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Criminal Courts

Criminal courts, and the criminal justice system, experienced a major transformation in the United States, beginning at the end of the 20th century and extending into the early 21st century. This transformation has expanded the role for the applied social sciences in contemporary criminal justice. This entry puts the changes in the field of criminal justice in historical context, places the role of applied social sciences within this context, and addresses two of the most critical challenges facing courts and the criminal justice system in the United States today: the incarceration of an unprecedented number of individuals in jails and prisons and the significant racial disparity among the incarcerated population in the United States. The challenge of reducing the jail and prison populations and the ...

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