Site MapHelpFeedbackGlossary
(See related pages)

abettor  A person who, with the requisite criminal intent, encourages, promotes, instigates, or stands ready to assist the perpetrator of a crime.
accessory after the fact  A person who, knowing that a felony has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon to hinder apprehension or conviction.
accessory before the fact  A person who abets a crime but is not present when the crime was committed.
adjudication  In juvenile proceedings, the court's decision or judgment.
adjudication hearing  The stage in juvenile court proceedings in which a judge presides on behalf of the child to determine if he or she actually committed the alleged offense.
adjudication inquiry  The stage in juvenile court proceedings in which a judge determines whether the facts of the case warrant a formal hearing by the court.
administrative law  A branch of public law that deals with the powers and duties of government agencies.
adversary system  A system of justice in which the innocence of the accused is presumed and the burden of proof is placed on the court.
allocution  The right of a convicted offender to address the court personally prior to the imposition of sentence.
anomie  A condition of normative confusion, or "normlessness," in which existing rules and values have little impact.
appeal  A complaint to a superior court of an injustice done or an error committed by a lower court. The higher tribunal is called upon to correct or reverse the lower court's judgment or decision.
appellate jurisdiction  Jurisdiction restricted to matters of appeal and review.
Argersinger v. Hamlin  The Supreme Court ruling that a defendant has the right to counsel at trial whenever he or she may be imprisoned for any offense, even for one day, whether it is classified as a felony or as a misdemeanor.
arrest  The action of taking a person into custody for the purpose of charging him or her with a crime.
arson  The willful or malicious burning or attempt to burn, with or without intent to defraud, any dwelling, other building, vehicle, or personal property.
assault  An intentional attempt or threat to physically injure another.
assault and battery  An assault carried into effect by doing some violence to the victim.
bail  Security posted to guarantee that a defendant in a criminal proceeding will appear and be present in court as required.
Barron v. Baltimore  The Supreme Court ruling that the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to protect citizens only against the action of the federal, not state or local, government.
Batson v. Kentucky  The Supreme Court ruling that a prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges to exclude from a jury members of the defendant's race solely on racial grounds violates the equal protection rights of the defendant.
bench warrant  A written order, issued by the court, authorizing a defendant's arrest.
Benton v. Maryland  The Supreme Court ruling that overruled Palko and extended the double jeopardy protection to state actions.
Betts v. Brady  The Supreme Court ruling that in noncapital crimes the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause does not require states to supply defense counsel to defendants too poor to employ their own attorneys.
Bill of Rights  The first 10 amendments to the Constitution of the United States, which restrict government actions.
booking  The police administrative procedures for officially recording an arrest.
Bow Street Runners  Henry Fielding's unofficial band of constables who were paid as thief-takers.
Brady v. United States  The Supreme Court ruling that upheld the use of plea negotiations.
breaking and entering  The forcible entry into a building or structure with the intent to commit a crime therein.
Breed v. Jones  The Supreme Court ruling that extended the Fifth Amendment protection against double jeopardy to juveniles.
Buck v. Bell  The Supreme Court ruling that Virginia did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment's due process guarantee when it sterilized, without her consent, a mentally defective mother.
Burger Court  The Supreme Court under the leadership of Chief Justice Warren Burger.
Carrier's case  Legal ruling whereby a person in possession of another's packaged goods, who opens the package and misappropriates its contents, is guilty of larceny.
Carroll doctrine  The ruling, from the Supreme Court's decision in Carroll v. United States, that warrantless searches of vehicles are permissible where reasonable suspicion of illegal actions exists.
case law  Law that results from court interpretations of statutory law or from court decisions where rules have not been fully codified or have been found to be vague or in error.
Cesare Beccaria  The founder of the classical school of criminology and criminal law. Beccaria, an Italian economist and jurist, proposed a whole new concept for the administration of justice. His major work, An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, became the manifesto of the liberal approach to criminal law. It condemned capital punishment and torture, suggested that the law should be specific, and advocated the prevention of crime and rigid rules of criminal procedure.
charging the jury  An order by the judge directing the jurors to retire to the jury room, consider the facts of the case and the evidence and testimony presented, and from their deliberations return a just verdict.
Chimel v. California  The Supreme Court ruling that a search incident to a lawful arrest in a home must be limited to the area into which an arrestee might reach in order to grab a weapon or other evidentiary items.
civil death  The loss of all civil rights.
civil law  The body of principles that determine private rights and liabilities.
civilian review boards  Citizen-controlled boards empowered to review and handle complaints against police officers.
classical school of criminal law and criminology  A body of ideals from Enlightenment philosophers and reformers for transforming criminal law and procedure.
classification  The process through which the educational, vocational, treatment, and custodial needs of the offender are determined.
clearance rate  The proportion of crimes that result in arrest.
