Glossary
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


parens patriae
A common law principle that allows the state to assume a parental role and to take custody of a child when he or she becomes delinquent, is abandoned, or is in need of care that the natural parents are unable or unwilling to provide.

Parliament
The British legislature, the highest law-making body of the United Kingdom.

parole
The status of a convicted offender who has been conditionally released from prison by a paroling authority before the expiration of his or her sentence, is placed under the supervision of a parole agency, and is required to observe the conditions of parole.

parole board
A state paroling authority. Most states have parole boards that decide when an incarcerated offender is ready for conditional release. Some boards also function as revocation hearing panels. Also called parole commission.

parolee
A person who has been conditionally released by a paroling authority from a prison prior to the expiration of his or her sentence, is placed under the supervision of a parole agency, and is required to observe conditions of parole.

parole (probation) violation
An act or a failure to act by a parolee (or probationer) that does not conform to the conditions of his or her parole (or probation).

parole revocation
The administrative action of a paroling authority removing a person from parole status in response to a violation of lawfully required conditions of parole, including the prohibition against committing a new offense, and usually resulting in a return to prison.

parole supervision
Guidance, treatment, or regulation of the behavior of a convicted adult who is obligated to fulfill conditions of parole or conditional release. Parole supervision is authorized and required by statute, is performed by a parole agency, and occurs after a period of prison confinement.

parole supervisory caseload
The total number of clients registered with a parole agency or officer on a given date or during a specified time period.

paroling authority
A board or commission which has the authority to release on parole adults committed to prison, to revoke parole or other conditional release, and to discharge from parole or other conditional release status.

Part I offenses
A set of UCR categories used to report murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson, as defined under the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Also called major crimes.

Part II offenses
A set of UCR categories used to report arrests for less serious offenses.

PATRIOT Act
See USA PATRIOT Act of 2001.

peacemaking criminology
A perspective that holds that crime-control agencies and the citizens they serve should work together to alleviate social problems and human suffering and thus reduce crime.

Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) program
The official program of a state or legislative jurisdiction that sets standards for the training of law enforcement officers. All states set such standards, although not all use the term POST.

penal code
The written, organized, and compiled form of the criminal laws of a jurisdiction.

penal law
See criminal law.

penitentiary
A prison. See also Pennsylvania system.

Pennsylvania system
A form of imprisonment developed by the Pennsylvania Quakers around 1790 as an alternative to corporal punishments. This style of imprisonment made use of solitary confinement and encouraged rehabilitation.

peremptory challenge
The right to challenge a potential juror without disclosing the reason for the challenge. Prosecutors and defense attorneys routinely use peremptory challenges to eliminate from juries individuals who, although they express no obvious bias, are thought to be capable of swaying the jury in an undesirable direction.

perjury
The intentional making of a false statement as part of the testimony by a sworn witness in a judicial proceeding on a matter relevant to the case at hand.

perpetrator
The chief actor in the commission of a crime—that is, the person who directly commits the criminal act.

petition
A written request made to a court asking for the exercise of its judicial powers or asking for permission to perform some act that requires the authorization of a court.

petit jury
See trial jury.

phenomenological criminology
A perspective on crime causation that holds that the significance of criminal behavior is ultimately knowable only to those who participate in it. Central to this school of thought is the belief that social actors endow their behavior with meaning and purpose. Hence, a crime might mean one thing to the person who commits it, quite another to the victim, and something far different still to professional participants in the justice system.

phrenology
The study of the shape of the head to determine anatomical correlates of human behavior.

physical dependence
A biologically based craving for a specific drug that results from frequent use of the substance. Physical dependence on drugs is marked by a growing tolerance of a drug's effects, so that increased amounts of the drug are needed to obtain the desired effect, and by the onset of withdrawal symptoms over periods of prolonged abstinence.34 Also called physical addiction.

piracy
See software piracy.

plaintiff
A person who initiates a court action.

plain view
A legal term describing the ready visibility of objects that might be seized as evidence during a search by police in the absence of a search warrant specifying the seizure of those objects. To lawfully seize evidence in plain view, officers must have a legal right to be in the viewing area and must have cause to believe that the evidence is somehow associated with criminal activity.

plea
In criminal proceedings, the defendant's formal answer in court to the charge contained in a complaint, information, or indictment that he or she is guilty of the offense charged, is not guilty of the offense charged, or does not contest the charge.

