social problems can shape the nature of solutions, although the impact of “framing” deserves greater attention in the criminal justice policy process (Rein & Schön, 1977 ; Schneider & Ingram,  1993 ). Policies can be understood in rational terms—for their application of technical solutions to resolve pre-defined problems—but also through “value-laden components, such as social constructions, rationales, and underlying assumptions” (Schneider & Sidney, 2006 :105). Specific frames (e.g., “crime doesn’t pay” or “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”) derive from underlying narratives (e.g., classical school, rational-actor models of behavior, and deterrence) that shape how crime and criminal justice are understood, as discussed in Part I. Framing involves how issues are portrayed and categorized, and even small changes to language or images used to frame an issue can impact policy preferences (Chong & Druckman, 2007 ). Public sentiments play an important role in the policy process, as policymakers and elected officials are responsive to public opinion about punishments (Pickett, 2019 ). Actors in the policy community—criminal justice bureaucrats, elected officials, interest groups, activists—compete to influence how a problem is framed, and thus addressed, by policymakers (Baumgartner & Jones, 2009 ; Benford & Snow, 2000 ). Policymakers, particularly elected officials, commonly work to frame issues in ways that support their political goals and resonate with their constituents (Gamson, 1992 ).

As noted at the outset, public support for harsh punishments has declined since the 1990’s and the salience of punitive “law and order” and “tough-on-crime” politics has fallen as well, as public support for rehabilitative approaches has increased (Thielo et al., 2016 ). How can researchers and policymakers capitalize on this shift in public sentiments? Research suggests that different issue frames, such as fairness, cost to taxpayers, ineffectiveness, and racial disparities, can increase (or reduce) public support for policies for nonviolent offenders (e.g., Dunbar, 2022 ; Gottlieb, 2017 ) and even for policies that target violent offenders (Pickett et al., 2022 ). Public sentiment and framing clearly matter for what problems gain attention, the types of policies that exist, and who ultimately benefits. These themes raise orienting questions: In a specific locale, what are the dominant understandings of the policy problem? How do these understandings map to sets of foundational assumptions about the purpose of intervention (e.g., deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation, restoration) and understandings of why people commit crime (e.g., Classical and Positivist approaches)? What types of issue frames are effective in garnering support for reforms? How does this support vary by policy context (urban, suburban, rural; federal, statewide, and local) and audience (elected officials, agency leadership, frontline workers, political constituents)?

III. Proposed Solutions and Expected Outcomes: Instrumental or Symbolic?

There are a variety of motivations in pursuing various policy solutions, along with different kinds of goals. Some reflect a desire to create tangible change for a specific problem while others are meant to mollify a growing concern. As such, one practical consideration related to policymaking and reform that bears discussion is the symbolic and instrumental nature of criminal justice policies.

Policies are considered to have an instrumental nature when they propose or result in changes to behaviors related to a public problem such as crime—that is, when they change behavior through direct influence on individuals’ actions (Sample et al., 2011 :29; see also Grattet & Jenness, 2008 ; Gusfield, 1963 ; Oliver & Marion, 2008 ). Symbolic policies, by contrast, are those that policymakers pass in order to be seen in a favorable light by the public (Jenness, 2004 ), particularly in the context of a “moral panic” (Barak, 1994 ; Ben-Yehuda, 1990 ). As Sample et al., ( 2011 :28) explain, symbolic policies provide three basic functions to society: 1) reassuring the public by helping reduce angst and demonstrate that something is being done about a problem; 2) solidifying moral boundaries by codifying public consensus of right and wrong; and 3) becoming a model for the diffusion of law to other states and the federal government. Symbolic policies are thus meant to demonstrate that policymakers understand, and are willing to address, a perceived problem, even when there is little expectation such policies will make a difference. In this way, symbolic policies are “values statements” and function largely ceremonially.

This distinction has a long history in criminological work, dating back to Gusfield’s ( 1963 ) analysis of the temperance movement. Suggesting that policymaking is often dramatic in nature and intended to shift ways of thinking, Gusfield ( 1963 ) argues that Prohibition and temperance were intended as symbolic, rather than instrumental, goals in that their impacts were felt in the action of prohibition itself rather than in its effect on citizens’ consumptive behaviors.

A modern-day example of symbolic policy is found in the sanctuary status movement as it relates to the policing of immigrants. Historically, immigration enforcement was left to the federal government however state and local law enforcement have faced increasing demands to become more involved in enforcing immigration laws in their communities. Policies enacted to create closer ties between local police departments and federal immigration officials reflect this new pattern of “devolution of immigration enforcement” (Provine et al., 2016 ). The Secure Communities Program, the Criminal Alien Program, and 287g agreements, in different but complementary ways, provide resources and training to help local officials enforce immigration statutes.

The devolution of immigration enforcement has faced widespread scrutiny (Kubrin, 2014 ). Many local jurisdictions have rejected devolution efforts by passing sanctuary policies, which expressly limit local officials’ involvement in the enforcement of federal immigration law. Among the most comprehensive is California’s SB54, passed in 2017, which made California a sanctuary state. The law prohibits local authorities from cooperating with federal immigration detainer requests, limits immigration agents’ access to local jails, and ends the use of jails to hold immigration detainees. At first glance, SB54 appears instrumental—its aim is to change the behavior of criminal justice officials in policing immigration. In practice, however, it appears that little behavioral change has taken place. Local police in California had already minimized their cooperation with Federal officials, well before SB54 was passed. In a broader sense then, “…the ‘sanctuary city’ name is largely a symbolic message of political support for immigrants without legal residency” and with SB54 specifically, “California [helped build] a wall of justice against President Trump’s xenophobic, racist and ignorant immigration policies,” (Ulloa, 2017 ).

Instrumental and symbolic goals are not an either-or proposition. Policies can be both, simultaneously easing public fears, demonstrating legislators’ desire to act, and having direct appreciable effects on people’s behaviors (Sample et al., 2011 ). This may occur even when not intended. At the same time, a policy’s effects or outcomes can turn out to be different from the original aim, creating a gap between “policy talk” and “policy action.” In their analysis of law enforcement action in response to the passage of hate crime legislation, Grattet and Jenness ( 2008 ) find that legislation thought to be largely symbolic in nature, in fact, ended up having instrumental effects through changes in enforcement practices, even as these effects were conditioned by the organizational context of enforcement agencies. Symbolic law can be rendered instrumental (under certain organizational and social conditions) and symbolic policies may evolve to have instrumental effects.

As another example, consider aims and outcomes of sex offender registration laws, which provide information about people convicted of sex offenses to local and federal authorities and the public, including the person’s name, current location, and past offenses. As Sample et al. ( 2011 ) suggest, these laws, often passed immediately following a highly publicized sex crime or in the midst of a moral panic, are largely cast as symbolic policy, serving to reassure the public through notification of sex offenders’ whereabouts so their behaviors can be monitored (Jenkins, 1998 ; Sample & Kadleck, 2008 ). While notification laws do not yield a discernable instrumental effect on offenders’ behavior (Tewksbury, 2002 ), this is not the sole goal of such policies. Rather, they are intended to encourage behavioral change among citizens (Sample et al., 2011 ), encouraging the public’s participation in their own safety by providing access to information. Do sex offender notification laws, in fact, alter citizen behavior, thereby boosting public safety?

To answer this question, Sample and her colleagues ( 2011 ) surveyed a random sample of Nebraska residents to determine whether they access sex offender information and to explore the reasons behind their desire, or reluctance, to do so. They find largely symbolic effects of registry legislation, with a majority of residents (over 69%) indicating they had never accessed the registry. These findings raise important questions about the symbolic vs. instrumental nature of criminal justice policies more broadly: “Should American citizens be content with largely symbolic crime policies and laws that demonstrate policy makers’ willingness to address problems, ease public fear, solidify public consensus of appropriate and inappropriate behavior, and provide a model of policies and laws for other states, or should they want more from crime control efforts? Is there a tipping point at which time the resources expended to adhere to symbolic laws and a point where the financial and human costs of the law become too high to continue to support legislation that is largely symbolic in nature? Who should make this judgment?” (pg. 46). These two examples, immigration-focused laws and sex offender laws, illustrate the dynamics involved in policymaking, particularly the relationship between proposed solutions and their expected outcomes. They reveal that instrumental and symbolic goals often compete for priority in the policy-making arena.

IV. Equity-Consciousness in Policy Formulation

As the criminal justice system exploded in size in the latter half of the twentieth century, its impacts have not spread equally across the population. Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities are disproportionately affected by policing, mass incarceration, and surveillance practices. At a moment of political momentum seeking to curb the excesses of the criminal justice system, careful attention must be paid not only to its overreach, but also to its racialized nature and inequitable impacts. Many evaluative criteria are used to weigh policies including efficiency, effectiveness, cost, political acceptability, and administrative feasibility, among others. One critical dimension is the extent to which a policy incorporates equity considerations into its design, or is ignorant about potential inequitable outcomes. While reducing racial disparities characterizes reform efforts of the past, these efforts often fail to yield meaningful impacts, and sometimes unintentionally exacerbate disparities. Equity analyses should be more formally centered in criminal justice policymaking.

Racial and ethnic disparities are a central feature of the U.S. criminal justice system. Decades of research reveals Black people, and to a lesser degree Latinos and Native Americans, are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system at all stages (Bales & Piquero, 2012 ; Hinton et al., 2018 ; Kutateladze et al., 2014 ; Menefee, 2018 ; Mitchell, 2005 ; Warren et al., 2012 ). These disparities have many sources: associations between blackness and criminality, and stereotypes of dangerousness (Muhammad, 2010 ); implicit racial bias (Spencer et al., 2016 ); residential and economic segregation that expose communities of color to environments that encourage criminal offending and greater police presence (Peterson & Krivo, 2010 ; Sharkey, 2013 ); and, punitive criminal justice policies that increase the certainty and severity of punishments, such as mandatory minimum sentences, life imprisonment, and habitual offender laws, for which people of color are disproportionately arrested and convicted (Raphael & Stoll, 2013 ; Schlesinger, 2011 ). Disparities in initial stages of criminal justice contact, at arrest or prosecution, can compound to generate disparate outcomes at later stages, such as conviction and sentencing, even where legal actors are committed to racial equality (Kutateladze et al., 2014 ). Disparities compound over time, too; having prior contact with the justice system may increase surveillance and the likelihood of being arrested, charged, detained pretrial, and sentenced to incarceration (Ahrens, 2020 ; Kurlychek & Johnson, 2019 ).

Perspectives on how to reduce disparities vary widely, and understanding how the benefits or burdens of a given policy change will be distributed across racial and ethnic groups is not always clear. Even well-intentioned reforms intended to increase fairness and alleviate disparities can fail to achieve intended impacts or unintentionally encourage inequity. For example, sentencing guidelines adopted in the 1970s to increase consistency and reduce inequitable outcomes across groups at sentencing alleviated, but did not eliminate, racial disparities (Johnson & Lee, 2013 ); popular “Ban the Box” legislation, aimed at reducing the stigma of a criminal record, may increase racial disparities in callbacks for job seekers of color (Agan & Starr, 2018 ; Raphael, 2021 ); and “risk assessments,” used widely in criminal justice decision-making, may unintentionally reproduce existing disparities by relying on information that is itself a product of racialized policing, prosecution, and sentencing (Eckhouse et al., 2019 ). Conversely, policies enacted without explicit consideration of equity effects may result in reductions of disparities: California’s Proposition 47, which reclassifies certain felony offenses to misdemeanors, reduced Black and Latino disparities in drug arrests, likelihood of conviction, and rates of jail incarceration relative to Whites (Mooney et al., 2018 ; Lofstrom et al., 2019 ; MacDonald & Raphael, 2020 ).

