Book Review: Practicing Forensic Criminology
By Kevin Fox Gotham and Daniel Kennedy. Academic Press; Elsevier.com; 300 pages; $99.95.
Most people are familiar with criminalists from television and movies—those examining the crime scene and evidence. But few understand the differences between a forensic criminologist and a criminalist. This differentiation is important, and it is well defined in Practicing Forensic Criminology by Kevin Fox Gotham and Daniel Bruce Kennedy.
In essence, the forensic criminologist seeks to determine how specific crime targets are selected by the offender and what information determines whether or not the would-be offender commits the crime and for what reasons.
The authors aim to demonstrate the impact and significance of forensic social science investigations in the legal system, illustrate the usefulness of forensic criminology as a research tool, and promote “translational criminology” by demonstrating how knowledge of criminological theory is valuable to social scientists and policy makers.
Not only is the book is laid out in a logical and precise fashion, but it also encompasses many areas that would be valuable in civil litigation issues. Although there is limited crossover to the criminal court system, authors Gotham and Kennedy remind the reader that the focus of their book is primarily concerned with the civil side of the judicial system.
Using charts, diagrams, and citations from other researchers, the authors illustrate the singular importance of environmental criminology—the physical locations where crimes occur and how those settings can and do provide crime opportunities.
The book is well-written and extremely detailed. Many chapters are dedicated to the legal, scientific, and crime data analysis interactions so that anyone in the criminal justice, security management, or civil law fields will find something of value.
Reviewer: James E. Whitaker, CPP, PCI, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), has been an active ASIS member and CPP since 1987. He has served as a chapter chair and member of the ASIS PCI Review Course faculty for the past five years. He is a freelance security management consultant based in Cincinnati, Ohio.