Fundamentals of Criminal Justice | Preface

A banner reading "Criminal Justice: An Overview of the System" by Adam J. McKee

Preface to the Second Edition

I remain flattered at the reception that the first edition of this little book has received over the past seven years since its inception.  The flaws were numerous, yet the kind words never stopped.  Since I developed to host this book and my other projects, I’ve received 1.06 Million visits and counting.  Some folks dropped in for other things, but the vast majority of that traffic was driven by Fundamentals of Criminal Justice.  This is perhaps more of an endorsement of the OER model and the need for it, but I remain bewildered by the popularity and support for the now-dated text.   Despite the obvious need for an updated edition (and my personal need to clean up those embarrassing errors), with a full research and teaching load, putting together a well-crafted second edition was an insurmountable task.  That is why I am forever grateful to the academic administration at UAM.  They approved my request for an “off-campus duty assignment” to complete this work.

Specifically, I am eternally grateful to my friend and Dean, Dr. Clinton Young, for his encouragement and support for this project and his sage advice.  Furthermore, my heartfelt thanks are extended to Vice Chancellor Crystal Halley and Chancellor Peggy Doss for their belief in and support of this project. Absent their patronage, this refreshed edition might have forever languished in the limbo of ‘forthcoming’ works. The second edition has been updated with the most recent information available, and it has been expanded to clarify complex concepts.  I’ve taken great pains to improve the readability of the text and make it more student-friendly.  I hope it lives up to the expectations of all those who have supported me in this endeavor.

Adam J. McKee

June 15, 2023

Preface to the First Edition

Most people have gained some understanding of how the American criminal justice system works simply by living in our society and being exposed to popular culture. Unfortunately, this common knowledge is incomplete and intermixed with many myths. Many important elements of our criminal justice system are simply not a part of the “average Joe’s” understanding of how the system works. This text is designed to provide the reader with a clear and concise overview of the entire American criminal justice system with an eye to dispelling some common myths.

This book is organized around the various steps in the criminal justice system, describing the elements of the system that deal with those steps along the way. Of course, not every case will follow a neat, linear progression through the system. It must be remembered that the progression suggested herein is, to some degree, an oversimplification of the process. Due to our federal system of government, criminal cases are handled on the local, state, and federal levels. Each of these jurisdictions will vary to some degree from the next.

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Last Updated:  6/15/2023

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