rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 3: p. 268
Sources: The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia
Nancy Frazier

Instructional Services librarian, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

This five-volume encyclopedia explores the social history of criminal justice from colonial times through the present. The editors aim to reach a wide audience, from general readers interested in gaining understanding about topics related to crime and criminal justice to teachers developing courses and students working on assignments and projects. The volumes are well-organized and highly readable, filled with interesting content on topics, such as history of the American criminal justice system (including history of crime and punishment by state), juvenile crime and justice, courts, corrections, police, and law enforcement.

The e-book version of The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia features clearly accessible links to the subject index, an alphabetical list of entries, a “search within” feature, and the readers guide with links to historical documents. Sage publishes numerous reference works that provide focused analysis of key topics in criminal justice, such as the Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment (2002), the Encyclopedia of Race and Crime (2009), the Encyclopedia of Victimology and Crime Prevention (2010), and the Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence (2008).

In comparison to Sage’s five-volume Complete Crime and Punishment Series (2011), it should be noted that the earlier reference work includes brief pro/con essays about topics within volumes specifically focused on particular topics (such as juvenile crime or police and law enforcement) while Sage’s The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia (2012) is a more traditional encyclopedia. The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia includes primary source documents not found within Gale’s two-volume World of Criminal Justice (2002) or Sage’s Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment (2002).

Worth highlighting about this reference set is the collection of primary documents arranged by period (for example, 1600–1776) within volume 5. Each period features an overview (approximately fifteen pages per period) of important topics relating to the corresponding period, with brief explanatory notes prefacing individual primary documents. Another advantage to this five-volume set is the reader’s guide in volume 1, which includes a useful list of state and federal court cases as well as a chronology dating from 1275 to the present. Recommended for large public libraries and academic libraries at institutions with criminal justice programs.



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