Coming Soon!
The U.S. Criminal Justice System
A Reference Handbook
by Sarah Koon-Magnin and Ryan J. Williams
March 2024, 350pp, 6x9
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7962-3
$63, £49, 55€, A87
Available for purchase 30 days prior to publication.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7963-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

In fiscal year 2021, more than 57,000 criminals convicted only of federal crimes (not the far more numerous local and state crimes) received sentencing across the United States.

This wide-ranging resource provides an authoritative overview of the criminal justice system in America, including its history, legal and philosophical foundations, dimensions of racial and economic inequality, and daily life inside America's complex court and correctional systems.

This book gathers and contextualizes a wide range of scholarly and historical material into a single authoritative and accessible resource on the past, present, and future of America’s criminal justice system and its many constituent parts—law enforcement, the legal system, and its thousands of jails and prisons.

Geared for students, this book contains chapters devoted to the origins and evolution of America’s criminal justice system; the moral values and legal doctrines that shaped the nation’s laws and prisons; current problems, controversies, and reforms related to criminal justice; original essay contributions exploring various facets of the system; profiles of leading figures in the field of criminal justice and social activism; illuminating primary documents on the topic; and an annotated list of important books, scholarly journals, and nonprint sources for further research. It closes with a detailed chronology, glossary of terms, and subject index.


  • Includes graphs, tables, and primary documents offering different contextual vantage points for understanding different facets of the criminal justice system
  • Offers a wide and balanced range of personal and scholarly perspectives
  • Identifies and explains key events, controversies, and social factors that underpin today's correctional processes and systems
  • Collects information on a broad array of other worthwhile resources on the subject
Sarah Koon-Magnin, PhD, is associate professor of political science and criminal justice at University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL. She is the author of ABC-CLIO's Sexual Assault and Harassment in America: Examining the Facts.

Ryan J. Williams, PhD, is associate professor of political science and criminal justice at University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL.

Contemporary World Issues

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

24-hour cable news. Millions of internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about.


Subject coverage spans six main categories:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Environment
  • Gender and Ethnicity
  • Politics, Law, and Government
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • Society
Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that support statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms
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