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ARCHIVED: Criminal Justice Resources: Dictionaries

Reference Tools

Reference books include dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, directories, manuals, handbooks, and much more. Reference books can help you

  1. explore a topic (find out what has been said about a topic, trends, issues, etc.
  2. identify unfamiliar terms or people in your reading
  3. find references to other books and articles on the topic, and
  4. find keywords to use in online searches.

This page pulls together a sample of both electronic and print reference tools.

Online Reference Tools

If you don't know where to start, you may want to try one of the following online compilations of reference tools:

Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Includes encyclopedic articles on historical and contemporary Natie American research topics.

Sage Reference Online.

Search all titles in the collection, encyclopedias only, handbooks only, or search criminology and criminal justice titles only.

Oxford Reference Online.

Contains online versions of dictionaries and encyclopedias previously published in paper by the Oxford University Press.

Crime Statistics

Interested in criminal justics statistics or data?  Visit

Dictionaries, A-E

Note : Many reference books are being transferred to the Main Library stacks this summer.

The American Dictionary of Criminal Justice: Key Terms and Major Court Cases / Dean J. Champion. Roxbury Publishing Company, 2001. 2nd edition, 405p. Main Library HV7411 .C53 2001 : The first part contains a list of criminal justice terms, including brief entries on major criminal justice figures, such as Benjamin Rush and O. W. Wilson. The second provides an annotated list of cases (largely those argued before the Supreme Court) that have had a major impact in the field of criminal justice. Students seeking to study major cases dealing, for example, with custodial interrogations or entrapment, will find an index by topic at the back of the book. Although there are many guides to Supreme Court decisions as well as a number of criminal justice dictionaries, this relatively inexpensive paperback will prove handy as a supplement undergraduates can use with their textbooks when writing papers or researching topical areas....A sampling of current cases includes: Bennis v. Michigan (1996) Asset Forfeiture; Bracy v. Gramley (1997) Discovery; Calderon v. Coleman (1998) Death Penalty City of Chicago v. Morales (1999) First Amendment County of Sacramento v. Lewis (1998) Deadly Force Dempsey v. Martin (1999) Inmate Rights, Frivolous Lawsuits; Felker v. Turpin (1996) Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act; Flippo v. West Virginia (1999) Search and Seizure; Florida v. White (1999) Asset Forfeiture; Gray v. Maryland (1998) Confessions; Jones v. United States (1999) Sentencing; Kalina v. Fletcher (1997) Prosecutorial Misconduct; Lilly v. Virginia (1999) Death Penalty; Martin v. Hadix (1999) Prison Litigation Reform Act; Maryland v. Dyson (1998) Search and Seizure; Maryland v. Wilson (1998) Search and Seizure; Ohio v. Robinette (1998) Fourth Amendment; Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole v. Scott (1998) Parole Revocation; Portuondo v. Agard (2000) Prosecutorial Misconduct; Stewart v. LaGrand (1999) Death Penalty; United States v. Johnson (2000) Sentencing; Wilson v. Layne (1999) Media Rights, Search and Seizure. All major criminal justice topics have been incorporated into the compilation of cases, including such topics as: Aggravating and mitigating circumstances, AIDS/HIV, Asset forfeiture, Bifurcated trials, Section 1983 civil rights claims, Confessions, Consent searches by police officers, Courts and prosecution issues, Corrections issues, Cruel and unusual punishmen,t Custodial interrogations, Deadly Force, Death-qualified jury issues, Death penalty cases and rulings, Discovery issues, Double jeopardy cases, Electronic surveillance, wiretapping issues Fines Habeas corpus petitions, Informants, Inmate rights Juries, size, and unanimity issues, Juvenile law, Lineups, Probation and parole, Plea bargaining, Prosecutorial misconduct, Searches and seizures, Self-incrimination, Victim impact statements. Many of these cases are cross-cited to facilitate research.