Understanding the potential equity implications of criminal justice reforms should be a key consideration for policymakers and applied researchers alike. However, an explicit focus on reducing racial disparities is often excluded from the policymaking process, seen as a secondary concern to other policy goals, or framed in ways that focus on race-neutral processes rather than race-equitable outcomes (Chouhy et al., 2021 ; Donnelly, 2017 ). But this need not be the case; examinations of how elements of a given policy (e.g., goals, target population, eligibility criteria) and proposed changes to procedure or practice might impact different groups can be incorporated into policy design and evaluation. As one example, racial equity impact statements (REIS), a policy tool that incorporates an empirical analysis of the projected impacts of a change in law, policy, or practice on racial and ethnic groups (Porter, 2021 ), are used in some states. Modeled after the now-routine environmental impact and fiscal impact statements, racial impact statements may be conducted in advance of a hearing or vote on any proposed change to policy, or can even be incorporated in the policy formulation stages (Chouhy et al., 2021 ; Mauer, 2007 ). Researchers, analysts, and policymakers should also examine potential differential effects of existing policies and pay special attention to how structural inequalities intersect with policy features to contribute to—and potentially mitigate—disparate impacts of justice reforms (Anderson et al., 2022 ; Mooney et al., 2022 ).

V. Putting It Together: Modeling the Policy Change Process

Approaches to crime and punishment do not change overnight. Policy change can be incremental or haphazard, and new innovations adopted by criminal justice systems often bear markers of earlier approaches. There exist multiple frameworks for understanding change and continuity in approaches to crime and punishment. The metaphor of a pendulum is often used to characterize changes to criminal justice policy, where policy regimes swing back and forth between punishment and leniency (Goodman et al., 2017 ). These changes are ushered along by macro-level shifts of economic, political, demographics, and cultural sensibilities (Garland, 2001 ).

Policy change is rarely predictable or mechanical (Smith & Larimer, 2017 ). Actors struggle over whom to punish and how, and changes in the relative resources, political position, and power among actors drive changes to policy and practice (Goodman et al., 2017 ). This conflict, which plays out at the level of politics and policymaking and is sometimes subsumed within agencies and day-to-day practices in the justice system, creates a landscape of contradictory policies, logics, and discourses. New policies and practices are “tinted” by (Dabney et al., 2017 ) or “braided” with older logics (Hutchinson, 2006 ), or “layered” onto existing practices (Rubin, 2016 ).

Public policy theory offers different, but complementary, insights into how policies come to be, particularly under complex conditions. One widely used framework in policy studies is the “multiple streams” framework (Kingdon, 1995 ). This model of the policymaking process focuses on policy choice and agenda setting, or the question of what leads policymakers to pay attention to one issue over others, and pursue one policy in lieu of others.

The policy process is heuristically outlined as a sequential set of steps or stages: problem identification, agenda setting, policy formulation, adoption or decision-making, implementation, and evaluation. However, real-world policymaking rarely conforms to this process (Smith & Larimer, 2017 ). In the multiple streams lens, the process is neither rational nor linear but is seen as “organized anarchy,” described by several features: 1) ambiguity over the definition of the problem, creating many possible solutions for the same circumstances and conditions; 2) limited time to make decisions and multiple issues vying for policymakers’ attention, leading to uncertain policy preferences; 3) a crowded policy community with shifting participation; and, 4) multiple agencies and organizations in the policy environment working on similar problems with little coordination or transparency (Herweg et al., 2018 ).

In this context, opportunity for change emerges when three, largely separate, “streams” of interactions intersect: problems , politics , and policies . First, in the “problem stream,” problems are defined as conditions that deviate from expectations and are seen by the public as requiring government intervention. Many such “problems” exist, but not all rise to the level of attention from policymakers. Conditions must be re-framed into problems requiring government attention. Several factors can usher this transformation. Changes in the scale of problem, such as increases or decreases in crime, can raise the attention of government actors. So-called “focusing events” (Birkland, 1997 ), or rare and unexpected events, such as shocking violent crime or a natural disaster (e.g., COVID-19 pandemic), can also serve this purpose. The murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, for instance, was a focusing event for changing the national conversation around police use of force into a problem requiring government intervention. Finally, feedback from existing programs or policies, particularly those that fail to achieve their goals or have unwanted effects, can reframe existing conditions as problems worthy of attention.

The “policy stream” is where solutions, or policy alternatives, are developed to address emerging problems. Solutions are generated both by “visible” participants in the stream, such as prominent elected officials, or by “hidden” actors, such as criminal justice bureaucrats, interest groups, academics, or consultants. Policy ideas float around in this stream until they are “coupled,” or linked, with specific problems. At any given time, policy ideas based in deterrence or incapacitation rationales, including increasing the harshness of penalties or the certainty of sanctions, and solutions based in rehabilitative rationales, such as providing treatment-oriented diversion or restorative justice programs, all co-exist in the policy stream. Not all policy alternatives are seen as viable and likely to reach the agenda; viable solutions are marked by concerns of feasibility, value acceptability, public support or tolerance, and financial viability.

Lastly, the “political stream” is governed by several elements, including changes to the national mood and changing composition of governments and legislatures as new politicians are elected and new government administrators appointed. This stream helps determine whether a problem will find a receptive venue (Smith & Larimer, 2017 ). For example, the election of a progressive prosecutor intent on changing status quo processing of cases through the justice system creates a viable political environment for new policies to be linked with problems. When the three streams converge, that is, when conditions become problems, a viable solution is identified, and a receptive political venue exists, a “policy window” opens and change is most likely. For Kingdon ( 2011 ), this is a moment of “opportunity for advocates of proposals to push their pet solutions, or to push attention to their special problems” (pg. 165).

Models of the policy change process, of which the multiple streams framework is just one, may be effectively applied to crime and justice policy spheres. Prior discussions on the ways of thinking about crime and criminal justice can be usefully integrated with models of the policy change process; narratives shape how various conditions are constructed as problems worthy of collective action and influence policy ideas and proposals available among policy communities. We encourage policymakers and policy-oriented researchers to examine criminal justice reform through policy process frameworks in order to better understand why some reforms succeed, and why others fail.

When it comes to the criminal justice system, one of the most commonly asked questions today is: How can we improve the effectiveness of reform efforts? Effective reform hinges on shared understandings of what the problem is as well as shared visions of what success looks like. Yet consensus is hard to come by, and scholars have long differentiated between “policy talk” and “policy action.” The aim of this essay has been to identify conceptual and practical considerations related to both policy talk and policy action in the context of criminal justice reform today.

On the conceptual side, we reviewed narratives that create society’s fundamental ways of thinking about or conceptualizing crime and criminal justice. These narratives reflect value orientations that underlie our criminal justice system and determine how it functions. On the practical side, we identified considerations for both policy-oriented researchers and policymakers in thinking through how to make criminal justice reform more effective. These practical considerations included variation and complexity in the criminal justice policy environment, problem framing and policy content, policy aims and outcomes, equity considerations in policy design and evaluation, and models of the policy change process.

These conceptual and practical considerations are by no means exhaustive, nor are they mutually-exclusive. Rather, they serve as starting points for productively thinking and talking about, as well as designing, effective and sustainable criminal justice reform. At the same time, they point to the need for continuous policy evaluation and monitoring—at all levels—as a way to increase accountability and effectiveness. Indeed, policy talk and policy action do not stop at the problem formation, agenda setting, or adoption stages of policymaking. Critical to understanding effective policy is implementation and evaluation, which create feedback into policy processes, and is something that should be addressed in future work on criminal justice reform.

No single definition of public policy exists. Here we follow Smith and Larimer ( 2017 ) and define policy as any action by the government in response to a problem, including laws, rules, agency policies, programs, and day-to-day practices.

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Kubrin, C.E., Tublitz, R. How to Think about Criminal Justice Reform: Conceptual and Practical Considerations. Am J Crim Just 47 , 1050–1070 (2022).

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Essays on Criminal Justice

Criminal justice essay topics and outline examples, essay title 1: reforming the criminal justice system: challenges, progress, and the road ahead.

Thesis Statement: This essay examines the challenges within the criminal justice system, the progress made in recent years, and the ongoing efforts required to reform and ensure a fair and equitable system for all.

  • Introduction
  • The Criminal Justice System: Structure and Key Components
  • Challenges and Injustices: Racial Disparities, Mass Incarceration, and Sentencing
  • Reform Movements: Criminal Justice Reform Advocacy and Legislation
  • Alternatives to Incarceration: Restorative Justice and Rehabilitation
  • Police Reform: Building Trust and Accountability in Law Enforcement
  • The Role of Technology: Advancements in Criminal Justice Practices
  • Conclusion: Towards a More Just and Equitable Criminal Justice System

Essay Title 2: Criminal Justice and Civil Rights: Analyzing the Intersection, Historical Struggles, and Contemporary Debates

Thesis Statement: This essay explores the intersection of criminal justice and civil rights, tracing historical struggles for equality, and examining contemporary debates regarding policing, incarceration, and civil liberties.

  • Civil Rights Movements: Historical Context and Achievements
  • Law Enforcement and Civil Rights: Cases of Police Brutality and Protests
  • Mass Incarceration: Disproportionate Impact on Communities of Color
  • Criminal Justice Reforms: The Role of Advocacy and Grassroots Movements
  • The Fourth Amendment: Searches, Seizures, and Privacy Rights
  • Contemporary Debates: Balancing Security and Civil Liberties
  • Conclusion: Upholding Civil Rights within the Criminal Justice System

Essay Title 3: International Perspectives on Criminal Justice: Comparative Analysis of Legal Systems and Global Challenges

Thesis Statement: This essay provides a comparative analysis of criminal justice systems worldwide, highlighting variations in legal approaches, international cooperation, and shared challenges in addressing transnational crime.

  • Legal Systems: Common Law, Civil Law, and Hybrid Systems
  • International Law Enforcement: Interpol, UNODC, and Global Cooperation
  • Transnational Crime: Cybercrime, Human Trafficking, and Drug Trafficking
  • Human Rights and Criminal Justice: International Treaties and Agreements
  • Case Studies: Comparative Analysis of Criminal Justice in Selected Countries
  • Challenges of Globalization: Addressing Legal and Jurisdictional Issues
  • Conclusion: The Quest for Effective Global Criminal Justice Solutions

Most Popular Criminal Justice Essay Topics in 2024

  • The Evolution of Cybercrime Laws in the Digital Age
  • Reforming the Bail System: Balancing Justice and Fairness
  • Racial Bias and Reform in Policing Practices
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  • Balancing Rights and Health: Public Smoking Ban Dilemmas
  • Restorative Justice: Benefits and Challenges in Modern Society
  • Drug Decriminalization: Effects on Crime Rates and Public Health
  • Epstein Case Controversies: Societal & Justice System Impact
  • The Role of Mental Health in the Criminal Justice System
  • Privacy Rights vs. Surveillance: Finding the Balance in Criminal Justice

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Victimology: Concept, Definition, Paradigms and Paradoxes

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The U.s. Criminal Justice System and Its Phases

The criminal justice system in the uk, personal writing: criminal justice career choices, american criminal justice system: the different stages of an arrest, mass incarceration, criminal justice system, and racial inequality in the united states, from toxic friends to criminal justice, intelligence, probation and prisons in criminal justice, accountability of criminal activity by minors, the golden rule of criminal jurisprudence, police brutality in the us: history and ways to improve, the crime of theft through the marxism theory and merton’s strain theory, exclusionary rule in america: pros and cons, why capital punishment should be legalized, revisiting the debate on capital punishment: an ielts perspective, criminal careers: how they are produced, the importance of youth diversion & current conditions of diversion programs in victoria, the effectiveness of rehabilitation vs harsh punishment, dostoevsky’s view of submission, racial bias in the u.s. criminal justice system, difficulties faced by the criminal justice system in responding to sex offenders.

Criminal justice is the delivery of justice to those who have been accused of committing crimes. The criminal justice system is a series of government agencies and institutions.

Law enforcement agencies, usually the police. Courts and accompanying prosecution and defence lawyers. Agencies for detaining and supervising offenders, such as prisons and probation agencies.

Goals of criminal justice include the rehabilitation of offenders, preventing other crimes, and moral support for victims.