plea bargaining
The process of negotiating an agreement among the defendant, the prosecutor, and the court as to an appropriate plea and associated sentence in a given case. Plea bargaining circumvents the trial process and dramatically reduces the time required for the resolution of a criminal case.

police-community relations (PCR)
An area of police activity that recognizes the need for the community and the police to work together effectively and that is based on the notion that the police derive their legitimacy from the community they serve. Many police agencies began to explore PCR in the 1960s and 1970s.

police corruption
The abuse of police authority for personal or organizational gain.35

police discretion
The opportunity of law enforcement officers to exercise choice in their daily activities.

police ethics
The special responsibility to adhere to moral duty and obligation that is inherent in police work.

police management
The administrative activities of controlling, directing, and coordinating police personnel, resources, and activities in the service of preventing crime, apprehending criminals, recovering stolen property, and performing regulatory and helping services.36

police professionalism
The increasing formalization of police work and the accompanying rise in public acceptance of the police.

police subculture
A particular set of values, beliefs, and acceptable forms of behavior characteristic of American police. Socialization into the police subculture begins with recruit training and continues thereafter. Also called police culture.

police use of force
The use of physical restraint by a police officer when dealing with a member of the public.37

police working personality
All aspects of the traditional values and patterns of behavior evidenced by police officers who have been effectively socialized into the police subculture. Characteristics of the police personality often extend to the personal lives of law enforcement personnel.

political defense
An innovative defense to a criminal charge that claims that the defendant's actions stemmed from adherence to a set of political beliefs and standards significantly different from those on which the American style of government is based. A political defense questions the legitimacy and purpose of all criminal proceedings against the defendant.

Positivist School
An approach to criminal justice theory that stresses the application of scientific techniques to the study of crime and criminals.

POST
See Peace Officer Standards and Training.

postconviction remedy
The procedure or set of procedures by which a person who has been convicted of a crime can challenge in court the lawfulness of a judgment of conviction, a penalty, or a correctional agency action and thus obtain relief in situations where this cannot be done by a direct appeal.

postmodern criminology
A branch of criminology that developed after World War II and that builds on the tenets inherent in postmodern social thought.

precedent
A legal principle that ensures that previous judicial decisions are authoritatively considered and incorporated into future cases.

preliminary hearing
A proceeding before a judicial officer in which three matters must be decided: (1) whether a crime was committed, (2) whether the crime occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, and (3) whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant committed the crime.

preliminary investigation
All of the activities undertaken by a police officer who responds to the scene of a crime, including determining whether a crime has occurred, securing the crime scene, and preserving evidence.

presentence investigation
The examination of a convicted offender's background prior to sentencing. Presentence examinations are generally conducted by probation or parole officers and are submitted to sentencing authorities.

presentment
Historically, unsolicited written notice of an offense provided to a court by a grand jury from their own knowledge or observation. In current usage, any of several presentations of alleged facts and charges to a court or a grand jury by a prosecutor.

presumptive sentencing
A model of criminal punishment that meets the following conditions: (1) The appropriate sentence for an offender convicted of a specific charge is presumed to fall within a range of sentences authorized by sentencing guidelines that are adopted by a legislatively created sentencing body, usually a sentencing commission. (2) Sentencing judges are expected to sentence within the range or to provide written justification for departure. (3) There is a mechanism for review, usually appellate, of any departure from the guidelines.

pretrial detention
Confinement occurring between the time of arrest or of being held to answer a charge and the conclusion of prosecution.38

pretrial discovery
In criminal proceedings, disclosure by the prosecution or the defense prior to trial of evidence or other information which is intended to be used in the trial.

pretrial release
The release of an accused person from custody, for all or part of the time before or during prosecution, on his or her promise to appear in court when required.

prison
A state or federal confinement facility that has custodial authority over adults sentenced to confinement.

prison argot
The slang characteristic of prison subcultures and prison life.

prison capacity
The size of the correctional population an institution can effectively hold.39 There are three types of prison capacity: rated, operational, and design.

prison commitment
A sentence of commitment to the jurisdiction of a state or federal confinement facility system for adults whose custodial authority extends to offenders sentenced to more than a year of confinement, to a term expressed in years or for life, or to await execution of a death sentence.

prisoner
A person in physical custody in a state or federal confinement facility or in the personal physical custody of a criminal justice official while being transported to or between confinement facilities.

