Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System

SOU-CCJ230 Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System


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SOU-CCJ230 Introduction to the

American Criminal Justice System

Alison S. Burke, David Carter, Brian Fedorek, Tiffany Morey, Lore

Rutz-Burri, and Shanell Sanchez

Open Oregon Educational Resources



SOU-CCJ230 Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System by Alison S. Burke, David Carter, Brian Fedorek, Tiffany Morey, Lore Rutz-Burri, and Shanell Sanchez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

License, except where otherwise noted.




What is an OER textbook? 1

A Bit About Our Collaboration Project 2

Author Bios 3

Goals, Learning Objectives, and Skills 5

Table of Contents 7

Dedication 8


1.1. Crime and the Criminal Justice System Shanell Sanchez


1.2. Deviance, Rule Violations, and Criminality Shanell Sanchez


1.3. Social Norms: Folkways, Mores, Taboo, and Laws Shanell Sanchez


1.4. Interactionist View Shanell Sanchez


1.5. Consensus View and Decriminalizing Laws Shanell Sanchez


1.6. Conflict View Shanell Sanchez


1.7. The Three C’s: Cops, Courts, and Corrections Shanell Sanchez


1.8. The Crime Control and Due Process Models Shanell Sanchez


1.9. How Cases Move Through the System Shanell Sanchez


1.10. Media Coverage of Crimes Shanell Sanchez




1.11. Wedding Cake Model of Justice Shanell Sanchez


1.12. Street Crime, Corporate Crime, and White-Collar Crime Shanell Sanchez


1.13. Different Types of Crimes and Offenses Shanell Sanchez


1.14. Victims and Victim Typologies Shanell Sanchez


1.15. Victim Rights and Assistance Shanell Sanchez


1.16. “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child” Myth/Controversy 65


2.1. Dark or Hidden Figure of Crime Shanell Sanchez


2.2. Official Statistics Shanell Sanchez


2.3. Victimization Studies Shanell Sanchez


2.4. Self-Report Statistics Shanell Sanchez


2.5. Misusing Statistics Shanell Sanchez



3.1. Functions and Limitations of Law Lore Rutz-Burri


3.2. Civil, Criminal, and Moral Wrongs Lore Rutz-Burri


3.3. Sources of Criminal Law: Federal and State Constitutions Lore Rutz-Burri


3.4. Sources of Criminal Law: Statutes, Ordinances, and Other Legislative Enactments Lore Rutz-Burri


3.5. Sources of Law: Administrative Law, Common Law, Case Law and Court Rules Lore Rutz-Burri


3.6. Classifications of Law Lore Rutz-Burri




3.7. Substantive Law: Defining Crimes, Inchoate Liability, Accomplice Liability, and Defenses Lore Rutz-Burri


3.8. Substantive Law: Punishment: Incarceration and Confinement Sanctions Lore Rutz-Burri


3.9. Substantive Law: Physical Punishment Sentences Lore Rutz-Burri


3.10. Substantive Law: Monetary Punishment Sentences Lore Rutz-Burri


3.11. Substantive Law: Community-Based Sentences Lore Rutz-Burri


3.12. Procedural Law Lore Rutz-Burri



4.1. Importance of Policy in Criminal Justice Alison S. Burke


4.2. The Myth of Moral Panics Alison S. Burke


4.3. The Stages of Policy Development Alison S. Burke


4.4. Importance of Evidence Based Practices Alison S. Burke


4.5. Re-Evaluating Policy Alison S. Burke



5.1. What is Theory? Brian Fedorek


5.2. What Makes a Good Theory? Brian Fedorek


5.3. Pre-Classical Theory Brian Fedorek


5.4. Classical School Brian Fedorek


5.5. Neoclassical Brian Fedorek




5.6. Positivist Criminology Brian Fedorek


5.7. Biological and Psychological Positivism Brian Fedorek


5.8. The Chicago School Brian Fedorek


5.9. Strain Theories Brian Fedorek


5.10. Learning Theories Brian Fedorek


5.11. Control Theories Brian Fedorek


5.12. Other Criminological Theories Brian Fedorek



6.1. Policing in Ancient Times Tiffany Morey


6.2. Sir Robert Peel Tiffany Morey


6.3. Policing Eras Tiffany Morey


6.4. Levels of Policing and Role of Police Tiffany Morey


6.5. Recruitment and Hiring in Policing Tiffany Morey


6.6. Recruitment and Hiring Websites for Future Careers Tiffany Morey


6.7. Police Misconduct, Accountability, and Corruption Tiffany Morey


6.8. Current Issues: Police Shootings Tiffany Morey


6.9. Current Issues: Use of Force and Vehicle Pursuits Tiffany Morey


6.10. Current Issues: Stereotypes in Policing Tiffany Morey




6.11. Current Issues: Accountability Tiffany Morey


6.12. Current Issues: Internal Affairs and Discipline Tiffany Morey


6.13.Current Issues: Body Cameras Tiffany Morey


6.14. Myth: “Police Only Write Speeding Tickets to Harass Citizens and it is Entrapment.” Tiffany Morey



7.1. Introduction to the U.S. Court System Lore Rutz-Burri


7.2. Jurisdiction Lore Rutz-Burri


7.3. Structure of the Courts: The Dual Court and Federal Court System Lore Rutz-Burri


7.4. Structure of the Courts: State Courts Lore Rutz-Burri


7.5. American Trial Courts and the Principle of Orality Lore Rutz-Burri


7.6. The Appeals Process, Standard of Review, and Appellate Decisions Lore Rutz-Burri


7.7. Federal Appellate Review of State Cases Lore Rutz-Burri


7.8. Courtroom Players: Judges and Court Staff Lore Rutz-Burri


7.9. Courtroom Players: Prosecutors Lore Rutz-Burri


7.10. Courtroom Workgroup: Defense Attorneys Lore Rutz-Burri



8.1. A Brief History of The Philosophies of Punishment David Carter


8.2. Retribution David Carter




8.3. Deterrence David Carter


8.4. Incapacitation David Carter


8.5. Rehabilitation David Carter


8.6. Prisons and Jails David Carter


8.7. A Brief History of Prisons and Jails David Carter


8.8. Types of Jails David Carter


8.9. Who Goes to Jail? David Carter


8.10. Growth of Prisons in the United States David Carter


8.11. Types of Prisons David Carter


8.12. Prison Levels David Carter


8.13. Who Goes to Prison? David Carter



9.1. Diversion David Carter


9.2. Intermediate Sanctions David Carter


9.3. Probation David Carter


9.4. Boot Camps/Shock Incarceration David Carter


9.5. Drug Courts David Carter


9.6. Halfway Houses David Carter




9.8. House Arrest David Carter


9.9. Community Residential Facilities David Carter


9.10. Restorative Justice David Carter


9.11. Parole David Carter


9.12. Current Issues in Corrections David Carter


9.13. Current Issues in Corrections: Mass Incarceration David Carter


9.14. Current Issues in Corrections: War on Drugs and Gangs David Carter


9.15. Current Issues in Corrections: Aging and Overcrowding David Carter


9.16. Current Issues in Corrections: Reentry and the Future of Corrections David Carter



10.1. Youth Crime Alison S. Burke


10.2. Juvenile Justice Alison S. Burke


10.3. History of the Juvenile Justice System Alison S. Burke


10.4. Delinquency Alison S. Burke


10.5. Juvenile Justice Process Alison S. Burke


10.6. Due Process in the Juvenile Court Alison S. Burke


10.7. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 Alison S. Burke


10.8. Getting Tough: Initiatives for Punishment and Accountability Alison S. Burke




10.9. Returning to Rehabilitation in the Contemporary Juvenile Justice System Alison S. Burke


10.10. The Structure of the Juvenile Justice System Alison S. Burke


10.11. Juvenile Institutions Alison S. Burke


Glossary 417



We hope you are as excited about this textbook as we were writing it. This is a free academic resource and

a free textbook that can be printed at low-cost if you prefer paper. Southern Oregon University’s Disability

Resource has reviewed this textbook for accessibility to all students.

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System is an Open Educational Resource (OER) that is licensed under the Creative Commons

(CC 4.0) format with support to complete this project from Open Oregon

Educational Resources

This introductory textbook is unique because it was a collaborative effort by all Criminology and Criminal

Justice professors at Southern Oregon University (SOU) in Ashland, Oregon. This textbook will meet the

learning objectives outlined through SOU and as a community college transfer course, as well as cover all

other topics expected to find in an introductory course. This book can be used on a quarter or semester

system, as well as cover topics that may get left out of some introductory texts such as controversial issues in

the criminal justice system. Further, we made it as comprehensive as possible to cover core concepts and areas

in the criminal justice system including theory, policing, courts, corrections, and the juvenile justice system.

Additionally, we created examples that will help make difficult concepts or ideas more relatable. Every

section provides an overview of key terms, critical thinking questions for course engagement, assignments,

and other ancillaries such as multimedia links, images, activity ideas, and more.

Feel free to ask any questions. Email Shanell Sanchez at with any specific questions

about the book or any other professor if it is specific to their page.




A Bit About Our Collaboration Project

This OER could not be possible without the support from many different people. Our financial support came

from a grant through Open Oregon

Dr. Shanell Sanchez wants to personally thank all her colleagues at SOU for taking on this endeavor with

her. The first plan was to adapt and edit an existing OER, but after an exhaustive search of OER’s, we found

there is a dearth of CCJ OER’s. We realized that if we wrote this book, we would be one of the first CCJ

OER’s available. The initial idea seemed a bit overwhelming, but watching it come together was amazing.

Dr. Sanchez had a vision for what an ideal textbook should look like for first-year students and our newest

majors or potential majors, but it was not possible without all of us working together.

Amy Hofer at Linn-Benton Community College served as our grant manager, but she went beyond that.

She has served as an excellent resource, mentor, and helped us find opportunities to present our experiences

at conferences.

Dr. Jeffrey Gayton is our university librarian at Southern Oregon University and helped coordinate this

project from the start of our application to the release of our OER going live.

Brian Stonelake, a professor in the Mathematics department at Southern Oregon University, provided

excellent guidance and insight to us when we were applying for the grant.

Christina Richardson was our student that served as a contributing editor, as well as created our glossary

for this OER. She went through the entire book to pose suggestions, edits, and comments that helped make

the end product better.




Author Bios

Alison S. Burke, Ph.D., Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Southern Oregon University,

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, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Southern Oregon University,

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 life-

course 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, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Southern Oregon University,

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, M.S., Instructor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Southern Oregon University,

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, J.D., Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Southern Oregon University,

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 K. Sanchez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Southern Oregon University,

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.





Goals, Learning Objectives, and Skills

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.

SOU’s catalog course description for CCJ 230 states this course surveys the functional areas of criminal

justice in the United States. This OER covers law enforcement, criminal courts, sentencing, penal

institutions, and community-based sanctions. It also includes historical and contemporary perspectives on

components of the criminal justice system, as well as the legal and constitutional frameworks in which they


Learning Objectives

• Students will increase the breadth of their knowledge and understanding of the American Criminal

Justice System.

• Students will enhance their critical thinking skills via writing, reading, and discussion.

• Students will learn the history, functions, responsibilities, processes, and importance of each

component of the criminal justice system.

• Students will become familiar with research and its relationship to criminal justice policy.

• Students will use the foundations learned about the American criminal justice system in future CCJ


Additionally, myths and controversies are incorporated in the course covering the above-noted content areas

in the American criminal justice system. In our experience, this tends to be the most exciting part of the

class. It also helps students build all learning outcomes through assignments, readings, and materials covered

in class. The primary goal when writing this book was to make it easy to read, with fun examples, thought-




provoking discussion questions, and is accessible to all to ensure that students would read. The content level

targeted first-year students who are taking their first course in Criminology and Criminal Justice, but also as

a general education course for those that may not intend to major. In order to ensure each area has accessible

materials for the course and meets our learning objectives and goals, we have conducted preliminary research

in order to determine our best option is moving forward.





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





We dedicate this book to our students at Southern Oregon University, who continuously work hard in our

classes and develop lasting relationships with us. We also dedicate this book to all our partners, children, fur

babies, and friends that supported us in the writing process.




1: Crime, Criminal Justice, and


Learning Objectives

This section will broadly introduce crime, criminal justice, and criminology. This section is designed to be a

broad overview of what the subsequent chapters will cover in detail. It also demonstrates how the United States

create laws, policies enacted to enforce laws, and the role of the media. After reading this section, students will be

able to:

• Understand the differences between deviance, rule violations, and criminality

• Explain the differences between the interactionist, consensus, and conflict views in the creation of


• Identify the three components of the criminal justice system

• Discuss the differences between crime control and due process model, and application examples to


• Describe the wedding cake model theory and application examples to each tier

• Briefly explain the role of the media and how media may spread myths in society

• Briefly understand the unique role of victims in the criminal justice process

Background Knowledge Probe: The goal here is to assess current knowledge about the criminal justice system at the start of the course. Each of these topics is covered throughout the course, and they will

often be a controversial topic and topic for debate.

You will indicate whether you know each statement to be True or False, but there is no right or wrong

answer since it is just to assess your background knowledge.

