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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to criminal justice:

Criminal justice – system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, or sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts.


Parts of the criminal justice systemEdit

  1. Legislative system – network of legislatures that create laws.
  2. Judiciary system – network of courts that interpret the law in the name of the state, and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law.[1]
  3. Corrections system – network of governmental agencies that administer a jurisdiction's prisons, probation, and parole systems.[2]

In the 17th Century, William Penn began to promote reform in the Criminal Justice system and helped to see these changes implemented. After the American Revolution, the U.S. Constitution was created which guaranteed freedoms and rights that were never in place in colonial days. This was the starting point to setting guidelines for crimes, punishment and procedures that need to be followed to protect the rights of the innocent. Our modern system of criminal justice is the result of several evolutionary changes that society has undergone since the inception of the United States. Over the years, Americans have developed mechanisms that institute and enforce the rules of society as well as assign responsibility and punish offenders. Today, those functions are carried out by the police, the courts, and corrections. The early beginnings of the criminal justice system in the United States lacked this structure.

In fact, before formal rules, laws, and institutions were established in the United States, Americans relied on religion and sin as a means of shaping society and its behaviors. Many colonial crime codes were defined in biblical terms, making offenses such as profanity, blasphemy, and sacrileges of the Sabbath highly punishable. Punishments such as dunking, stoning, and whipping were designed to humiliate the offender and ultimately lead towards their repentance. Ironically, we still see this desire to make offenders remorseful for their criminal acts but more so for the victims of crime than to a higher power.



Organized Crime-Ongoing conspiratorial enterprise engaged in illicit activities as a means of generating income (as black money). Structured like a business into a pyramid shaped hierarchy, it freely employs violence and bribery to maintain its operations, threats of grievous retribution (including murder) to maintain internal and external control, and thuggery and contribution to election campaigns to buy political patronage for immunity from exposure and prosecution. Its activities include credit card fraud, gun running, illegal gambling, insurance fraud, kidnapping for ransom, narcotics trade, pornography, prostitution, racketeering, smuggling, vehicle theft, etc. "What Is Organized Crime? Definition and Meaning." N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. <Read more:>

a hierarchically structured secret organization allegedly engaged in smuggling, racketeering, trafficking in narcotics, and other criminal activities in the U.S., Italy, and elsewhere.

the use of physical force to harm someone, to damage property, etc.

great destructive force or energy


the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods of another from his or her possession with intent to convert them to the taker's own use. larceny. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved February 14, 2016 from website

an unlawful act causing injury to the person, property, or rights of another, committed with force or violence, actual or implied. a wrongful entry upon the lands of another. the action to recover damages for such an injury. trespass. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved February 13, 2016 from website


Misdemeanor – a criminal offense defined as less serious than a felony. an instance of misbehavior; misdeed. misdemeanor. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved February 13, 2016 from website



General concepts in criminal justiceEdit

Leaders in criminal justiceEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Walker, David (1980). The Oxford companion to law. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 301. ISBN 0-19-866110-X.
  2. ^ Black's Law Dictionary

External linksEdit