Criminal Justice Essays (Examples)

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Criminal justice and criminology developed from two major fields of study: the law and sociology. While related, the two terms are distinct. Criminology is the study of crime, including its costs, causes, and consequences. In contrast, criminal justice is the study of system in which behavior is designated as criminal and then those crimes are detected, tried, and punished. While criminology focuses primarily on the social aspects of crime, criminal justice focuses primarily on the legal aspects of crime. However, the relationship between law and society is well-established. Not only do social norms and values help dictate what behaviors are considered criminal, but also the designation of behaviors as illegal or legal helps dictate what a society views as moral and ethical. Therefore, criminal justice and criminology majors need to have a thorough understanding of both fields.

Criminology is a branch of sociology. There are three sociological approaches to crime: the Classical School, the Positivist School, and the Chicago School. While only formally studied in recent times, social theories about criminology have been circulating since the development of legal systems and laws. Criminologists look at how society impacts criminality, but also how criminality impacts society. More specifically, criminologists look at the broader details of crimes to draw cultural conclusions about criminal behaviors, values, and norms. They specifically look at: where crimes occur, what types of crimes occur, why those crimes happen, how frequently those crimes happen, the consequences of crime for offenders, the consequences of crime for victims, the consequences of crime for society as whole, and how the government responds to criminal behavior. For example, the American criminal justice system was established to ensure that criminal defendants had certain constitutional protections, but victim advocacy groups have lobbied to ensure that victims also have some rights in the criminal prosecution process. Victim impact statements are one way that victims are able to have an influence in the criminal justice process.

In contrast, criminal justice looks at the various systems in place that define, detect, and punish criminal behavior. Criminal justice is considered by many to be synonymous with law enforcement, but the criminal justice system actually encompasses more than just law enforcement. There are three major components in the criminal justice system: law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Each component plays a role in preventing and punishing behavior that is deemed illegal. A non-specified component of the criminal justice system is the legislature, which not only determines which behaviors are considered illegal, but also the consequences for those illegal behaviors, including the range of potential punishments for those who engage in those behaviors. Law enforcement officers, also known as police officers, serve three roles in the criminal justice system: crime prevention, crime detection, and identification and apprehension of criminals. The court systems, which consists of the courts themselves, as well as the prosecuting and defense attorneys, judges, and juries, determine whether the suspect is guilty, and sentence them to their punishments. The corrections system refers to any part of the post-sentencing process that is responsible for carrying out sentencing. Prisons, jails, halfway houses, prison guards, corrections officers, probation officers, and parole officers are all part of the corrections system. 

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Restorative Justice Responding to Shoplifting

Words: 1605 Length: 5 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 57123175

Restorative justice asks fundamentally different questions, and is based on a different set of assumptions, than the current criminal justice paradigm (Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, n.d.). The most notable and important difference between the current criminal justice paradigm and the restorative justice paradigm is that restorative justice does not focus on the punishment and does not advocate a punitive criminal justice system. Instead, the restorative justice model is based on several different points of views including how to repair harm. Restorative justice is solution-focused and also victim-centric in its approach to criminal justice. The National Institute of Justice (2007) describes restorative justice as being “grounded in community involvement,” which places a considerable degree of responsibility upon the members of the community in addition to the victims. As the Insight Prison Project (2017) puts it, restorative justice is “a philosophy and a social movement which provides an entirely different way…… [Read More]


Crawford, A. & Newburn, T. (2011). Youth Offending and Restorative Justice. New York: Routledge.
Davis, M. (2013). Restorative justice: resources for schools. Retrieved online: 
Insight Prison Project (2017). What is restorative justice? Retrieved online: 
Mahoney, S. (2011). Teen shoplifting. Family Circle. Retrieved online:
National Institute of Justice (2007). How to build community support for restorative justice. Retrieved online:
Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (n.d.). Restorative justice. Retrieved online: 
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How Just is the Philosophy Restorative Justice

Words: 666 Length: 2 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 19526504

Restorative Justice: How Just is the Philosophy?