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what is criminal justice essay

304 Criminal Justice Essay Topics & Examples

🏆 best criminal justice topics & essay examples, 👍 good criminal justice topics for essays, 📑 interesting criminal law essay topics, 🔍 social justice topics to write about, 💡 criminal justice persuasive essay topics, ⭐ simple & easy criminology essay topics, ❓ criminal justice research topics for college students.

  • Importance of Math in the Field of Criminal Justice The work of police officers and other personnel in criminal justice requires proof and accuracy in determining the cause and effects of a crime.
  • Application of Probability and Statistics in Criminal Justice In criminal justice system, the assessment of the evidence adduced by witnesses determines the innocence or the guilt of the accused.
  • The Instrumental Theory in Criminal Justice In criminal justice, the instrumental theory is based on the idea that criminal justice and criminology is one of the main tools which help to control the poor.
  • Criminal Justice Ethics Definition Criminal justice ethics involves all the codes as well as standards that apply to all the concerned parties in the criminal justice system for example attorneys, prosecutors, and the other entire professionals in the criminal […]
  • Psychologists’ Role in Criminal Justice In addition to research, the accumulation, and application of knowledge, psychologists can also participate in assessing the effectiveness of legislation. In this setting, basic scientists conduct theoretical research on the effectiveness of police and court […]
  • The Youth Criminal Justice Act in Teresa Robinson’s Case 1 of the YCJA is relevant to the article since the offender’s name is still unreported despite the evidence of his involvement in the homicide.
  • Crime Scene Investigation in Criminal Justice In the process of controlling the crowd and maintaining order with the aid of the police officers, I took some photographs of the surrounding and then approached the main spot of event. I managed to […]
  • Cybercrime Impact on Global Criminal Justice System Reports show that the crime is on the rise because more people have access to computers and the internet than ever before.
  • Ethics and Professional Behavior in Criminal Justice One of the most important components of the criminal justice system is a code of ethics, which governs the behavior and conduct of professionals working within the system.
  • Forensic Psychology in the Criminal Justice System To evaluate the competency of a defendant, the forensic psychologist is guided by the scientific principles espoused in the field of psychological science.
  • Criminal Justice Internship Report The primary goals of the course are to expose students to new contexts and environments, broaden and deepen knowledge of key concepts and theories relevant to the field, and improve an overall learning experience.
  • Criminal Justice System Representation in Media In the television shows and films examined in this paper, the creators attempt to display various aspects of the criminal justice system realistically and positively.
  • Criminal Justice Inequality in Conflict Theory Other examples of inequality in terms of criminal justice are international corporations’ frauds and embezzlements on a grand scale by politicians that remain even unnoticeable while ordinary people are sentenced to imprisonment for less serious […]
  • Criminal Justice: Punishment and Sentencing The representatives of the general public got used to the fact that one party is to be punished, and another one is to provide punishment.
  • Logical Fallacies in Criminal Justice The misrepresentation of the original argument is not taken into account, and the key objective of this fallacy is to confuse the opponent and form one’s opinion on the wrong argument.
  • Indian Criminal Justice System Reforms In as much as some human rights activists often complain of the violation of the rights by the justice system, India’s criminal system has faced significant changes since colonial times to the present.
  • Pros and Cons of Using Discretion in System of Criminal Justice The initial stage in which discretion is applied in the system of criminal justice is where police officers make a decision on whether a suspect should be arrested for a particular offense or not., argues […]
  • Restorative Justice in the Criminal Justice Process The purpose of this paper is to present, define, and propose restorative justice as the best model for addressing the challenges affecting the effectiveness of the United States’ criminal justice process.
  • US Criminal Justice System, Theories and Methods To begin with, I would like to state that my opinion on the criminal justice system has changed due to additional knowledge that I gained during the course with the help of additional materials that […]
  • Criminal Justice Ethics of Traffic Police Officers The police officer had the choice to take the children to a juvenile center home and arrange for a person to take care of the baby and then take the woman to jail as she […]
  • Jury System in Different Criminal Justice Contexts The first argument to support the idea that the jury system should be spread widely in the world countries is that the jury system is the key to the unbiased and effective court decision-making that […]
  • Changes Introduced to the Inquisitorial Criminal Justice in Italy The inquisitorial system was pioneered by the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval era, where the church used this system in its religious courts for prosecution of offenders and to reform the former system which […]
  • “Ethical Dilemmas and Decisions in Criminal Justice” by Pollock If hunting is the primary means of survival of a particular society, the euthanasia of the elderly and the sick can be deemed acceptable.
  • Integrity and Its Place in Criminal Justice System It is plausible to say that Integrity is truthfulness; the truthfulness of one’s character. The integrity of a professional is not something that is personally his.
  • Forensic Science in the Criminal Justice System This essay is intended to explain the meaning of forensic science in the criminal justice system and to explore the evolution of methods introduced by such figures as Sir Francis Galton and Dr.
  • The Criminal Justice System On the other hand, the executive branch is mandated with the role of furnishing the criminal justice system with judges and heads of law-enforcing agencies.
  • Criminal Justice & Security: Measuring Crime Statistics NIBRS is a part of UCR; it has been in place since 1989, and its aim is to ensure the collection of detailed crime reports from law enforcement agencies.
  • Technical Communication Methods and Practices of Criminal Justice It also examines the use of technology in the communication process and further looks at the potential technological advancement that will be used in the communication process in the future.
  • Leadership and Management as Applied to Criminal Justice Organizations The differences between them are significant and crucial to understanding for executives to be able to reach the goals of a company.
  • Stress Among Criminal Justice Workers The criminal justice system is aware of the seriousness of the current problem and is trying to adapt to the emerging trend.
  • Pretrial Procedures in Criminal Justice Therefore, studying the processes that take place before the trial is important for understanding the overall delivery of criminal justice. Before the trial begins, the defense attorney and the prosecutor must prepare for it.
  • Positive and Negative of Evidence-Based Criminal Justice Policymaking Evidence-based practice in the criminal justice sector has concentrated on policies that deal with the administration of these sectors based on the correctional process of the incarcerated persons.
  • The Discipline of Criminal Justice: The Use of Mathematics The knowledge applied here is purely scientific and therefore the police can hire the services of such experts to assist in the investigation of crime.
  • Stereotyping Individuals in the Criminal Justice System Cultural Deviance theory is based upon two other theories, which are: Social Disorganization Theory Strain Theory Social disorganization theory focuses on the environment and places it as the main reason for crime.
  • Psychologist’s Roles in Criminal Justice System The purpose of this article is to outline the function of a psychologist in the criminal justice system. For example, the expert can act in a consultative or counselor capacity in the court of law.
  • Effective Communication in Criminal Justice Settings The officer should also package information in a way that it is easy to decode and understand. Such communication enables police officers in charge of the inmates to access important information from them.
  • Ethics in Criminal Justice The morality of punishing people for their actions will always be a topic that is worth discussion because, in the majority of the cases, no one has the ability to view the issue from a […]
  • Cosa Nostra and Transnational Criminal Justice As a result of the criminal allure it exudes, the Cosa Nostra maintains connections with all of the major criminal groups, both in Italy and across the world.
  • Ethical Behavior in Criminal Justice In the CJS, judges are the determinants of the sentencing and verdict of a criminal. Wilson that considers the health of the defendant and the safety of the community.
  • Professional vs. Personal Life Dilemma in Criminal Justice As a member of a police force, Badpenny belongs to the soldier class in Plato’s classification, making courage her virtue. Overall, Badpenny’s decision to hide her boyfriend’s identity can only be morally justified from the […]
  • Virtue and Stoic Ethics in Criminal Justice The lack of ethical grounds for the behavior of criminal justice officials makes the application of the law unreliable. As an employee of a juvenile correctional colony, I will be guided by the principles of […]
  • Police Culture: Criminal Justice Ethics The set of values and standards in police culture shapes the perceptions of law enforcement officers about policing and the delivery of services. Therefore, police culture is similar to other customs and habits that guides […]
  • The Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program The policy reflects social control, ensuring that members of society are compliant and follow the rules to ensure community safety and sustainability.
  • Technology and Learning in Criminal Justice It is a two-way avenue that includes both the student and the educator and leads to knowledge and capacity growth. A third and somewhat uncommon motivating method is the inclusion of a genuine chance for […]
  • Domestic Violence: Criminal Justice In addition, the usage of illegal substances such as bhang, cocaine, and other drugs contributes to the increasing DV in society.
  • Ethical Dilemma Analysis: Criminal Justice Case The publicity of the case added another layer of complexity to the decision, as either verdict would alienate a part of the population.
  • Solving Problems of Criminal Justice For example, the theory can be applied to better understand the problem of social inequality problem described in the cited documentary.
  • The Criminal Justice System Practitioner The practitioner relied on the presented professional values, worldview, and philosophy to identify, handle, and support the rights of the identified clients.
  • The Criminal Justice System: Gender Diversity Among these recommendations are, for the most part, the expansion of strategies to attract more candidates and increase their interest in law enforcement recruiting.
  • Contemporary Criminal Justice Issues When it comes to the dependent variable, it means the effect, and that means the reduction of infectious diseases will be the effect that the independent variable will determine.
  • Negligence in the Criminal Justice System The last category of negligence is the most dangerous, and essentially stems to injury or death caused by the actions or lack thereof by the employees of the criminal justice system.
  • Ethical Obligations in Criminal Justice These criteria also include those that promote the values of honesty and compassion and the rights to life, bodily integrity, and privacy, all of which are defined as ethical standards. Empathy for others is the […]
  • Domestic Violence Ethical Dilemmas in Criminal Justice Various ethical issues such as the code of silence, the mental status of the offender, and limited evidence play a vital role in challenging the discretion of police officers in arresting the DV perpetrators.
  • Research in Criminal Justice: Crime Solvability Factors In the sphere of criminal justice, inquiry can doubtlessly assist in the formulation of improved and more progressive laws and institutions.
  • Criminal Justice in Relation to the Number of Criminals The main goal of my work is to build evidence that the number of criminals is not proportional to the severity of the crime and that despite a large number of crimes, not all of […]
  • “The Role of Virtual Reality in Criminal Justice Pedagogy” by Smith The journal is titled “The role of virtual reality in criminal justice pedagogy: An examination of mental illness occurring in corrections”.
  • Crime Problems and Criminal Justice Notably, except for the last one, all listed procedures can be applied to crime issues discussed above and seem practical in preventing law violations.
  • COVID-19 and Juvenile, Criminal Justice Legislation The measures may help to reduce overcrowding in prisons, prevent the spread of the disease, and decrease federal and state expenses on COVID-19 preventive measures and protective equipment in correctional facilities.
  • Discretion in Decision Making in Criminal Justice The role of discretion is to provide the capacity to make official judgments based on logic and judgment in the criminal justice system.
  • Criminal Justice Intervention in Case of Elderly However, the government has not been able to respond effectively to the abuse of older adults, with little information and statistics available to show the vulnerability of the elderly to abuse.
  • Police-Minority Relations: Criminal Justice Occasionally, charges of police misbehavior, such as the tragic killings of Black individuals at the hands of police in Baltimore, Maryland, and Ferguson, Missouri, spark public unrest.
  • Alexander & Ferzan’s Arguments on Criminal Justice The penal code has evolved in such a way that it only allows the system to blame offenders based on the nature of the eventual result or outcome.
  • Criminal Justice: Burglary, Theft, and Criminal Trespass According to Section 2C:15-1, robbery is a first-degree crime if, in the course of committing the theft, the actor attempts to kill anyone or purposefully attempts to inflict serious bodily injury.
  • Code of Criminal Justice: False Imprisonment However, the New Jersey Code interprets it specifically as an unlawful restraint with the risk of serious bodily injury or a goal of holding a victim in involuntary servitude.
  • Leadership in the Criminal Justice System For example, the criminal justice system uses goals to task the police, correctional agencies, and the court with the strategy to execute, including deterrence, rehabilitation, retribution, restoration, and incapacitation.