Coker v. Georgia  The Supreme Court ruling that a sentence of death for the crime of rape is an excessive and disproportionate penalty forbidden by the Eighth Amendment.
common law  Customs, traditions, judicial decisions, and other materials that guide courts in decision making but have not been enacted by the legislatures into statues or embodied in the Constitution.
community policing  A collaborative effort between the police and the community to identify the problems of crime and disorder and to develop solutions from within the community.
community-based correction  Rehabilitative activities and programs within the community that have effective ties with the local government.
conjugal visitation  The practice of permitting inmate and spouse to spend time together in private quarters on prison grounds, during which time they may engage in sexual relations.
conspiracy  Concert in criminal purpose.
constitutional law  The legal rules and principles that define the nature and limits of governmental power and the duties and rights of individuals in relation to the state.
contract system  A form of prison industry in which the labor of inmates is leased to an outside contractor who furnishes the machinery and raw materials and supervises the work.
corporal punishment  Punishment applied to the body, such as whipping or branding.
courts of general jurisdiction  Courts authorized to try all criminal and civil cases.
courts of limited jurisdiction  The entry point for judicial processing, with jurisdiction limited to full processing of all minor offenses and pretrial processing of felony cases.
courts of record  Courts in which a full transcript of the proceedings is made for all cases.
crime  An intentional act or omission in violation of criminal law committed without defense or justification and sanctioned by the state as a felony or misdemeanor.
crime control model  The model of the criminal justice system that views the repression of criminal conduct as its most important function.
Crime Index  The sum of Part I offenses reported in a given place for a given period of time.
crime rate  The number of Part I offenses that occur in a given area per 100,000 inhabitants living in that area.
criminal justice  The structure, functions, and decision processes of those agencies that deal with the management of crime—the police, the courts, and corrections.
criminal justice process  The agencies and procedures set up to manage both crime and the persons accused of violating the criminal law.
criminal law  The branch of jurisprudence that deals with offenses committed against the safety and order of the state.
defense  Any number of causes and rights of action that serve to excuse or mitigate guilt in a criminal offense.
definite sentence  A sentence of incarceration having a fixed period of time with no reduction by parole.
Delaware v. Prouse  The Supreme Court ruling that police may not randomly stop motorists to check their driver's license and auto registration without any probable cause to suspect crime or illegal activity.
deliberation  The full and conscious knowledge of the purpose to kill.
delinquency  Criminal law violations that would be considered crimes if committed by an adult.
delinquent  A juvenile offender who has been adjudicated by an officer of a juvenile court.
Department of Homeland Security  A consolidation of 22 domestic agencies into one department to protect the nation against threats to the homeland.
detention hearing  The stage in juvenile court proceedings in which it is determined whether a child is to be released to a parent or guardian or retained in custody.
determinate sentence  A sentence of incarceration for a fixed period of time but with possible reduction by parole.
deterrence  A sentencing philosophy seeking to prevent criminal acts by making an example of persons convicted of crimes.
deviance  Conduct that the people of a group consider so dangerous, embarrassing, or irritating that they bring special sanctions to bear against the persons who exhibit it.
differential association  The theory of crime that suggests that criminal behavior is learned through the same processes that non-criminal behaviors are learned.
differential reinforcement theory  The theory that criminal behavior is not only learned but also reinforced by instrumental conditioning, i.e., the learned behaviors that result from the consequences, effects, and outcomes of an individual's social and cultural environment.
disposition hearing  The stage in juvenile court proceedings in which the judge exercises his or her discretionary authority to choose among a variety of alternatives for resolving a case.
diversion  The removal of offenders from the application of the criminal law at any stage of the police or court processes.
domestic violence  Activities of a physically aggressive nature resulting from conflicts in personal relations among members of the family, current or former spouses or lovers, live-ins, and others in close relationships.
double jeopardy  Multiple prosecutions for the same offense and/or multiple punishments for the same crime; prohibited by the Fifth Amendment.
Downum v. United States  The Supreme Court ruling that double jeopardy begins at the point where the second trial jury is sworn in.
dual court system  Courts at the state and federal levels.
due process model  The model of the criminal justice system that stresses the possibility of error in the stages leading to trial and emphasizes the procedural rights over system efficiency.
due process of law  A concept that asserts fundamental principles of justice and implies the administration of laws that do not violate the sacredness of private rights.
Duncan v. Louisiana  The Supreme Court ruling that the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process requires states to provide trial by jury to persons accused of serious crimes.