The principle of restorative justice was first created as an alternative to the two dominant philosophies of corrections: retribution and rehabilitation. The retributive view of corrections suggests that the purpose of corrections is to punish the offender. The rehabilitative view suggests that the purpose of corrections is to change the character of the offender for the better and prevent future crimes from taking place. Both neglect the needs of the victim, however, which is how the principle of restorative justice arose. According to the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation’s definition of “What is Restorative Justice” (2018), the philosophy: “emphasizes accountability, making amends, and — if they are interested — facilitated meetings between victims, offenders, and other persons.”
For some crimes, the principles of restorative justice would seem to be highly appropriate. A good example of this is vandalism, in which perpetrators are required…… [Read More]


Nusrat, N. (2013). What is—and is not—restorative justice? National Centre for Crime and Delinquency. Retrieved form: and-not-restorative-justice

What is restorative justice? (2018). Centre for Justice and Reconciliation. Retrieved from:

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How to Solve the Drug Problem in the US

Words: 1014 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 95098583

Drugs: A Big Problem in Criminal Justice
The problem of drug use in America is one that has been around for many years. However, with the recent passage of marijuana laws in states like Colorado, Oregon and California (to name just a few), the way the nation views drug use has shifted. Recreational marijuana use has become accepted in Colorado, where it is legal to buy and sell a substance that is still considered a schedule 1 narcotic by the federal government. In fact, in states like Colorado, there is a clear conflict between the state laws and the federal laws: the states says cannabis is legal, while the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) says it is still prohibited. Researchers would like to research the drug to better understand its medicinal qualities, but they are afraid of violating federal law, so do not. Thus, the problem of drugs and how to…… [Read More]

James, T. (2016). The failed promise of legal pot. Retrieved from 
Miroff, N. (2015). Losing marijuana business, Mexican cartels push heroin and meth.
Retrieved from 
Roeder, O. (2015). Releasing drug offenders won’t end mass incarceration. Retrieved

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Organizational Behavior

Words: 961 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 26535132

Behavioral Influences
There are many behaviors that can influence change in criminal justice organizations. Social behavior influences change because the social systems that exist within an organization can help to disseminate change, or build resistance to it (Qian, 2007). Organizational change requires buy-in from the people that comprise the organization, so social behaviors such as the formation of social groups, gossip and other social communication and behavioral norms will all play a role in how quickly buy-in to the change occurs.
Political behaviors also matter, not just in terms of how the leaders leverage the formal political systems within the organization, but how informal systems are leveraged as well. Within any organization, there are key influencers, and they are not always in positions of formal power. The ability of management to leverage both these influencers and the formal political systems to disseminate a change program will have an influence on…… [Read More]


Duan, L., Sheeren, E. & Weiss, L. (2014) Tapping the power of hidden influencers. McKinsey Quarterly. Retrieved May 8, 2018 from

Gupton-Krumweide, R. (2018) Observable aspects of organizational culture. Brainmass. Retrieved May 8, 2018 from

Qian, Y. (2007). A communication model of employee cynicism toward organizational change. Scripps College of Communication. Retrieved May 8, 2018 from!etd.send_file?accession=ohiou1195512463&disposition=inline

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Central Park Five Documentary Analysis

Words: 1035 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 85516329

The 2012 Ken Burns documentary entitled The Central Park Five offers disturbing insight into institutionalized racism and the criminal justice system. Co-produced by Sarah Burns and David McMahon, The Central Park Five is about five children of color—teenagers—who were wrongfully convicted of multiple charges including sexual assault. In addition to illuminating the way the media can feed into racial stereotypes about criminality, the documentary also shows how law enforcement uses unethical tactics of interrogation to secure a conviction at all costs. Pressures to arrest and convict are shared among all members of the law enforcement team, even though individual officers will claim that they were following orders. Therefore, The Central Park Five is also instructive for the way it shows how police organizational culture needs to change. The practices and tactics used by New York police undermine the constitutional rights of citizens to due process.
Essentially, the five teenagers referred…… [Read More]


Drake, K.E., Gonzalez, R.A., Sigurdsson, J.F., et al. (2017). A national study into temperament as a critical susceptibility factor for reported false confessions amongst adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences 111(2017): 220-226.

Drizin, S.A. & Leo, R.A. (2004). The problem of false confessions in the post-DNA world. 82 N.C. L. Rev. 891 (2003-2004).

Duru, N.J. (2004). The Central Park Five, the Scottsboro Boys, and the myth of the bestial black man. 25 Cardozo L. Rev. 1315 (2003-2004).

Kassin, S.M. & Kiechel, K.L. (1996). The social psychology of false confessions. Psychological Science 7(3): 125-128.