  • The Criminal Justice Core Competency Nowadays, the situation is different, and more women and minorities are encouraged to join law enforcement professions to reduce the impact of bureaucracy and other biases.
  • Criminology and Its Significance in Criminal Justice Fields Criminologists’ activities include collecting and analyzing data of committed crimes to study the nature of crimes and criminals and identify factors that influence criminals’ motives.
  • Criminal Justice System Development The sweeping changes impacted all elements of civil litigation and gave criminal justice professionals a stimulus to be more assertive in their cases.
  • California’s Criminal Justice Realignment The existing experience of reducing the number of prisons in California is of some interest to researchers. The articles attempt to study a number of humanitarian problems of the detention of citizens of California.
  • Criminal Justice System Deterring Illicit Drug Use The authors describe the history of the appearance of synthetic drugs in the illegal market and mention the difficulties that forensic chemists have faced in identifying the compounds of illicit substances. M, Stogner, J.
  • The Influence of Wealth and History of the Criminal Justice System The history of the U.S.criminal justice system spans approximately four hundred years, with early beginnings that prioritized the protection of citizens, punishment of criminals, and maintenance of social order. Perhaps the earliest form of criminal […]
  • Norwegian Versus Texan Criminal Justice Systems Despite accounting for a small population of the world, the US has the highest number of prisoners globally. As a result, the number of prisoners under solitary confinement is higher than in other states.
  • Comparative Criminal Justice System Advantages The central values of the US criminal justice system are to protect the rights of citizens and ensure the safety of a society in which everyone is equal before the law.
  • Hypothesis Testing in Criminal Justice and Criminology Two populations that are linked via a dependent variable must be assessed on the subject of dependency to determine a proper test to ensure the validity of the results.
  • The Modern Criminal Justice System: Discriminatory Practices It is stated that “the experiences of poor and minority defendants within the criminal justice system often differ substantially from that model due to several factors, each of which contributes to the overrepresentation of such […]
  • Statistics in Criminal Justice and Criminology The author’s primary argument refers to the importance of averages and data distribution types for criminology researchers and practitioners. To conclude, the information provided in the chapter is essential for understanding the measures of central […]
  • Statistics for Criminology and Criminal Justice The first part of the chapter introduces the three univariate data distribution displays that are frequently used in statistics, such as frequencies, proportions, and percentages.
  • Deterrence: Reflections on the Economics of Criminal Justice Therefore, deterrence is meant to ensure that punishments are so harsh that members of the public will fear committing a crime that will lead them to the same punishment.
  • Media and Gender Stereotypes Against Females in Professional Roles Within the Criminal Justice The first and a half of the second episode were chosen as the pilot episode often reflects the essence of the entire show.
  • Impacts of the Overlaps Between Communication and Criminal Justice for Police-Suspect Interactions The underlying concern raised by the interaction between Floyd and Chauvin as well as the other three police officers is that a breakdown of communication before and during the arrest led to the escalation.
  • Management of Criminal Justice Agencies Conflict of interests is bound to arise every time the needs of a healthy worker collide with the properties of a formal organization.
  • The Federal Grand Jury in the Criminal Justice System For instance, the President of the United States of America may not directly request for the formation of a grand jury but can do so by directing the Attorney General to constitute a grand jury.
  • Criminal Justice Agency Accountability and Liability The Act has set the “minimum pay for employees and the overtime pay has to be between 22 to 25% of the standard pay”.
  • US Criminal Justice System Analysis It might be assumed, therefore, that the prison had minimum security; however, the guards were heavily armored and conducted regular raids to control the contraband, which is a characteristic of a high-security prison.
  • Ethical Issues in Criminology and Criminal Justice Research Investigation officers be committed to obligation of ensuring that the bodily, social and mental health of a person participating in an investigation is not harmful distressed.
  • Criminal Justice: The Ban-the-Box Law This essay discusses the criminal justice laws of the United States on the hiring of ex-convicts and whether felons should exercise their civil rights of voting or not.
  • Criminal Justice Career An individual who wants to work in the criminal justice sphere should be ready to overcome different challenges and contribute to the increased efficiency of the legal system.
  • The Effects of the Criminal Justice System Wilson and Kelling say, “Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken”.
  • Criminal Justice System: Child Abuse During the consideration of cases as part of a grand jury, citizens perform some functions of the preliminary investigation bodies.
  • Criminal Justice Standards for the Defense Function In court, defenders can find evidence through discovery, speak with witnesses of the crime, and file pretrial motions.
  • Criminal Justice & Criminology Research Methods In most cases, operationalizing study variables ensures that a sample representing the entire population is chosen and an appropriate unit of analysis is applied.
  • Building a Career in Criminal Justice The duty of a correctional officer is to oversee and keep watch of the arrested criminals during their terms in jail.
  • The Impact of Performance Appraisals on Job Satisfaction of Criminal Justice Personnel Of greater attention in the paper is the exploration of the levels of performance management in criminal justice departments and the impact on the levels of job satisfaction among employees working in these departments.
  • The Pitfalls of Criminal Justice Budget Cuts: An Administrator’s Perspective Today, in the United States, the diminishing crime rates have created an erroneous perception among state legislatures, key public policy figures, and mainstream commentators that crime and the administration of the criminal justice system are […]
  • Policing Duties: Criminal Justice Similarly, the police officers are required to evaluate the crime scene based on the evidence received from the witnesses, victims, and the offenders.
  • Criminal Justice Research: Homicide It also gains capacity with the regulations and reaction of crime from the society and the government. In homicide research, the characteristics and methods of qualitative research are evident.
  • Communication Within the Criminal Justice System: Probation Organisation An important thing to note here is that the sender and the recipient must be sharing the meaning of the symbols used in communicating; otherwise the meaning of the message will be lost on the […]
  • Criminal Justice: Racial Prejudice and Racial Discrimination Souryal takes the reader through the racial prejudice and racial discrimination issues ranging from the temperament of racism, the fundamental premise of unfairness, the racial biasness and the causes of racial unfairness to ethical practices […]
  • Criminal Justice Ethics: Kant’s and Bentham’s Views The following is an essay on criminal justice based on the case of Lieutenant Lotem that has presented moral as well as ethical dilemma on the issue of administrative justice.
  • “Ethics in Criminal Justice: In Search of the Truth” by Souryal The principle of leading a simple life to achieve mental happiness is in line with the stoicism school of thought which stressed that pleasure and pain are not relevant in attaining the happiness of an […]
  • New Technology & Criminal Justice From an information perspective, it is clear that new technologies, such as the use of iris recognition solutions, can assist in the effective and efficient management of correctional systems since these facilities are predominantly information-centric […]
  • Significant Issues in Criminal Justice The society established ways of dealing with these groups of people through the implementation of the rule of law to ensure they account for all their actions.
  • Criminology: Modern Criminal Justice The criminal justice system is the institution or the criterion that is used to keep all people that are subject to the law in check.
  • Criminal Justice Professionals: What They Should Know Considering the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, it is possible to state the information about the adoption history of the documents the criminal justice professionals should know.
  • The Origins of the Criminal Justice System in America S, the evolution of the criminal justice system can be traced from the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice of 1967 with the famous “The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society” […]
  • Neuroscience and Criminal Justice The viewpoint of several neuroscientists is that expressive biology of behavior will be accessible in the future and is probably to integrate both neuroscientific and genetic understanding.
  • Criminal Justice: Prosecution & Judicial Proceedings To corroborate scientific, circumstantial and witness evidences, the prosecution needs to examine financial transactions of Roberts to prove that he was truly trafficking dangerous drugs according to the third count of charges.
  • Criminal Justice: Cases of Offenders in Trafficking Secondly, if in the opinion of the court, a defendant is seen to endanger the lives of others or will interfere with the evidence if granted bail, then the court will not grant bail.
  • Essentials of Criminal Justice It is imperative to mention that the prominence of wrongful convictions in a topic that is frequently discussed by scholars and has led to many disagreements.
  • Report Writing for Criminal Justice Professionals The fifth one includes the targeted issues while the sixth indicates the decisions and actions. It is also appropriate to be aware of the speech mode of the individual being interviewed.
  • Ethical Observations of Criminal Justice System As the police officer pays for the picked items, the shopkeeper gives the officer a package of free items and a shopping voucher worth $100 as a present for his family and an appreciation note […]
  • Criminal Justice Ethics: Ethical Observations There are three parties involved in the situation: the victim, the offender, and the company. At the same time, the involvement of Police Officers to the case and the necessity to carry out their daily […]
  • Criminal Justice Policies and Theories Given the fact that PRPs and DPs are the variants of rehabilitation programs, their correlation is understandable, but their targets determine their differences.
  • Response Paper on Book “Criminal Justice Management” They believe that the negative implications of the criminal world, on the whole, are transmitted to the activity of criminal justice workers that creates an unfavorable association of the latter in the mind of the […]
  • Bribery as a Critical Criminal Justice Violation In the overviewed case, the abuse of criminal justice is evident since it is prohibited for the public officials, who are engaged in the investigation, to peer in the confidential affairs of the clients as […]
  • An Ethical System in Criminal Justice To my firm belief, utilitarian ethical system is more advantageous than the systems proposed by libertarianism and determinism since it accepts human nature and puts the general safety above the individual good.
  • Need for Policy Reform in the Criminal Justice System They also exposed the deficiencies and shortfalls of the criminal justice system, which has long been a source of disagreement between the Democrats and the Republicans, making any changes to the policy unlikely.
  • Criminal Law: Media and Its Influence on Criminal Justice Policy Seeing that the opinion of public affects the way, in which the criminal justice policy evolves, it can be assumed that media, which affect people’s viewpoints to a considerable degree, shaping it in accordance with […]
  • Public Opinion and Criminal Justice Policy Despite the fact that the criminal justice policy is shaped by the bills passed by the Congress, the significance of public opinion on the subject matter is very high.
  • An Application of the Criminal Justice System When police have reasonable grounds to believe that William Bloutt and Bertha Bloutt committed the robbery, they have the power, not the obligation, to put them under arrest.
  • Criminal Justice: Over Institutional Organization This is further worsened by the fact that the number of offenders to be monitored after being released is often higher than the number of officers tasked with the responsibility of following up on them.
  • Learning Theory Implications on Criminal Justice Practices This will be helpful to them because the civilians have different styles of learning and implementing the rule of law. Understanding the crime learning theories is very important and their impacts determine the destiny of […]
  • Criminal Justice Workplace Observation Leadership rests in the top management of the prisons who are the decision-makers and lead the prison to attain its objectives.
  • Deterrence in Criminal Justice Practices The concept of deterrence is the foundation of criminal justice systems in a majority of democratic nations. In my opinion, law enforcement is the second area where the implications of deterrence have more impacts.
  • Administration of Criminal Justice – Elements of Planned Change Administrators According to Merino, the effects of the implementation of change or change initiating in the criminal justice system extend far beyond the desired change.
  • Research Process and Terminology: Criminal Justice In addition, it is necessary to edit the research question/hypothesis after reviewing the literature and determining variables; select the research method; sampling methods and control of variables should be thoroughly explained as well; description of […]
  • Suicide in People With a Criminal Justice History The main questions raised in the study included suicide risk for the Danish population over the past three decades and possible relation of the results with the social and health problems of the suicides.
  • Criminal Justice System: “Lucky” by Alice Sebold The book “Lucky” by Alice Sebold unfolds the rape ordeal that the author went through at the age of 18 years as well as the aftermath of the heinous act on her personal life.
  • Key Elements of Criminal Justice System It is the combination of all the administrative, operational, and technical divisions that are part of the law enforcement agencies. This essay will describe the key elements of law enforcement agencies, the key elements of […]
  • Achieving Real Justice: Funding Criminal Justice Reform The article sums up the problems that have enhanced the tribulations of the state’s criminal justice department and point out strategies that have been adapted to solve these challenges. The citizens of California have not […]