Durham Rule  Legal standard by which an accused is not held criminally responsible if he or she suffers from a diseased or defective mental condition at the time the unlawful act is committed.
entrapment  The inducement of an individual to commit a crime not previously contemplated by him or her.
Escobedo v. Illinois  The Supreme Court ruling that when the process shifts from the investigatory to the accusatory and its purpose is to elicit a confession, the accused must be permitted to consult with his or her attorney.
Estelle v. Gamble  The Supreme Court ruling that the deliberate indifference of prison officials or personnel to the serious medical needs of inmates constitutes cruel and unusual punishment proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.
ethnocentrism  The belief that one's own culture or ethnic group is superior to others.
evidence  Any species of proof, through the media of witnesses, records, documents, concrete objects, and circumstances.
evidence in chief  The first, or direct, examination of a witness.
exclusionary rule  The judicially established rule that prohibits the use of illegally obtained evidence in court.
Federal Air Marshals  A team of armed commandos who travel incognito on planes to watch for hijackers and other terrorists.
Federal Bureau of Investigation  The chief investigative body of the Justice Department, with jurisdiction extending to all federal crimes that are not the specific responsibility of some other federal enforcement agency.
felony  A crime punishable by death or imprisonment in a federal or state penitentiary.
felony-murder doctrine  Principle maintaining that if a death occurs during commission of a felony, the person committing the primary offense can also be charged with murder in the first degree.
Florida v. Bostick  The Supreme Court ruling that police officers' conduct in boarding stopped passenger buses and approaching seated passengers to ask them questions and to request consent to search their luggage does not constitute a Fourth Amendment "seizure" in every instance but, instead, must be evaluated in each case.
fruit of the poisonous tree  The doctrine that evidence seized illegally is considered "tainted" and cannot be used against a suspect.
full enforcement  The tenacious enforcement of every statute in the criminal codes.
furlough  An authorized, unescorted absence from a correctional institution for a specified period.
Furman v. Georgia  The Supreme Court ruling that statutes leaving arbitrary and discriminatory discretion to juries in imposing death sentences are in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Gagnon v. Scarpelli  The Supreme Court ruling that the holding in Morrissey v. Brewer also applies to probationers and that neither probationers nor parolees are entitled to counsel as a matter of right at revocation hearings.
general strain theory  Robert Agnew's theory through which crime is viewed as a direct result of strain, or the negative feelings that originate from life in disorganized and lower socioeconomic areas where legitimate opportunities to achieve success are restricted. It conceptualizes strain as relationships in which an individual is not treated the way he or she wishes to be treated, proposes three types of strain an individual might encounter, and includes the influence of negative emotions in creating criminal behavior.
Gideon v. Wainwright  The Supreme Court ruling that an indigent defendant charged in a state court with any non-capital felony has the right to counsel under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Gitlow v. New York  The Supreme Court ruling that the First Amendment prohibition against government abridgment of the freedom of speech applies to state and local governments as well as to the federal government.
good time  The number of days deducted from a sentence for good behavior, meritorious service, particular kinds of work, or other considerations.
grand jury  A body of persons who have been selected according to law and sworn to hear evidence against accused persons and to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring those persons to trial, to investigate criminal activity generally, and to investigate the conduct of public agencies and officials.
Gregg v. Georgia  The Supreme Court ruling that (1) the death penalty is not, in itself, cruel and unusual punishment; and (2) a two-part proceeding—one for the determination of innocence or guilt and the other for determining the sentence—is constitutional and meets the objections noted in Furman v. Georgia.
Griswold v. Connecticut  The Supreme Court ruling that a right of personal privacy is implicit in the Constitution.
habeas corpus  A writ that directs the person holding a prisoner to bring him or her before a judicial officer to determine the lawfulness of imprisonment.
"hands-off" doctrine  The refusal of the courts to hear inmate complaints about the conditions of incarceration and the constitutional deprivations of penitentiary life.
hate crime  Offenses motivated by hatred against a victim because of his or her race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, handicap, or national origin.
Henry Fielding  The eighteenth-century British novelist and magistrate who laid the foundation for the first modern police force.
Holt v. Sarver  The federal court decision declaring the Arkansas prison system to be in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
homicide  The killing of one human being by another.
Hudson v. Palmer  The Supreme Court ruling that a prisoner has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his prison cell entitling him to Fourth Amendment protection.
Hurtado v. California  The Supreme Court ruling that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not require states to use grand jury indictments or presentments in capital cases.
Illinois Juvenile Court Act  Legislation that established the first statewide juvenile court system in the United States.
Illinois v. Gates  The Supreme Court ruling that in establishing probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant, magistrates may make a commonsense decision, given all the circumstances set forth in an affidavit, whether there is a fair probability that contraband can be found in a particular place.