1. Blacks commit more crime than any other racial group.




2. The United States has the lowest recidivism rates in the world (return to prison).

3. The death penalty is cheaper than life imprisonment.

4. Politicians shape our thoughts on crime, even if they are inaccurate.

5. Children are most likely to be killed by a stranger.

6. A stranger is most likely to physically harm you.

7. White-collar crime costs our country more every year than street-crime.

8. Juveniles are more violent today than ever before.

9. Immigrants commit more crime than native-born people.

10. Violent crime has risen in the United States over the last 20 years.





1.1. Crime and the Criminal Justice System


Theft as a Child

The first lesson in crime and criminality I remember was when I was in second grade and stole something from

a local drug store. I thought that the bracelet was shiny and perfect. At first, I remember wanting to try it on, but

then I did not want to take it off. I had more questions than my Nana may have been ready to answer about why I

did it and why I could not keep it. I had to take the bracelet back, which hurt because I loved it. Because of guilt or

shame, I told my grandma what I did.

Think about a time in your life that you may have done something similar. Was this first lesson in crime and

criminality from the person you were raised by such as a parent(s) or grandparent(s)? Did they teach you that what

you did was a crime and, hopefully, how to correct this wrong at a young age?

You were probably punished, and they may have consisted of helping out with more chores or losing your

allowance to pay back what you stole.

Imagine all the questions you may have for your parents at the moment: Why was it wrong? What would happen

to me if I did not tell you? What is a crime? Who decides what makes a crime? What happens to me if I commit a

crime and get caught? What is my punishment? Why was it wrong when there were so many polishes there?

Further, I had to help out around the house for the weekend. In exchange for all this, she did not tell my dad

because she knew her punishment was sufficient and to tell him may be excessive. She took a balanced approach to

punishment and I think this is why it was so effective. It was not too strict, it was hard to complete, and I had to

think about what I did.

Most criminologists define crime as the violation of the laws of a society by a person or a group of people who are subject to the laws of that society (citizens). Thus, crime as defined by the State or Federal

government. Essentially, crime is what the law states and a violation of the law, stated in the statue, would

make actions criminal. 1

1. Lynch, M., Stretesky, P., Long, M. (2015). Defining crime: A critique of the concept and its implication. Palgrave Macmillan: US.




For example, if someone murdered another individual in the process of stealing their automobile most

people would see this as a criminal and a straight-forward example of crime. We often see murder and

robbery as wrong and harms society, as well as social order. However, there are times crime is not as straight-

forward though and people may hesitate to call it criminal. The community I live in, and many others

throughout the area, post signs that it is illegal to give food and other items to homeless individuals in need.

If one were to violate this law and give food to a homeless person it would not involve harm to individuals,

but the social order.

Adele MacLean joined others in an Atlanta park to feed the hungry the Sunday before Thanksgiving and

was given a citation and a summons to appear in court. Ultimately, MacLean’s case was dropped when she

showed up in court, but she and her lawyers argued the citation for serving food without a permit was

improper and demonstrates callousness toward the homeless. The city and some advocates say feeding people

on the streets can hinder long-term solutions and raises sanitation concerns. 2 Approximately 40 cities across

the nation have active laws to restrict food sharing, and a few dozen more had attempted such restrictions,

according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. 3

We will talk later about how we may create laws based on what can cause harm. Harm can be to the social order,

physical, economic, social, emotional, environmental, and more. In order to ensure that people receive justice in

today’s society, we use the criminal justice system to administer punishment or reward, and those crimes are often

punished based on morals and norms.

The criminal justice system is a major social institution that is tasked with controlling crime in various ways. Police are often tasked with detecting crime and detaining individuals, courts often adjudicate and hand down

punishments, and the correction system implements punishments and/or rehabilitative efforts for people who have

been found guilty of breaking the law.

Criminal Justice Process When the law is broken, the criminal justice system must respond in an attempt to make society whole

again. The criminal justice system is made up of various agencies at different levels of government that

can work independently and together, but each attempting to deal with crime. Challenges may arise

when agencies do not work together or attempt to work together inefficiently. The notorious serial killer

Ted Bundy was an example of U.S. law enforcement agencies not working together because of lack of

technological advancement to freely exchange information and resources about killings in their area. Bundy

exploited gaps in the traditional law enforcement, investigative processes throughout different jurisdictions,

and ultimately was able to avoid arrest and detection. If various agencies at the Federal, State, and Local law

enforcement level had worked together they could have potentially stopped Ted Bundy sooner. Following

Ted Bundy, a Multi-agency Investigative Team manual, also known as the MAIT Taskforce, was created

through the National Institute of Justice to develop information about the crime, it causes and how to control

it One of the values of the United States is

that local agencies will control their local community, but at times this may create unexpected complications.

Working Together?

2. Brumback, K. (2017). Cities, volunteers clash over feeding homeless in public. Associated Press. world/cities-volunteers-clash-over-feeding-homeless-in-public/

3. National Coalition for the Homeless. (2018).





You are to create an argument for or against law enforcement agencies working together. Some countries have

national police forces, whereas we do not. Be prepared to defend your position in the class.

Although agencies may operate differently, the way cases move through the criminal justice system is

consistent. The first step after getting caught stealing something from a store is involvement with police

when law enforcement is called. The next step in the process is to proceed through the court system to

determine guilt or innocence. If you are found guilty then you will receive a sentence that will be carried

out in the next step. After conviction, you move to the correctional system for formal punishment and/or

treatments as determined by the courts. An individual may not go through the entire process and criminal

justice officials decide whether the case should continue on to the next stage. Perhaps the officer decides not

to cite you and your contact ends there. However, it may be the district attorney (DA) that decides to drop

your case before it even goes to trial. Regardless, the process is typically cops, courts, and then corrections.

We will explore each of these in greater detail later on.

News Box: In 2016, more people were arrested for marijuana possession than for all crimes the FBI classifies as violent.

4 Overall in 2016, roughly 1.5 million people were arrested for drug-related offenses, up

slightly year-over-year 5 Marijuana enforcement and criminalization goes to the heart of some of the most

pressing issues facing the criminal justice system, policymakers, citizens, and the world. Is criminalizing

drug use effective, especially for marijuana? Is spending money on enforcing drug laws, prosecuting drug

crimes, and punishing drug offenders effective? The United States has taken a get-tough approach towards

the War on Drugs, created mandatory minimum sentences, and punished people in large numbers but is it


4. 5. Ingraham, C. (2017). More people were arrested last year over pot than for murder, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery —

combined. The Washington Post. over-pot-than-for-murder-rape-aggravated-assault-and-robbery-combined/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.62735d3474ea

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




1.2. Deviance, Rule Violations, and Criminality


Nude Ultimate Frisbee

Imagine you recently moved to Oregon for work from Georgia after graduating college and hope to make new

friends. Georgia has been your home forever, so Oregon is entirely new. Then one day at the dog park you run

into a guy that seems like someone you would like to hang out with and he tells you to come out and play ultimate

frisbee this weekend. You decide to take the leap and meet new people, play a new sport, and have some fun.

You arrive on the field, but notice something that stands out as different to you and wonders ‘is this allowed

in Oregon?’ Some women and men are naked, some fully and some just certain parts exposed, but no one seems

uncomfortable. You look around at the topless players, all adults, and wonder if this is the wrong place. Other

people in costume walk around like Unicorns, Mario, Rainbow Brite, among others. Suddenly, thoughts start

racing through your mind: “Why are people dressed strangely? Is it legal to be nude in public in the state of

Oregon? Why does no one seem to mind? Can I keep my clothes on? What will my family in Georgia think?

Should I just go back to my apartment now?”

Suddenly, the guy from the dog park runs up and tells you to come on over so he can introduce you to the

team. Situations like this are often examples we use in the college classroom to demonstrate the difference between

deviance, rule violations, and criminal violations. Sometimes there are times that behaviors that appear to be deviant

are not illegal, but other times behaviors that are illegal are not deviant.

Just about everyone in society has done something that someone else would disagree with and see as deviant.

For example, I recently wore clothes to the gym that were out of style but how did I know they were out of

style? Well, easy! The reaction of others to my lack of style in the gym was clear that it is no longer cool to

wear knee-high socks with athletic shorts to the gym.

Another time I was at Thanksgiving dinner with my family and I expressed open support for a politician

that no one else in the family supported. Their reactions to my support of him made it evident that I

was the deviant one that was not going along with the typical political views expected in my reasonably

conservative, Republican family.

Alternatively, perhaps I am deviant when I tell you my favorite show on television is, and always will




“Facial Tattoos and Piercings”

be, the Golden Girls, which seems odd for someone in their early thirties. Perhaps someone thinks it is

utter nonsense and ‘crazy’ wasting my time watching such shows. These are just a few examples where my

behavior, thoughts, actions, or beliefs may be different from those around me.

From a sociological perspective, social norms are all around us and are accepted norms and behaviors

that defined within a specific group. The group you are in can change, which would mean the norms and

behaviors that are acceptable at any given time may change. 1

Deviance is behavior that departs from the social norm. Goode argues that four things must happen in order for something deviant to take place

or exist:

1) a rule or norm must be established; 2) someone has to violate that

rule or norm; 3) there must be an audience or someone, that witnesses

the act and judges it to be wrong; 4) and there is likely going to be a

negative reaction from that audience that can come in many forms (i.e.,

criticism, disapproval, punishment, and more).

To commit an act of deviance one does not need to violate a

dangerous norm, and not all acts that are deviant are criminal. Not all

criminal acts are deviant either. Deviance falls on a spectrum that can

range from really deviant to not so deviant but remember it is dependent

on the audience. Think back to the previous comment about the show

Golden Girls. My grandma would not find that as deviant as my husband

does because we grew up watching it together. We spent many hours on

the couch laughing away at the silliness of it all, so we would both agree

it is a beautiful show. 2

Applying Knowledge

Assignment: Apply Goode’s definition of what needs to happen in order for something to be considered deviant in no less than 500 words and following the example below.

Example: The awkward outfit to the gym: knee socks, athletic shorts, and an oversized Broncos t-shirt mentioned above could be deviant. Based on Goode’s definition of deviance, this attire departed from the social

norm at the gym in 2018. Whether we realize it or not some specific rules or norms established in the gym (1);

sometimes we have a dress code, but other times, you have to keep up with current ‘hip trends’ such as yoga pants

for women in 2018. Next, I violated that norm by my attire (2); since it was a busy Monday night lots of people

saw my attire, my audience, that was able to witness my act and then judge it (3). Lastly, they cannot kick me out

for not dressing cool, but the awkward smirks, stares, and giggles were all I needed to know that my clothes were

deviant and not cool (4). This could certainly have not been true in 1950, 1980, or even early 2000s. If I think back

to when I started lifting over a decade ago, yoga pants were unheard of and no one wore anything ‘tight’ to the

gym. Today yoga pants are regular and in some parts of the country for women and men.

1. By Tuerto – [1], CC by-SA 3.0, 2. Goode, E. (2015). Deviant Behavior, (10th ed.). New York: Pearson, Education.

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




1.3. Social Norms: Folkways, Mores, Taboo, and Laws


Social Control Exercise

Assignment: We rely on informal social control to influence people’s behavior, such as giving the stink eye, cold shoulder, or correcting someone’s behavior in order to ensure people conform. Think about a time when a parent,

guardian, coach, employer, or teacher (agents of social control) used informal social control to respond to your

behavior. What did the agent of informal social control do? Provide an example when informal social control was

applied to another person. What were they doing and how was their behavior controlled through informal social


Example: Talking on the phone with a work-related matter and kids start bickering over slime. I am unable to put the phone down, so I relied on hand motions to show them it was unacceptable. There was no need to hang up

or say anything at all. The eye actions indicated they were acting inappropriate and their behavior changed.

Norms can be internalized, which would make an individual conform without external rewards or

punishments. There are four types of social norms that can help inform people about behavior that is

considered acceptable: folkways, mores, taboos, and law. Further, social norms can vary across time, cultures,

place, and even sub-group. 1

Think back to your first experiences in school and surely you can identify some folkways and mores

learned. Folkways are behaviors that are learned and shared by a social group that we often refer to as “customs” in a group that are not morally significant, but they can be important for social acceptance.

2 Each

group can develop different customs, but there can be customs that embraced at a larger, societal level.

1. Goode, E. (2015). Deviant Behavior, (10th ed.). New York: Pearson, Education. 2. Augustyn, A., Bauer, P., Duignan, B., Eldridge, A., Gregersen, E., Luebbering, J.E., etc…, (N.D.). Folkway, Encyclopedia Britannica.




Folkway Example

Imagine sitting in the college classroom with sixty other people around. As a professor who teaches early morning

classes, it is always encouraged to eat if hungry. However, everyone must be considerate of those around them.

You should not chew loudly. That would be considered rude, and it is against class ‘customs’ to do so. To make it

worse, imagine burping without saying ‘excuse me.’ These would be folkway violations. Remember, this may not

be disrespectful in all cultures, and it is very subjective.

Perhaps stricter than folkways are more because they can lead to a violation of what we view as moral

and ethical behavior. Mores are norms of morality, or right and wrong, and if you break one it is often considered offensive to most people of a culture.

3 Sometimes a more violation can also be illegal, but other

times it can just be offensive. If a more is not written down in legislation, it cannot get sanctioned by the

criminal justice system. Other times it can be both illegal and morally wrong.

