THE AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE by Dean John Champion

THE AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Key Terms and Major Court Cases, Third Edition
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A straightforward, alphabetized compendium of approximately 5,000 terms, proper names and concepts.

About halfway through, the format changes to a rundown of especially significant U.S. Supreme Court rulings concerning crime and punishment. Backmatter includes an index, bibliography of print resources, key web addresses, doctoral programs in criminal justice, federal and state probation, parole and prison agencies. Champion, a criminal justice professor at Texas A&M International University, favors breadth over depth. He makes it clear that his reference book is no substitute for Black's Law Dictionary or for in-depth research about individuals, institutions and issues. The first dictionary entry is “ABA models of court organization,” and the last is “Zylon,” a fabric used in body armor worn by law enforcement officers. The Zylon entry suggests the comprehensiveness of the reference book, but also demonstrates Champion's tendency to overextend himself. Do presumably sophisticated readers need to be told that body armor used by police is meant “to protect them from bullets during shooting incidents”? And what is the purpose of mentioning the names of two corporations that manufacture Zylon? Still, better too much than too little in a reference book–most entries educate and fascinate. Indeed, how many readers will know that lawyer Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970), author of the bestselling Perry Mason novels, “originated [the] Court of Last Resort, an organization that assisted persons believed to be wrongfully convicted of crimes”?

Despite its quirks, a worthy addition to the reference library. Of potential use to law students and professors, lawyers and laypersons alike.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 1-931719-33-0
Program: Kirkus Indie
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