The American Dictionary of Criminal Justice : Key Terms and Major Court Cases / Dean John Champion. Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2005. 3rd ed., 1st Scarecrow Press cloth ed.  Main Library HV7411 .C48 2005 : This dictionary is useful for any criminology or criminal justice course with applications in sociology, public administration, political science, and the administration of justice. Key terms cut across the following areas: criminal law, criminal justice, forensics, gangs, computers and computer crime, criminal investigations, criminology, criminological theory, corrections, probation and parole, courts and sentencing, rules of criminal procedure, constitutional law, policing and police-community relations, jails and prisons, white-collar crime, sodomy laws, civil rights, tort law, victimization, juvenile law, Section 1983 actions, capital punishment, electronic surveillance, fines and asset forfeiture, deadly force, search and seizure, wrongful convictions, the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The dictionary includes numerous illustrations, figures, and tables that provide readers with visual portrayals of important criminal justice facts. A comprehensive listing of over 30 doctoral programs in criminal justice is provided, together with useful contact information. An extensive listing of Internet sites is provided for locating useful information regarding important topics associated with law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. Also featured are listings of all probation/parole and state corrections departments and relevant contact information. Finally, this section provides listings of leading criminological theorists, a summary of their major theoretical contributions, and brief synopses of their written works. Many theorists are cross-referenced with other scholars....Nine hundred and eighty of the most recent and significant leading U.S. Supreme Court cases have been abridged in a short paragraph format to highlight the major facts, holdings, and rationales. A sample of current cases includes: Bunkley v. Florida (2003) retroactive rules; Chavez v. Martinez (2003) Section 1983 rules; Ewing v. California (2003) habitual offender statutes; Illinois v. Lidster (2004) sobriety checkpoints; Kaupp v. Texas (2003) confessions; Khanh Phuong Nguyen v. United States (2003) federal appellate judge qualifications; Lawrence v. Texas (2003) sodomy laws; Lockyer v. Andrade (2003) three-strike laws; Maryland v. Pringle (2003) vehicle searches; Massaro v. United States (2003) ineffective assistance of counsel; Miller v. Cockrell (2003) peremptory challenges; Mitchell v. Esparza (2004) death penalty and harmless error doctrine; Overton v. Bazzetta (2003) civil rights, Section 1983 claims; Price v. Vincent (2003) double jeopardy; Sell v. United States (2003) forced medication of mentally ill patients; Smith v. Doe (2003) ex post facto laws; Stogner v. California (2003) sex offender laws; and United States v. Banks (2003) knock and announce and exigent circumstances.

The Concise Dictionary of Crime and Justice / Mark S. Davis.  Thousand Oaks, Ca. : Sage Publications, c2002.  286pp.  Main Library HV6017 .D38 2002 : Intended for academics, practitioners, and crime writers, this reference book defines approximately 2,000 criminal justice terms. Arranged alphabetically, entries provide a definition, discuss common misconceptions and controversies, and provide references to related entries. Included are technical terms, slang, historical events and persons, and existing organizations.

Cop Speak : the Lingo of Law Enforcement and Crime / Tom Philbin. New York, N.Y. : John Wiley and Sons, 1996. 234pp. Main Library  HV7901 .P55 1996 : From the "git-go" until the case is "cleared", law enforcement officials -- and the criminals they pursue -- have a language all their own. The author sets the record straight with a fun, factual, and fascinating compilation that's part dictionary, part encyclopedia, and always entertaining, covering everything from "abe" to "zombie".

Cops, Crooks, and Criminologists : An International Biographical Dictionary of Law Enforcement / Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod. Checkmark Books, 2000. Updated edition.  Main Library HV7911 .A1 A94 2000 : This book is intended to be neither a policeman's hall of fame nor a rogue's gallery of notorious criminals. It is an encyclopedic dictionary of major and significant figures, living and dead, who have shaped the history of law enforcement. Includes F. Lee Bailey, Elliot Ness, the Earps, Ernesto Miranda, Jack Hays, Sam Giancana, Thurgood Marshall, and Frank Rizzo.

Crime and Law Enforcement Articles from Reference (Web Page) : Derived from the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia.

Criminology Glossary from Crime Theory (Web Page)

Criminal Justice and Criminology : Terms, Concepts, and Cases / James F. Anderson ... [et al.]. Lanham, Md. : University Press of America, c2007. 301pp. Main Library HV7411 .C75 2007 : This dictionary contains criminal justice terms, criminological concepts, and over one hundred cases decided by courts in the federal system, including the United States Supreme Court. These cases address aspects of criminal procedures, as well as individual rights in the U.S. Constitution related to the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Using professional terms in an easy-to-read format, this book will provide the reader with a clear understanding of past and present concepts, terms, and case laws that are related to criminal justice and criminology.

