Theorizing Criminal Justice: An Emerging Infrastructure

Peter B. Kraska, Eastern Kentucky University

Crime and Justice Studies does not have a recognizable body of theoretical scholarship about the criminal justice system. The activity of "theorizing", most assume, is reserved for explaining crime - implying that it is either not possible or desirable to theorize crime control or the CJS. This paper discusses the necessity and utility of theorizing criminal justice, and seeks to identify the various theoretical orientations in our field of study, both traditional and contemporary, which help us to make sense of the criminal justice apparatus. An organizational schema of these orientations is presented using the tool of metaphors (e.g., CJ as System, CJ as Socially Constructed Reality, CJ in Late-Modern Society).

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Updated 05/20/2006