More Example

If one attended a funeral for a family member, no one would expect to see someone in bright pink clothes or

a bikini. Most people are encouraged to wear black clothing out of respect. Although there may not be specific

rules or laws that state expected attire to wear to a funeral, it would be against what most of American society

views as right and wrong to attend a funeral in a bikini or be in hot pink leotards. It would be disrespectful to the

individual people are mourning. Both mores and folkways are taught through socialization with various sources:

family, friends, peers, schools, and more.

A taboo goes a step farther and is a very negative norm that should not get violated because people will be upset. Additionally, one may get excluded from the group or society. The nature and the degree of the taboo

are in the mores. 4

Taboo Example

A student once gave the example of a man in their neighborhood in Colorado that had multiple wives and

also had ten different children from the women. In most of American culture, it is seen as unacceptable to have

more than one spouse/partner. However, there are instances where having children with multiple people would

not be seen as taboo. Specifically, if a man or woman remarries and then has another child with their new partner.

However, again, this is more acceptable today than in the past because of the greater societal acceptance of divorce

and remarriage.

3. Sumner, W. (1906). Folkways. 4. Sumner, W. (1906). Folkways.

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




If one is religious think of something taboo in that specific religion? How about a sports team in college? Band?

Any ideas?

Lastly, and most important to the study of crime and criminal justice, our laws. Remember, a social norm is

an obligation to society that can lead to sanctions if one violates them. Therefore, laws are social norms that have become formally inscribed at the state or federal level and can laws can result in formal punishment for

violations, such as fines, incarceration, or even death. Laws are a form of social control that outlines rules,

habits, and customs a society uses to enforce conformity to its norms.

Law Example

Let us go back to our example of having multiple wives for a moment. It is illegal, a violation of law, to have

multiple wives in American culture. It has not always been this way, and it is not true in every country, but in the

United States, it was viewed as so taboo, morally and ethically wrong, that there are laws that can punish people

for marrying more than one person at a time. However, there may be some people that do not think it is wrong or

some groups, but regardless, it is still illegal.

The following link is for Oregon statue ORS 163.515 Bigamy

Remember our previous discussion on being the new person to Oregon and trying to figure out if it is

allowed to be nude at an ultimate frisbee practice, but they do not feel morally or ethically wrong. The first

thing one may do is go home and look up some rules and see if they are violating ultimate frisbee rules.

Next, one may check out Oregon laws governing clothing to see if they are violating laws by being nude.

In the end, one finds out that it is not ‘illegal,’ so you cannot call the cops, but you certainly did find a case

in Eugene, Oregon that determined not wearing clothes can be a violation of rules on the college campus.

However, this is a recreational league, and it does not appear to have any formal rules established. Now one

has to make a decision that is hard: Does one want to be part of a subculture that endorses nudity? Does this

go against one’s morals and ethics? Alternatively, is one willing to be part of the team and encourage

acceptance of a new norm? The criminal justice system cannot act for merely violating norms, but at times,

what feels like a norm can lead to criminal justice involvement. For example, walk a town or city, and

many may be found jaywalking because it may be safer, faster, or more accessible. A person can get a ticket

for it in most communities because it is technically violating a law. That is the thing with the line between

deviance, rule violations, and criminality—it does not allow mean we agree. There are many examples of

laws that are not deviant and things that are deviant some subcultures may wish to be illegal. Most, but not

all crimes are deviant, and not all deviant acts are criminal. The question then becomes: well, how then do

we as a society decide who does and does not have the opportunity to make law?






Adam Ruins Everything: Why Jaywalking is a Crime? everything/videos/why-jaywalking-is-a-crime.html

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




1.4. Interactionist View


Tattoos at Work

An article by Forbes in 2015, encourages employers to revisit their dress code expectations, with a specific

suggestion on lifting the ‘tattoo taboo.’ The article argues “allowing employees to maintain their style or grooming

allows your company to project how genuine you are as a brand to employees and to the customers they support.”

So, instead of suggesting tattoos are taboo in the workforce to employees, according to the article, one can

encourage people to ‘project who they are’ by accepting tattoos and ultimately, improve your business. This

example demonstrates how societal changes in how deviance can change through time and space.

Read the Forbes article to learn more about this discussion:


Typically, in our society, a deviant act becomes a criminal act that can be prohibited and punished under

criminal law when a crime is deemed socially harmful or dangerous to society. 1

In criminology, we often cover a wide array of harms that can include economic, physical, emotional,

social, and environmental. The critical thing to note is that we do not want to create laws against everything

in society, so we must draw a line between what we consider deviant and unusual verse dangerous and

criminal. For example, some people do not support tattoos and would argue they are deviant, but it would be

challenging to suggest they are dangerous to individuals and society. However, thirty years ago, it may have

been acceptable to put into dress code, rules guiding our physical conduct in the workspace, that people may

not have visible tattoos and people may not be as vocal as they would today. Today, tattoos may be seen as

more normalized and acceptable, which could lead to a lot of upset employees saying those are unfair rules

in their work of employment if they are against the dress code.

Now that we have a basis for understanding differences between deviance, rule violations, and criminal

law violations, we can now discuss who determines if a law becomes criminalized or decriminalized in the

1. Goode, E. (2016). Deviant Behavior. Routledge: New York.




United States. A criminalized act is when a deviant act becomes criminal and law is written, with defined sanctions, that can be enforced by the criminal justice system.



In the 1920s, auto groups aggressively fought to redefine who owned the city street. As cars began to spread to

the streets of America, the number of pedestrians killed by cars skyrocketed. At this time, the public was outraged

that elderly and children were dying in what was viewed as ‘pleasure cars’ because, at this time, our society was

structured very differently and did not rely on vehicles. Judges often ruled that the car was to blame in most

pedestrian deaths and drivers were charged with manslaughter, regardless of the circumstances. In 1923, 42,000

Cincinnati residents signed a petition for a ballot initiative that would require all cars to have a governor limiting

them to 25 miles per hour, which upset auto dealers and sprang them into action to send letters out to vote against

the measure.


Vote No

It was at this point that automakers, dealers, and others worked to redefine the street so that pedestrians, not

cars, would be restricted. Today, these law changes can be seen in our expectations for pedestrians to only cross at


2. Farmer, L. (2016). Making the modern criminal law: Criminalization and civil order. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




Don’t Jaywalk

The Vox Article below has an excellent summary of what we discussed:

The creation of jaywalking laws would be an example of the interactionist view in lawmaking. The

interactionist view states that the definition of crime reflects the preferences and opinions of people who hold social power in a particular legal jurisdiction, such as the auto industry. The auto industry used their

power and influence to impose what they felt was to be right and wrong and became moral entrepreneurs. 3

A moral entrepreneur was a phrase coined by sociologist Howard Becker. Becker referred to individuals

who use the strength of their positions to encourage others to follow their moral stances. Moral

entrepreneurs create rules and argue their causes will better society, and they have a vested interest in that

cause that maintains their political power or position. 4 5

The auto industry used aggressive tactics to garner support for the new laws: using news media to shift

3. Vuolo, M., Kadowaki, J., & Kelly, B. (2017). Marijuana’s Moral Entrepreneurs, Then and Now. moral-entrepreneurs/

4. Becker, H. (1963). Outsiders: Studies in the sociology of deviance. New York: Free Press. 5. Cole, J.M. (2013). Guidance regarding marijuana enforcement. Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Office of the Deputy Attorney

General. Better known as the “Cole Memorandum,”





the blame for accidents of the drivers and onto pedestrians, campaigned at local schools to teach about the

importance of staying out of the street, and shame by suggesting you are in the wrong if you get hit. 6

Fun fact: Most people may be unaware that they word ‘jay’ was derogatory and is similar today to being

called a hick, or someone who does not know how to behave in the city. The tactic of shaming was

powerful and has been used many times in society by moral entrepreneurs to garner support and pass laws

against jaywalking.

6. Norton, P. (2007). Street rivals: Jaywalking and the invention of the motor age street. Fighting traffic: The dawn of the motor age in the American city

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




1.5. Consensus View and Decriminalizing Laws


Another view of how laws become created is the consensus view, which as it states, implies consensus (agreement) among citizens on what should and should not be illegal. This idea implies that all groups come

together, regardless of social class, race, age, gender, and more, to determine what should be illegal. This

view also suggests that criminal law is a function of beliefs, morality, and rules that apply equally to all

members of society. 1

One Child per Family Policy in China

In modern society, we tend to have consensus in the United States that people cannot kill their baby at birth

because they wanted the opposite gender. If a person killed their child, murder charges would occur. At certain

points in history in other countries, such as China, this was occurring and was not as deviant as some Americans

would like to think it should have been, but it was still illegal. However, when the Chinese Government introduced

a One Child per Family Policy, there was a surge in female infanticide. There was immense pressure on families

to have sons because of their higher earning potential and contributions to the family. Again, that line between

deviance and criminality can often blur, especially when trying to gain consensus. Read the BBC article below for

more information.

Read the BBC article below for further information.

Let us take a consensus approach to create laws, but apply it to decriminalizing laws. An act becomes

decriminalized when it is no longer criminal and becomes legalized, ultimately reducing or alleviating

penalties altogether. Some have proposed a hybrid between decriminalization and criminalizing behaviors,

such as prostitution to ensure rights to prostitutes and punish offenders who harm them. 2 An act can be

decriminalized at the State level, but not necessarily the Federal level.

1. Dawe, A. (1970). The two sociologies. The British Journal of Sociology, 21(2), 207-218. 2. Lutnick, A. & Cohan, D. (2009). Criminalization, legalization or decriminalization of sex work: what female sex workers say in San

Francisco, USA. Reproductive Health Matters, 17(34), 38-46.




Marijuana Legalization

One example of decriminalization that came from a vote of consensus in states like Colorado, Washington,

and Oregon was the legalization of recreational marijuana. Recently, Texas has shown signs of potentially

decriminalizing marijuana and seeking reform laws. According to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune

poll, more than half of the state’s registered voters support marijuana legalization in the state (a consensus), and

only 16 percent said possession of marijuana should remain illegal under any circumstances. Marijuana is certainly a

great example of decriminalization, whether it is for recreational or medicinal purposes. University of Texas/Texas

Tribune Poll, June 2018 — Summary


University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, June 2018 — Summary

Read the article below for more information on Texas proposing changes:

Adam Ruins Everything YouTube Link: The Sinister Reason Weed is Illegal

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System









1.6. Conflict View


A third perspective of how we define crime or create laws is referred to as conflict view, commonly

associated with Karl Marx in the 1800s. Conflict view sees society as a collection of diverse groups that can include owners, workers, wealthy, poor, students, professionals, younger older, and more. This view

recognizes that the creation of laws is unequal and may not have consensus like in the example discussed

previously. 1

Further, the conflict view takes a very Marxian perspective and suggests that these groups are often in

constant conflict with one another. Unlike the consensus perspective, the conflict view would suggest that

the crime definitions are controlled by those with wealth, power, and social position in society. Essentially,

laws are made by a select group in society, and the laws protect the ‘haves.’ Criminality shapes the values of

the ruling class and is not of ‘moral consensus’. 2 There are many examples we use in the criminal justice field

that demonstrates the conflict view in action.

Edwin Sutherland: White Collar Crime

Edwin Sutherland, a sociologist, first introduced white-collar crime during his presidential address at the

American Sociological Society Meeting in 1939 and later published articles and books on the topic. 3 Specifically, he

was concerned with the criminological community’s preoccupation with the low-status offender and “street crimes”

and the lack of attention given to crimes that were perpetrated by people in higher status occupations.

Sutherland wrote a book, White Collar Crime, that sparked lots of debate. 4 However, there is a limited focus

on white-collar crime and even less enforcement of it in the United States. From the conflict view, this would be

because white-collar and corporate crime is committed by the ‘haves’ and they write their laws and define what is

or is not a crime. Going back to how we define crime in society, white-collar crime is still a contested one.

1. Hawkins, D. (1987). Beyond anomalies: Rethinking the conflict perspective on race and criminal punishment. Social Forces, 65(3), 719–745,

2. Boundless. (2016). The conflict perspective. Sociology – Cochise College Boundless, 26. 3. Sutherland, E. (1940). White collar criminality. American Sociological Review, 5(1), 1-12. 4. Sutherland, E. (1949). White collar crime. Dryden Press.




Sutherland wrote a book, White Collar Crime, that sparked lots of debate. 5 However, there is a limited focus on

white-collar crime and even less enforcement of it in the United States. From the conflict view, white-collar and

corporate crime gets committed by the ‘haves,’ and they write the laws and define what is or is not a crime. Going

back to how we define crime in society, white-collar crime is still a contested one.

Currently, there are different views of how one should define white-collar crime: defining white-collar crime

based on the type of offender, type of offense, studying economic crime such as corporate and/or environmental law

violations, health, and safety law violations, and/or the organizational culture rather than the offender or offense.

The FBI studies white-collar crime in terms of offense, so official data for white-collar crime will not focus on the

background of the offender, which can make the use of Uniform Crime Report Data, UCR data tricky to use if

trying to determine a typical offender. The UCR will be covered more fully in chapter two, but it is data collected

from police departments, and the FBI compiles reports. Again, conflict view may suggest the lack of focus on white-

collar crime in U.S. society would be because the ‘haves’ creates the laws, not the ‘have-nots.’

nibrs/nibrs_wcc.pdf 6

5. Sutherland, E. (1949). White collar crime. Dryden Press. 6. Barnett, C. (N.D.). The measurement of white-collar crime using: Uniform crime reporting (UCR) data. U.S. Department of Justice.