Dictionary of American Criminal Justice : Key Terms and Major Supreme Court Cases / Dean J. Champion.  Chicago : Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1998. 349pp. Main Library HV7411 .C53 1998 : Champion's book addresses two reference needs of any library collection: the first half is an up-to-date dictionary of terms used in the criminal justice field, the remainder an annotated alphabetic compilation of important US Supreme Court cases addressing criminal justice. Each annotation provides the pertinent legal citations to the text of the decision (including date), the criminal justice subject category into which the decision falls, and a paragraph summarizing the case's facts and judicial ruling. A subject index of cases follows, guiding readers to other cases of interest. Not included is a defendant-plaintiff table, which would have helped locate cases in which only the name of the last party in the citation is known. An excellent work, important for reference collections in all libraries.

Dictionary of American Penology / Vergil L. Williams. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1996. Revised and expanded edition. Main Library  HV9304 .W54 1996 : Covers current American penology practices, historical penology precedents, and the changing attitudes and trends of prison management. Includes hundreds of definitions, tables, and bibliographic sources.

Dictionary of Criminal Justice / George E. Rush  Guilford, Ct. : Dushkin / McGraw-Hill , 2000. Fifth edition, 444pp. Main Library  HV6017 .R87 2000 : A single, convenient source for current information in the broad, interdisciplinary field of criminal justice. In addition to over 3,400 definitions, this work also provides summaries of over 700 important Supreme Court cases that have changed the study and practice of criminal justice. An earlier editions is available in the Main Library Stacks.

Dictionary of Criminal Justice Terms / Lanham, Md. : American Correctional Association, 1998. 129pp. Main Library HV7411 .D53 1998 ;  This essential reference provides short, informative definitions for more than 1,300 criminal justice terms. Practitioners and those just starting out in corrections will better understand the situations, conflicts and individuals they face by using this handy reference.

Dictionary of Culprits and Criminals / George C. Kohn.  Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 1995. Second edition, 385pp. Main Library HV6245 .K64 1995 : Contains over 1200 entries on American and British miscreants. Includes a short bibliography of resource materials.

A Dictionary of Law Enforcement / Graham Gooch, Michael Williams.  Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2007.  Main Library HV6017 .G66 2007

Dictionary of Terrorism (Rev. and updated ed. of: Encyclopedia of terrorism and political violence. 1987) / John Richard Thackrah. London ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2004. 2nd edition, 318pp. Main Library HV6431 .T56 2004 : Terrorism is one of the primary concerns of the modern world and is increasingly becoming a major factor in all international relations in the 21st century. This revised and updated second edition of a major reference work in the area contains definitions and descriptions of all aspects of terrorism and political violence, including:

  • individual terrorists
  • terrorist organisations
  • terrorist incidents
  • countries affected by terrorism
  • types of terrorism
  • measures against terrorism
  • forms of political violence
  • history of terrorism
  • psychology of terrorism
  • Dr. Frank Schmalleger's Criminal Justice Glossary (Web Page) : A glossary of the more common non-technical terms used in relation to the Justice system.

    Encyclopedic Dictionary of Criminology / George E. Rush and Sam Torres.  Incline Village, NV : Copperhouse Publishing Co., 1998. 185pp. Main Library HV6017 .R87 1998 : A quick reference to anyone seeking to understand the field of criminal justice -- student, instructor, practitioner, layperson or administrator. While not exhaustive, this book does attempt to cover the most frequently used terms and concepts associated with criminological theory.

    Encyclopedia of Terrorism and Political Violence (Note: 2nd edition has the title Dictionary of terrorism)  London ; New York : Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987. 308pp. Main Library HV6431 .T56 1987 : The first line of defence against terrorism is to learn as much as one can about terrorists, to understand their motivations and their methods, and to be able as a result to anticipate some of their targetting, or at least to limit damage if attacks cannot be prevented. British viewpoint.

    For additional criminal justice dictionaries, search the MSU Library Online Catalog. Try typing in the following subject headings under LC Subject: corrections--dictionaries
    criminal justice, administration of--dictionaries
    police administration--dictionaries
    law enforcement--dictionaries
    criminal procedure--dictionaries
    criminal law--United States--dictionaries

    Dictionaries, F-Z

    Fifty key thinkers in criminology / edited by Keith Hayward, Shadd Maruna and Jayne Mooney.  Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2010.  312pp.  Main Library HV6023 .F54X 2010 : This entry in the "Routledge Key Guides" series places a human face on the study of criminology through thoughtful "intellectual biographies" of the discipline's top international theorists from the 18th through the late 20th century.