  • The Criminal Justice System in the US The statutes of Texas require the criminal justice system to carry out an inquest into the causes of deaths that occur mysteriously to ascertain the cause of death.
  • Impact of Diversity on Criminal Justice Police on the other hand think the high crime rates of Blacks and Hispanics only reflects the differences in the crime rates and not the biased justice system.
  • Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice According to legal ethics, lawyer has ethical duty of ensuring that client’s information is confidential and thus should always advocate for the interests of the client.
  • A Criminal Justice Approach to Suppressing Terrorism The threat of terrorism substituted communism as the rationale which was used for justifying the state of emergency in America prior to 1990s.
  • Web Research in Criminal Justice For those desiring a career that upholds the current social system in preventing crime, ensuring that the rule of law prevails and provides a system of rehabilitation for those who have broken the law, the […]
  • Expected Changes in the Criminal Justice Field Over the Next 50 Years A comfortable conjecture towards development in the criminal justice field will be the use of these social networking sites as an interaction tool with the communities served, for sharing critical information and collecting tips.
  • Cultural and Racial Prejudices in the Criminal Justice System Simultaneously, whiteness continues to play one of the key roles in the development of cultural and racial prejudices in the criminal justice system.
  • Criminal Justice Leadership: Strategies and Practice They have to execute good leadership and management in order to provide reforms and change and to affect the kind of justice that the community needs.
  • Leadership Issue in the Criminal Justice Field The main concerns about the issue of violations are: whether they are common phenomena in the criminal justice field, the reason that propagates them, and the possibility of their prevention with consideration whether they might […]
  • Impact of Globalization and Neoliberalism on Crime and Criminal Justice Globalization entails the conception of principles, perpetuated by both governments and organizations that have altered the way nations perceive the obligation for a criminal justice system and the ability of the governments to control crime […]
  • Contemporary Criminology and Criminal Justice Theory The model of a political society in which law restrains and guides the implementation of power by rulers dates from the early stages of systematic thought in the Western world.
  • Criminal Justice and DNA: “Genetic Fingerprinting” DNA is one of the popular methods used by criminologists today, DNA technique is also known as “genetic fingerprinting”.the name given the procedure by Cellmark Diagnostics, a Maryland company that certified the technique used in […]
  • Racial Discrimination in the US Criminal Justice System This report argues that when one studies the proportion of blacks in the Cincinnati community and the number of times that they have been stopped for traffic violations, one finds that there is a large […]
  • Searches in the Criminal Justice System The reasoning behind this lies in the mobility of vehicles which can enable the owners of the vehicles to tamper with the probable evidence should a warrant be necessary to conduct a search of the […]
  • The Criminal Justice Funnel and Globalization There are several cases in the initial stages of the criminal process which are then eliminated as the process continues to the top.
  • The History and Transformation of Criminal Justice System The State Police seeks the help of the local police divisions for the search of the criminals and arrest of them to announce sentence according to the Code of |Criminal Procedure applied and observed by […]
  • How Is the Criminal Justice System Portrayed in the News? In the case it is underrepresented, it means that the news has not been depicted in full and in a truthful manner and in accordance with the wishes of the American people.
  • Criminal Justice Reform in the Black Community A progressive change of the United States’ drug policy is a fundamental step in the restoration of the criminal justice system.
  • Key Social Issues Affecting Criminal Justice Professionals The absence of a decline in this percentage suggests that the criminal justice system has not been effective in addressing this issue. The criminal justice system has failed to decrease crime rates due to the […]
  • California’s Criminal Justice System, Problems and Solutions The attention is focused on the fact that even though the system is designed to lower the recidivism rate and help inmates in the future, rehabilitate, it is still ineffective.
  • Communication Databases and Criminal Justice System It will also expound on the positive and negative contributions of the databases due to the advancement in technology. Advancement in technology also poses immense challenges to members of the society.
  • Budget Reduction in Criminal Justice Administrations The mission of the police is to maintain law and order among the citizens. The main positive effect of this training is the ability of some members to provide security to the rest of the […]
  • Criminal Justice System in the United States Evolution The emergence of English common law in the period of the reign of Henry II had the biggest impact on the development of the criminal justice system in the United States.
  • Criminal Justice Centralization and Decentralization This assignment briefly examines the issue of centralization and decentralization, overviewing the negative consequences of the attorney’s office funded by the state, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the commission’s recommendations.
  • The Effects of Poverty Within Criminal Justice The approach used in this study is deductive since the reasoning in the study proceeds from the general principle regarding the fact that poverty has a role to play in the administering of fairness in […]
  • Ethics Theories in the Criminal Justice Field The gratuity that the public extend to officers and doormen within the criminal justice system has the capacity to spiral and develop a culture of exchange.
  • Criminal Justice System: Crime Scene Investigation A gas store employee, who was present in the time of the event, nodded to be the witness of the crime.
  • Math and Criminal Justice: The Effective Conduction of Investigation The use of mathematics in the form of statistical analysis and interpretation is profound in all the three parts of the criminal justice system- “law enforcement, adjudication and corrections “.
  • Issues in Comparative Criminal Justice Under civil disobedience, the citizens reserve the rights to defy the authority of the state when in their opinion the stat is taking them n the wrong direction.
  • Criminal Justice Agency Records, Content & Secondary Data Analysis
  • Criminal Justice: Misconduct by Prison Wardens
  • Criminal Justice Experimentation: Threats to Validity
  • Criminal Justice System: Halloween Party Accident
  • Criminal Justice System in Australia
  • Management in Criminal Justice and Related Areas
  • The Criminal Justice Ethics Principles
  • Problem Analysis in the Criminal Justice System
  • Criminal Justice for Physically Injured Crime Victims
  • Criminal Justice: Term Definition
  • Criminal Justice: Recidivism and Corrections
  • Washington County Court Services
  • Effects of Technology in Criminal Justice Systems
  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • Criminal Justice Correction Professions and Careers
  • Criminal Justice: Race, Age, and Gender Factors
  • Criminal Justice Agency Organizational Behavior
  • Wrongful Capital Convictions in Criminal Justice
  • Contemporary Criminal Justice Leadership
  • Criminal Justice as an Open System
  • Determination of Professionalism in Criminal Justice Organizations
  • Racism Effects on Criminal Justice System
  • Applied Research in Criminal Justice Profession
  • Ethical Conduct in Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Justice Policy Development and Implementation
  • Americans With Disabilities in Criminal Justice Agencies
  • Diversity Training for Criminal Justice Employees
  • Criminal Justice Employees’ Rights and Laws
  • Administration of Criminal Justice Agencies
  • Policy and Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Justice Administration and Police Functions
  • Crime and Criminal Justice News
  • Women in Legal and Criminal Justice Occupations
  • Women Working in the Criminal Justice System
  • Criminal Justice System and Inequilty in America
  • Criminal Justice Systems: Saudi Arabia, Germany and the US
  • Gang Violence: Criminal Justice Research
  • Research Inquiry Methods in Criminal Justice Project
  • Criminal Justice: Balancing in Philosophy and Practice
  • Ethics in Criminal Justice and Fuller’s Principle
  • Women and Minorities Recruits in Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Justice Careers in the Modern Society
  • Criminal Justice Process in the US
  • Military Trials: The Criminal Justice Procedures Violations
  • Criminal Justice Administration Issues
  • Johnnie Cochran’s Leadership in the Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Justice System: Racial Policy Change
  • Leadership Issues in the Criminal Justice System
  • Criminal Justice System Enforcement Issues
  • Key Criminal Justice Issues
  • Criminal Justice System Reforms
  • Criminal Justice From the Historical Perspective
  • Criminal Justice in the Film “Gideon’s Trumpet”
  • Criminal Justice: Investigating Problems
  • Criminal Justice Policy in Action
  • Community Corrections and Criminal Justice
  • Ethics in Criminal Justice: Moral Aspects
  • Ethics, Media and Criminal Justice
  • Psychology in Criminal Justice
  • Domestic Violence in International Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Justice System: Supervision and Recidivism
  • Criminal Justice Systems in the US, the UK, Norway
  • Stanford Prison Experiment and Criminal Justice
  • Media Influence on Criminal Justice and Community
  • Criminal Justice Process and Investigation Changes
  • Criminal Justice: Discipline, Liability and Labor Relations
  • Criminal Justice Policy Formulation Participants
  • Criminal Justice in Fisher vs. University of Texas
  • Bureaucracy and Criminal Justice Policies
  • Illicit Drugs Policy and Criminal Justice
  • International Criminal Justice and Atrocity
  • US Supreme Court’s Role in Criminal Justice System
  • The United States Constitution and Criminal Justice
  • Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Trends
  • Criminal Justice From a Global Perspective
  • Antiterrorism Response Unit in Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Justice Administration
  • Criminal Justice Employees’ Duties and Rights
  • US Criminal Justice Policy: History and Future
  • US Criminal Justice Information System
  • Globalization and Criminal Justice Policy
  • Technologies in Canadian Criminal Justice System
  • The Criminal Justice’ and the Drug Policy’ Relations
  • The Criminal Justice System Network
  • The Criminal Justice System Effective Communication
  • Criminal Justice in Canada
  • Criminal Justice System and Forensic Psychology
  • Criminal Justice Workplace Management
  • Organizational Behavior Concepts in the Criminal Justice
  • Historical Criminal Justice Theories
  • Criminal Justice Trends Evaluation
  • Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System
  • Criminal Justice System. Deterrence and Incarceration
  • Forensic Psychology Guidelines for Criminal Justice
  • Death Penalty Role in the Criminal Justice System
  • Criminal Justice System Role in Curbing Crime Rates
  • Financial Management in Criminal Justice Systems
  • People With Disabilities and Abuse of People With Disabilities and Criminal Justice
  • Politicization of Criminal Justice & its Influence on Penal Policy: A Critical Discussion
  • The Death Penalty in the US Criminal Justice System
  • Social and Criminal Justice Responses to Sex Work
  • Theories Required to be Successful in Supervisory Practices in the Criminal Justice Field
  • Foster Care in the Criminal Justice System
  • Death Penalty: Every For and Against
  • Racism in U.S. Criminal Justice System
  • The Many Faces of Criminal Justice: What Concerns Students Face Most Often
  • Techniques for Influencing Criminal Justice System Change
  • Criminal Justice Department
  • Young Offenders and the Criminal Justice System
  • Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement
  • A Short Guide to the Criminal Justice System
  • Delphi Survey Method in the Criminal Justice System
  • Criminal Justice
  • What Does the Future Hold for the Criminal Justice System?
  • How Does the Criminal Justice System Respond to White Collar and Corporate Crime?
  • What Makes the Criminal Justice System So Slow?
  • Does the Criminal Justice System Work?
  • How Are Computers Essential in Criminal Justice Field?
  • Are Individual Mental Health Issues Treated Fairly by the Criminal Justice System?
  • What Should the Criminal Justice System Do With Drug Abusers?
  • How Might Crime Data Be Used as either Predictor for Crime or Used by Criminal Justice Professionals?
  • Does the Criminal Justice System Depend on the Disparities of the People That It Serves?
  • How Does Criminal Justice System Work and How Does It Have Problems?
  • Are Males and Females Treated Differently in the Criminal Justice System?
  • How Did the Current Criminal Justice System in the US Evolve?
  • Does the Criminal Justice System Extend More Rights to Criminal Defendants?
  • How Does Society Shape the Experiences of the Criminal Justice?
  • Are Youth Offenders Responsive to Changing Sanctions?
  • How Does the Australian Criminal Justice System Respond to Domestic Violence?
  • Does the Criminal Justice System Have a Gendered Response Towards Filicide When It Comes to Punishing the Offender?
  • How Does the Criminal Justice System Respond to Illicit Drugs?
  • Should the Criminal Justice System Be the Primary Solution to Drug Problems in Australia?
  • How Does Our Criminal Justice System Reflect the U.S. Constitution?
  • Should the Death Penalty Be Used in the Criminal Justice System?
  • How Does Television Depict the Criminal Justice System?
  • Should the Texas Criminal Justice System Be Legal?
  • How Does the Criminal Justice System Deals With Sex Offenders?
  • What Are Effective Writing Principles for Criminal Justice Professionals in Their Respective Communications?
  • How Does the Criminal Justice System Respond to Organized Crime Within Our Society?
  • What Are the Major Components of the Criminal Justice System?
  • How Can the Past Assist the Modern Criminal Justice System?
  • What Are the Three Most Challenging Issues of Criminal Justice?
  • Why Are Confidentiality and Ethics Important in Investigating the Legal Concerns of the Criminal Justice and Criminology?
  • Domestic Violence Paper Topics
  • Computer Forensics Essay Topics
  • Drug Trafficking Research Topics
  • Crime Prevention Research Topics
  • Forensic Psychology Research Topics
  • Criminal Procedure Titles
  • Human Rights Essay Ideas
  • Mass Incarceration Essay Topics
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  • Analysis & Opinion

