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The science of criminal justice /

Main Author: Davis, James R., 1928-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, 1986
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Review by Choice Review

Davis attempts in this book to discern whether or not the field of criminal justice is a ``science.'' The author first gives the reader an insight into the nature of a science through generous quotations from notables such as Max Weber, Karl Popper, Thomas S. Kuhn, Lewis Feuer, Ernest Nagel, and Carl G. Hempel. A chapter titled ``What Is Science?'' summarizes six ``characteristics'' of science. From there, Davis roams the functional fields of criminal justice in search of scientific postulates, trends of thought, and idioms. Detailed chapters on the functions of the police, the criminal courts, and corrections are analyzed in an effort to extract scientific universals from these selected areas. Although these chapters are excellent in their coverage of current trends in their respective domains, very little scientific analysis emerges from Davis's discussion. This is perhaps not entirely the fault of the author, for the field of criminal justice is filled with spurious value judgments and norms that defy scientific analysis. Perhaps some discrete subsets of criminal justice policy and practice can be subjected to a form of scientific analysis, but, on the whole, the system of criminal justice itself defies scientific assessment in the broadest sense of that term. Davis's work, however, may represent a first small step in isolating those subsets.-J.C. Watkins Jr., University of Alabama

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.