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Criminal Justice, Government & Law: Get Started ...

Finding resources related to criminal justice and law.


                           "Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens." - Plato





  This Research Guide will be a good starting point to a variety of resources related to criminal justice and law.

Overview: Government

(From The SAGE Glossary of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. CREDO Reference)

"A political system through which a body of people is administered and regulated. The fundamental purpose of government is to maintain basic security and public order. Governments serve several functions. Most exercise executive, judicial, and legislative powers, as well as provide internal and external security. Many also provide welfare services, regulate the economy, and establish educational systems. Some governments control the religious affairs of their people.

"The form of government instituted in a state differs according to the power holders of that state. Power may be held by one individual as in a monarchy, dictatorship, or autocracy. Plutocracy and theocracy are examples of rule by a few individuals. Democracies exemplify rule by the majority.

Although governments may operate only on a national level, others consist of more than one level of government. Their systems contain local governments, which are smaller and have lesser powers than the national government. Their administration may also be partially or wholly subsidized by the national government.

Governments also differ according to the distribution of power at the local level. This distribution may be unitary, federated, or confederated. In unitary governments, smaller organizational units within a country are governed constitutionally as one single unit, and the national government has the right to recall delegated power. Federations comprise separate smaller units that have aseparate constitutional existence and are both partially self-governing and united by a central government. Confederations consist of governments of several political divisions, or states, in which each division retains considerable independence."

CREDO Reference

Government. (2009). In L. E. Sullivan (Ed.), The SAGE glossary of the social and behavioral sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Retrieved from

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Overview: Criminal Justice System

"The criminal justice system is a combination of laws regulating behavior and the institutions that enforce these laws. It incorporates police, courts, jails, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. These separate elements have existed for centuries, and each has its own history, but American criminal justice emerged as an interconnected system in the late 19th century.

In the United States, criminal justice was built around state, county, and municipal laws and enforcement mechanisms; for most of American history, it was an overwhelmingly local process. Each state has its own penal code, as do local governments. Courts have traditionally been the central instruments. In colonial America, most cases reached courts when accusers—plaintiffs—swore out complaints. Only in major cases such as murders would coroners assemble juries to formally accuse suspects. These arrangements existed because communities had no real policing mechanisms. Boston created the first police department in the United States in 1838, and few cities followed that example until the 1850s. Instead, in 19th-century Philadelphia, most cases were initiated by private prosecutions. Plaintiffs would swear a complaint before a magistrate and pay a constable to bring defendants to court. This democratic arrangement allowed everyone who could afford court fees to seek justice. Statesponsored prosecutions, however, gradually replaced private prosecutions later in the 19th century. Philadelphia established a police department in 1845 and, after much controversy, consolidated its neighborhoods under one centralized municipal government in 1854. Establishing fulltime city services brought larger caseloads into courts and demanded more administrative organization..."

CREDO Reference
Wolcott. (2007). Criminal Justice System. In D. Goldfield (Ed.),
Encyclopedia of American urban history. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Retrieved from:


Online Legal Resources

Google Scholar Search

Online Criminal Justice

Google Scholar Search

Online Government Resources

Google Web Search

Overview: Law

" Rules of conduct of any organized society, however simple or small, that are enforced by threat of punishment if they are violated. Modern law has a wide sweep and regulates many branches of conduct.

Development of Early Law

Law does not develop systematically until a state with a centralized police authority has appeared. For this development a written language is not required, but necessarily the earliest known legal codes are those of literate societies. Examples of early law systems are to be found in the code of Hammurabi (Babylonia), the Laws of Manu (India), and the Mosaic code (Palestine). These codes show what would seem to be the universal tendency of the religious and ethical system of a society to produce a legal order to enforce its ethical and social mandates. In classical antiquity the first codes of law are those attributed to Solon and to Lycurgus..."

"... The work of Blackstone was the most important influence in U.S. law (except for Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, where Continental civil law prevailed). Among those who helped to develop the American concept of law were James Kent and Joseph Story; in constitutional law the most important figure was John Marshall. In the United States the distinctive feature is the coexistence of federal and state law, for the U.S. Constitution limits the sphere in which federal law is supreme."

CREDO Reference
law. (2018). In P. Lagasse, & Columbia University, The Columbia encyclopedia (8th ed.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Retrieved from

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Geneen Clinkscales
Subjects: BUSI: Business, CIT, OER