Illinois v. Wardlow  The Supreme Court ruling that flight at the mere sight of a police officer could often, in the context of other factors, be suspicious enough to justify police in conducting a stop-and-frisk.
in forma pauperis  The characterization of an appeal by a poor person.
in loco parentis  A position in reference to a child of a lawful guardian or parent.
In re Gault  The Supreme Court ruling that extended some—but not all—due process privileges to juvenile court proceedings.
In re Winship  The Supreme Court ruling that required proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" for an adjudication of delinquency.
incapacitation  A sentencing philosophy seeking to remove the offender from society.
indeterminate sentence  A sentence of incarceration having a fixed minimum and a fixed maximum term of confinement, rather than a definite period.
Indianapolis v. Edmond  The Supreme Court ruling that police checkpoints aimed at discovering drugs were in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
indictment  A formal charging document returned by a grand jury, based on evidence presented to it by the prosecutor.
information  A formal charging document drafted by a prosecutor and tested before a magistrate.
injunctive relief  A court order, emanating from a habeas corpus action, directing prison officials to improve conditions or to stop enforcing unlawful policies.
inmate code  The unwritten rules of the prison subculture, which, if violated, can result in sanctions ranging from ostracism to death.
inquiry system  A system of justice in which all participants in a proceeding are obliged to cooperate with the court in its inquiry into the crime.
inquisitorial system  A system of justice in which the accused is considered guilty until he or she is proved innocent.
inside cells  Cells constructed back to back, with corridors running along the outside shell of the cell house.
intake hearing  An early stage in juvenile court proceedings in which a court officer makes a legal judgment of the probable cause of the petition.
intensive probation supervision  A program of closer surveillance and more exhaustive services that place a probationer under tighter control than he or she might experience under regular probation.
intermediate sanctions  Sanctions falling between the extremes of fines and imprisonment.
intermittent sentence  A sentence to periods of confinement interrupted by periods of freedom.
Interpol  An international police organization of 178 member countries that serves as a depository of intelligence information on wanted criminals.
J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B.  The Supreme Court ruling that the exercise of peremptory challenges on the basis of gender violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Jackson v. Bishop  The federal court decision declaring that whipping is in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
jails  Local facilities for temporary detention.
Johnson v. Avery  The Supreme Court ruling that unless a state provides some reasonable legal assistance to inmates seeking post-conviction relief, a jailhouse lawyer must be permitted to aid inmates in filing habeas corpus petitions.
Johnson v. Zerbst  The Supreme Court ruling that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel applies to all felony defendants in federal prosecutions.
Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union  The Supreme Court ruling that prison regulations prohibiting the organized activities of inmate labor unions are not violative of the freedom of association clause of the First Amendment.
judges  Public officers who preside over courts of law.
judicial circuit  A specific jurisdiction served by a judge or court, as defined by given geographical boundaries.
jury nullification  The refusal or marked reluctance on the part of a jury to convict, because of the severe nature of the sentence involved or other factors or because a jury otherwise "nullifies" the force of strict legal procedure.
justices of the peace  The judges in many lower courts in rural areas, who are typically not lawyers and are locally elected.
Kent v. United States  The Supreme Court ruling that the waiver of jurisdiction is a critically important stage in juvenile proceedings and must be attended by minimum requirements of due process and fair treatment.
Klopfer v. North Carolina  The Supreme Court ruling that the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial applies in state as well as federal proceedings.
labeling theory  The theory of crime that focuses on the processes of interaction through which behaviors become defined as criminal and the ways in which the labeling process can bring about more criminality.
Lambert v. California  Ruling whereby the U.S. Supreme Court held that due process requires that ignorance of a duty must be allowed as a defense when circumstances that inform a person as to the required duty are completely lacking.
larceny  The taking and carrying away of the personal property of another, with the intent to deprive permanently.
"law and order"  A political ideology and slogan that sought a return to the morality and values of earlier times and rejected the growing permissiveness in government and social affairs.
Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA)  A federal bureaucracy created to involve the national government in local crime control by supplying funds to the states for training and upgrading criminal justice agencies.
Lawrence v. Texas  The Supreme Court ruling that the Texas statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual acts violated the due process clause of the Constitution.
lease system  A form of prison industry under which contractors assume complete control over prisoners.
lockdown  A situation in which inmates are confined to their cells around the clock, denied exercise, work, recreation, and visits.