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The Evolution in the Rights of the Accused

Words: 805 Length: 2 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 86816616

Evolution over the Years
To a majority of individuals, arrest and detention within a law enforcement facility may be counted among the worst of life’s experiences; being coerced into confessing, at times under torture, is much more terrifying. However, citizens’ rights in the US ensure sound constitutional rules limit criminal law enforcement. Amazingly, a large number of these safeguards provided to citizens have only been put in place during the last few decades. The rest are entrenched in the nation’s colonial history.
From the start of the 60’s era, the US Supreme Court commenced efforts in the area of extensive expansion of defendant rights, way beyond the Constitutional Bill of Rights (BOR) developers’ grasp. For instance, though several portions of the BOR deal with law enforcement behavior, regulations pertaining to improper detention, warrants and searches (that English common law was unfamiliar with) were implemented during this period. The protection against…… [Read More]


Amar, A. R. (1995). Sixth Amendment First Principles. Geo. LJ, 84, 641.

Cummings L. (2018). Pros & Cons of the Criminal Justice System. Retrieved from

Mott J. (2018). Rights of the Accused. Retrieved from

Rights of the Accused. (1999). In American Journey. Civil Rights in America. Woodbridge, CT: Primary Source Media. Retrieved from (2018). Crime and Due Process. American Government Online Textbook. Retrieved from

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Racial and Ethnic Profiling Gang Violence

Words: 685 Length: 2 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 26611722

According to the National Gang Center’s (2011) National Youth Gang Survey, the majority of gangs are comprised of non-white minorities, especially Hispanic/Latino (46 percent of all gang members) and African American (35 percent of all gang members). Because of these statistics, law enforcement has been tempted to rely on racial profiling to fight gang formation, reduce gang membership, and control gang-related crimes. As tempting as it may be to rely on ethnic or racial strategies in law enforcement, these shortcuts undermine the fundamental principles of the criminal justice system.
The use of racial and ethnic profiling and related techniques is illegal as well as unethical, presenting clear procedural justice problems for law enforcement departments that use these tactics (American Bar Association, n.d.). Using racial and ethnic strategies threatens to undermine public trust in, and the credibility of, law enforcement. Racial and ethnic strategies also defeat the purpose of more effective…… [Read More]


American Bar Association (n.d.). Report to House of Delegates Commission on Immigration, Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity.

National Gang Center (2011). National youth gang survey analysis.

White, R. (2008). Disputed definitions and fluid identities. Youth Justice 8(2): 149-161.

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Forensic Entomology

Words: 2552 Length: 8 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 36729585

In so far as academic studies are concerned, the field of forensic entomology is relatively new in the West—but so, too, for that matter is the field of criminology. Forensic entomology is a subset of criminology in that it focuses on the study of insects and anthropods and what they reveal about the death of a victim. This highly specialized science takes the field of entomology and combines it with the field of forensics, bringing together two very different but very useful bodies of knowledge that, when they intersect, provide valuable insights that can help investigators solve murders. This paper will define and discuss forensic entomology, examine its history and how it has developed over the years, and describe how entomology has affected the field of forensics with a few examples to illustrate this point.
The history of forensic entomology begins, as far as historical records show, in…… [Read More]


Amendt, J., Krettek, R., & Zehner, R. (2004). Forensic entomology.  Naturwissenschaften, 91(2), 51-65.

Benecke, M. (1998). Six forensic entomology cases: description and commentary. Journal of Forensic Science, 43(4), 797-805.

Benecke, M., Josephi, E., & Zweihoff, R. (2004). Neglect of the elderly: forensic entomology cases and considerations. Forensic Science International, 146, S195-S199.

Byrd, J. H., & Castner, J. (2001). Forensic Entomology: The Utility of Arthropods in Legal Investigations. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Catts, E. P., & Goff, M. L. (1992). Forensic entomology in criminal investigations. Annual Review of Entomology, 37(1), 253-272.

Goff, M. L., & Odom, C. B. (1987). Forensic entomology in the Hawaiian Islands. Three case studies. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 8(1), 45-50.

Greenberg, B. (1985). Forensic entomology: case studies. American Entomologist, 31(4), 25-28.

Greenberg, B., & Kunich, J. (2002). Entomology and the Law. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

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Wrongful Convictions and Eyewitness Testimony

Words: 674 Length: 2 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 49820070

Law enforcement has a direct ethical responsibility to preventing wrongful convictions, no matter how heavy the pressure for a conviction may be from a political standpoint. Wrongful convictions represent a miscarriage of justice and draw attention to procedural problems in law enforcement. One of the problems that has been shown to lead to wrongful convictions is the method by which eyewitness testimony is secured. Recent criminal justice policy and procedure have changed somewhat to prevent problems with false eyewitness testimony, but these changes have been irregularly implemented (Norris, Bonventre, Redlich, et al, 2017). Therefore, the onus remains upon individual departments to develop an ethical culture that prevents wrongful convictions.
As helpful as eyewitness accounts have been in securing rightful convictions, “eyewitnesses make mistakes and that their memories can be affected by various factors including the very law enforcement procedures designed to test their memories,” (Committee on Scientific Approaches to Understanding…… [Read More]


Committee on Scientific Approaches to Understanding and Maximizing the Validity and Reliability of Eyewitness Identification in Law Enforcement and the Courts (2014). Identifying the culprit. National Research Council.