    Gangsters, Swindlers, Killers, and Thieves : the Lives and Crimes of Fifty American Villains / Lawrence Block, editor. New York : Oxford University Press, 2004. 287pp. Main Library HV6785 .G36 2004 : Contents : Thomas Beer [1888?-1940] -- Billy the Kid [1859-1881] -- Black Bart [fl. 1875-1888] -- John Wilkes Booth [1838-1865] -- Ted Bundy [1946-1989] -- Al Capone [1899-1947] -- Frankie Carbo [1904-1976] -- Butch Cassidy [1866-1908? or 1937?] -- Mickey Cohen [1913-1976] -- Joseph Anthony Colombo, Sr. [1923-1978] -- Frank Costello [1891-1973] -- Leon Czolgosz [1873-1901] -- Bob Dalton [1869-1892] -- John F. Deitz [1861-1924] -- John Dillinger [1903-1934] -- William Doolin [1858-1896] -- Charles Arthur Floyd [1904-1934] -- Carlo Gambino [1902-1976] -- Edward Gein [1906-1984] -- Vito Genovese [1897-1969] -- Charles Julius Guiteau [1841-1882] -- John Wesley Hardin [1853-1895] -- Tom Horn [1860-1903] -- Jesse James [1847-1882] -- Machine Gun Kelly [1895-1954] -- Meyer Lansky [1902-1983] -- Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. [1904-1971] and Richard Albert Loeb [1905-1936] -- Lucky Luciano [1897-1962] -- Ebenezer Mackintosh [1737-1816] -- Owen Victor Madden [1891-1965] -- Samuel Mason [1750-1803] -- Gaston Bullock Means [1879-1938] -- John Andrews Murrell [1806?-1844] -- Philip Mariano Fausto Musica [1884-1938] -- Bonnie Parker [1910-1934] and Clyde Chestnut Barrow [1909-1934] -- William Clarke Quantrill [1837-1865] -- Railroad Bill [?-1896] -- Stephen S. Renfroe [1843-1886] -- Arnold Rothstein [1882-1928] -- Dutch Schultz [1902-1935] -- Bugsy Siegel [1906-1947] -- Joseph Alfred Slade [1829 or 1830-1864] -- Belle Starr [1848-1889] -- Willie Sutton [1901-1980] -- Harry Kendall Thaw [1871-1947] -- Joseph Valachi [1904-1971] -- Tiburcio Vasquez [1835-1875] -- John White Webster [1793-1850] -- Seth Wyman [1784-1843] -- Cole Younger [1844-1916].

    Historical Dictionary of Law Enforcement / Mitchel P. Roth  Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001. 479pp. Main Library HV7903 .R67 2001 : This "dictionary" of the history of policing throughout the world profiles the individuals, agencies, organizations, and events that have been significant in various manifestations of law enforcement over the course of history.

    Historical Dictionary of Terrorism /Sean Anderson and Stephen Sloan. Metuchen, NJ : Scarecrow Press, 1995. 452pp. Main Library HV6431 .A537 1995 : A reference that provides information on terrorist groups, events, and prominent figures spanning the period from the Zealot insurrections against Roman rule in first century Judea to the present. Entries on terrorist groups and movements provide information on their histories, programs, and leadership, as well as some discussion of the numbers and kinds of action perpetrated by each group. The introduction discusses essential components of terrorism that distinguish it from other forms of political violence. Extensive bibliography.

    Historical Dictionary of Terrorism / Sean Anderson and Stephen Sloan. Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2002. 2nd edition, 588pp. Main Library HV6431 .A537 2002 : This is a newly revised and updated edition of a reference dictionary on terrorism, which first appeared in 1995. It is encyclopedic in its wealth of information and analysis on major terrorist groups, their leaders and ideologies; significant terrorist incidents, and the weapons employed by terrorist groups, including weapons of mass destruction and cyber warfare, which are of great concern today. The alphabetically arranged entries cover acts of terrorism from the first century Judean Zealots and Sicarii to latter-day radical leftist, rightist and religiously fundamentalist militants, offering great insight into how and why such groups originated, how they organize, how they operate, and their targeting. The historical dictionary also covers pertinent anti-terrorism laws and legal doctrines. The extensive bibliographical section begins with a valuable introductory overview, and then lists essential literature resources on terrorism, such as general reference works, databases, academic and public policy studies, U.S. Government documents, and Internet resources. This tremendously timely and important reference work will appeal to civilian and military government officials, academic and public policy specialists, university students and researchers, journalists, and the general public—who seek to understand the threat of terrorism in all its dimensions.

