Criminal Justice and the Police

Wesley G. Skogan

in The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199208425
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

Criminal Justice and the Police


Police departments are among the most political of institutions in American cities. Unlike many nations, policing in the United States is extremely decentralized. This article focuses on three aspects of criminal justice: policing, criminal sentencing, and the politics of prisons. It reviews the findings of many empirical studies, and cites examples of research that outlines issues in the field and describes key concepts and approaches. The article also refers to some of the methodological and data issues involved in the research. It necessarily excludes areas of research, including studies of media coverage of crime and justice, and also gives a short shrift to the politics of drug policies, and the causes and consequences of growing race and class disparities in who gets arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned. The role of courts and judges in sentencing and legislation on crimes are also discussed.

Keywords: United States; criminal justice; policing; criminal sentencing; politics; prisons; legislation; courts; crimes; police

Article.  5488 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Politics and Law

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