Lockhart v. McCree  The Supreme Court ruling that the Fifth Amendment is not violated by a prosecutor's removal for cause, at the start of the guilt phase of a capital trial, of prospective jurors so opposed to the death penalty as to be unable to perform their duties at sentencing.
malice aforethought  The intent to cause death or serious harm or to commit any felony whatsoever.
mandatory release  A release from prison required by statute when an inmate has been confined for a time period equal to his or her full prison sentence minus statutory "good time" if any.
mandatory sentence  A statutory requirement that a certain penalty shall be set and carried out in all cases upon conviction for a specified offense or series of offenses.
manslaughter  The unlawful killing of another, without malice.
Mapp v. Ohio  The Supreme Court ruling that evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment must be excluded from use in the state as well as federal trials.
Marbury v. Madison  The Supreme Court decision that established the High Court's power to review acts of Congress and declare invalid those it finds in conflict with the Constitution.
mark system  Started by Alexander Maconochie at Norfolk Island, a system by which inmates earn early release by hard work and good behavior.
maximum expiration date  The date on which the full sentence ends.
maximum-security prisons  Correctional institutions designed to hold the most aggressive and incorrigible offenders.
McKeiver v. Pennsylvania  The Supreme Court ruling that due process does not require a jury in juvenile court hearings.
Mempa v. Rhay  The Supreme Court ruling that the right to counsel applies to state probation revocation hearings at which deferred sentence may be imposed.
mens rea (criminal intent)  A person's awareness of what is right and wrong under the law concurrent with an intention to violate the law.
Minnesota v. Dickerson  The Supreme Court ruling that established the "plain feel" doctrine: that an object a police officer detects on a suspect's person during the course of a valid protective frisk under Terry v. Ohio may be seized without a warrant if the officer's sense of touch makes it immediately apparent that the object, though not threatening in nature, is contraband.
Miranda v. Arizona  The Supreme Court ruling that the guarantee of due process requires that suspects in police custody be informed that they have the right to remain silent, that anything they say may be used against them, and that they have the right to counsel—before any questioning can permissibly take place.
misdemeanor  A crime punishable by no more than a $1,000 fine and/or one year of imprisonment, typically in a local institution.
misprision of felony  The concealment of a felony committed by another.
Missouri Plan  A method of selecting judges in which the governor, the bar association, and the voters all participate in the process.
mistrial  A trial that has been terminated without a verdict and declared invalid by the court because of some circumstance that creates a substantial and uncorrectable prejudice to the conduct of a fair trial.
M'Naghten Rule  The "right-or-wrong" test of criminal responsibility.
Monroe v. Pape  The Supreme Court ruling that citizens can bring Section 1983 suits against state officials in federal courts without first exhausting state judicial remedies.
Morrissey v. Brewer  The Supreme Court ruling that a parolee facing revocation is entitled to both a preliminary hearing to determine whether he or she actually violated parole and a final hearing to consider not only the facts in question but also, if there was a violation, what to do about it.
motion  An application made to the court or judge requesting an order or ruling in favor of the applicant.
murder  The felonious killing of another human being with malice aforethought.
mutual pledge  Alfred the Great's system of internal policing that organized people into tithings, hundreds, and shires.
natural law  General principles that determine what is right and wrong according to some higher power.
New Jersey v. T.L.O.  The Supreme Court ruling that school officials, with reasonable grounds to believe that the law or school rules are being violated, may conduct reasonable searches if needed to maintain safety, order, and discipline in a school.
nolle prosequi  A formal entry in the record by which the prosecutor declares that he or she "will not further prosecute" the case.
nolo contendere  A plea of "no contest" or "I do not wish to contest," with the same implication as a guilty plea.
Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act  A piece of federal law-and-order legislation that was viewed by many as a political maneuver aimed at allaying fears of crime rather than bringing about criminal justice reform.
open institutions  "Prisons without walls," such as correctional camps, farms, and ranches.
organized crime  Business activities directed toward economic gain through unlawful means.
Palko v. Connecticut  The Supreme Court ruling that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not require the states to observe the double jeopardy guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.
parens patriae  A philosophy under which the state takes over the role of parent.
parole  The status of being released from a penal or reformatory institution in which one has served a part of his or her maximum sentence, on the condition of maintaining good behavior and remaining in the custody and under the guidance of the institution or some other agency approved by the state until a final discharge is granted.
parole prediction  An estimate of probability of violation or nonviolation of parole, based on experience tables, developed with regard to groups of offenders possessing similar characteristics.
Part I offenses  Crimes designated by the FBI as the most serious and compiled in terms of the number of reports made to law enforcement agencies and the number of arrests made.
Part II offenses  Crimes designated by the FBI as less serious than the Part I offenses and compiled in terms of the number of arrests made.
patrol  A means of deploying police officers that gives them responsibility for policing activity in a defined area and that usually requires them to make regular circuits of that area.
peacekeeping role  The legitimate right of police to use force in situations in which urgency requires it.