Criminal Justice Reform Is More than Fixing Sentencing

Experts explain how we got here and solutions that will benefit everyone.

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  • Changing Incentives
  • Cutting Jail & Prison Populations

A single criminal conviction bars a person for life from calling a bingo game in New York State. Before you chuckle at this gratuitous prohibition, take a second to appreciate the wider context: this is one of 27,000 (!) rules nationwide barring people with criminal records from obtaining a professional license. Conviction of a crime excludes people from holding jobs from real estate appraiser to massage therapist.

In our work to end mass incarceration, the Brennan Center has focused on the length of prison sentences. As our studies have shown, 39 percent of those in prison are there without a current public safety rationale. But the reach of our criminal justice system — its inefficiencies and its unfairness — extends far beyond the time an individual is incarcerated.

We all have a stake, for example, in making sure that a person leaving prison can reintegrate into society. Instead, we throw up barriers. Getting a job, even one that does not require a professional license, becomes extremely challenging. Studies show that a criminal conviction reduces the likelihood of getting a job callback by 50 percent for a white applicant and nearly two-thirds for a black applicant. These long odds have serious consequences. Finding work is the keystone to getting housing, becoming a contributing family member, and living an independent life.

Since many people are convicted of crimes when young, the negative effects reverberate for decades. The annual reduction in income that accompanies a criminal conviction rises from $7,000 initially to over $20,000 later in life.

Today crime is rising. Public safety must be a paramount goal. When violence cascades, it affects and hurts poor and marginalized communities most. As Alvin Bragg, the new Manhattan district attorney, put it so well, “The two goals of justice and safety are not opposed to each other. They are inextricably linked.” 

Progress toward criminal justice reform was made possible, in part, by the fact that crime rates were falling for decades. Now, rising crime again creates the conditions where demagogic politics and unwise policies can recur — with potentially crushing social, economic, and racial consequences. So we need to think anew, to make sure that the reaction to rising crime does not provoke a policy response that produces neither safety nor fairness.  

A year ago, the Brennan Center set out to broaden the national discussion about criminal justice reform. Since then, through our Punitive Excess series , we have published 25 essays by diverse authors ranging from scholars to formerly incarcerated people. The ill-considered collateral consequences of criminal conviction is just one of many topics, which also include perverse financial incentives in the system, inhumane prison conditions, racism, the treatment of child offenders, and more. 

It is a trove of analysis and scholarship that deserves your attention. Today we published the concluding essay , which surveys the damage from heavy-handed tactics and offers alternatives that empower communities. We also released a new video exploring the problems caused by excessive punishment. I hope you will read, view, and share widely. 

Related Issues:

  • Cutting Jail & Prison Populations

Black and White image of door to jail cells

How Profit Shapes the Bail Bond System

The for-profit bail bond industry is an overlooked but significant factor in pushback against attempts to reform or end the cash bail system.

Orlando-area State Attorney Monique Worrell

DeSantis’s Suspension of Orlando-Area Prosecutor Is Counterproductive Justice Policy

State Attorney Monique Worrell was elected running on evidence-based reforms.

America's Dystopian Incarceration System of Pay to Stay Behind Bars

To reduce unnecessary incarceration, focus on public safety and prison reduction, a new idea on justice reform, the federal government must incentivize states to incarcerate fewer people, criminal justice reform halfway through the biden administration, informed citizens are democracy’s best defense.

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Principles and Values in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice: Essays in Honour of Andrew Ashworth

Principles and Values in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice: Essays in Honour of Andrew Ashworth

Principles and Values in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice: Essays in Honour of Andrew Ashworth

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Celebrating the scholarship of Andrew Ashworth, Vinerian Professor of English Law at the University of Oxford, this book explores questions of principle and value in criminal law and criminal justice. Internationally renowned for elaborating a body of principles and values that should underpin criminalization, the criminal process, and sentencing, Ashworth's contribution to the field over forty years of scholarship has been immense. Advancing his project of exploring normative issues at the heart of criminal law and criminal justice, the chapters examine the important and fascinating debates in which Ashworth's influence has been greatest. The chapters fall into three distinct but related areas, reflecting Ashworth's primary spheres of influence. Those in Part 1 address the import and role of principles in the development of a just criminal law, with contributions focusing upon core tenets such as the presumption of innocence, fairness, accountability, the principles of criminal liability, and the grounds for defences. Part 2 addresses questions of human rights and due process protections in both domestic and international law. In Part 3 the chapters are addressed to core issues in sentencing and punishment: they explore questions of equality, proportionality, adherence to the rule of law, the totality principle (in respect of multiple offences), wrongful acquittals, and unduly lenient sentences. Together they demonstrate how important Ashworth's work has been in shaping how we think about criminal law and criminal justice, and make their own invaluable contribution to contemporary discussions of criminalization and punishment.

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A better path forward for criminal justice: Conclusion

Subscribe to governance weekly, rashawn ray and rashawn ray senior fellow - governance studies @sociologistray brent orrell brent orrell senior fellow - american enterprise institute @orrellaei.

Below is the conclusion from “A Better Path Forward for Criminal Justice,” a report by the Brookings-AEI Working Group on Criminal Justice Reform. You can access other chapters from the report here .

As we write this report, the high-profile failures of the criminal justice system remain front and center in news coverage and the nation’s public policy agenda. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd draws our attention to how police authority continues to be a frequent threat to life and well-being, especially for low-income individuals and people of color. The police killing of Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb further fuels community distrust and racial division in the Twin Cities and around the country.

At the same time, we are seeing a sudden and disturbing spike in criminal activity and violent offenses in our major urban areas. This spike has variously been attributed to social stress related to the pandemic, a declining willingness of police forces (in the wake of the Floyd death and subsequent civil unrest) to risk potentially dangerous confrontations with individuals committing crimes, and a growing unwillingness among prosecutors to try lower-level offenses thus implicitly encouraging worse ones.

As we prepare to exit pandemic conditions, we recommend a strategic pause to gather data that will help us understand why criminal activity has gone up and inform both immediate responses as well as longer-term reform initiatives. There will be a temptation – on both sides – to argue that the recent spike confirms their prior understandings and policy preferences; either that the recent burst of crime can be effectively controlled by a ratcheting up “tough-on-crime” policies and practices or that it is exactly these practices that create the predicate for crime surges by disrupting lives, families, and neighborhoods through excessive reliance on force and incarceration. We should resist both of these views while we strive for a better understanding of the forces driving and shaping patterns of criminal offenses. It is entirely possible, given the unprecedented conditions of the past 12 months, we will find ourselves surprised by what we learn.

As is often the case, we may need an “and” approach rather than an “or” approach. Policies need to address recent rises in crime and overpolicing. This is why our report focuses on the criminal justice as a whole. Policing is the entree to the criminal justice system that sorts people based on race, social class, and place. Most people do not want less policing. They want equitable policing, and equitable treatment once interacting with the criminal justice system, either as a victim or perpetrator.

Research-informed innovation that builds a more flexible and effective toolbox of responses is needed to move us towards the more peaceful, flourishing, and just society that is the shared objective of conservatives and progressives alike.

The sources of criminal activity and public safety challenges are multifaceted while our responses to them are often singular: more and tougher policing, prosecution, and incarceration. Not every public order challenge is a nail in need of a hammer. If we are to honor the dignity of every person and respect the sanctity of human life, we need a more balanced and diversified approach that recognizes confrontation and coercion are not the only, and often not the best, strategies for protecting our communities. Research-informed innovation that builds a more flexible and effective toolbox of responses is needed to move us towards the more peaceful, flourishing, and just society that is the shared objective of conservatives and progressives alike.

The essays in this volume and the recommended supplemental readings provide much food for thought about the major areas of criminal justice reform that should be at the top of the nation’s agenda. The recommendations are varied and informed by differing perspectives on how to better balance the requirements of community safety, civil liberty, policing and procedural protections, and supporting and achieving lasting changes in attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes among justice-involved individuals as befits a nation committed to the idea of rehabilitation and not just retribution. The authors in this volume will continue convening to discuss, debate, and research these complex issues, with a shared goal of identifying ways to improve our country’s criminal justice system. These are deeply interconnected issues requiring a thorough, thoughtful, and comprehensive response rather than an immediate reversion to long-held and -argued views that may fit recent history or current conditions. A nation that incarcerates so many at such a high cost in public resources and wasted human lives can ill-afford to do otherwise.

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and policy solutions. Its mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policymakers and the public. The conclusion and recommendations of any Brookings publication are solely those of its authors, and do not reflect the views of the Institution, its management, or its other scholars.

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors. AEI does not take institutional positions on any issues.

Support for this publication was generously provided by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The views expressed in this report are those of its authors and do not represent the views of the Foundation, their officers, or employees.

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Richard Lempert

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Criminal in Court

What is the Criminal Justice System? Insights for Aspiring Legal Minds

As the criminal justice landscape continues to evolve, gaining a deep understanding of processes and principles of the field is crucial. Whether you are just beginning your educational journey or exploring specific areas of professional specialization, the insights offered below can help guide your decisions and shape your career in the legal sphere.   

This article explores the system's goals and operational dynamics, diving even further into the criminal justice system's primary objectives to ensure public safety, administer justice, and rehabilitate offenders.   

What Is the Purpose of the Criminal Justice System?  

What is the criminal justice system, exactly, and what is its purpose? The criminal justice system serves a multifaceted role in society, primarily aimed at maintaining public order, ensuring justice, and upholding the rule of law. Its core purpose revolves around the prevention and punishment of criminal behavior, which is critical for the stability and safety of communities. Additionally, the system is responsible for rehabilitating offenders, offering them opportunities for reform and reintegration into society.   

By balancing these goals, the criminal justice system strives to protect citizens, provide fair legal proceedings, and foster a safer environment for all. This fundamental understanding of purpose of the criminal justice system is essential for any student pursuing a career in related fields, as it shapes the framework within which they will operate professionally.  

Protecting Society and Maintaining Order  

The criminal justice system plays a central role in protecting society and maintaining order by ensuring that laws are enforced and justice is served as fairly as possible. It operates through three primary components that include law enforcement, the judiciary (courts), and corrections.   

Law enforcement agencies take the initial step in this process by responding to and investigating crimes, thereby preventing criminal activities and ensuring public safety. The judiciary evaluates the evidence presented and administers justice by determining guilt and handing down sentences, while corrections facilities manage the rehabilitation and sometimes punishment of offenders. This structured approach helps maintain a stable and safe society, supporting the ultimate goal of the criminal justice system to protect the public and uphold the rule of law​.  

Ensuring Justice and Fair Treatment  

The principle of ensuring justice and fair treatment within the criminal justice system revolves around the fundamental belief that everyone deserves equal treatment under the law. However, defining and achieving fairness is complex due to the diversity of viewpoints on what this actually entails and the numerous competing interests at play. According to an analysis in the Sociological Methods & Research (SMR) journal , the concept of fairness can often be controversial because it intersects with various societal factors such as gender and racial biases that influence legal outcomes. This can lead to discussions about whether equality of outcomes is achievable without compromising the equality of treatment, especially when statistical disparities suggest inherent biases in enforcement and sentencing​.  

