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Criminal justice

The study of criminal justice traditionally revolves around three main components of the criminal justice system:

Nowadays, it is sometimes argued that psychiatry is also a central part of the criminal justice system.

The pursuit of criminal justice is, like all forms of "justice" or "fairness" or "process", essentially the pursuit of an ideal. Thus this field has many relations to anthropology, economics, history, law, political science, psychology, sociology, and theology. The establishment of criminal justice, as an academic field, is generally accredited to August Vollmer, during the 1920s. By 1950, ~1,000 students were in the field; by 1975, ~100,000 students were in the field; by 1998, ~350,000 students were in the field. A notable center for criminal justice studies is the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Table of contents
1 Rights
2 Theories
3 The US Criminal Justice system


One question which is presented by the idea of creating justice involves the rights of victims and the rights of accused criminals, and how these individual rights are related to one another and to social control. It is generally argued that victim's and defendant's rights are inverselyly related, and individual rights, as a whole, are likewise viewed as inversely related to social control.

Rights, of course, imply responsibilities or duties, and this in turn requires a great deal of consensus in the community regarding the appropriate definitions for many of these legal terms.


There are several basic theories regarding criminal justice and it's relation to individual rights and social control:

In addition, there are models of criminal justice systems which try to explain how these institutions achieve justice.

The US Criminal Justice system

"There is a criminal justice process through which each offender passes from the police, to the courts, and back unto the streets. The inefficiency, fall-out, and failure of purpose during this process is notorious." -- US National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence

"Three strikes you're out" is claimed to be cruel and unusual punishment by its opponents, who argue that the U.S. system is too dependent on retributive justice, and is failing socially as well as criminally.

A society should not be judged on how it treats its outstanding citizens but by how it treats its criminals.....Fyodor Dostoyevsky

See also: criminal law, criminology, law, social justice