This book fills a gap in the field of criminal justice and law and society. Unlike any other available undergraduate text, this book integrates legal cases and empirical research on social science questions confronted by the criminal courts. In other words, it examines how social science impacts criminal law and procedure. The book is organized around the criminal court process beginning with issues related to pretrial proceedings and ending with issues concerning sentencing. Specifically, the book provides an introduction to the history of social science used by the courts and the types of social science admitted as evidence in the courts. The chapters that follow provide seminal legal cases and empirical, social science research on a variety of topics ranging from pretrial publicity and racial profiling to Megan's Law and the death penalty.
Smith introduces students to the "law in action" by demonstrating how social science influences the courts and the courts influence society. Moreover, students are given the opportunity to critically review court opinions and social science studies that test some of the assumptions relied on by the courts in rendering their decisions. Sociology of law, law and society, and criminal justice students will find this book interesting, raise questions about the influence of law on society and whether empirical research helps or hinders grounded judicial decision-making.
The teacher's manual accompanying the book provides a wealth of information about Internet-based resources, student activities, and videos to encourage student discussion and identify relevant current events.
If you are a professor teaching in this field you may request a complimentary copy.