In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Comparative Criminal Justice Systems

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Data Sources
  • Encyclopedias
  • Journals
  • Comparing Legal Traditions
  • Regional and International Cooperation

Criminology Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
Philip Reichel
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 March 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 July 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0075


Research on comparative criminal justice systems focuses on the various ways political units attempt to maintain social order and accomplish justice. It is distinguished from comparative criminology, which focuses on crime patterns in two or more cultures and on testing—at the international level—theories about crime. It is also distinguished from comparative law, which includes private law and administrative law, as well as criminal law. When the focus is on the policies, practices, institutions, agencies, and people responsible for identifying, prosecuting, adjudicating, and punishing criminal law violators, criminal justice systems research is being done. It is comparative criminal justice systems research when two or more countries or legal systems are compared and contrasted. It is also common to consider the study of the legal system of a country other than one’s home country as being comparative criminal justice systems research. This guide to sources includes contributions helpful to research endeavors regarding the legal tradition into which particular legal systems might fall (see Comparing Legal Traditions), research that compares features among specific countries or regions (see Comparing Countries), or studies of specific procedures used in various countries (see Comparing Justice Procedures).

General Overviews

Interest in comparative criminal justice studies has increased during the last several decades, and one result is the publishing of general texts that provide overviews of the field. Newman 1999 provides broad coverage of both comparative criminology and comparative criminal justice, whereas Dammer and Albanese 2014 and Terrill 2013 are textbooks designed to give both undergraduate and graduate students information about all aspects of the legal system in select countries. Rather than comparing specific countries, Reichel 2013 compares the key aspects of criminal justice systems (e.g., law, police, courts, corrections) by showing how each aspect operates in various countries. Internet sources are increasing popular in this area, and the Hauser Global Law School Program website is an especially good example of easy access to relevant sources with links to specific items. The increased availability of Internet sources devoted, at least in part, to comparative criminal justice is reflected in their appearance throughout this article.

  • Dammer, Harry R., and Jay S. Albanese. 2014. Comparative criminal justice systems. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

    The revision of this best-selling book presents a comprehensive analysis of how various criminal justice systems throughout the world compare. Harry Dammer has extensively revised the text to reflect the latest trends and most up-to-date information on international juvenile justice, policing, and terrorism. By using a topical approach (examining various aspects of each system, such as policing, drugs, sentencing, and juvenile justice) rather than a country-by-country approach, the book gives students a more realistic understanding of the similarities and differences of each system. The authors use six “model” countries (China, England, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and France) to provide specific examples and explore historical, political, economic, social, and cultural influences on each system.

  • Hauser Global Law School Program.

    From this index page, find options for “Comparative Law Research” (then select “comparative criminal procedure”) and “Foreign Law Research” (with links to legal and justice system information on more than 130 countries). Other links to “International Law Research” and “Tools for Building Foreign, Comparative and International Law Collections” are also helpful.

  • Newman, Graeme R., ed. 1999. Global report on crime and justice. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    This report offers a history of the collection of criminal statistics at an international level. Crime trends and the operation of criminal justice systems are provided on a comparative basis, and emerging developments in crime and justice around the world are considered.

  • Reichel, Philip L. 2013. Comparative criminal justice systems: A topical approach. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson.

    This book examines systems of law, police, courts, and corrections by using more than thirty different countries to show the diversity in legal systems around the world. This edition features more complete coverage of the Islamic legal tradition and information on reform in Japan and makes greater use of primary sources.

  • Terrill, Richard J. 2013. World criminal justice systems: A survey. 8th ed. Waltham, MA: Anderson.

    Provides detailed information on the government, police, judiciary, law, corrections, and juvenile justice in six of the world’s most industrialized countries: England, France, Sweden, Russia, China, and Japan. Includes a chapter on Islamic law that uses Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey as main examples.

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