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 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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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.