Criminal justice professional encompasses many different specialties. There are police officers, sociologists, lawyers, psychologists, social workers, victim advocates, and more. Within these specialties are several sub-categories of even more narrowly defined fields of work. There are even fictional books based on real criminal justice issues that can be helpful for professionals in the field to read to gain a stronger understanding of their work.
The following books are the top 50 books for criminal justice professionals. The books were chosen based on their use in criminal justice college classes and how favored they are by professors, as well as user reviews on respected websites like Amazon.com. The books are divided according to criminal justice specialty. The books in the fiction and basic categories are regarded as useful to professionals in all areas and specialties of the criminal justice field. All of these books can be found on Amazon.com and many can be found in campus bookstores for the criminal justice college courses that require them.
1. Cops Don’t Cry, by Vali Stone
This book discusses the emotional stress that comes with being a police officer.
2. Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement, by Kevin Gilmartin
This book goes in-depth regarding the overall emotional impact of being in law enforcement so students in the field can be better prepared.
3. The Will to Survive, by Bobby Smith
This book discusses the problem of arrogance in law enforcement personnel and tells the story of one officer whose mistake on the job caused him to re-think his approach to being a police officer in a profound way.
4. The Law Enforcement Handbook, by Desmond Rowland
This book talks about the basics of being a police officer and is applicable to officers around the country.
5. The Rich Get Richer the Poor Get Prison, by Jeffrey Reiman
This is a discussion of conflict theory as applied to criminal justice.
6. The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, by Barry Glasner
This book provides a thoughtful discussion of how the media can influence what Americans believe are the real criminal justice problems in society and how those perceptions are not always correct.
7. There are No Children Here, by Alex Kotlowitz
This is a true story of brothers who grew up in the projects with violence all around them. The message of the book is that our current criminal justice system is used in a reactionary way and not as a preventative and how this must change.
8. Criminology and Social Theory (Clarendon Studies in Criminology), by David Garland
As the book’s title announces, this book discusses criminology as it is applied to social theory.
9. From Social Justice to Criminal Justice: Poverty and the Administration of Criminal Law, by William C. Heffernan
This volume provides a good discussion on how criminal justice is often administered unevenly toward poverty-ridden communities and why this is the case. The book also discusses ways to change this situation.
Psychology and Criminal Justice
10. Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson
This is a book that can be applied to a lot of different areas of life. Criminal justice is just one of those areas. It is primarily a psychology book. It discusses how we are designed to come up with reasons to justify our actions in any given situation.
11. You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader, by Mark Sanborn
This is a book discussing leadership and can be applied to students in the criminal justice field.
12. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
Another true story, this book discusses overcoming adversity and how the criminal justice system plays a part in that for some people.
13. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, by Philip Zimbardo
This book discusses just what its title suggests and is a fascinating read for those seeking to understand truly heinous criminal behavior.
14. Inside the Criminal Mind, by Dr. Stanton Samenow
This is a book used by many criminology professors and it discusses cognitive behavior modification. This is a technique that can be useful in criminal rehabilitation.
15. Counseling In Criminal Justice (Counselling in Context), by Brian Williams
This is a good book for those who want to study more about counseling criminals to better understand them or to rehabilitate them.
Lawyers and Courts
16. My Life in Court, by Louis Nizer
Lawyer Louis Nizer discusses his personal philosophy of practicing law.
17. Gunning for Justice, by Gerry Spence
Mostly a corporate law book, this is written from the perspective of a lawyer who deals with cases involving insurance companies vs. injured people. He puts most of the focus on how emotions effect what a lawyer does and how they contribute to the outcome of these types of cases.
18. Born Again, by Chuck Colson
Another book about arrogance and overcoming it, this book was written by someone who was convicted of crimes involving Watergate back in the 1970’s. Colson discusses the radical change in his life from friend and adviser to the President of the United States to being a prisoner for a time. Colson shows how arrogance is still prevalent in the law profession today and discusses how this can be overcome so there will be fewer cases like his.
19. The Defense Never Rests, by F. Lee Bailey
The theme of this book is how lawyers should deal only with hard facts while engaging in a relentless pursuit of justice and how Bailey’s military background helped him do just that in his law practice.
20. The Nine, by Jeffrey Toobin
This book is a discussion of the Supreme Court and political law.
Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Criminal Justice
21. A Child Called It, by David Pelzer
This is a book about a domestic violence case involving a child. It discusses a lot of emotional issues and lessons from such cases.
22. Policing ‘Domestic’ Violence: Women, the Law and the State, by Susan S. M. Edwards
This book is a discussion of the role of police and the state in domestic violence cases.
23. Safe Passage to Healing: A Guide for Survivors of Ritual Abuse, by Chrystine Oksana
Many people are victims of domestic abuse. These can be wives, children, or anyone who lives in a family environment where there is a violent person in the house. The book discusses how to heal and the role of the criminal justice profession in the healing path.
Criminal Justice in Fiction
24. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Though fiction, this book offers plenty for criminal justice professionals to learn from today. The book is about a criminal trial in the 1930’s that involves racism in the South.
25. The Trial, by Franz Kafka
This is a philosophical book that discusses the basics of justice and fairness.
26. Twelve Angry Men, by Reginald Rose
This was originally a play. It was turned into a book and discusses criminal cases and the whole jury process involved in trying those cases.