Desai, A. (2017). Actual innocence and wrongful convictions. Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2017-20.

“Eyewitness Identification,” (n.d.). Innocence Project.

Norris, R.J., Bonventre, C.L., Redlich, A.D., et al (2017). Preventing wrongful convictions. Criminal Justice Policy Review.

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Gender Specific Programs for Incarcerated Adults

Words: 294 Length: 1 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 67552868

Gender-specific programming for offenders can help address the differential needs of men and women, while also offering opportunities for transforming successful programs into gender-neutral, global options. One such opportunity is the Extended Visiting program offered by many states. Extended visiting or enhanced visiting offers incarcerated mothers the opportunity to “enjoy longer visits that are more structured and child-oriented” than the typical visitation options (Schubert, Duininck & Shlafer, 2016, p. 213). Because of initial successes at implementing extended visiting programs, criminal justice policy analysts may consider methods of introducing similar programs for fathers. When the goals of criminal justice become more oriented towards rehabilitation, extended visiting programs are crucial for facilitating reentry.
The Extended Visiting program specifically described by Schubert, Duininck & Shlafer (2016) was designed for low-risk offenders, specifically those living in a “privileged living unit,” (p. 219). As such, it may not be suitable for all prison populations regardless…… [Read More]

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Identifying Best Practices in Offender Rehabilitation

Words: 2856 Length: 10 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 98361858

Although penologists disagree about how best to achieve the outcome, there is a general consensus that identifying optimal strategies that facilitate offender rehabilitation represents a valuable and timely enterprise at all levels of the criminal justice system. Various models for this purpose have emerged in recent years, including most especially the good lives model and the risk/need/responsivity model. This paper provides a critical analysis of three primary journal research papers about a offender rehabilitation from the perspective of these two key models, followed by a discussion concerning their relevance in light of the good lives model and the risk/need/responsivity model. Finally, a summary of the research and important findings concerning these two key models and offender rehabilitation learned from this exercise are presented in the conclusion.
Summary of Relevant Articles
Summary #1: Looman, J. & Abracen, J. (2013, Fall-Winter). The risk need responsivity model of offender rehabilitation: Is there really…… [Read More]


Hillman, W. (2015, July-August). Transforming corrections: Humanistic approaches to corrections and offender treatment. Corrections Today, 77(4), 68.

Looman, J. & Abracen, J. (2013, Fall-Winter). The risk need responsivity model of offender rehabilitation: Is there really a need for a paradigm shift? The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, 8(3-4), 30-35.

. Schaffer, M. & Jefilc, E. L. (2010, July 1). Cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment and management of sex offenders. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 24(2), 92-96.


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Identifying Optimal Offender Rehabilitation Strategies

Words: 2413 Length: 10 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 75821127

Two prevailing models that influence corrections today are the risk/need/responsivity model and the good lives model. The risk/need/responsivity model is comprised of three basic principles: (1) the “risk” principle asserts that criminal behavior can be reliably predicted and that treatment should focus on the higher risk offenders; (2) the “need” principle underscores the importance of criminogenic needs in the design and delivery of treatment; and (3) the “responsivity” principle describes how the treatment should be provided (Bonta & Andrews, 2007). By contrast, the good lives model is based on the belief that everyone has certain primary needs including autonomy, happiness, health, relatedness and competence that they continually attempt to satisfy. From a good lives model perspective, criminal behaviors are effective but maladaptive strategies for satisfying these needs (Schaffer & Jeglic, 2010). Therefore, interventions should be designed to identify these unique needs and assist offenders learn honest and legitimate ways to…… [Read More]