Federal Bureau of Investigation





1.7. The Three C’s: Cops, Courts, and Corrections


The Three C’s

As previously stated, the criminal justice system is not confined to one level of government and is made

up of local, state, and federal governments. The agencies associated with these levels can work together or

work separately. In the previous example about marijuana legalization, the federal government has not legalized

recreational or medicinal marijuana, but some states have; states have disagreed with federal law, but federal law

essentially has the final say. If the federal government wanted to punish states for selling marijuana they indeed

could since it remains a Schedule I drug.

We will spend time exploring the three main components of the criminal justice system, or an easy way to

remember this is the three main C’s: cops, courts, and corrections. This section will briefly introduce the police,

courts, and correctional systems and how they often function with each other, whereas subsequent chapters will

further focus on how they each operate as their entity.

Cops Imagine walking downtown on a Friday night and witness a robbery in action. The first thing a person

would typically do is call 911. Then the person would tell the 911 operator, referred to as dispatch, what

they saw, where the event occurred, and any other relevant information. The operator would then send out

the call or dispatch it to nearby police on duty. The first point of contact with the criminal justice system

for most individuals is the cops. We often refer to them as first responders. We will use a variety of terms

for cops, such as police officers and law enforcement, but recognize we are always talking about the men

and women who enforce laws and protect the people of the United States. The police respond to calls and

can apprehend the offender. Because of technology, the police respond quickly.

Other times, police may witness a crime while on patrol. Police make initial contact, investigate crimes,

apprehend offenders/potential offenders (arrest), and then book them in the local jail. Law enforcement does

not determine guilt or innocence, hand down punishments, or implement the punishment. 1

1. Fuller, J. (2019). Introduction to criminal justice: A brief edition. New York Oxford: University Press




During an investigation, police officers may need to obtain a search warrant. The Fourth Amendment of

the Constitution requires that police officers have probable cause before they search a person’s home, their

clothing, car, or other property, with some exceptions explored later on. In order to ensure due process,

searches usually require a search warrant, issued by a “neutral and detached” judge. Arrests also require

probable cause and often occur after police have gotten an arrest warrant from a judge. Depending on the

specific facts of the case, the first step may be an arrest. 2 As stated above, if they catch a person in the

commission of a crime, they will arrest first and investigate later.

Police on Standby

Police on Standby


Courts The next phase of the criminal justice system is the courts. The courts may consist of prosecutors, defense

attorneys, judges, and a reasonable jury of one’s peers. The primary role of the courts is to determine

whether an offender should be charged with a crime and if so, what charges should exist. The officers will

forward over information to the district attorneys for review, and the district attorney will determine what

2. United States Department of Justice. (N.D.). Investigation.





charges are filed against an offender, also known as the defendant. 3 In the above scenario, if the

prosecutor’s office has determined there is enough evidence to charge the individual of robbing the business

downtown, then charges will be filed, and the suspect is charged with a specific crime. The defendant in

the robbery will be informed of all their rights that are afforded to them by the Constitution and that they

have the right to legal counsel or a defense attorney. There are private defense attorneys as well as public

defenders who are appointed if a person is indigent, or unable to afford their attorney. A defendant, or the

accused, will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, and a trial date is set.

The prosecutor’s office will evaluate the type and quality of evidence they have when deciding to move

forward or drop the charges. Direct evidence is evidence that supports a fact without an inference, such as a

testimony of an eyewitness to a crime because the person saw the crime. The other type of evidence,

circumstantial evidence, would be something that happened before or after the crime or information

obtained indirectly or not based on the first-hand experience by a person. Circumstantial evidence includes

people’s impressions about an event that happened which they did not see. For example, if you went to bed

at night, and there was no gas in your tank, and then you awoke to a full tank of gas, while you didn’t

actually see your dad fill your tank, you assume the did it while you slept because gas tanks cannot fill

themselves. 4

If a defendant pleads guilty, there may be a plea bargain given.

A plea bargain is similar to a deal will be made for a reduced sentence since the defendant pleads guilty.

Plea bargains get used a lot for the vast majority of cases in our CJ system, and debates often ensue over the

ethics behind them. A defendant should only plead guilty if they committed the crime and must admit to

doing so in front of the judge. Once the defendant admits to the crime, they agree they are guilty and

agree that they may be “sentenced” by the judge presiding over the court. The judge is the only person

authorized to impose a sentence. However, with the current number of cases entering our system every

day, pleas bargains have often called a ‘necessary evil.” 5

Let us say the defendant chooses to go to trial. The prosecution and defense will then present their cases

before a jury and judge to determine if there is enough evidence to convict the defendant. The prosecutor

must prove they have probable cause that the defendant is the one who committed the crime, and the

defense ensures the rights of the accused get upheld while defending their client. Judges are important and

often get referred to as an impartial moderator or referee in the courtroom. The judge receives guidance

and assistance from several sources in order to sentence a defendant. Over time, Congress has established

minimum and maximum punishments, and the United States Sentencing Commissions has produced a set

of sentencing guidelines that recommend certain punishments for certain crimes while considering various

factors. Further, the judge will look at a pre-sentence report and consider statements from the victims, as well

as the defendant and lawyers. The judge may consider a variety of aggravating or mitigating factors. These

include whether the defendant has committed the same crime before, whether the defendant has expressed

regret for the crime and the nature of the crime itself. 6

If a defendant is convicted, then that defendant is found guilty. Let us imagine surveillance camera caught

the robber downtown and fingerprints that were left behind matched the offender; this would make a

conviction more likely. This phase is known as adjudication. If found guilty, the court is responsible for

3. Anoka County Attorney’s Office. (N.D.). Roles in the Criminal Justice System. Justice-System

4. United States Department of Justice. (N.D.). Investigation. 5. United States Department of Justice. (N.D.). Plea bargaining. 6. United States Department of Justice. (N.D.). Sentencing.

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




handing down a punishment. In the vast majority of criminal cases, the judge decides the sentencing hearing,

but in some cases, a jury determines the outcome. Although this was a brief overview, it is essential to

know that the courts charge defendants, holding a preliminary hearing, arraignment, potential plea bargains,

adjudication, and sentencing.

After a defendant is found guilty, they have the right to appeal the outcome if they believe they were

wrongly convicted or the sentence was too harsh. An appeal is not another trial, but an opportunity for the

defendant to try to raise specific errors that might have occurred at trial. A common appeal is that a decision

from the judge was incorrect – such as whether to suppress certain evidence or to impose a certain sentence.

Appeals are complicated and sometimes result in the case going back to the trial court. A conviction can

get reversed, a sentence altered, or a new trial may be ordered altogether if the Appeals Court decides that

particular course of action. If a circuit court judge decides the appeal, then a defendant can try to appeal

that decision to the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. The United States Supreme Court

is the highest appellate court in the American court system, and they make the final decision concerning a

defendant’s appeal. The Court is not required to hear an appeal in every case and takes only a small number

of cases each year. 7

More details

The courtroom in Valley County Courthouse in Ord, Nebraska. The Beaux-Arts building was constructed in 1920. It is listed in the

National Register of Historic Places.

7. United States Department of Justice. (N.D.). Appeal.





In The News: Brendan Dassey

Brendan Dassey, featured in the Netflix documentary The Making of a Murderer in 2015, was charged

with murder as a juvenile. Dassey’s 2007 conviction was questionable because his videotaped confession

with police was problematic. Dassey was 16 without a lawyer or parent present during his confession. He

appeared scared and unaware of the gravity of his situation on camera, and his lawyers say he had a low

IQ in the seventh percentile of children his age, making him susceptible to suggestion. Dassey was found

guilty as an accessory to murder with his uncle Steven Avery in the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach, a

25-year-old photographer in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear

his case and did not provide a statement as to why.


Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




Video Link Adam Ruins Everything: Why the Public Defender System is So Screwed Up



Corrections Once a defendant has been found guilty, the correctional system helps carry out the punishment that is

ordered by the court. The defendant may be ordered to pay financial restitution or a fine and not serve time

under a form of incarceration. When an offender gets sentenced to a period of incarceration, at either a jail

or prison, they will serve their sentence under supervision. Offenders that get sentenced to less than a year

will serve their sentence in a local jail, but longer sentences will serve time in prison. However, offenders

can also get sentenced to community-based supervision, such as probation. In this situation, an offender

would get assigned a probation officer (PO), and there would be specific rules they are required to follow.

If an offender violates rules, the PO may request the offender be incarcerated in jail or prison to serve the

remainder of the sentence. 9 Lastly, an essential part of corrections is helping former inmates with prisoner

re-entry or reintegration into society through parole, community-based supervision after serving time in a

locked facility, and may require drug-testing, help with finding employment, education, and social support. 10

8. Victor, D. (2018). Supreme Court Won’t Hear Appeal of ‘Making a Murderer’ Subject Brendan Dassey. The New York Times.

9. , Fuller, J. (2019). Introduction to criminal justice: A brief edition. New York: Oxford University Press. 10. RAND Corporation. (1994-2018).






Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




1.8. The Crime Control and Due Process Models


Crime Control and Due Process Model The criminal justice system can be quite complicated, especially in the attempt to punish offenders for

wrongs committed. Society expects the system to be efficient and quick, but the protection of individual

rights and justice fairly delivered. Ultimately, the balance of these goals is ideal, but it can be challenging to

control crime and quickly punish offenders, while also ensuring our constitutional rights are not infringed

upon while delivering justice.

In the 1960s, legal scholar Herbert L. Packer created models to describe exceeding expectations of the

criminal justice system. These two models can be competing ideologies in criminal justice, but we will

discuss how these models can be merged or balanced to work together. The first tension between these

models is often the values they place as most important in the criminal justice system, the crime control

model and the due process model. 1

The crime control model focuses on having an efficient system, with the most important function being to suppress and control crime to ensure that society is safe and there is public order. Under this model,

controlling crime is more important to individual freedom. This model is a more conservative perspective.

In order to protect society and make sure individuals feel free from the threat of crime, the crime control

model would advocate for swift and severe punishment for offenders. Under this model, the justice process

may resemble prosecutors charge an ‘assembly-line’: law enforcement suspects apprehend suspects; the courts

determine guilt; and guilty people receive appropriate, and severe, punishments through the correctional

system. 2 The crime control model may be more likely to take a plea bargain because trials may take too

much time and slow down the process.

Murder in the Gym: Crime Control Model Example by Dr. Sanchez

Imagine working out at the local gym, and a man starts shooting people. This man has no mask on so he is

easy to identify. People call 911 and police promptly respond and can arrest the shooter within minutes. Under

1. Packer, H. (1964). Two models of the criminal process. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 113(1) 2. Roach, K. (1999). Four models of the criminal process. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 89(2), 671-716.




the crime control model, the police should not have to worry too much about how evidence gets collected and

expanded. Investigative, arrest, and search powers would be considered necessary. A crime control model would

see this as a slam dunk and no need to waste time or money by ensuring due process rights. If there were any

legal technicalities, such as warrantless searches of the suspects home, it would obstruct the police from effectively

controlling crime. Effective use of time would be to immediately punish, especially since the gym had cameras

and the man did not attempt to hide his identity. Any risk of violating individual liberties would be considered

secondary over the need to protect and ensure the safety of the community in this model. Additionally, the criminal

justice system is responsible for ensuring victim’s rights, especially helping provide justice for those murdered at the


The due process model focuses on having a just and fair criminal justice system for all and a system that does not

infringe upon constitutional rights. Further, this model would argue that the system should be more like an ‘obstacle

course,’ rather than an ‘assembly line.’ The protection of individual rights and freedoms is of utmost importance and

has often be aligned more with a liberal perspective. 3

The due process model focuses on having a just and fair criminal justice system for all and a system that does not infringe upon constitutional rights. Further, this model would argue that the system should be more

like an ‘obstacle course,’ rather than an ‘assembly line.’ The protection of individual rights and freedoms is of

utmost importance and has often be aligned more with a liberal perspective. 4

Murder in the Gym: Due Process Model by Dr. Sanchez

Back to the gym murder, the due process model would want to see all the formalized legal practices afforded to

this case in order to hold him accountable for the shooting. If this man did not receive fair and equitable treatment,

then the fear is this can happen to other cases and offenders. Therefore, due process wants the system to move

through all the stages to avoid mistakes and ensure the rights of all suspects and defendants. If the man in the gym

pled not guilty due to the reason of insanity, then he can ask for a jury trial to determine whether he is legally insane.

The courts would then try the case and may present evidence to a jury, ultimately deciding his fate. The goal is not

to be quick, but to be thorough. Because the Bill of Rights protects the defendant’s rights, the criminal justice system

should concentrate on those rights over the victim’s rights, which are not listed. Additionally, limiting police power

would be seen as positive to prevent oppressing individuals and stepping on rights. The rules, procedures, and

guidelines embedded in the Constitution should be the framework of the criminal justice system and controlling

crime would be secondary. Guilt would get established on the facts and if the government legally followed the

correct procedures. If the police searched the gym shooters home without a warrant and took evidence then that

evidence should be inadmissible, even if that means they cannot win the case. 5

3. Packer, H. (1964). Two models of the criminal process, 113 U. PA. L. Rev. 1; Yerkes, M. (1969). The limits of the criminal sanction, by

Herbert L. Packer (1968). Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 176, 2(1). 4. Yerkes, M. (1969). The limits of the criminal sanction, by Herbert L. Packer (1968). Loyola of Los Angeles Law

Review 176, 2(1). 5. Yerkes, M. (1969). The limits of the criminal sanction, by Herbert L. Packer (1968). Loyola of Los Angeles Law

Review 176, 2(1).

