Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System
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
Conditions of Use
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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
- 7: Courts
- 8: Corrections
- 9: Community Corrections
- 10: Juvenile Justice
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 (SoarWildlife.org), 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.