In addition, initiatives like the Smart on Crime program launched by the Department of Justice exemplify efforts to tailor charges and sentencing to the specifics of each case, thus promoting fair treatment by avoiding excessive mandatory minimums for low-level, nonviolent offenses. These policy adjustments are part of broader efforts to make the justice system more equitable and effective, which also include enhancing the credibility of the system to maintain public trust​.  

Key Components of the Criminal Justice System  

When answering the question, “What is the criminal justice system?” it is important to understand its main pillars. The criminal justice system in the United States is structured into three primary components that ensure the effective enforcement of laws and the administration of justice: law enforcement agencies, the court system, and corrections and rehabilitation services. Each component serves a unique function; law enforcement maintains public order, the court system adjudicates cases, and corrections and rehabilitation work to reintegrate offenders into society. Together, these elements uphold the rule of law and strive for a just society.  

Law Enforcement Agencies  

Law enforcement agencies are on the front lines, responsible for maintaining public order, enforcing laws, and preventing crime across local, state, and federal levels. This includes everything from routine patrols to criminal investigations and the apprehension of lawbreakers.  

The Court System  

The court system handles the adjudication process, where guilt or innocence is determined, and justice is served through fair and legal proceedings. This component is crucial for upholding the rule of law and administering justice equitably and efficiently.  

Corrections and Rehabilitation Services  

Lastly, corrections and rehabilitation services manage the aftermath of the court's decisions by overseeing the incarceration, rehabilitation, and reintegration of offenders. This segment of the criminal justice system plays a key role in attempting to reform offenders and prepare them for a return to society, aiming to reduce recidivism and enhance public safety.  

The Process of the Criminal Justice System  

The criminal justice process encompasses several stages, each critical in ensuring justice while balancing fairness and societal safety. So, what is the purpose of the criminal justice system when put into practice?  

From the initial investigation and arrest to trial and sentencing, each phase plays a pivotal role in determining the outcome for the accused and the community. Post-sentencing efforts focus on rehabilitation and reintegration, striving to transform offenders into productive citizens. This systematic approach seeks to protect individual rights while maintaining public order—highlighting the complex interplay between law enforcement, judicial decisions, and correctional strategies.  

Investigation and Arrest Procedures  

This initial phase involves law enforcement agencies detecting and investigating criminal activities. Officers collect evidence, interview witnesses, and follow leads to apprehend suspects. Arrests are made based on probable cause that a person has committed a crime. This stage is crucial as it sets the groundwork for the legal process that follows.  

Trial and Adjudication  

During this stage, the court system takes center stage. The process begins with pre-trial motions and discovery, where both prosecution and defense exchange information and prepare their cases. Trials are then conducted, typically involving a judge and jury. The prosecution presents evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, while the defense aims to challenge this evidence and advocate for the defendant’s innocence. This phase culminates in a verdict, where the defendant is either found guilty or not guilty based on the evidence presented.  

Sentencing and Punishment  

If a defendant is convicted, the process moves to sentencing. Judges determine appropriate punishment based on the severity of the crime, the defendant’s prior criminal history, and the impact on the victims. Sentences can range from fines and community service to probation and incarceration, depending on the crime’s nature. This stage reflects the criminal justice system’s retributive and deterrent objectives.  

Rehabilitation and Reintegration  

Post-sentencing, the focus shifts to rehabilitation, especially for those incarcerated. Correctional facilities provide educational and vocational training, substance abuse programs, and mental health treatment aimed at addressing the root causes of criminal behavior. The goal is to prepare offenders for eventual reintegration into society, reducing the likelihood of reoffending and aiding in their transition back into the community.  

Challenges Facing the Criminal Justice System  

The criminal justice system faces a myriad of challenges that affect its efficiency and effectiveness. One significant issue is the growing concern over mass incarceration, which has led to overcrowded prisons and strained resources. This problem is compounded by the long-standing issues of racial disparities, where minorities are disproportionately represented in the system.   

Additionally, there are challenges in ensuring fair treatment and due process in the face of public and political pressures, which sometimes prioritize quick results over thorough and fair procedures. Technological advancements—while beneficial in solving and preventing crimes—also bring new challenges related to cybercrime and digital evidence handling. In general, the system must continuously adapt to changes in laws and societal norms, requiring ongoing training and development for law enforcement and judicial personnel.   

These challenges demand comprehensive reforms and innovative solutions to ensure the criminal justice system can effectively serve its foundational goal of administering justice while protecting society.  

Issues of Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities  

The criminal justice system is marked by significant racial and socioeconomic disparities that manifest at various stages, from policing practices to sentencing. These disparities disproportionately affect communities of color in the U.S., particularly African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. Research highlights that these groups often experience higher rates of poverty and live in areas with concentrated socioeconomic disadvantages, which correlates with higher rates of certain types of crimes, such as violent and property crimes.   

This socioeconomic context contributes to a higher likelihood of encounters with the police and subsequent incarceration. Moreover, practices like "stop and frisk" and the enforcement of drug laws have been critiqued for their uneven application, often targeting these same communities disproportionately. This has led to higher arrest and incarceration rates among these populations compared to their white counterparts, exacerbating the cycle of inequality and injustice within the system.  

The Debate Over Punishment vs. Rehabilitation  

The discourse surrounding punishment and rehabilitation in the criminal justice system reflects a fundamental question about the goals of incarceration. On one hand, proponents of punishment argue that it serves as a deterrent to crime and a method of retributive justice, ensuring that offenders face consequences for their actions. This approach is often justified by the need for public safety and the moral imperative of retribution for victims and society at large.  

Conversely, advocates for rehabilitation emphasize the potential for reform and the long-term benefits of reintegrating offenders into society as productive members. Rehabilitation programs focus on addressing the underlying issues that may lead to criminal behavior (such as substance abuse, mental health disorders, and lack of education or vocational skills). The goal here is to not only punish but also prevent future crimes through personal development and support.  

This ongoing debate highlights the tension between these approaches and the broader implications for recidivism rates and societal safety. The effectiveness of either strategy can vary significantly, influenced by factors like the nature of the crime, the individual circumstances of the offender, and the resources available for either punitive or rehabilitative measures.  

Careers in the Criminal Justice System  

Clearly, the criminal justice system is complex, so it makes sense there exists a diverse array of career opportunities across its three main branches of law enforcement, the legal and court system, and corrections and rehabilitation. These sectors provide a variety of roles tailored to different skills and interests, from front-line officers to behind-the-scenes legal experts and rehabilitative staff.   

For those passionate about making a tangible impact on their communities, the criminal justice field offers meaningful and challenging pathways to pursue. Whether ensuring public safety, delivering justice, or aiding in rehabilitation, these careers are essential to a functioning society.  

Law Enforcement Careers  

These roles, which include police officers and detectives, focus on enforcing laws, ensuring public safety, and responding to emergencies. Specialists like transit officers enforce security on public transport systems. The work often requires physical fitness, strong problem-solving skills, and the ability to handle stressful situations.  

Legal and Court System Careers  

This sector features roles such as lawyers who advocate for clients, judges who ensure the fairness of trials, and court clerks who manage the flow of cases. These positions require strong analytical abilities, knowledge of the law, and the capacity to handle intricate legal processes.  

Corrections and Rehabilitation Careers  

In this area, professionals like correctional officers oversee incarcerated individuals, while rehabilitation specialists work on reformative programs aimed at reducing recidivism. This field requires strong interpersonal skills and a commitment to ethical standards.  

Pursue Your Career in Criminal Justice Today  

As you consider your future in the criminal justice field, University of the Cumberlands offers comprehensive degree programs designed to empower aspiring professionals. No matter if you're starting with a Bachelor of Criminal Justice , advancing with our online Criminal Justice Management Certification , or looking to master complex leadership roles with our online Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration (MJA) , we help equip students with the tools and expertise they need to excel.   

Apply today to level up your career prospects and join an academic community committed to justice and excellence.   

Criminal Justice

Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

With a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice or a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Fort Hays State University – offered on-campus and online – you'll not only learn theory about the nature of crime and the agencies and processes that work against it, but you'll also practice that theory through real-world, hands-on learning.

Graduates from our program stand out in the fields of criminal justice research, law enforcement, courts, corrections, and private enterprise. We have programs for every level of interest and experience, from new college students to mid-career professionals looking to advance their career.

Many recent graduates work for federal agencies, while others have joined police departments, correctional agencies, non-profit agencies, and other career fields across Kansas and throughout the country. These careers include, but are not limited to:

  • research analysts
  • law enforcement officers
  • probation officers
  • court administrators
  • corrections officers
  • juvenile case workers
  • private security

FHSU offers many related programs to a B.S. in Criminal Justice or B.A. in Criminal Justice, such as:

  • Minor in Criminal Justice
  • Certificate in Criminal Justice
  • Certificate in Tourism and Hospitality Marketing
  • Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Criminal Justice

Tuition: The Best Value in Higher Education Anywhere

Fort Hays State University prides itself on quality education at an affordable price. Students in this program can expect to pay approximately $2,817.00* (on-campus) or $3,641.40* (online) per semester.

*Estimated cost based on 15 credit hours at the undergraduate resident/regional tuition rate ($187.80/credit hour) for on-campus courses, or the FHSU Online undergraduate tuition rate ($242.76/credit hour) for online courses. Actual price may vary depending on course load and location. Tuition and Fees are subject to change with annual approval by the Kansas Board of Regents.

Ready for the next step?

Our faculty would be excited to talk to you about how our Criminal Justice programs can help you explore your interests and prepare you for a variety of rewarding careers.

Criminal Justice Programs

FHSU's Criminal Justice Programs will prepare you for a rewarding career in law enforcement, corrections, or the legal system with innovative online and on-campus programs. We challenge students to learn the theory behind criminal justice practices that must adapt to rapidly accelerating change—at local, state, national, and global levels.

Our criminal justice graduates lead as well as serve, and they perform with competence, innovation, and integrity. The quality of protection and security tomorrow begins with purposeful preparation today.

Criminal Justice Club

Criminal Justice Programs sponsor the Criminal Justice Club to support the camaraderie between faculty and students. The club meets weekly, and activities vary by semester based on student interest. Volunteer options are available through local groups such as:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Kansas CASA
  • Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services

Delta Tau Omega

The FHSU Chapter of the American Criminal Justice Association. Members of this organization participate in national conferences and compete for scholarships.

Many of our students want to gain experience in a legal or law enforcement setting. Seeing justice in action gives you valuable insight into your future career and your responsibility as a citizen. Our faculty will help you find an internship that fits your interests.

Recently, students have interned with the following organizations:

  • Hays Police Department
  • Kansas City FBI Field Office
  • State of Kansas Community Corrections
  • Dodge City Community College Criminal Justice Program

National De-escalation Training Center

Fort Hays State University’s Criminal Justice Program and University Police joined the National De-escalation Training Center (NDTC) in August 2020 as Region 2 Central Region Training Center. As a regional center, FHSU facilitates the only Level 3 de-escalation training available in the United States.

  • Level 1 training includes traditional techniques of procedural justice.
  • Level 2 provides basic crisis intervention.
  • Level 3 augments traditional de-escalation and crisis intervention with rapid personality identification.

The NDTC De-escalation: Principles & Practice course is evidence-based and has increased officer confidence in utilizing de-escalation skills in working with the public.

FHSU facilitates NDTC’s three training modalities, including an 8-hour online training, two-day face-to-face training, and a 40-hour train-the-trainer program. Due to FHSU’s $2.75 million federal grant funding, the face-to-face trainings can be provided at no cost to agencies. Scholarships may be available for agencies to train officers in the online course.

NDTC training is approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and certified by the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST).

Center for Empowering Victims of Gender-based Violence

The Center for Empowering Victims of Gender-based Violence is a regional hub of collaborative research and service, housed in Criminal Justice Programs at Fort Hays State University.

The Center for Empowering Victims of Gender-based Violence aims to reduce the constraints facing survivors, to promote the freedom of economic independence, and to empower survivors to seize opportunity freely. The center commits to providing sustainable support and improvement to help survivors to break the cycle of violence and transform themselves from victims/survivors to social entrepreneurs.

