Using numerous real-life stories, court cases, statistics and explanations, this text provides a comprehensive introduction to the whole spectrum of contemporary criminal justice topics.
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This book was written in order to make the study of criminal justice interesting for students. Each chapter catches the students' attention by featuring a real life story which thrusts the student into the concepts contained in the text. The up-to-date material meshed with visual aids insures a complete understanding of the criminal justice system today.From the Inside Flap:
The first edition of this textbook appeared in print a little over ten years ago. At that time, I chose what seemed to be a rather unique subtitle: An Introductory Text for the Twenty-First Century. The subtitle was unusual not only because the new century was still a decade away, but because other introductory criminal justice authors seemed to be writing about the past and not the future. I wanted my subtitle to speak to students and professors. I wanted it to say, "This is a book that, while it owes a legacy to the past, is not bound by it. This is a book that will prepare students of justice for the world of the future—a soon-to-be vital and real world with almost limitless possibilities in which they will live and work."
Since then, of course, much has changed. Criminal Justice Today is now in its sixth edition. The long-awaited new century is here, and the future is on almost everyone's mind.
As I write this preface to the sixth edition, I think of how the first edition of this text was a standard ink-on-paper hardcover book with sparsely placed black-and-white photographs. I reflect on how it has evolved into a multimedia-rich, information-filled, experiential package that brings up-to-the-minute learning opportunities to today's students in printed form, on the Web, via CD-ROM, and through other digital formats. I think of how it makes extensive use of technologically enhanced learning environments, and I hope that it has contributed, at least in some small way, to the growth and continuing maturation of those environments.
The sixth edition of this learning package (for it is no longer merely a book) has become an integral part of our "wired" world—in the best sense of that term. Criminal Justice Today has evolved into a multifaceted learning experience that, I believe, sets the standard far a new generation of educational tools that sweepingly integrate text-based information and electronic media in ways not possible only a short while ago.
Although you can still hold this book in your hands, the printed pages are but a representation of the multitude of learning possibilities that accompany it. The Criminal Justice Today companion web site (prenhall/schmalleger) and the cjtoday home page, for example, add a wealth of constantly updated news, statistics, legal information, and diverse opinions to the core text. The Criminal Justice Today e-mail discussion groups, message boards, and Talk Justice facility make it possible for students and professors to interact with one another—and with others across the nation and around the world who share an interest in criminal justice and in crime prevention.WebCT templates for this textbook, as well as the online teaching possibilities provided by the Criminal Justice Today companion website, allow classes to be taught entirely online, so students can study criminal justice subject matter from virtually anywhere.
While much has changed over six editions, this text remains true to its original purpose. In the preface to the first edition I wrote that the purpose of this book is "to teach criminal justice stunts the fundamental tried-and-true concepts of an evolving discipline, to give them the critical-thinking skills necessary to effectively apply those concepts to the real world, and to apply those concepts and skills to today's problems and to the emerging issues of tomorrow." In Chapter 1 I promised that this book would "describe in detail the criminal justice system, while helping students develop an appreciation for the delicacy of the balancing act now facing it." I pointed out that the fundamental question for the future will be "how to ensure the existence of, and effectively manage, a justice system which is as fair to the individual as it is supportive of the needs of society." Finally, I asked, "Is justice for all a reasonable expectation of today's system of criminal justice?" The sixth edition remains true to these roots, yet has blossomed in ways unanticipated a mere decade earlier.
As it was from the start, Criminal Justice Today is intended for use by students everywhere who are beginning the study of criminal justice. The sixth edition incorporates and supports the best and most contemporary principles guiding the study of our discipline. The educational principles underlying the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences' recent explorations into the accreditation arena (via the ACJS Ad Hoc Committee on Minimum Standards for Criminal Justice Education), for example, are incorporated into this text, as are some of the more prominent state-specific guidelines for criminal justice education. Criminal Justice Today and its various supplements are also written to be consistent with and supportive of the California POST College Transition Program. The College Transition Program allows students to earn basic law enforcement course certification credits during their college studies—reducing the academy training time needed for students seeking law enforcement careers. POST standards, even when not state-specific, add a pragmatic dimension to the study of criminal justice, stressing as they do the development of useful employment-related abilities and critical-thinking skills.
In summary, Criminal Justice Today is intended not as a simple description of what has already taken place in the field (although it contains plenty of descriptions and lots of historical information), but as a visual and thoughtful guide to the study and practice of criminal justice today, a road map through the criminal justice system of the twenty-first century, and a bridge between past and future.
FRANK SCHMALLEGER, PH.D.
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