Criminal Justice Today, 17th edition

Published by Pearson (January 31, 2023) © 2024

  • Frank Schmalleger Emeritus, University of North Carolina


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For introductory courses in criminal justice.

An introduction to criminal justice through the lens of freedom and security

Criminal Justice Today explores the crime picture in the US and covers the three traditional elements of the criminal justice system: police, courts and corrections. Navigating the tension between individual rights and public order, the text challenges students to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the US justice system.

The 17th Edition adds four new types of social justice boxes questioning the viability of our freedoms. Students will consider the struggles of the US justice system as it adapts to a society that's increasingly multicultural and one in which the rights of a few can threaten the safety of many.

Hallmark features of this title

Real-world context

  • Freedom OR safety? YOU decide boxes in each chapter, with corresponding critical-thinking questions, illustrate personal rights issues challenging policymakers today.
  • CJ Careers boxes describe a variety of criminal justice careers in a Q&A format.
  • CJ News boxes in each chapter present case stories from the media.

New and updated features of this title

Four new cutting-edge box types

  • NEW: Reimagining Justice boxes focus on today's top social justice issues.
  • NEW: Is It Fair? boxes highlight disproportionality in today's justice system. Each box includes an “Ask Yourself ” question.
  • NEW: Voices of Diversity boxes provide personal insights from social justice experts. These boxes explore possible solutions to many of today's pressing criminal justice problems.
  • NEW: Justice Informed Policing boxes contain excerpts from a 2021 report of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Covered topics, among many, include free speech, bias-free policing, and diversity in recruitment and hiring.

New discussions of hot-button issues

  • NEW: Social justice issues surrounding George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, defunding the police and institutionalized racism are defined in Chapter 1, setting the stage for their discussion throughout the text.
  • NEW: A discussion of how big city police departments are now training their officers in de-escalation tactics, in an effort to reduce and restrict the use of force, has been added to Chapter 8.

Features of Revel for the 17th Edition

  • Author Explanatory Videos allow students to hear insights and perspectives directly from the author.
  • Point/Counterpoint Videos present two opposing evidence-based arguments to help students analyze criminal justice issues.
  • Social Explorer maps integrated into the Revel narrative correlate crime and corrections data with socioeconomic and other criminal justice data.
  • Surveys within the Revel narrative ask students to respond to questions about controversial topics and important concepts. Through a bar chart, students can then see how their response compared to that of all other students who answered the question.


  1. What Is Criminal Justice?
  2. The Crime Picture
  3. The Search for Causes
  4. Criminal Law


  1. Policing: History and Structure
  2. Policing: Purpose and Organization
  3. Policing: Legal Aspects
  4. Policing: Issues and Challenges


  1. The Courts: Structure and Participants
  2. Pretrial Activities and the Criminal Trial
  3. Sentencing


  1. Probation, Parole, and Reentry
  2. Prisons and Jails
  3. Prison Life


  1. Juvenile Justice
  2. Drugs and Crime
  3. Terrorism, Multinational Criminal Justice, and Global Issues
  4. High-Technology Crimes

About our authors

Frank Schmalleger, PhD, is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. He holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame and The Ohio State University, having earned both a master's and a doctorate in sociology from The Ohio State University with a special emphasis in criminology. From 1976 to 1994, he taught criminology and criminal justice courses at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. For the last 16 of those years, he chaired the university's Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice. The university named him Distinguished Professor in 1991.

Schmalleger has taught in the online graduate program of the New School for Social Research, helping build the world's first electronic classrooms in support of distance learning on the Internet. As an adjunct professor with Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, Schmalleger helped develop the university's graduate program in security administration and loss prevention. He taught courses in that curriculum for more than a decade. An avid Web user and website builder, Schmalleger is also the creator of a number of award-winning websites, including some that support this textbook.

Frank Schmalleger is the author of numerous articles and more than 40 books, including the widely used Criminal Justice: A Brief Introduction (Pearson, 2020), Criminology Today (Pearson, 2021), and Criminal Law Today (Pearson, 2022).

Schmalleger is also founding editor of the journal Criminal Justice Studies. He has served as editor for the Pearson series Criminal Justice in the Twenty-First Century and as imprint adviser for Greenwood Publishing Group's criminal justice reference series.

Schmalleger's philosophy of both teaching and writing can be summed up in these words: “In order to communicate knowledge we must first catch, then hold, a person's interest, be it student, colleague, or policymaker. Our writing, our speaking, and our teaching must be relevant to the problems facing people today, and they must in some way help solve those problems.”

Visit the author's website and follow his Tweets @schmalleger.

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