    Historical Dictionary of Terrorism / Sean K. Anderson, with Stephen Sloan.  Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2009. 3rd edition, 800pp.  Main Library HV6431 .A537 2009 : The United States Department of Defense defines terrorism as "the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological." Although terrorism has been around for centuries, the al Qa'eda attacks of September 11, 2001, emphasized to the world, and most particularly the United States, just how deadly it can be....Pm presents the full spectrum of political violence through a chronology, an introductory essay, a bibliography, and hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on major terrorist groups and their leaders, significant terrorist events, cyberterrorism, counterterrorism, and social-science concepts regarding the motivations and group dynamics of terrorist groups. Sean K. Anderson and Stephen Sloan move beyond the gut reaction we have to this volatile and divisive topic and instead provide a reliable and objective reference on terrorism.

    Mobspeak : the Dictionary of Crime Terms / Carl Sifakis. New York : Facts on File, Inc., c2003. 272pp. Main Library HV6017 .S54 2003  : The  definitive guide to the language of the criminal world, explaining some 900 terms and phrases used by Mafiosos and other mob crooks. Terms range from those used by the general public such as sell down the river and the kiss of death to very specific expressions and euphemisms used by perpetrators in particular settings.

    Modern Police Service Encyclopedia / A. Lawrence Salottolo.  New York, N.Y. : ARCO Publishing Co, 1962.  Main Library Stacks HV8133 .S2 : Covers over 2000 terms

    The Police Dictionary and Encyclopedia / John J. Fay. Springfield, Ill. : Charles C. Thomas Publisher, 1988. 370pp. Main Library HV7901 .F39 1988 : Defines and explains over 4900 police terms and phrases. Includes a bibliography.

    Prentice Hall's Dictionary of American Criminal Justice, Criminology, and Criminal Law / David N. Falcone. Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall Press, 2005. 304pp. Reference (1 East) KF9223 .A68 F35 2005 : This comprehensive reference book is the first single volume of its kind to include key terms from criminal justice, criminology and criminal law—and provide complete definitions for this all-important terminology. Definitions are easy for readers to understand, and many terms are defined with references to case law. For professionals and anyone interested in the fields of criminal justice, criminology, or criminal law.

    The Roxbury Dictionary of Criminal Justice: Key Terms and Major Court Cases / Dean J. Champion, Los Angeles, California. : Roxbury Publishing Co., 1997. 349pp. Main Library HV7411 .C48 1987

    The Sage Dictionary of Criminology / compiled and edited by Eugene McLaughlin and John Muncie. London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif. : SAGE, c2006.  2nd edition, 485pp.  Main Library HV6017 .S34 2006 : The ultimate reference tool for students of criminology and criminal justice. It provides an accessible introduction to key theories, concepts, and topics, offering comprehensive guidance through the field. The editors have brought together a group of internationally prominent academics and practitioners to produce this definitive reference and research tool.

    Security Dictionary / John J. Fay. ASIS International, 2000. 262pp. Main Library HV7411 .F34 2000

    Street Terms: Drugs and the Drug Trade (Web Page) : The ability to understand current drug-related street terms is an invaluable tool for law enforcement, public health, and other criminal justice professionals who work with the public. The Street Terms database contains over 2,000 street terms that refer to specific drug types or drug activity. Courtesy of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

    Talking Terrorism : a Dictionary of the Loaded Language of Political Violence / Philip Herbst. Westport, CT : Greenwood Press, c2003. 220pp. Main Library HV6431 .H455 2003 : "Anarchist," "freedom fighter," "fundamentalist," "terrorist." These words are thrown about today with seeming abandon. But each of these terms, and hundreds like them, have connotations and denotations charged with meanings which can be used strategically by politicians, journalists, and ordinary citizens. Talking Terrorism defines, traces, and explains the loaded, controversial, confusing, and shifting language that surrounds terrorist activity. The dictionary comprises words used to characterize individuals, groups, or countries that commit or support acts of political violence. Also covered is the closely related language that conveys the justifications and agendas of those responding to violence, including these groups' self-characterizations, which might entail the masking of a multitude of sins. In addition, the ways terrorists use language to smear enemies, recruit and inspire group members, and communicate the righteousness of their causes are examined.

    For additional criminal justice dictionaries, search the MSU Library Online Catalog. Try typing in the following subject headings under LC Subject: corrections--dictionaries
    criminal justice, administration of--dictionaries
    police administration--dictionaries
    law enforcement--dictionaries
    criminal procedure--dictionaries
    criminal law--United States--dictionaries



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