Criminal Justice is an academic field which examines the actions of the formal social mechanism we call the criminal justice system. The system is composed of three subsystems: policing /law enforcement agencies, the courts/judiciary, and correctional agencies. The study of criminal justice requires an examination of the structure and functioning of each of these subsystems, as well as knowledge about the role behavior of the participants. The study of the criminal justice process involves a critical evaluation of how the administration of justice actually operates in American society, raising fundamental questions and examining the perspectives from which solutions to problems might be drawn.
The content of criminal justice is interdisciplinary, drawing on theory developed in sociology, law, psychology, political science, and related fields. From sociology and psychology are derived theories regarding the causes of crime and delinquency. Law, political science, and history provide information about the development of law and the applications of sanctions within the legal process. Also, there is a rapidly growing body of knowledge derived from research efforts of practitioners in policing, the courts, and corrections.
The University of Nevada, Reno has developed a general, broad based career-oriented course of study appropriate to criminal justice as a system, problem area, and configuration of professional occupations. The program, while practical in nature, provides the theoretical, conceptual, and analytic background need for the criminal justice practitioner to effectively approach the dilemmas crime presents to contemporary American society.