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




There are several pros and cons to both model; however, there are certain groups and individuals that side

with one more often than the other. The notion that these models may fall along political lines is often

based on previous court decisions, as well as campaign approaches in the U.S. The crime control model is

used when promoting policies that allow the system to get tough, expand police powers, change sentencing

practices such as create “Three Strikes,” and more. The due process model may promote policies that

require the system to focus on individual rights. These rights may include requiring police to inform people

under arrest that they do not have to answer questions with an attorney (Miranda v. Arizona), providing all defendants with an attorney (Gideon v. Wainwright), or shutting down private prisons who often abuse the rights of inmates.

To state that crime control is purely conservative and due process if purely liberal would be too simplistic,

but to recognize that the policies are a reflection of our current political climate is relevant. If Americans

are fearful of crime, and Gallup polls suggest they are, politicians may propose policies that focus on

controlling crime. However, if polls suggest police may have too many powers and that can lead to abuse,

then politicians may propose policies that limit their powers such as requiring warrants to obtain drugs. 6

Again, this may reflect society, a reflection of a part of society, or the interests of a political party or specific



Discuss what the primary goal of the criminal justice system should be: to control crime, ensure due process, or

both? Explain how this opinion may get influenced by individual factors, such as age, gender/sex, race/ethnicity,

economic situation, a country born in, and more. Could goals change with the more education given about

criminal justice? If so, make an argument in favor of education. If not, make an argument against educating the

public on criminal justice.

6. Davis, A. (2016). In the U.S., concern about crime climbs to 15-year high. Gallup Poll.





1.9. How Cases Move Through the System


How Cases Move Through the System The criminal justice process is not what gets portrayed on television, and most cases do not go to trial

or result in a prison sentence. Part of the problem is that our current system is overloaded and ensuring

due process and crime control can be more challenging than one thinks. In order to effectively process

cases through the criminal justice system, discretion is an important tool for police, prosecutors, judges, and

correctional officials. Discretion provides freedom to make decisions, specifically it is the power to make

decisions on issues within legal guidelines. Many people see discretion as for the most powerful tool of the

criminal justice system. 1 2

Exercise on Discretion

Provide an example of discretion, which can be from a teacher in school, a dean, an officer, a judge, or boss.

Describe what discretion impacted life outcomes today. When I was pregnant, my sister and I argued over the

phone. This caused me to cry and emotions took over, which led to being pulled over. I encountered an officer

who was understanding. He then told asked me to drive safely, and because my record was clean, he was not going

to cite me. I was fortunate that I did not have to lose money for a ticket, and still, today, have never had a ticket.

Ethics refers to the understanding of what constitutes good or bad behavior and helps to guide our behaviors. Ethics are important in the criminal justice system because people working in the system get

authority, power, and discretion by the government. 3 Imagine in the above case where the speeding and

swerving occurred because the person drove drunk due to the break-up. It would be unethical for police to

allow them to drive home because they were drinking and driving, which is a crime. Most people would see

it an abuse of discretion if the officer said, “I know you are drunk, but break-ups suck. Please stop crying,

drive home, and forget this happened.” Ethics and discretion often go hand-in-hand.

1. Kessler, D. & Piehl, A. (1998). The role of discretion in the criminal justice system. The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 14(2), 256-276

2. Gottfredson, M., & Gottfredson, D. (1988). Decision making in criminal justice: Toward the rational exercise of discretion. New York: Plenum 3. Sellers, B. (2015). Ethics in policing. Wiley online library.




In the News: How Would an Ethical Officer React? The New York Times wrote an article about ethical policing. Tobkin often asked his recruits, in any given situation, “How would an ethical officer

react?” All recruits were required to take an ethics class called Police Legitimacy, which deals with how

officers are viewed by the public and what they can do to improve or erode those perceptions. “There is

about one patrol officer for every thousand citizens, so if the public does not see us as legitimate and they

do not acknowledge our authority, then we are in big trouble,” Tobkin said. Recruits also closely study the

department’s “use-of-force continuum,” which dictates what level of force is appropriate in response to a

suspect’s behavior: tasers and batons on when a suspect is kicking or punching an officer, but generally not

when a suspect is simply trying to get away. 4

Samuel Walker referred to the criminal justice system as a funnel. In 1967, The President’s Commission on

Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice published a report on the funneling effect of the criminal

justice system. 5 The criminal justice system is often referred to as a funnel because most cases do not go

through all steps in the system, some because of discretion, and a large portion because they are unknown

to police. The question remains: is the criminal justice system effective at catching, prosecuting, convicting,

and punishing offenders? Does the system properly do its job at all levels? Walker was critical of this report

and said the report did not account for the crimes unknown to police, often referred to as the dark figure of

crime. He also recognized that the most serious crimes are often reported the most, which may confuse the

public about the reality of other crimes. 6 Others also criticized the report for only looking at reported crimes

and adult crimes, but those issues will be highlighted in our next chapter on data in the criminal justice

system. It is important to recognize that the disparity between crimes that were reported and not reported.

This discrepancy was a shock in the 1970s, especially after the United States started asking people about their

victimization. The number of crimes people say they experienced far exceeded the crimes they reported to

the police. 7

The main idea to understand is that the funnel effect is said to represent how cases move through the

system by the offenses unknown to police verse known, arrests then made, prosecutions, plea bargains or

trials, sentencing, and whether the individual receives probation, prison, or parole. 8

In the News: The Crime Funnel The New York Times wrote an example of the crime funnel. Federal agencies publish numbers of crime that constitute a big funnel. For example, the “35 million

crimes committed each year pour in at the top that can include everything from shoplifting, auto theft and

drunken fights to rapes and murders. Of these, about 25 million are serious, since they involve violence or

4. Sessini, J. (2016). How would an ethical officer act? The New York Times. 5. The challenge of crime in a free society. 1967. NCJRS. 6. Walker, S. (2006). Sense and nonsense about crime and drugs. Cengage: Wadsworth. 7. Anderson, D. (1994). The crime funnel. The New York Times. 8. The challenge of crime in a free society. (1967). NCJRS.





sizable property loss. But millions of these crimes go unpunished because the victims never report them.

Only 15 million serious crimes come to the attention of the police.” 9

Samuel Walker referred to the criminal justice system as a funnel. In 1967, The President’s Commission on

Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice published a report on the funneling effect of the criminal

justice system. 10

The criminal justice system is often referred to as a funnel because most cases do not go

through all steps in the system, some because of discretion, and a large portion because they are unknown

to police. The question remains: is the criminal justice system effective at catching, prosecuting, convicting,

and punishing offenders? Does the system properly do its job at all levels? Walker was critical of this report

and said the report did not account for the crimes unknown to police, often referred to as the dark figure of

crime. He also recognized that the most serious crimes get reported the most, which may confuse the public

about the reality of other crimes. 11

Others also criticized the report for only looking at reported crimes and adult crimes, but those issues

will get highlighted in our next chapter on data in the criminal justice system. It is important to recognize

that the disparity between crimes that were reported and not reported. This discrepancy was a shock in

the 1970s, especially after the United States started asking people about their victimization. The number of

crimes people say they experienced far exceeded the crimes they reported to the police. 12

The main idea to understand is that the funnel effect is said to represent how cases move through the

system by the offenses unknown to police verse known, arrests then made, prosecutions, plea bargains or

trials, sentencing, and whether the individual receives probation, prison, or parole. 13

Funnel Effect Example

Imagine selling marijuana to friends every week. No one alerts the cops and the person never gets caught, which

means this remains in the category of offenses unknown to police. However, a friend gets busted selling too close

to an elementary school, so the offense immediately is classified as known to police. An officer can choose to arrest

or not, depending on the amount. If it is illegal in that state to deal, then an ethical officer would arrest and set

discretion aside. However, it is up to the prosecutor to decide whether or not to file charges. If charges get filed, the

friend may be encouraged to plead guilty and ‘get it over with.’ This would be more likely under a crime control

model. However, his/her mom may say “No, I want you to go to trial,” which would be more likely under a due

process model and now that friend now has to decide. If he/she takes the plea bargain, they can skip the trial and

go straight to sentencing. Let us say the plea bargain allowed the friend to avoid jail time and serve 300 hours of

community service, but if convicted this friend could serve one year. Most may take the community service option

9. Anderson, D. (1994). The crime funnel. The New York Times. 10. The challenge of crime in a free society. 1967. NCJRS. 11. Walker, S. (2006). Sense and nonsense about crime and drugs. Cengage: Wadsworth. 12. Anderson, D. (1994). The crime funnel. The New York Times. 13. The Challenge of crime in a free society. (1967). NCJRS.

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




and be under community supervision such as probation. If it were a more serious offense, they may serve a prison

sentence and get paroled under community supervision after a specific amount of time.


The funnel is one way to look at the criminal justice system, but we will see later how it can be much

more complicated then this analogy suggests. It is important to know many crimes are unknown to police,

which we will often refer to as the dark figure of crime. Additionally, plea bargains are a comprehensive

tool, especially since it would cost our society so much to prosecute and allow a trial for every individual

that committed a crime. Costs are a genuine issue that the system faces daily, and if the U.S. were to

punish everyone for violating the law, there would not have any money left over for important things like

education, healthcare, repairing highways, and so much more. We would see most of our taxpayers paying

for just crime control, which may not be the best use of all that money. Again, bringing in the importance

of discretion in the criminal justice system.

Sometimes taking away discretion is excellent and sometimes having too much is wrong, but finding that

balance is very important. Sometimes a judge may use discretion to release a domestic violence offender to

community probation when an officer did not have the discretion to arrest. The judge’s discretion may cause

the victim to get revictimized, but it may not. Some offenders may be at a higher risk of reoffending and able

to determine this is valuable. We will discuss this later when talking about using evidence-based practices in

the criminal justice system.





1.10. Media Coverage of Crimes


Violent Times Example

One morning, after checking email, which is a pretty standard task, my grandfather writes a daily email. This

morning he discusses the violent times we are all living in and how murder is everywhere. He discusses how he

worries about the future of his family members because the United States is a dangerous place to live. He often

provides explanations for this ‘increase in crime’ that I, as a criminologist, know to be untrue. Sometimes he will say

kids are violent because of social media or video games, other times he will blame it on immigrants. Regardless, my

grandfather lives in fear. He is fearful of someone breaking into his home, and at the age of 80, had a security screen

installed in their nice suburban area in Colorado. He avoids downtown Denver because of his belief it is overrun by

‘gang bangers.’ However, where could all these ideas come from for him. My grandfather has never worked in the

criminal justice system, he never studied it, he did not attend college but has such strong thoughts about policies

that need to get enacted, problems with society, and he often states them as a fact. The answer: THE NEWS.

Perhaps watching too much television can cause an overestimation of rates of crime both in reality and on television. 1

Media is not a terrible thing that is conspiring to ruin our minds. Please know it is very beneficial and can

help share information, but we need to be aware of the downfalls of media and even which media we choose

to watch. Do not want to say “I am over the news” because it serves an important purpose! Also, keep in

mind that crime is going DOWN and has been consistently doing so. However, research has shown that

entertainment and news media create an image that we are living in a dangerous world. 2 It can be easy

to become fearful after watching too much news if we let ourselves fall trap to losing the facts. “Factfulness

recognizes when we get negative news, and remembering that information about bad events is much more

1. Hetsroni, A., & Tukachinsky, R. H. (2006). Television-world estimates, real world estimates, and television viewing: A new scheme for cultivation. Journal of Communication, 56, 133-156.

2. Jewkes, Y. (2015). Media and crime (3rd ed.).Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.




likely to reach us. When things are getting better, we often do not hear about them, which can lead to a

systematically too-negative impression of the world around us, which is very stressful.” 3

Public knowledge of crime and justice derived largely from the media. Research has examined the impact

of media consumption on fear of crime, punitive attitudes, and perceived police effectiveness. Studies have

found that the more crime-related media an individual consumes, the more fearful of crime they are. 4


However, we also are attracted to specific types of crime and victims when we choose to consume media.

In other words, the media is aware of our crime preferences and will report on those more. Glassner (2009)

describes what he calls the ‘ideal crime story’ for journalists to report. He notes that society likes to read about

innocent victims, likable people, and the perpetrator needs to be scary and uncaring about the crime. 6

Our society is fascinated with crime and justice, where we spend hours watching films, reading books,

newspapers, magazines, and television broadcasts that keep us constantly engaged in crime “talk.” Perhaps

what we do not always realize is the mass media plays an important role in the construction of criminals,

criminality and the criminal justice system. Our understanding and perceptions of victims, criminals,

deviants, and police largely determined by their portrayal in the mass media. 7

The majority of public knowledge about crime and justice derived from the media. 8


10 Since Gallup

polls began asking whether a crime had increased in 1989, a majority of Americans have usually said there is

more crime than there was the year before. There is only one year where people did not think it did, which

followed 9/11. 11

Despite decreases in U.S. violent and property crime rates since 2008, most voters say crime has gotten

worse during that span. Mostly, Americans’ perceptions of crime are often at odds with the data. 12


has also shown that there are stark differences across party lines. Specifically, almost eight-in-ten voters who

supported President Donald Trump (78%) said this, as did 37% of backers of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Just 5% of pro-Trump voters and a quarter of Clinton supporters said crime has gotten better since 2008,

according to the survey of 3,788 adults. 13

All of this is at odds with official data reports that will get discussed

in more detail in the next chapter. Since this is the case, how do people have this misperception about crime

and criminality? Where do these myths develop?

