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What does criminal justice have to do with sociology?

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3 Answers

Rose,
There are both micro and macro responses to this question.  The first response is micro, the second hints at the micro, but asks you to connect it to the definition of sociology.  In my sociology courses, I take the macro, systemic, structural approach to making this connection.  Society is made up of a set of mutual understandings that essentially help us all get along and maximize our experiences with one another.  These mutual understandings are shaped by common norms, values, and ideologies  that allow us to work together. When these norms, values, and ideologies do not match, or our communicative wires get crossed, then we have conflict.  In order to avoid conflict, we have prescribed sanctions that both prevent deviance from the norms, values, and ideologies.  Some of these sanctions are informal (dirty looks, teasing, name calling, expulsion from school, etc...) and some are formal (arrest, jail, etc...).  The more extreme the norm, value, and ideology, the greater the sanction.  The study of these norms, value, and ideologies and their associated sanctions is exactly what we sociologists consider primary to the discipline.  Criminal justice is the study of this exact aspect of the larger body of work that is done in sociology.  
Hi Rose.  As an attorney who has both studied and taught sociology, I may have a unique perspective on this issue which I would be happy to share with you.  Simply put, sociology is the study of human interactions in society, while criminal justice is concerned not only with crime, but also with the criminal and, ideally, with breaking the cycle of criminality.
 
This can best be understood in the context of so-called "drug courts", which do not focus on punishing the offender, but rather on identifying those who have a medical, addiction-related and/or psychological issue which is hindering their efforts to become fully functional, productive members of society.  Through medical, psychological, behavioral and often vocational services, the offender is ultimately "graduated" out of their sentence without the addition of a permanent criminal record to further complicate their lives.
 
Studies to date have shown that this method can often achieve greater positive results for individuals, their families and society at a much lower cost than incarceration or standard probationary sentencing. 
Hi Rose,
I'm not going to "just throw the answer out there", but if you understand the definition of sociology then you may be be able to see the connection to criminal justice and how it impacts the criminal justice system. The primary relationship has to do with human behavior...if that helps. I hope you aren't angered by my approach to answering the question, but I am the type of tutor who prompts his/her students to discover the answer on their own. I gave you the answer in my response, but I require students to learn rather than "just give you an answer".