Benbouriche, M. (2014, November 10). How virtual reality can help treat sex offenders. The Conversation. Retrieved from .
Bonta, J. & Andrews, D. A. (2007). Risk-need-responsivity model for offender assessment and rehabilitation. Ottawa: Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada.
Nassen, N. & Olucha, G. (2017, July-August). How do we change course? Navigating obstacles to develop and implement a risk-need-responsivity model in a correctional setting. Corrections Today, 79(4), 20-24.
Spencer, L. S. (2013, September-October). Evidence-based practices work. Corrections Today, 74(4), 8-11.
Ticknor, B. (2017, May-June). Pilot 1.0: Creating a virtual environment for the treatment of offenders. Corrections Today, 79(3), 46-50.
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The Five Victim Typologies

Words: 1005 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 36741921

The five victim typologies are: primary victimization, secondary victimization, tertiary victimization, mutual victimization, and no victimization. Primary victimization is defined as victimization that is personal—i.e., the individual is the victim of a crime. A common example of primary victimization would be a targeted attack (such as an assault on the individual, with a motive being hatred or revenge); the individual is physically assaulted. Secondary victimization is when an individual is indirectly victimized (Meadows, 2007). An example of this would be if a person’s loved one is murdered: the murdered person is the primary victim and the loved one is the secondary victim. Tertiary victimization would be crimes against society as a whole: crimes that are felt by the whole of the community. An example of this might be when a government unjustly spies on its citizens. Mutual victimization occurs when the criminal is retaliated against. In this case, the criminal…… [Read More]


Meadows, R.J. (2007) Understanding violence and victimization, 4th ed. Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Moniuszko, S. & Kelly, C. (2017). Harvey Weinstein scandal: A complete list of the 84 accusers. Retrieved from

Siegel, L. J. (2008). Criminology: The Core, 3rd Ed. Belmont, CA: Cengage.

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The Role of Police in Community Safety

Words: 706 Length: 2 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 56659079

Prevention of Public Offense
In some jurisdictions refusing to assist a sheriff or a peace officer in a situation where they deem it would be practically difficult to arrest an offender is deemed as an offense. Certain jurisdictions might treat it as a misdemeanour while others would charge you with aiding in abetting of a crime. The principle originated from Norman, England but has subsequently become part of common law. All persons are under legal obligation to assist a police officer or peace officer when so requested. In the United States, states have crafted laws that compel individuals to assist law enforcement officers when requested to varying levels of criminal punishment, from violation to misdemeanour.
Arizona Codes are no exemption from other jurisdictions within the United States. In Title 13-3802 captures the right to command aid for execution of process. It also stipulates punishment meted on people who resist process.…… [Read More]

Reference (2015). Arizona Codes and Statutes. Retrieved May 19, 2018 from Alaska Codes and Statutes. Retrieved May 19, 2018 from. (2015). Arkansas Codes and Statutes. Retrieved May 19, 2018 from

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Crime Analysis and Crime Trends

Words: 839 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 29131628

The crime trend for this jurisdiction is increasing in 5 of 7 areas and that the crime rate in one area is even, while the trend is down in one area, as well. Robberies are up the most with a rise of 44% year over year. The area in which crime is up the second most is in homicides, with the rate rising 40% year over year. Aggravated assaults are up 35% while burglaries are up 10% and larceny is up 9%. Motor vehicle thefts are even and forcible rape is down 17%. Overall, there is more crime in the jurisdiction this year than there was the previous year.
Missing Information
Information that is missing that might explain some of the increases include how many Part II crimes were committed in the same jurisdiction, as this would help to give a more complete picture. Other data would include external factors…… [Read More]


Lopez, G. (2016). Why violent crime increased. Retrieved from

Wilson, J. & Kelling, G. (1982). Broken windows: The police and neighborhood safety. Retrieved from

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Eye in the Sky Film

Words: 672 Length: 2 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 94967857

The 2015 feature film Eye in the Sky addresses the ethics of modern warfare and specifically the use of unmanned devices like drones. In Eye in the Sky, the title refers to advanced surveillance drones that are used to monitor the actions of key terrorist targets. Using facial recognition, the drones help senior military officers from both Britain and the United States identify and track their suspects and plan targeted attacks. Moreover, the film shows how senior military officers perform quantitative risk assessments to minimize civilian casualties while pursuing overarching military objectives. One of the key ethical and legal issues Eye in the Sky covers relates to Constitutional rights and in particular, Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful surveillance. The film shows that Fourth Amendment rights may not apply to American citizens abroad. Eye in the Sky also shows that the war on terrorism and the USA PATRIOT Act have altered…… [Read More]


ACLU (2018).

Hood, G., Director, (2015). Eye in the Sky. Feature Film. Entertainment One.

Salamsky, G. & Yoo, J. (2008). Katz and the war on terrorism. UC Davis Law Review 2008(41):