3. Rosling, H. (2018). Factfulness: Ten reasons we are wrong about the world–and why things are better than you think. Flatiron Books 4. Dowler, K. (2003). Media consumption and public attitudes toward crime and justice: The relationship between fear of crime, punitive

attitudes, and percieved police effectiveness. Journal of Criminal Justice & Popular Culture, 10, 109-126. 5. Kort-Butler, L., & Sittner-Hartshorn, K. (2011). Watching the detectives: Crime programming, fear of crime, and attitudes about the

criminal justice system. The Sociological Quarterly, 52, 36-55. 6. Glassner, B. (2009). The culture of fear: Why Americans are afraid of the wrong things (Rev. ed.). New York: Basic Books. 7. Dowler, K. (2003). Media consumption and public attitudes toward crime and justice: The relationship between fear of crime, punitive

attitudes, and perceived police effectiveness. Journal of Criminal Justice & Popular Culture, 10(2), 109-126. 8. Roberts, J., & Doob, A. (1986). Public estimates of recidivism rates: Consequences of a criminal stereotype.” Canadian Journal of

Criminology 28, 229-241; 9. Surette, R. (1990). The media and criminal justice policy: Recent research and social effects. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

10. Kappeler, V., & Potter, G. (2018). The mythology of crime and criminal justice. (5th ed). Long Grove: Waveland Press, Inc. 11. Swift, A. (2016). Americans’ Perceptions of U.S. Crime Problem Are Steady. Gallup. Social Policy and Issues.

poll/197318/americans-perceptions-crime-problem-steady.aspx 12. Gramlich, J. (2016). Voters’ perceptions of crime continue to conflict with reality. Pew Research Center.

fact-tank/2016/11/16/voters-perceptions-of-crime-continue-to-conflict-with-reality/ 13. Gramlich, J. (2016). Voters’ perceptions of crime continue to conflict with reality. Pew Research Center.






In the News: This clip was broadcast and could create fear in young women and parents of young women who may want to go running in broad daylight. The initial comments that they believed it was a

stranger-rape makes it frightening, even if that is not the most common victimization.


The media plays an important role in the perception of crime and the American public’s understanding of

how the criminal justice system operates and policies Americans are willing to support for reform. Public

opinion gets connected with pressure to change crime policies. 14

, especially when there is a high fear of

a certain crime 15

The media can provide the public with an estimation of how much crime there is, the

types of crime that are common, trends in crime rates, and the daily operations of the criminal justice system.

However, the media often does not portray an accurate portrayal of crime and criminal justice. 16

In the News: Follow Up to Case Above vetrano-killing_us_5bf5909ce4b0eb6d930ad6f9

“Fear is produced more readily in the modern community than it was earlier in our history because of increased

publicity” Edwin Sutherland. 17

Research by the Pew Research Center found that most Americans get their news from social media, despite

having concerns about the accuracy and reliability of those sources. Almost 66 percent of Americans get

news on social media. The majority (57%) say they expect the news they see on social media to be mostly

inaccurate. 18

It appears that convenience outweighs concerns with accuracy.

14. Toch, H., & Maguire, K. (2014). Public opinion regarding crime, criminal justice, and related topics: A retrospect. Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency, 51, 424-444.

15. Dowler, K. (2003). Media consumption and public attitudes toward crime and justice: The relationship between fear of crime, punitive attitudes, and percieved police effectiveness. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 10, 109-126.

16. Kappeler, V. & Potter, G. (2018). The mythology of crime and criminal justice, (5th ed.). Long Grove: Waveland Press, Inc. 17. Sutherland, E. (1950). The Diffusion of Sexual Psychopath Laws. American Journal of Sociology, 56, 142-148. 18. Matsa, K., & Shearer, E. (2018). News use across social media platforms. The Pew Research Center.


Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




Media Exercise

Go about a daily routine, but record every time crime is discussed. Write down every time it happens such

as watching TV, listening to the news, scrolling through newsfeeds, reading, and more. What was the message?

Listening to the radio on the way to work? The goal is to record anything heard in the day related to crime and

attempt to see the messages one may be receiving. Once enough instances get recorded, write a summary of the


The media focus their attention on crimes that will capture viewers attention. The more shocking, upsetting,

gruesome, and dramatic the case the better! In the above case of Katrina Vetrano, it is shocking that a

30-year-old woman goes out for a jog and winds up raped and murdered. It is even more shocking that it

is in the day and then adds to it by a stranger. People will click on this case because it preys upon fears, but

this causes problems. How do we devise policies that protect people if we get driven by fear? Women are

more likely to be victimized by people they know, not strangers. However, the media makes it seem like it

is strangers that are most likely to victimize women. Is this problematic? Yellow journalism is the practice of

using sensational stories in print media to attract readers and increase profit, and it works, but not without

problems. 19

While the media plays an important role in creating fear of crime and myths, they are not the only ones

that do so. In subsequent chapters, we will talk about the government, politicians, and power-elites. 20

In the

next section, we will discuss the wedding cake model in an attempt to understanding how what we most

commonly see in the news media can distort our understanding of crime frequency and types of crimes. The

media may report on the stuff that will appear to be interesting, ‘If it bleeds, it leads,’ even if that is the crime

that is less common. Homicides account for more than a quarter of the crime stories on the evening news,

but they represent less than 1 percent of all crimes. 21

In order to get people to read or listen to the story, they

have to capture our attention. How many people want to read about another marijuana arrest? Not many

probably! Most of us want to hear the gruesome crimes that keep us up at night; despite them being rare. By

covering these crimes in-depth, we create fear and distorted reality of crime, criminals, and criminal justice.

Immigration and Crime Exercise

The fear of immigrants bringing crime to the United States is popular rhetoric right now, especially among


claim-of-63000-immigrant-murders-bad-data-from-steve-king-in-2005/?utm_term=.f6a353aa5109. In the 2016

election, immigration and crime were one of the most perpetuated myths by Republican candidates, such as Donald

Trump. He demonized media, suggesting they do not also perpetuate this myth


19. Kappeler, V., & Potter, G. (2018). The mythology of crime and criminal justice. (5th ed.). Long Grove: Waveland Press, Inc. 20. Kappeler, V., & Potter, G. (2018). The mythology of crime and criminal justice (5th ed.). Long Grove: Waveland Press, Inc. 21. Dorfman, L., & Schiraldi, V. (April 2001). Off Balance: Youth, Race & Crime in the News. Retrieved April 2006, from





criminals/?utm_term=.d9962af916ee. Be aware that this fear tactic is not unique to Donald Trump and his campaign

and has been going on forever. Additionally, fear may change, but fear is an excellent tool to get people to

support an agenda. Border control became a hot button, and the argument was that we would remove crime

and criminals. This myth was created and ‘sold’ to citizens via social media, news, films, and other media


First, find two news articles that argue that immigrants are dangerous and bring crime to the United States.

Second, read both NPR links


Third, evaluate current belief systems before and after reading these. Write a summary of the knowledge gained

from merely double-checking news outlets.

BONUS: To learn even more go and find peer-reviewed research and government research to support the argument that immigrants do not bring crime and are not more dangerous. Start with Sampson. 2008. Rethinking

Crime and Immigration

Chavez, L. (2001). Covering immigration: Popular images and the politics of the nation. About this book: Media

images not only reflect the national mood but also play a dominant role in shaping national discourse. This book

brings new questions about the media’s influence over the public’s increasing fear of immigration.

Immigration Reduces Crime


The article below is a great opinion piece about media and crime.


Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




1.11. Wedding Cake Model of Justice


Wedding Cake Model Another model of justice was developed by Samuel Walker that attempts to demonstrate how cases move

through the system and may be treated differently by media and society. This model referred to as the

Wedding Cake Model Theory, is unique because it differentiates types of crimes by how serious the offense

is, the offenders criminal record, and the victim and offender relationship. 1 It is referred to as a wedding

cake because of the different tiers or layers on a cake. Take a moment to glance at the wedding cake image

below and notice that wedding cakes often have different layers and the bottom tends to be the largest with

the top being the smallest. This section will explain what each layer would resemble in the criminal justice


We are going to work our way from the bottom of the cake, or the most significant piece, to the smallest

piece on top. In the criminal justice system, the bottom layer of the model would represent the most

1. Walker, S. (2006). Sense and nonsense about crime and drugs: A policy guide (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson




significant number of cases handled by the system, which often includes misdemeanors and traffic violations.

This layer may also get comprised of first-time offenders of less severe crimes. 2 Misdemeanors are the

least dangerous types of crimes which can include, depending on where location, public intoxication,

prostitution, graffiti, among others. Imagine getting caught tagging a park wall and never being caught for

a crime before, which is where this crime would fall. These are often the crimes most of us have committed,

but also most of us may not have been caught or punished. A misdemeanor may result in a monetary fine,

rather than jail time.

Bottom-Layer Example (The Largest Portion) Dr. Sanchez

If a person were speeding five over on the interstate, it is unlikely they would get pulled over, or spend time in

court. They are likely to pay the fine which admits guilt. However, if they cannot afford the fine, it would require

them to go to jail, which brings in a whole host of other issues. The bottom layer of the cake often does not require

a person to go to trial because most people with minor crimes are given and accept plea bargains. If one were to go

to jail for a misdemeanor, it is typically for less than one year.

When we previously talked about crime control resembling an assembly line, this tier would be an

example of that: people get cited for everyday violations, people pay their fines rather than go to court,

by paying fines they admit guilt, and their interaction with the system will end. These crimes are the

ones that are seen as so common newspapers will rarely report on them. How often would you like to

read about someone getting cited for speeding ten mph over? Or being arrested for small possession of

marijuana? Although most of these are common marijuana arrests have increased alongside legalization in the

U.S. they are annoying to read about from


The second tier, or next layer, is comprised of lower-level felonies that may be violent or non-violent.

Again, many of these cases end in a plea bargain and do not end in significant jail or prison time. 3 However,

they consume a significant amount of the courts’ time. For example, Oregon has three different levels or

classes of felonies. Class A is the most serious and can result in up to 20-years imprisonment, Class B can

result in up to 10 years imprisonment, and Class C is the least serious with up to five years. 4 The second tier

would be comprised mostly of Class C felonies.

The third tier is comprised primarily of what most of us know as serious felonies that tend to be violent

and involve offenders with significant criminal histories. In this tier’s cases are more likely to go to trial if the

offender pleads not guilty, and if found guilty, will result in prison time. As stated in the Oregon example,

this would most likely be Class B Felonies and maybe some Class A felonies.

Lastly, the top tier often referred to as celebrated cases, would be the smallest part of the cake and would

be made up of the high-profile cases that tend to be profiled by the media. If found guilty, offenders could

receive significant punishments which may include life imprisonment or the death penalty. The top tier

is less common than the others, but it also the crime we like to think of as really bad. It is also the cases

that garner a lot of news time, and perhaps it is a case that made it to the United States Supreme Court.

2. Walker, S. (2006). Sense and nonsense about crime and drugs: A policy guide (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson 3. Walker, S. (2006). Sense and nonsense about crime and drugs: A policy guide (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson 4.

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




Therefore, the media may glorify these cases, especially if it is a well-known case like O.J. Simpson, Bernie

Madoff, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Ted Bundy. Most people know about these

cases, and it may have struck fear into the public, but again, these are garnered more attention because they

are uncommon, committed by people who are famous or shock the public consciousness.

Ted Bundy Obsession Example

Our society is so obsessed with the celebrated cases that we often talk a lot about them, cover them extensively

on the news, and live in fear because of them. Students in a class that are pro-death penalty often say, “I reserve it

for all the Ted Bundy’s in the world.” They are rare, but we fear them! Take this news link that shares images of his

last meals on death row.

The Wedding Cake Model theory not only helps us better understand the operation of the criminal justice

system but also how our perceptions of crime and criminality can be skewed by what gets reported in the

news. It is uncommon for us to hear or read reports on the most common types of crimes, the bottom tier.

When we get bombarded with the crimes that are more at the top, celebrated cases, we may begin to think

that is the reality.

Wedding Cake Model Exercise

Find a case for each tier of the wedding cake model in the news and write up a 500 word summary of where it

fits and why. Lastly, discuss how it may get influenced by our extensive coverage or rare, yet essential news cases.





1.12. Street Crime, Corporate Crime, and White-Collar Crime


As previously demonstrated, crime can be broadly defined, but the two most common types of crime

discussed are, street crime and corporate or white-collar crime. Most people are familiar with street crime

since it is the most commonly discussed amongst politicians, media outlets, and members of society. Every

year the Justice Department puts out an annual report titled “Crime in the United States” which means street

crime but has yet to publish an annual Corporate Crime in the United States report. Most Americans will

find little to nothing on price-fixing, corporate fraud, pollution, or public corruption.