Pear's case  Legal ruling whereby a person who has legal control of another's property and converts that property so as to deprive the owner of his possessory rights is guilty of larceny.
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole v. Scott  The Supreme Court ruling that the exclusionary rule does not apply in parole revocation hearings.
petition  In juvenile proceedings, a document alleging that a youth is a delinquent, a status offender, or a dependent child and asking that the court assume jurisdiction over the juvenile.
piece-price system  A variation of the contract system of prison industry in which the contractor supplies the raw material and receives the finished product, paying the prison a specified amount for each unit produced.
"plain view" doctrine  The rule, from the Supreme Court decision in Harris v. United States, that anything a police officer sees in plain view, when that officer has a right to be where he or she is, is not the product of a search and is therefore admissible as evidence.
plea negotiation  The negotiation of an agreement among the prosecutor, the judge, and the accused's attorney as to the charge(s) and sentence imposed if the accused pleads guilty.
police brutality  The unlawful use of physical force by officers in the performance of their duties.
police corruption  Misconduct by police officers in the forms of illegal activities for economic gain and accepting gratuities, favors, or payment for services that police are sworn to carry out as part of their peacekeeping role.
police cynicism  The notion held by many officers that all people are motivated by evil and selfishness.
police discretion  The freedom to choose among a variety of alternatives in conducting police operations.
police integrity  The quality of police exercising powers and using discretion to the highest standards of competence, fairness, and honesty.
"police presence"  The almost continuous presence of police officers in a place of business for the crime deterrent effects it affords.
police professionalism  The notion that brutality and corruption are incompetent policing.
police subculture  The values and behavior patterns characteristic of experienced police officers.
posse comitatus  The able-bodied men of a county who were at the disposal of a sheriff when called for service.
Powell v. Alabama  The Supreme Court ruling that an indigent charged in a state court with a capital offense has the right to the assistance of counsel at trial under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
premeditation  A design or conscious decision to do something before it is actually done.
presentence investigation  An investigation into the background and character of a defendant that assists the court in determining the most appropriate sentence.
presentment  A written notice of accusation issued by a grand jury, based on its own knowledge and observation.
President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice  A series of task forces appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to study crime and justice in the United States and to make recommendations for change.
primary deviation  The term used in labeling theory to describe the violation of some norm or law.
prisonization  The socializing process by which the inmate learns the rules and regulations of the institution and the informal rules, values, customs, and general culture of the penitentiary.
prisons  Correctional institutions maintained by federal and state governments for the confinement of convicted felons.
privatization of corrections  The construction, staffing, and operation of prisons by private industry for profit.
probable cause  Facts or apparent facts that are reliable and generate a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed.
probation  A sentence not involving confinement that imposes conditions and retains authority in the sentencing court to modify the conditions of sentence or to resentence the offender if he or she violates the conditions.
procedural due process  Due process protection whereby certain procedures are required before the life, liberty, or property of a person may be taken by the government.
Procunier v. Martinez  The Supreme Court ruling that prison mail censorship is constitutional only when the practice furthers government interests in security and rehabilitation and when the restrictions are no greater than necessary to satisfy the particular government interest involved.
prosecutor  A government attorney who instigates the prosecution of an accused and represents the state at trial.
protective sweep doctrine  The rule that when police officers execute an arrest on or outside private premises, they may conduct a warrant-less examination of the entire premises for other persons whose presence would pose a threat, either to their safety or to evidence capable of being removed or destroyed.
rape  The unlawful carnal knowledge of a female without her consent and against her will.
rape shield statutes  Laws that protect alleged rape victims from being questioned about evidence of past sexual experiences that are not relevant to the case and that might be prejudicial.
reception center  A central receiving institution where all felony offenders sentenced to a term of imprisonment are committed for orientation and classification.
rehabilitation  A sentencing philosophy seeking to reintegrate the offender into society.
release on recognizance (ROR)  The release of an accused on his or her own obligation rather than on a monetary bond.
restitution  A condition of probation requiring offenders to compensate their victims for damages or to donate their time in service to the community.
retribution  A sentencing philosophy seeking to create an equal or proportionate relationship between the offense and the punishment.
Rhodes v. Chapman  The Supreme Court ruling that cell overcrowding, in and of itself, is neither cruel nor unusual.
robbery  The felonious taking of the money or goods of another, from his or her person or in his or her presence and against the individual's will, through the use or threat of force and violence.
Robinson v. California  The 1962 ruling whereby the U.S. Supreme Court declared that sickness may not be made a crime nor may sick people be punished for being sick. In a new approach to the Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishments," the Court viewed narcotic addiction to be a "sickness" and held that a state cannot make it a punishable offense any more than it could put a person in jail "for the 'crime' of having a common cold."