Ethics in Criminal Justice
27. The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies, by Adam Bedau
Justice, ethics, and the law as they pertain to the death penalty in America are all discussed in this book.
28. A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest Gaines
A look at a man on death row and his personal struggles with the ethics of the death penalty and the racism involved in it, as well as his personal path to forgiveness.
Civil Rights and Criminal Justice
29. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
A discussion of how racial minorities are disproportionately represented in today’s American prisons and why that is the case. It’s an interesting look at the criminal justice system through both psychology and sociology.
Crime Victims in Criminal Justice
30. Crime Victims: An Introduction to Victimology, by Andrew Karmen
A discussion of how to deal with crime victims appropriately, especially written for criminal justice personnel of all kinds.
31. Crime Victim Rights and Remedies, by Peggy M. Tobolowsky
A discussion of the rights available to crime victims through the criminal justice processes in the United States.
32. God and the Victim: Theological Reflections on Evil, Victimization, Justice, and Forgiveness, by Mrs. Lisa Barnes Lampman
A religious-based book that looks at the theological side of crime and victims of crime.
33. Good Practice in the Law and Safeguarding Adults: Criminal Justice and Adult Protection (Good Practice in Health, Social Care and Criminal Justice), by Jacki Pritchard
A handbook for criminal justice professionals who are tasked with protecting adults who are at risk for being victims of crime or violence.
34. Helping Victims of Violent Crime: Assessment, Treatment, and Evidence-Based Practice (Springer Series on Social Work), by Albert R. Roberts
A handbook for how to appropriately help crime victims through healing as well as the criminal justice system if their perpetrator is caught.
35. Homicide: The Hidden Victims: A Resource for Professionals (Interpersonal Violence: The Practice Series), by Deborah Spungen
This is a book for homicide investigation professionals. It discusses how to keep the real person behind the victim in mind at all times while conducting an investigation.
36. The Praeger Handbook of Victimology, by Janet K. Wilson
This is a handbook for criminal justice professionals who regularly deal with victims of crime.
37. Victims of Crime and Punishment : Interviews with Victims, Convicts, Their Families, and Support Groups, by Shirley Dicks
This book interviews criminals, their victims, and the families of both to show how each side sees the story and the criminal justice system as it works for them. It also helps both sides come to an understanding with each other that can facilitate greater healing for everyone involved.
Mental Health Issues in Criminal Justice
38. Handbook of Forensic Mental Health with Victims and Offenders: Assessment, Treatment, and Research (Springer Series on Social Work), by Albert R. Roberts
A look at the mental health issues behind criminal behavior and crime victims and how to treat both effectively.
39. Handbook of Forensic Mental Health, by Keith Soothill
Mental health is often an issue in criminal behavior. This book takes an in-depth look at it and how it comes into play in crime, as well as how it can be treated in both the criminal justice system and in criminal psychology for rehabilitation.
40. International Handbook of Juvenile Justice, by Josine Junger-Tas
A handbook for juvenile justice professionals who need help navigating through the criminal justice system in regards to their young clients.
41. Juvenile Justice Guide, by Edward A. Thibault
Another look at the juvenile justice system in America and how it works.
42. Social Work in Juvenile And Criminal Justice Settings, by Albert R. Roberts
A look at the role of the social worker in juvenile justice cases.
43. Male On Male Rape: The Hidden Toll Of Stigma And Shame, by Michael Scarce
This book discusses a scarcely talked about subject and brings it out into the open so it can be looked at without shame or stigma attached to it. This book is good for victims of this crime to get the courage they need to seek justice and get help. It is also useful for criminal justice professionals dealing with this kind of case.
44. Managing Sex Offender Risk (Research Highlights in Social Work), by Hazel Kemshall
It seems like sex offenders are in the news a lot these days. Are there more now than in the past or does society just take a different view of sex crimes than it used to? This book answers some of those questions and helps criminal justice professionals who are dealing with sex offenders do their jobs more effectively.
Criminal Justice and Women
45. The Criminal Justice System And Women: Offenders, Victims, and Workers, by Barbara Raffel Price
A look at how the criminal justice system works in America for women offenders and how criminal justice professionals can help them.
46. Women Who Offend (Research Highlights in Social Work, 44), by Gill McIvor
A discussion of why women become criminal offenders and how they are often treated by the criminal justice system in America.
Criminal Justice Basics
47. Report Writing for Criminal Justice Professionals, by Larry S. Miller and John T. Whitehead
Many criminal justice professionals have to write reports as part of their day-to-day activities. This book gives them a guide on how to do it properly and keep it organized.
48. Crime Classification Manual: A Standard System for Investigating and Classifying Violent Crimes, by John E. Douglas
This is a standard textbook in many criminal justice classes. It discusses classifying violent crimes and how to investigate each classification.
49. Criminal Justice Information (How to Find It, How to Use It), by Dennis C. Benamati
This is a research book on how to find nearly any kind of information you need regarding criminal justice in America. It is an excellent reference book for criminal justice professionals.
50. Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation, by Charles E. O’Hara
This book is another excellent textbook for criminal justice classes, particularly for those students who will be going on to investigate crimes. It talks in-depth about proper investigation procedures and techniques.