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    Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System

    (21 reviews)

    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:

    Publisher: Open Oregon Educational Resources

    Language: English

    Formats Available

    Conditions of Use

    Attribution-ShareAlike Attribution-ShareAlike
    CC BY-SA


    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    Ancillary Material

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    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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