The Center facilitates cross-disciplinary research focusing on the causes and control of gender-based violence in rural areas.

The Center leads and facilitates collaborative networks for researchers to apply evidence-based approaches and to investigate best practices addressing gender-based violence in rural communities.

The Center establishes and develops academic-community collaborations through service-learning, research, assessment, and to create educational opportunities and policy recommendations that enhance the wellbeing of rural communities.

Fort Hays State University - Criminal Justice programs

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European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation

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Conclusions of the 35th Meeting of the Network for Investigation and Prosecution of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes

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  • Witness protection and support in core international crimes and universal jurisdiction cases within international and national jurisdictions.
  • Challenges encountered in witness protection for core international crimes (pre, post and during trial)
  • Necessity to safeguard the safety and security of witnesses and their families
  • Managing witness protection, including insiders
  • Witness protection in the new Ljubljana – The Hague Convention
  • Distress for ISIL accountability efforts due to the approaching closure of UNITAD
  • Status update on cases pursued by Ukraine
  • Recent legal developments concerning the situation in Israel and Gaza
  • Findings of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran and CSOs
  • Australia’s recent efforts in investigating and prosecuting core international crimes

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Trump Lawyers Assail Limited Gag Order Request in Documents Case

The latest battle over what the former president can say about a continuing legal case came after he falsely suggested that F.B.I. agents were authorized to shoot him when they searched Mar-a-Lago.

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A close-up photo of Donald Trump from the shoulders up. The background is dark.

By Alan Feuer

Former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers on Monday assailed a request by federal prosecutors to limit what he could say about a new flare-up in a case accusing him of illegally retaining classified documents after leaving office.

In an angry court filing, the lawyers pushed back hard against the request by the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, to revise Mr. Trump’s conditions of release by forbidding him to make any public comments that might endanger federal agents working on the prosecution.

On Friday evening, Mr. Smith’s team requested what amounted to a limited gag order on Mr. Trump, prompted by what it called “grossly misleading” social media posts the former president made last week falsely claiming that the F.B.I. had been authorized to kill him when agents searched Mar-a-Lago, his Florida club and residence, in August 2022.

The former president’s statements were based on a recently unsealed operational order for the search that contained boilerplate language spelling out that the use of deadly force could be used only in case of emergency, a standard provision applied to all searches conducted by the bureau.

In their motion to Judge Aileen M. Cannon in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla., Mr. Trump’s lawyers said that Mr. Smith’s request was “an extraordinary, unprecedented and unconstitutional censorship application” that “unjustly targets President Trump’s campaign speech while he is the leading candidate for the presidency.”

Mr. Trump’s legal team said that Mr. Smith’s request should be stricken from the docket and that he and his prosecutors should face contempt sanctions for filing it in the first place.

The lawyers accused prosecutors of springing the request on them over a holiday weekend and further claimed that Mr. Smith was “pursuing media coverage rather than justice.” They did not address how their client had started this latest spat in the case by twisting the facts in an explosive social media post that Mr. Trump has since turned into a fund-raising appeal.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers also asked Judge Cannon to hold a hearing to determine Mr. Smith’s “motives and purpose” in making the request to bar the former president from saying anything that could endanger agents working on the case.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have already succeeded several times in persuading the judge to schedule proceedings on issues that do not necessarily require argument in court as part of their strategy to delay a trial for as long as possible.

As in many high-profile cases, the defense and prosecution in the classified documents case have been waging a tit-for-tat legal battle on several fronts since the indictment against Mr. Trump was first filed last June.

But the wrangling has grown more intense in recent days as Mr. Trump’s lawyers lodged serious accusations of misconduct against Mr. Smith and his deputies last week, and Judge Cannon altered the schedule of the case to all but ensure that it will not go to trial before the election in November.

The language that Mr. Trump’s lawyers used in their motion to Judge Cannon was a reflection of this new hostility.

Referring to Mr. Smith and his team as “the Thought Police,” the lawyers attacked prosecutors for being “biased and reckless” and “driven by political animus against President Trump.”

Mr. Trump’s legal team spent much of its 15-page motion chiding Mr. Smith for a procedural offense: failing to follow a rule requiring the opposing parties in the case to “meet and confer” with each other before sending requests to Judge Cannon.

The lawyers said they intended to oppose Mr. Smith’s move on “substantive grounds” at a later date.

For now, they complained that the special counsel’s office had first informed them of its intention to request a restriction on Mr. Trump’s public comments at 5:30 p.m. on the Friday before Memorial Day. Prosecutors filed their request to Judge Cannon two and a half hours later after several email exchanges, they said.

In an email attached to Mr. Trump’s filing, Todd Blanche, one of the defense lawyers told the prosecutors: “There are rules. You guys violated them.”

Mr. Smith’s filing on Friday night, the defense lawyers said, was part of “a pattern of unprofessional conduct in this case.” The lawyers reminded Judge Cannon of other instances when prosecutors failed to confer with them adequately before filing motions.

They also took note of a dramatic episode on Wednesday in the judge’s courtroom in Fort Pierce when a prosecutor lost his temper, prompting Judge Cannon to instruct him to “calm down.”

Alan Feuer covers extremism and political violence for The Times, focusing on the criminal cases involving the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and against former President Donald J. Trump.  More about Alan Feuer

Our Coverage of the Trump Documents Case

The justice department has filed federal criminal charges against former president donald trump over his mishandling of classified documents..

The Indictment: Federal prosecutors said that Trump put national security secrets at risk  by mishandling classified documents and schemed to block the government from reclaiming the material. Here’s a look at the evidence .

The Co-Defendants: While Trump plays the leading role in the case, the narrative as laid out by prosecutors relies heavily on supporting characters  like Carlos De Oliveira  and Walt Nauta .

Obstruction: The Mueller report raised questions about whether Trump had obstructed the inquiry into the ties between the former president’s 2016 campaign and Russia. With prosecutors adding new charges  in the documents case, the subject is back .

The Judge: Judge Aileen Cannon , a Trump appointee who showed favor to the former president earlier in the investigation, has scant experience  running criminal trials. Can she prove her critics wrong ?

A Slow Pace: Cannon has allowed unresolved issues to build up on her docket, and that appears to have kept her from making a prompt decision on the timing of the case. It is one of several factors that have stirred concern about her decision-making .


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    Criminal justice is distinct from criminal law, which defines the specific behaviours that are prohibited by and punishable under law, and from criminology, which is the scientific study of the nonlegal aspects of crime and delinquency, including their causes, correction, and prevention. The field of criminal justice emerged in the United ...

  11. Writing Guide

    Writing Guide. Effective communication is vital no matter what you study, including criminal justice. In fact, law enforcement officers do far more writing than many people think. Criminal justice report writing plays a central role in the field. Cops write arrest, crime, incident, and evidence reports, and they compose social media posts ...

  12. Criminal justice

    Criminal justice is the delivery of justice to those who have been accused of committing crimes.The criminal justice system is a series of government agencies and institutions. Goals include the rehabilitation of offenders, preventing other crimes, and moral support for victims. The primary institutions of the criminal justice system are the police, prosecution and defense lawyers, the courts ...

  13. American Criminal Justice: a Review Essay

    AA REVIEW ESSAY ROBERT V. STOVER*. Hardly anyone who has systematically studied the American criminal. justice system in recent years is satisfied with the way it works. In the past. decade or two, social scientists, attorneys, administrators, journalists, and political activists have produced immense bodies of literature on the police ...

  14. How to Think about Criminal Justice Reform: Conceptual and Practical

    In this essay, we seek to promote productive thinking and talking about, as well as designing of, effective and sustainable criminal justice reforms. To this end, we offer reflections on underlying conceptual and practical considerations relevant for both criminal justice policy talk and action.

  15. Free Criminal Justice Essays and Research Papers on

    Criminal Justice Essay Topics and Outline Examples Essay Title 1: Reforming the Criminal Justice System: Challenges, Progress, and the Road Ahead Thesis Statement: This essay examines the challenges within the criminal justice system, the progress made in recent years, and the ongoing efforts required to reform and ensure a fair and equitable ...

  16. 304 Criminal Justice Essay Topics & Examples

    Criminal Justice: Burglary, Theft, and Criminal Trespass. According to Section 2C:15-1, robbery is a first-degree crime if, in the course of committing the theft, the actor attempts to kill anyone or purposefully attempts to inflict serious bodily injury. Code of Criminal Justice: False Imprisonment.

  17. Criminal Justice Reform Is More than Fixing Sentencing

    A year ago, the Brennan Center set out to broaden the national discussion about criminal justice reform. Since then, through our Punitive Excess series, we have published 25 essays by diverse authors ranging from scholars to formerly incarcerated people. The ill-considered collateral consequences of criminal conviction is just one of many ...

  18. Criminal Justice Essays: Examples, Topics, & Outlines

    Criminal Justice Trends The trends of the past, present and future that outline the borders connecting the criminal justice system components and their links adjoining the society is, beyond doubt, an authentic relationship that the law and society have established. Criminal justice has been affected by various trends in the times gone by. This is because trends keep changing with the passage ...

  19. What is criminal justice?

    To complicate matters further, criminal justice systems operate at both the state and federal levels, depending on the location of the crime. What is the criminal justice system? When asked of the criminal justice meaning, many people automatically think of police officers , but the field actually encompasses much more than law enforcement.

  20. Essay about The Criminal Justice System

    Essay about The Criminal Justice System. The Criminal Justice System is one of the most important tools available to society for the control of anti-social behavior. The criminal justice system needs to prove a balance between punishing the guilty and protecting the innocent being found guilty; however it is not as easy to convict those who are ...

  21. A better path forward for criminal justice: Reimagining pretrial and

    This chapter briefly discusses the evolution of criminal justice reform efforts focused on pretrial and sentencing policies and practices that resulted in unprecedented rates of incarceration that ...

  22. Principles and Values in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice: Essays in

    Abstract. Celebrating the scholarship of Andrew Ashworth, Vinerian Professor of English Law at the University of Oxford, this book explores questions of principle and value in criminal law and criminal justice.

  23. A better path forward for criminal justice: Conclusion

    The essays in this volume and the recommended supplemental readings provide much food for thought about the major areas of criminal justice reform that should be at the top of the nation's agenda.

  24. What is the Criminal Justice System? Insights for Aspiring Legal Minds

    The criminal justice system plays a central role in protecting society and maintaining order by ensuring that laws are enforced and justice is served as fairly as possible. It operates through three primary components that include law enforcement, the judiciary (courts), and corrections. Law enforcement agencies take the initial step in this ...

  25. Unanimity of the Jury

    Amdt6.4.4.3 Unanimity of the Jury. Six th Amendment:. In all criminal prosecutions, th e accused shall enjoy th e right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of th e State and district wherein th e crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of th e nature and cause of th e accusation; to be confronted wi th th ...

  26. Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice

    Criminal Justice Programs. FHSU's Criminal Justice Programs will prepare you for a rewarding career in law enforcement, corrections, or the legal system with innovative online and on-campus programs. We challenge students to learn the theory behind criminal justice practices that must adapt to rapidly accelerating change—at local, state, national, and global levels.

  27. European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation

    Witness protection and support in core international crimes and universal jurisdiction cases within international and national jurisdictions.Challenges encountered in witness protection for core international crimes (pre, post and during trial)Necessity to safeguard the safety and security of witnesses and their familiesManaging witness protection, including insidersWitness protection in the ...

  28. With I.C.C. Arrest Warrants, Let Justice Take Its Course

    Mr. Kaye is a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. In seeking the arrests of senior leaders of Israel and Hamas, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has given the ...

  29. Trump Lawyers Assail Limited Gag Order Request in Documents Case

    Doug Mills/The New York Times. Former President Donald J. Trump's lawyers on Monday assailed a request by federal prosecutors to limit what he could say about a new flare-up in a case accusing ...