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Criminal Justice

Examine the field of criminal justice in the United States, which involves the investigation of criminal activity and the procedures necessary to the prosecution and conviction of crimes. Criminal justice activities include gathering evidence, arresting suspects, bringing charges, conducting trials, sentencing the convicted, and carrying out punishment. 

To this end, the criminal justice system involves law enforcement agencies charged with the prevention of crime and the apprehension of criminal offenders; court bureaucracies charged with determining the innocence or guilt of accused offenders and with the sentencing of convicted criminals; and the network of corrections institutions charged with the control, custody, supervision, and treatment of those convicted of a crime, including probation and parole agencies for when a prisoner is released after serving a sentence. Other important figures are the prosecutor, who makes the case to convict the defendant, and the defense attorney, who makes the case to exonerate the defendant. Police officers are the most public law-enforcement agents, responsible for crime prevention and investigation.

Crimes in the United States can be prosecuted in federal, state, or military criminal justice systems. The U.S. Department of Justice is a federal executive department of the U.S. government, responsible for enforcement of federal laws; the Federal Bureau of Investigation is the principal federal law enforcement agency. At the state level, each state has separate judicial systems for adults and juveniles. Some trials involve juries (a group of citizens specially commissioned to render a verdict), and others are determined by a judge (known as a bench trial). Those found guilty of committing a crime can receive a variety of sentences, depending on the severity of the crime, ranging from fines and community service to prison time or even the death penalty where it is legal. Some states do not allow for the death penalty to be imposed.

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Criminal Justice Resources

Gale provides scholarly criminal justice resources to advance the study of criminal justice, including criminal justice databasesprimary source archives, and eBooks.


Ideal for school, academic, and public libraries, Gale databases offer researchers access to credible, up-to-date material from databases covering criminal justice studies.

Primary Source Archives

Gale Primary Sources contains archives and collections that provide researchers with primary source material, including historical documents, archives, and criminal justice journals that can be used to examine and analyze the evolution of criminal justice over time. 

Gale eBooks

Gale offers a variety of eBooks covering a wide range of criminal justice topics, including the justice system, criminal law, criminal justice history, and more. Users can add Gale eBooks to a customized collection and cross-search to pinpoint the article most relevant to the topic. Workflow tools help users easily share, save, and download content.

  • Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia of Trends and Controversies in the Justice System, 1st Edition

    Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia of Trends and Controversies in the Justice System, 1st Edition

    ABC-CLIO | 2016 | ISBN-13: 9781610699280

    Covering some of the most hotly contested topics in crime and criminal justice, including proposed sentencing and prison reforms, controversial developments like Stand Your Ground laws, and Supreme Court decisions, this work supplies essential background, current data, and a range of viewpoints on these important issues.

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  • Crime, Reason and History: A Critical Introduction to Criminal Law, 3rd Edition

    Crime, Reason and History: A Critical Introduction to Criminal Law, 3rd Edition

    Cambridge University Press| 2019 | ISBN-13: 9781316055694

    Many books seek to explain the general principles of the criminal law. This title stands out and alone as a book that critically and concisely analyzes these principles and comes up with a different viewpoint: that the law is shaped by social history and therefore systematically structured around conflicting elements. Updated extensively to include two new chapters on loss of control and self-defense and with an extended treatment of offense and defense, this new edition combines challenging and sophisticated analysis with accessibility.

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  • Handbook of Transnational Crime and Justice, 2nd Edition

    Handbook of Transnational Crime and Justice, 2nd Edition

    SAGE| 2016 | ISBN-13: 9781483311241

    This book brings together top scholars from around the world to offer perspectives on the laws, crimes, and criminal justice responses to transnational crime. This concise, reader-friendly handbook is organized logically around four major themes: the problem of transnational crime; analysis of specific transnational crimes; approaches to its control; and regional geographical analyses. Each comprehensive chapter is designed to be explored as a stand-alone topic, making this handbook an important textbook and reference tool for students and practitioners alike.

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  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans People (LGBT) and the Criminal Justice System, 1st Edition

    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans People (LGBT) and the Criminal Justice System, 1st Edition

    Palgrave MacMillan| 2019 | ISBN-13: 9781137496980

    This book explores the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities as victims, offenders and staff within the criminal justice system. It draws on both emerging and existing LGBT research and campaigns to identify and explore issues relevant to the criminal justice system, including: criminal justice agencies, victimization, domestic violence and abuse, transgender experiences, LGBT people as offenders, international perspectives, and personal experiences of LGBT people. The authors trace the legislative journey toward equal treatment before and after the Wolfenden Report. They consider the over representation of lesbians on death row in the US, how the prosecution characterizes them and how homophobia affects offending and sentencing. They raise important questions about same-sex domestic violence and abuse and how the system delivers justice to trans people; consider sodomy laws and treatment of LGBT people worldwide; and offer models of good practice.

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  • Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations across the 50 States, 1st Edition

    Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations across the 50 States, 1st Edition

    Praeger | 2019 | ISBN-13: 9781440860133

    This first-of-its-kind volume sketches the diversity implicit in United States criminal law doctrine through its examination of a range of criminal laws pertaining to murder, sexual assault, drug offenses, the insanity defense, and more and the way in which different states deal with those issues. It provides insights into the most widely invoked standards in criminal law and raises awareness of the enormous discrepancies among the criminal laws of states, documenting them using dozens of visually coded maps that showcase geographic, political, and socioeconomic differences to explain patterns of agreement and disagreement. For political scientists, criminologists, sociologists, legal scholars, policy advisors, legislators, lawyers, judges, and scholars and students of these fields. In addition, each chapter is highly accessible to laypersons and includes an explanation of the subject matter as well as explanations of the various approaches to criminal law taken by states.

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