Rochin v. California  The Supreme Court ruling that evidence acquired in a manner that "shocks the conscience" is in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Roper v. Simmons  The 2005 Supreme Court decision holding that the imposition of the death penalty on offenders who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The decision overturned Stanford v. Kentucky, in which the Court had upheld statutes setting the minimum age for capital punishment at 16.
Ruiz v. Estelle  The federal court decision declaring the Texas prison system to be unconstitutional.
Rule of Four  The decision of at least four Supreme Court justices that a case merits consideration by the full court.
Schall v. Martin  The Supreme Court ruling that preventive detention is permissible for accused juvenile delinquents when there is evidence that the youth presents a serious risk of committing a crime before adjudication of the case.
search and seizure  The search for and taking of persons and property as evidence of crime.
search warrant  A written order, issued by a magistrate and directed to a law enforcement officer, commanding a search of a specified premises.
secondary deviation  The term used in labeling theory to describe the demeanor and conduct that people cultivate as a result of being labeled deviant or criminal.
Section 1983  The section of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 used by state prisoners as a vehicle for access to the federal courts to litigate inmate rights.
self-reported crime  Crime statistics compiled on the basis of self-reports by offenders.
separate system  A prison system whereby each inmate is kept in solitary confinement in an isolated cell for the purpose of eliminating evil association in congregate quarters.
separation-of-powers doctrine  The principle that power is distributed among three branches of government—the legislative, the executive, and the judicial—for the purpose of ensuring that no one person or group will make the law, interpret the law, and apply the law.
sequestration  The removal of the jurors (and alternates, if any) from all possible outside influences.
shock incarceration  A three- to six-month regimen of military drill, drug treatment, physical exercise, hard labor, and academic work in return for having several years removed from an inmate's sentence.
shock probation  Brief incarceration followed by suspension of sentence and probation.
silent system  A prison system whereby inmates experience confinement under a rigid rule of absolute silence at all times.
Sixth Amendment  Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing the right to:
• A speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury, in the district where the offense was committed.
• Notice of charges.
• Confrontation with witnesses.
• Compulsory process for obtaining witnesses.
• Assistance of counsel.
social control theory  A theory of crime that centers on how individuals are constrained by the social structure and holds that crimes are committed when an individual's attachments to society are weakened.
speedy trial  The Sixth Amendment guarantee that protects an accused from indefinite incarceration prior to coming to trial.
Speedy Trial Act  A congressional measure that established a 100-day deadline between arrest and trial in federal cases.
Stack v. Boyle  The Supreme Court ruling that bail set at a figure higher than an amount reasonably calculated to ensure the presence of the accused at trial and at the time of final submission to sentence is "excessive" under the Eighth Amendment.
state account system  A form of prison industry in which inmate production is directed by prison officials, goods are sold on the open market, and inmates receive a share of the profits.
state-use system  A form of prison industry in which inmate-produced goods are used in state institutions and bureaus.
status offenders  Youths who, because of their special status as children, can be brought to the attention of the juvenile courts for certain kinds of noncriminal behavior.
status offense  An act declared by statute to be a crime because it violates the standards of behavior expected of children.
statutory law  Law created by statute, handed down by legislatures.
substantive due process  Due process protection against unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious laws or acts.
supermax prisons  Highly restrictive, high-custody housing units within a secure facility (or an entire secure facility) that isolate inmates from the general prison population and from each other due to especially serious crimes, violent institutional behavior, the threat of (or actual) escape, or inciting prison disturbances.
surety  A third party who posts a bond for an accused.
suspended sentence  A court disposition of a convicted person, pronouncing a penalty of a fine or commitment to confinement but unconditionally discharging the defendant or holding execution of the penalty in abeyance upon good behavior.
Tennessee v. Garner  Supreme Court decision stating that deadly force against a fleeing felon is proper only when it is necessary to prevent the escape and when there is probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat to the officers or others.
terrorism  The systematic use or threat of extreme violence directed against actual or symbolic victims, typically performed for psychological rather than material effects, for the purpose of coercing individuals, groups, communities, or governments into making political or tactical concessions.
Terry v. Ohio  The Supreme Court ruling that when a police officer observes unusual conduct and suspects a crime is about to be committed, he may frisk a suspect's outer clothing for dangerous weapons.
Texas Rangers  Founded by Stephen F. Austin in 1823, the first territorial police agency in the United States.
theft  The unlawful taking, possession, or use of another's property without the use or threat of force and with the intent to deprive permanently.
thief-takers  Citizens who receive a reward for the apprehension of a criminal.