Street Crime Street crime is often broken up into different types and can include acts that occur in both public and

private spaces, as well as interpersonal violence and property crime. According to the Bureau of Justice (BJS),

street crime can include violent crime such as homicide, rape, assault, robbery, and arson. Street crime also

includes property crimes such as larceny, arson, breaking-and-entering, burglary, and motor vehicle theft.

The BJS also collects data on drug crime, hate crimes, and human trafficking, which often fall under the

larger umbrella of street crime. 1

Fear of street crime is real in American society; however, street crime may not be as rampant as many

think. In a 2017 report, the BJS found that the rate of robbery victimization increased from 1.7 per 1,000

persons in 2016 to 2.3 in 2017. Overall, robbery happens to a small percentage of Americans, which also

seems to be a similar trend when looking at the portion of persons age 12 or older who were victims

of violent crime. The BJS noted an increase from 0.98% in 2015 to 1.14% in 2017, but note the small

percentage overall. Further from 2015 to 2017, the percentage of persons who were victims of violent

crime increased among males, whites, those ages 25 to 34, those age 50 and over, and those who had never

married. There are clear risk factors that can be taken into account when attempting to develop policy,

which discussed in subsequent chapters of the book. There were also areas where the BJS noted a downward

trend in crime, such as the decline in the rate of overall property crime from 118.6 victimizations per 1,000

households to 108.4, while the burglary rate fell from 23.7 to 20.6. 2

Polls have consistently found that people are worried about crime in the United States, specifically street

crime. Riffkin (2014) found that people worry about various crimes such as homes getting burglarized

when they were home, the victim of terrorism, attacked while driving their car, murdered, the victim of a

1. 2. Morgan, R., & Truman, J., (December, 2018). NCJ 252472




hate crime, and sexually assaulted

worry.aspx. For most people in society, people can go about their daily lives without the fear of being a

victim of street crime. Street crime is important to take seriously, but it is reassuring to note that it is unlikely

to happen to most people. The conversation should happen around why fears are high, especially amongst

those less likely to be a victim. For example, elderly citizens have the greatest fear of street crime, yet they

are the group least likely to experience it. Whereas younger people, especially young men, are less likely to

fear crime and are the most likely to experience it. 3


Gallup polls

Because Americans are often fearful of street crime, for various reasons, resources are devoted to prevention

and protecting the public. The United States spends roughly $265.2 billion dollars a year and employs

more than one million police officers, almost 750,000 correctional officers, and more than 490,000 judicial

and legal personnel on street crime. 4 The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) estimated in 2015 that financial

loses from property crime at $14.3 billion in 2014 (FBI, 2015a), but keep that number in mind for a

3. Doerner, W. G., & Lab, S.P. (2008). Victimology (5th ed.). Cincinnati, Ohio: Lexis-Nexis. 4. Kyckelhahn, T. (2012). Justice expenditure and employment extracts. Bureau of Justice Statistics





minute. 5 Although it is crucial to recognize that street crime does occur, and it impacts certain groups

disproportionately more than others, it is also important to recognize other types of crime less commonly

talked discussed. In fact, the BJS does not have a link that directs people to the next two types of crime

discussed when on their main page of crime type.

Corporate Crime When most people think of crime, they think of acts of interpersonal violence or property crime. The

typical image of a criminal is not someone who is considered a ‘pillar’ in society, especially one who may

have an excellent career, donate to charity, devote time to the community, and engage in ‘normal’ behavior. 6 Corporate crime is an offense committed by a corporation’s officers who pursue illegal activity (various

kinds) in the name of the corporation. The goal is to make money for the business and run a profitable

business, and the representatives of the business. Corporate crime may also include environmental crime if a

corporation damages the environment to earn a profit. 7 As C. Wright Mills (1952) once stated, “corporate

crime creates higher immorality” in U.S. society. 8 Corporate crime inflicts far more damage on society than

all street crime combined, by death, injury, or dollars lost.

Credit Suisse pled guilty to helping thousands of Americans file false income tax returns, and the company

got fined $2.6 billion. Last year, BNP Paribas pled guilty to violating trade sanctions and was forced to pay

$8.9 billion, which exceeds the yearly out of pocket yearly costs of all the burglaries and robberies in the

United States ($4.5 billion in 2014 according to the FBI). Another example is health care fraud. The estimates

suggest this costs Americans $100 billion to $400 billion a year. 9

In 2001, the energy company Enron committed accounting and corporate fraud, where shareholders lost $74

billion in the four years leading to its bankruptcy, thousands of employees lost jobs, and billions of dollars

got lost in pension plans. 10

In addition to financial loss, corporate crime can be violent. In 2016, the FBI estimated the number

of murders in the nation to be 17,250. 11

Compare 54,000 Americans who die every year on the job or

from occupational diseases such as black lung and asbestosis and the additional tens of thousands of other

Americans who fall victim every year to the silent violence of pollution, contaminated foods, hazardous

consumer products, and hospital malpractice. 12

A vast majority of these deaths are often the result of criminal

recklessness. Americans are rarely made aware of them, and they rarely make their way through the criminal

justice system.

The last major homicide prosecution brought against a major American corporation was in 1980. A

Republican Indiana prosecutor charged Ford Motor Co. with homicide for the deaths of three teenaged girls

who died when their Ford Pinto caught on fire after being rear-ended in northern Indiana. The prosecutor

alleged that Ford knew that it was marketing a defective product, with a gas tank that crushed when rear-

ended, spilling fuel, where the girls incinerated to death. Ford hired a criminal defense lawyer who in turn

hired the best friend of the judge as local counsel, and who, as a result, secured a not guilty verdict after

5. FBI. (2015b), September 28). Latest crime stats released. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice. 6. Fuller, J.R. (2019). Introduction to criminal justice. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 7. Fuller, J.R. (2019). Introduction to criminal justice. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 8. Horowitz, I. (Ed.) (2008), Power, politics, and people. Wright Mills, C. (1952). A diagnosis of moral uneasiness (pp.330-339). New York:

Ballantine. 9. (2000). License To Steal: How Fraud Bleeds America’s Health Care System. Westview Press.

10. Folger, J. (November, 2011). The Enron collapse: A look back. Investopedia. Retrieved from enron-scandal-summary/

11. FBI: UCR. 2016. FBI Murder. 12. Mokhiber, R. Corporate crime & violence: Big business power and the abuse of the public trust. Random House, Inc.

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




persuading the judge to keep key evidence out of the jury room. 13


Sometimes the terms corporate and white-collar crime are used interchangeably, but there are important

distinctions between the two terms. 14

White-Collar Crime In contrast to corporate crime, white-collar crime usually involves employees harming the individual

corporation. Sometimes corporate and white-collar crime goes hand in hand, but not always. An example

of white-collar crime would be the financial offenses of Bernard Madoff, who defrauded his investors of

approximately $20 billion. Instead of trading stocks with his clients’ money, Madoff had for years been

operating an enormous Ponzi scheme, paying off old investors with money he got from new ones.

By late 2008, with the economy in free fall, Madoff could no longer attract new money, and the scheme

collapsed, which resulted in hundreds of investors, including numerous charities, being wiped out. As of

today, a court-appointed trustee has managed to recover about $13 billion, which is most of the money

Madoff’s investors put into his funds. The trustee sold off Madoff family’s assets, including their homes in the

Hamptons, Manhattan, and France and a 55-foot yacht named Bull. 15

Dr. Sanchez’s Professor in Graduate School

In 2008, many people were negatively impacted by Madoff, one of which was a former professor for Dr. Sanchez.

He lost his retirement, which required him to keep teaching well into his 80’s, as well as lost his home. The impact

of Madoff was far-reaching and although most may call it a purely economic crime, people committed suicide and

lost everything in this scandal.

No official program measures corporate and white-collar crime like there is with street crime occurring in

the United States. Therefore, we estimate costs to society, and who the victims are. Additionally, unlike street

crime where the crime can often be discovered instantly and investigated quickly, corporate and white-collar

crime can take years to investigate and even longer to prosecute. Remember, Madoff was involved in fraud

most of his working life but were not caught until he was nearing the end at the age of 71. 16

13. Steinzor, R. (Dec. 2014). It’s called ‘Why Not Jail?’: Industrial catastrophes, corporate malfeasance, and government inaction. Cambridge University Press.

14. Kleck, G. (1982). On the use of self-report data to determine the class distribution of criminal and delinquent behavior.” American Sociological Review, 427-433.

15. Zarroli, J. (2018). For Madoff victims, scars remain 10 years later, National Public Radio, for-madoff-victims-scars-remain-10-years-later

16. Fuller, J.R. (2019). Introduction to Criminal Justice. New York: Oxford, Oxford University Press.





1.13. Different Types of Crimes and Offenses


Once an act gets identified as a crime, the law then attempts to define crime in a way that can distinguish

the harm done and the severity of the crime. There are different types of crime and two different types of

offenses that will get discussed. In the previous section, street crime, corporate crime, and white-collar crime

get discussed. However, more broadly, there are crimes against the person, crimes against property, crimes

against public order, and drug crime that typically get counted and fall under street crime.

Crimes Against the Person Crimes against the person are often considered the most serious and may include homicide, rape,

assault, kidnapping, and intimate partner violence. Each of these crimes can carry a different penalty

based upon the seriousness of the crime. For example, because Ted Bundy murdered women, rather

than ‘just’ assaulted, Bundy was eligible for capital punishment in the U.S. The state defines the crime

and the punishment.

Crimes Against Property Property crimes are widespread and seen as less severe than crimes against the person. Property crimes

may include larceny, burglary, arson, and trespassing. There are varying degrees of liability depending

on the circumstances of the case.

Crimes Against Public Order Public order crimes may not harm other people or property but impact social order. Think back to

the example of feeding homeless in community’s where that is illegal. Other typical examples would

be disorderly conduct, loitering, and driving under the influence. The victim is society, and the goal

is to maintain social order. Many debates whether certain crimes against public order are more or less

severe, but get inappropriately punished. For example, driving while intoxicated can take lives and may

be more severe. However, the law will charge for vehicular manslaughter or murder if life gets taken

because someone drove drunk.

Drug Offenses Most often drug offenses can be seen as a crime against public order, but the United States reaction to

illegal drug use has altered the resources of the CJ system because of the “war on drugs.” Some examples

of drug offenses can be possession of illegal drugs, being high, and selling. Punishment will vary based

on the drug, how much of the drug is in possession or sold, and where it gets sold.





A misdemeanor is considered a minor criminal offense that is punishable by a fine and jail time for up

to one year.

Felony A felony is an offense that is punishable by a sentence of more than one year in state or federal prison

and sometimes by death.

Many different types of crimes and punishments can be handed out by the criminal justice system. Each

state determines what and how this will operate if discussing state-level crime. Other crimes are defined in

federal statutes and can get punished at the federal level such as treason. Some crimes are seen as more severe,

especially if they are violent in nature or harm people. Others may get seen as a ‘victimless’ or behavior that

gets seen as consensual, yet undesirable to those making the laws. This general overview demonstrates the

complexity of defining crime and understanding the role society has in shaping these perceptions.





1.14. Victims and Victim Typologies


It was not until 1660 that the word victim was first used to in the sense of a person who is hurt, tortured or

killed by another. A victim of crime did not exist until well into the 17th century. Why were victims ignored

for so long? 1 A victim is an integral part of the system, in fact, some say without a victim there would be no

need for the CJ system. Victims are the people or communities that suffer physical, emotional, or financial

harm as a result of a crime. Over the years different typologies of victims have been created to demonstrate

the unique role or position of victims in relation to crime. Typically, when people hear someone has been a

victim of a crime we often think of them as completely innocent. In fact, a lot of new legislation and policy

changes created to provide the victim with a greater role in the CJ offers the stereotypical view of the victim

as completely innocent. 2

Typologies of Crime Victims Theorists have developed victim typologies that are concerned primarily with the situational and personal

characteristics of victims and the relationship between victims and offenders. Benjamin Mendelsohn was one

of the first criminologists to create a victim typology, in the 1950s, but was not without controversy. Below

is a table of Mendelsohn’s typology of crime victims and as you can see he placed a lot of emphasis on most

victims attitude that leads to their victimization. 3

Mendelsohn’s Typology of Crime Victims

1. Hagemann, O., Schäfer, P., & Schmidt, S. (Eds.) (2010). Victimology, Victim Assistance, and Criminal Justice: Perspectives Shared by International Experts Wemmers, J. A short history of victimology. at the Inter-University Centre of Dubrovnik. 2010. Available at SSRN:

2. Fuller, J.R. (2019). Introduction to Criminal Justice: New York: Oxford University Press. 3. Mendelsohn, B. (1976). Victimology and contemporary society’s trends. Victimology, 1(1), 8-28.




Innocent victim Someone who did not contribute to the victimization and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is the victim we most often envision when thinking about enhancing victim rights.

The victim with minor guilt

Does not actively participate in their victimization but contributes to it in some minor degree, such as frequenting high-crime areas. This would be a person that continues to go to a bar that is known for nightly assault.

The guilty victim, guilty offender Victim and offender may have engaged in criminal activity together. This would be two people attempting to steal a car, rob a store, sell drugs, etc.

The guilty offender, guiltier victim The victim may have been the primary attacker, but the offender won the fight.

