1: Crime, Criminal Justice, and Criminology

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 discusses how criminal justice policymaking – and policymakers – are shaped the media representations of crime.

After reading this section, students will be able to:

  • Understand the differences between deviance and criminality, as well as informal and formal social control
  • Explain the differences between the interactionist, consensus, and conflict views in the creation of laws
  • Identify the three components of the criminal justice system, as well as the “4 C’s”
  • Discuss the differences between crime control and the due process model, and identify examples of each
  • 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 U.S. criminal justice process

Background Knowledge Probe: Each chapter will begin by assessing your current knowledge about different criminal justice topics. Each of these topics will be covered by the chapter – meaning that you should be able to answer them correctly after you have completed the reading. (In fact, you will find a similar, but slightly different, roster of questions at the end of the chapter.)

Please indicate whether you know each statement to be True or False. This is an ungraded exercise, but you may want to record which questions you answer incorrectly, so that you can verify that your knowledge has improved by the end of the chapter.

1. Individuals who are convicted of felony-level crime are typically sentenced to jail.

2. Criminal suspects’ “Miranda rights” in the United States are less than 60 years old.

3. Most crime in the United States is not reported to the police.

4. Violent crime in the United States has reached historical highs since national reporting began.

5. Immigrants to the U.S. commit more crimes than native-born people.

6. The “4 C’s” of the U.S. Criminal Justice system are: Coroners, Cops, Courts, and Corrections.

7. Drug violations represent the most common “Part 1” or “Index” crime.

8. The “crime control” model of criminal justice emphasizes the need for swift and severe punishment, sometimes at the expense of due process.

9. The United States has the largest prison population in the world.

10. Over 50% of individuals released from jail or prison in the United States will reoffend.


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Introduction to the U.S. Criminal Justice System Copyright © 2019 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.

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