Thornburgh v. Abbott  The Supreme Court ruling that federal prison regulations restricting prisoners' receipt of publications from outside prison pass First Amendment muster if they are reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.
ticket-of-leave  Started by Sir Walter Crofton of Ireland, a system of conditional release from prison that represented an early form of parole.
Tison v. Arizona  The Supreme Court ruling that a "non-triggerman" who does not intend to commit murder may be executed when he or she participates in a felony that leads to murder and is found to have exhibited "reckless indifference" for human life.
total institutions  Places that furnish barriers to social interchange with the world at large.
transactional immunity  Immunity against prosecution given to a grand jury witness in return for testifying.
trial de novo  A new trial, on appeal from a lower court to a court of general jurisdiction.
true bill  A grand jury's endorsement of the charge or charges specified in the prosecutor's bill.
truth in sentencing  Laws that require offenders to serve a substantial portion of their sentences.
U.S. courts of appeals  The federal courts of appellate jurisdiction.
U.S. district courts  The trial courts of the federal judiciary.
U.S. magistrates  Federal lower-court officials whose powers are limited to trying lesser misdemeanors, setting bail, and assisting district courts in various legal matters.
U.S. Supreme Court  The highest court in the nation and the court of last resort.
Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)  The annual publication of the FBI, presenting official statistics on the rates and trends in crime in the United States.
United States v. Calandra  The Supreme Court ruling that refused to extend the exclusionary rule to grand jury questions based on illegally seized evidence.
United States v. Leon  The Supreme Court ruling that the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule does not bar the use of evidence obtained by police officers acting in objectively reasonable reliance on a search warrant issued by a magistrate but ultimately found to be unsupported by probable cause.
United States v. Wade  The Supreme Court ruling that a police lineup identification of a suspect made without the suspect's attorney present is inadmissible as evidence at trial.
USA Patriot Act  A federal administrative law passed by Congress in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to better enable law enforcement officials to track and punish those responsible for terrorism and to protect U.S. citizens and property against further attacks.
use immunity  A limited immunity that prohibits the government only from using a grand jury witness's compelled testimony in a subsequent criminal proceeding.
vengeance  A sentencing philosophy seeking satisfaction from knowing or seeing that offenders are punished.
venire  A writ that summons jurors.
vicarious liability  The doctrine under which liability is imposed upon an employer for the acts of employees that are committed in the course and scope of their employment.
victim impact evidence  A statement of the harm suffered by the victim or the victim's family as a result of the offender's action.
victimization surveys  Surveys of the victims of crime based on interviews with representative samples of the household population.
vigilante justice  Extralegal criminal justice activities by individuals or groups who take the law into their own hands for the sake of establishing "law and order."
void-for-vagueness doctrine  The rule that criminal laws that are unclear or uncertain as to what or to whom they apply violate due process.
voir dire  An oath sworn by a juror regarding his or her qualifications.
waiver of jurisdiction  The process by which the juvenile court relinquishes its jurisdiction over a child and transfers the case to a court of criminal jurisdiction for prosecution as an adult.
Walnut Street Jail  The first American penitentiary.
Warren Court  The Supreme Court under the leadership of Chief Justice Earl Warren.
Weeks v. United States  The Supreme Court ruling that a person whose Fourth Amendment rights of security against unreasonable search and seizure are violated by federal agents has the right to require that evidence obtained in the search be excluded from use against him or her in federal courts.
Weems v. United States  The Supreme Court ruling that a sentence disproportionate of the offense is in violation of the Eighth Amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment.
white-collar crime  Offenses committed by persons acting in their legitimate occupational roles.
Williams v. New York  The Supreme Court ruling that at sentencing, the defendant does not have a Sixth Amendment right to cross-examine persons who have supplied information to the court (in a presentence report) regarding sentencing.
Wilson v. Seiter  The Supreme Court ruling that an inmate alleging that the conditions of his or her confinement violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment must show deliberate indifference on the part of the responsible prison officials.
Witherspoon v. Illinois  The Supreme Court ruling that states cannot exclude from juries in capital cases all persons opposed to the death penalty.
Wolff v. McDonnell  The Supreme Court ruling that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects, in part, state prisoners facing loss of good-time credit or punitive confinement.
working personality  A personality characterized by authoritarianism, cynicism, and suspicion, developed by police officers in response to danger and the obligation to exercise authority.
writ of certiorari  A writ issued by the Supreme Court ordering some lower court to "forward up the record" of a case it has tried so the High Court can review it.
writ of mandamus  A command issued by a court to perform a certain duty.

Criminal JusticeOnline Learning Center

Home > Glossary