Guilty victim The victim instigated a conflict but is killed in self-defense. An example would be an abused woman killing her partner while he is abusing her.

Imaginary victim Some people pretend to be victims and are not. This would be someone falsifying reports.

Other criminologists developed similar typologies but included other elements. For example, Hans Von

Hentig expanded his typology from situational factors that Mendelsohn looked at and considered the role

of biological, sociological and psychological factors. For example, Von Henting said the young, elderly, and

women are more susceptible to victimization because of things such as physical vulnerabilities. It is important

to recognize that some crimes, and ultimately crime victims, are excluded in these typologies such as white-

collar and corporate crime. 4 5

Von Hentig’s Typology

Young people Immature, under adult supervision, lack physical strength and lack the mental and emotional maturity to recognize victimization

Females/elderly Lack of physical strength

Mentally ill/intellectually disabled Can be taken advantage of easily

Immigrants Cannot understand language or threat of deportation makes them vulnerable

Minorities Marginalized in society, so vulnerable to victimization.

Dull normals Reasonably intelligent people who are naive or vulnerable in some way. These people are easily deceived.

The depressed The acquisitive

Gullable, easily swayed, and not vigilant. Greedy and can be targeted for scammers who would take advantage of their desire for financial gain.

The lonesome and broken-hearted Often prone to victimization by intimate partners. They desire to be with someone at any cost. They are susceptible to manipulation.

Tormentors Primary abusers in relationships and become victims when the one being abused turns on them.

Blocked, exempted, and fighting victims Enter situations in which they are taken advantage such as blackmail.

Von Hentig’s work was the basis for later theories of victim precipitation. Victim precipitation suggests

4. Burgess, A. W. (2013). Victimology: Theories and applications. (3rd ed.). Burlington: Jones and Bartlett. 5. Von Hentig, H. (1948). The criminal and his victim: Studies in the sociobiology of crime. New Haven: Yale University Press.





many victims play a role in their victimization. First, the victim acted first during the course of the

offense, and second that the victim instigated the commission of the offense. 6 It is important to note that

criminologists were attempting to demonstrate that victims may have some role in the victimization and

are not truly innocent. Today we often recognize the role in victimization without blaming the individual

because ultimately the person who offended is the person who offended.

6. Smith, M., & Bouffard, L. A. (2014). “Victim precipitation.” The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Wiley Online Library.

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




1.15. Victim Rights and Assistance


Definition of a Victim The CJ system refers to a victim as a person who has been directly harmed by a crime that was committed

by another person. In some states, victims’ rights apply only to victims of felonies (more serious crimes) while

other states also grant legal rights to victims of misdemeanors (less serious crimes). Some states allow a family

member of a homicide victim or the parent or guardian of a minor, incompetent person, or person with a

disability to exercise these rights on behalf of the victims. 1

The U.S. criminal justice system first introduced services for victims of federal criminal offenses during the

1980s. In the 1990s it was made law and Congress created the Victim’s Rights and Restitution Act H.R.5368.

The Act requires all Federal law enforcement agency officers and employees to make their best efforts to

accord victims of crime with the right to (1) be treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s dignity and

privacy; (2) be protected from their accused offenders; (3) notification of court proceedings; (4) attend public

court proceedings related to the offense under certain conditions; (5) confer with the Government attorney

assigned to the case; (6) restitution; and (7) information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment, and

release of the offender. Directs Federal law enforcement agency heads to designate the persons responsible

for identifying the victims of a crime and providing certain services to such victims such as: (1) informing

them where to receive medical care and counseling; (2) arranging protection from an offender; and (3)

keeping the victim informed of developments during the investigation and prosecution of the crime and

after the trial such as the arrest of a suspected offender or an escape of a convicted offender. 2

The state prosecutes criminal offenses in the name of society, which is why cases are Smith v. Colorado,

so victims and families were often not included in the process since they were not a necessary part of the

court system. Today we have introduced various rights and include victim-impact statements. Victim- impact statements given an account by the victim, the victim’s family, or others affected by the offense that

expressed the effects of the offense. 3

1. The National Center for Victims of Crime. (2012). Victim’s rights. for-crime-victims/victims%27-rights

2. H.R.5368 – Victims’ Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 101st Congress (1989-1990)





Victim Impact Statements Video: Listen and Learn

You will watch victim impact statements that were created to help educate people on the impact of various

crimes. Warning: It is hard to watch at times and may cause you to feel upset, sad, angry, or more.

• First, watch the youtube video

• Second, write a 500-word response about the benefits of victim-impact statements, the impact the

film had on you, and any other general thoughts you had while watching.

Victim Rights Today, all states and the federal government have passed laws to establish a set of victims’ rights. The main

goal of these laws is to provide victims with certain information and protections. It is important to note that

victims’ rights, just like criminal offenses, will depend on the jurisdiction where the crime is investigated and

prosecuted. The rights may vary state, federal or tribal government, or military installation. 4

Overview of Victim’s Rights Below is a list of basic victims’ rights from the National Center for Victims of Crime that are provided by

law in most jurisdictions. Again, it is important to remember these rights vary, depending on federal, state,

or tribal law.

1. Right to be Treated with Dignity, Respect, and Sensitivity

1. Victims generally have the right to be treated with courtesy, fairness, and care by

law enforcement and other officials throughout the entire criminal justice process.

This right is included in the constitutions of most states that have victims’ rights

amendments and in the statutes of more than half the states.2 Victim impact

statements allow crime victims, during the decision-making process on sentencing

or parole, to describe to the court or parole board the impact of the crime on

their lives. The victim impact statement may include a description of psychological,

financial, physical, or emotional harm the victim experienced as a result of the crime.

A judge may use information from these statements to help determine an offender’s

sentence; a parole board may use such information to help decide whether to grant

parole and what conditions to impose in releasing an offender. Many victims have

reported that making victim impact statements improved their satisfaction with the

criminal justice process and helped them recover from the crime. In some states, the

4. The National Center for Victims of Crime. (2012). Victim’s rights. for-crime-victims/victims%27-rights

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




prosecutor is required to confer with the victim before making important decisions.

In all states, however, the prosecutor (and not the victim) makes decisions about the


2. Right to Be Informed

1. The purpose of this right is to make sure that victims have the information they

need to exercise their rights and to seek services and resources that are available to

them. Victims generally have the right to receive information about victims’ rights,

victim compensation (see “Right to Apply for Compensation,” below), available

services and resources, how to contact criminal justice officials, and what to expect

in the criminal justice system. Victims also usually have the right to receive

notification of important events in their cases. Although state laws vary, most states

require that victims receive notice of the following events:

▪ the arrest and arraignment of the offender

▪ bail proceedings

▪ pretrial proceedings

▪ dismissal of charges

▪ plea negotiations

▪ trial

▪ sentencing

▪ appeals

▪ probation or parole hearings

▪ release or escape of the offender

States have different ways of providing such information to victims. Usually,

information about court proceedings is mailed to the victim. Some states have an

automated victim notification system that automatically calls or e-mails the victim

with updates on the status of the offender, while others require the victim to

telephone the authorities to receive such updates.

3. Right to Protection

1. In many states, victims have the right to protection from threats, intimidation, or

retaliation during criminal proceedings. Depending on the jurisdiction, victims may

receive the following types of protection:





▪ police escorts

▪ witness protection programs

▪ relocation

▪ restraining orders

Some states also have laws to protect the employment of victims who are

attending criminal proceedings (see “Right to Attend Criminal Proceedings,”


4. Right to Apply for Compensation

1. All states provide crime victim compensation to reimburse victims of violent

crime for some of the out-of-pocket expenses that resulted from the crime. The

purpose of compensation is to recognize victims’ financial losses and to help them

recover some of these costs. All states have a cap on the total compensation award

for each crime, and not all crime-related expenses are covered. To be eligible for

compensation, victims must submit an application, usually within a certain period of

time, and show that the losses they are claiming occurred through no fault of their

own. Some types of losses that are usually covered include:

▪ medical and counseling expenses

▪ lost wages

▪ funeral expenses

Compensation programs seldom cover property loss or pain and suffering. Also,

victim compensation is a payer of last resort; compensation programs will not cover

expenses that can be paid by some other program, such as health insurance or

workman’s compensation.

5. Right to Restitution from the Offender

1. In many states, victims of crime have the right to restitution, which means the

offender must pay to repair some of the damage that resulted from the crime. The

purpose of this right is to hold offenders directly responsible to victims for the

financial harm they caused. The court orders the offender to pay a specific amount of

restitution either in a lump sum or a series of payments. Some types of losses covered

by restitution include:

2. lost wages

3. property loss

Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System




4. insurance deductibles

6. Right to Prompt Return of Personal Property

1. Crime investigators must often seize some of the victim’s property as evidence

for a criminal case. In most states, authorities must return such property to the

victim when it is no longer needed. To speed up the return of property, some states

allow law enforcement to use photographs of the item, rather than the item itself, as

evidence. The prompt return of personal property reduces inconvenience to victims

and helps restore their sense of security.

7. Right to a Speedy Trial

8. Right to Enforcement of Victim’s Rights

1. To be meaningful, legal rights must be enforced. States are beginning to pass

laws to enforce victims’ rights, and several states have created offices to receive and

investigate reports of violations of victims’ rights. Other states have laws that permit

victims to assert their rights in court.



5. National Center for Victims of Crime. (2012). victims%27-rights





1.16. “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child” Myth/Controversy

This unit delved into theories of criminal behavior, and the previous unit sought crime control policies.

Each theory suggests an appropriate means to reduce or prevent violence. Some work and some do not.

Deterrence theories operate on the assumption that people want to minimize pain. Learning theories suggest

people may learn how to be a criminal (or learn how not to be a criminal). Disciplining children is a primary

function of the family. Many people believe it is acceptable, or even necessary, to spank their children.

Spanking is a form of corporal punishment. Why do parents spank their children? For some parents, they

spank as a form of punishment (Remember operant conditioning? It is a form of positive punishment). They

are using physical means to stop a behavior from happening again. These are ideological beliefs.

Other parents might say that they’ve been spanked as a child, and they turned out fine. This belief

reinforces the family upbringing myth. Additionally, other parents might feel pressure to discipline their

child with physical force. Some parents “think” they seem “weak” if they do not spank their child.

Furthermore, grandparents and other family members might encourage new parents to spank their children.

Please listen or read the National Public Radio’s podcast on spanking (NPR’s – “The American Academy

of Pediatrics On Spanking Children: Don’t Do It, Ever.”)

There is a difference between physical discipline and physical abuse, but it is a fine line. If you are in favor

of spanking, would you let another family member spank your child? Would you let a stranger? Why or

why not? It is not illegal to spank children in the United States, but decades of research have recommended

other methods of punishment and discipline besides physical force. At the very least, it is easy for children

to learn that violence (spanking) is an appropriate method to get what you want. Parents who spank their

children because their child “hit” another child or sibling might want to reflect on a child may learn – “I’m

going to hit (spank) you for hitting another person. Don’t hit!”





2: Defining and Measuring Crime

and Criminal Justice

Learning Objectives

In the previous section, we spent much time trying to understand how to define crime, whereas this section will

focus on the task of measuring crime. Measuring crime is quite complex and requires an understanding of different

data sets and how we use them. Defining crime seems complex, but measuring crime is just as complicated of a task.

Without crime, there is no need for the criminal justice system. We must have a clear and accurate understanding

of crime in order to create effective policies to combat it or help minimize it. This section will teach students how

to obtain accurate measures of crime so that they can be an informed citizen. Further, if we have an accurate picture

of crime and trends, we can better predict the needs of our society, such as increased patrol, rehabilitation services,

and more. We will also spend some time talking about evidence-based practices, discussed in greater detail later.

After reading this section, students will be able to:

• Develop an understanding of the different data sources used to gather precise and accurate measures

of crime

• Recognize the difference between official or reported statistics, self-report statistics, and victimization


• Evaluate the reliability of statistics and data heard about the criminal justice system

Critical Thinking Questions

1. What are the three different types of data sources we often rely on in CJ?

2. What are the strengths and limitations of each data source?

3. Identify when each type of data source would be appropriate for different crimes and why.






2.1. Dark or Hidden Figure of Crime


It is difficult to determine that amount of crime that occurs in our communities every year because many

crimes never come to the attention of the criminal justice system. There are various reasons that will be

discussed, such as victims not reporting, victims not realizing they are victims, and offenders not getting

caught. Research reveals, that on average, more than half of the nation’s violent crimes, or nearly 3.4 million

violent victimizations per year, went unreported to the police between 2006 and 2010, according to a

new report published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). 1 Because of this underreporting of crime,

criminologists often refer to a concept known as the dark figure of crime.

There are three general sources of crime statistics that will be covered in this chapter: official statistics,

which we often describe as reported statistics, self-report statistics, and victimization statistics. Each of these

sources of crime statistics has pros and cons, and we will spend time discussing those as well. Additionally, we

will discuss the importance of looking at crime trends over time, relying upon statistics and research when

developing policy, and how data should be a tool that enhances the criminal justice system.

If we have accurate and reliable crime statistics, we can evaluate criminal justice policies and programs. For

example, we could use crime statistics to see if incarcerating drug offenders is effective. Such effectiveness

is studied in the correctional system via the ‘risk principal,’ or classifying people based on the level of risk.

Relying on official statistics can be problematic to grasp a correct understanding of crime in society

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