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Book Review: Historical Dictionary of American Criminal Justice

By Matthew J. Sheridan; Raymond R. Rainville; Anna King; Brian Royster, and Giuseppe M. Fazari. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers;; 504 pages; $110.

0620-Book-Review-American-Criminal-Justice.jpgWhat is criminal justice all about? The Historical Dictionary of American Criminal Justice attempts to answer that question. Its more ambitious objective is to help the reader create informed opinions and make rational decisions with regards to criminal justice. The authors note that criminal justice is dynamic and takes in many disciplines.

The main sections of the book include a list of acronyms and abbreviations, a chronology of dates and events of milestone moments in criminal justice, an introduction, and the core of the work, “The Dictionary,” which is an alphabetical listing of terms, phrases, and historical events deemed by the authors to be significant to the history and practice of American criminal justice. There are court cases (Gideon v. Wainwright), phrases (Get Tough On Crime), related criminal justice disciplines (Forensic Anthropology), infamous criminals (John Dillinger), and employment descriptions (Detective). Extensive cross-referencing helps readers find more information on a given topic.

Three appendices offer the text of the U.S. Bill of Rights, a list of U.S. Supreme Court cases focused on the establishment of criminal procedure, and a roster of U.S. Supreme Court cases that relate to death penalty issues.

The overall visual presentation is professional with quality materials and clear typeset. The table of contents lays out a navigation path for the book, and a 48-page bibliography offers sources dating from the mid-1800s to present day, sorted by topic. All of the authors have doctorate degrees and possess academic credentials.

Historical Dictionary of American Criminal Justice is recommended for libraries or research centers and possibly for criminal justice professors as a quick reference source. It is also valuable for practitioners requiring an authoritative source citation.

Reviewer: Paul D. Barnard, CPP, CISM (Certified Information Security Manager), SFPC (Security Fundamentals Professional Certification), is an adjunct professor in loss prevention, security management, and intelligence analysis programs. He has been a member of ASIS since 1975.