prisonization
The process whereby newly institutionalized offenders come to accept prison lifestyles and criminal values. Although many inmates begin their prison experience with only a few values that support criminal behavior, the socialization experience they undergo while incarcerated leads to a much greater acceptance of such values.

prison subculture
The values and behavioral patterns characteristic of prison inmates. Prison subculture has been found to be surprisingly consistent across the country.

private prison
A correctional institution operated by a private firm on behalf of a local or state government.

private protective services
Independent or proprietary commercial organizations that provide protective services to employers on a contractual basis.

private security
Self-employed individuals and privately funded business entities and organizations providing security-related services to specific clientele for a fee, for the individual or entity that retains or employs them, or for themselves, in order to protect people, private property, or interests from various hazards.40

private security agency
See private protective services.

privatization
The movement toward the wider use of private prisons.

probable cause
A set of facts and circumstances that would induce a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe that a particular other person has committed a specific crime. Also, reasonable grounds to make or believe an accusation. Probable cause refers to the necessary level of belief that would allow for police seizures (arrests) of individuals and full searches of dwel-lings, vehicles, and possessions.

probation
A sentence of imprisonment that is suspended. Also, the conditional freedom granted by a judicial officer to a convicted offender, as long as the person meets certain conditions of behavior.

probation revocation
A court order taking away a convicted offender's probationary status and usually withdrawing the conditional freedom associated with that status in response to a violation of the conditions of probation.

probation termination
The ending of the probation status of a given person by routine expiration of the probationary period, by special early termination by the court, or by revocation of probation.

probation violation
An act or a failure to act by a probationer that does not conform to the conditions of his or her probation.

probation workload
The total set of activities required to carry out the probation agency functions of intake screening of juvenile cases, referral of cases to other service agencies, investigation of juveniles and adults for the purpose of preparing predisposition or presentence reports, supervision or treatment of juveniles and adults granted probation, assistance in the enforcement of court orders concerning family problems, such as abandonment and nonsupport cases, and other such functions assigned by statute or court order.

problem police officer
A law enforcement officer who exhibits problem behavior, as indicated by high rates of citizen complaints and use-of-force incidents and by other evidence.41

problem-solving policing
A type of policing that assumes that crimes can be controlled by uncovering and effectively addressing the underlying social problems that cause crime. Problem-solving policing makes use of community resources, such as counseling centers, welfare programs, and job-training facilities. It also attempts to involve citizens in crime prevention through education, negotiation, and conflict management. Also called problem-oriented policing.

procedural defense
A defense that claims that the defendant was in some significant way discriminated against in the justice process or that some important aspect of official procedure was not properly followed in the investigation or prosecution of the crime charged.

procedural law
The part of the law that specifies the methods to be used in enforcing substantive law.

procuratorate
An agency in many countries with powers and responsibilities similar to those of a prosecutor's office in the United States. Also called procuracy.

profession
An organized undertaking characterized by a body of specialized knowledge acquired through extensive education and by a well-considered set of internal standards and ethical guidelines which hold members of the profession accountable to one another and to society.

professional criminal
See career criminal.

property bond
The setting of bail in the form of land, houses, stocks, or other tangible property. In the event that the defendant absconds prior to trial, the bond becomes the property of the court.

property crime
A UCR offense category that includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

proportionality
A sentencing principle that holds that the severity of sanctions should bear a direct relationship to the seriousness of the crime committed.

prosecution agency
A federal, state, or local criminal justice agency or subunit whose principal function is the prosecution of alleged offenders.

prosecutor
An attorney whose official duty is to conduct criminal proceedings on behalf of the state or the people against those accused of having committed criminal offenses. Also called county attorney; district attorney (DA); state's attorney; U.S. attorney.

prosecutorial discretion
The decision-making power of prosecutors, based on the wide range of choices available to them, in the handling of criminal defendants, the scheduling of cases for trial, the acceptance of negotiated pleas, and so on. The most important form of prosecutorial discretion lies in the power to charge, or not to charge, a person with an offense.

prostitution
The act of offering or agreeing to engage in, or engaging in, a sex act with another in return for a fee.

protected computer
Under federal law, (1) a computer used exclusively by a financial institution or the U.S. government, (2) a computer used by or for a financial institution or the U.S. government, or (3) a computer used in interstate or foreign commerce or communication.

psychoactive substance
A chemical substance that affects cognition, feeling, or awareness.

psychoanalysis
A theory of human behavior, based on the writings of Sigmund Freud, that sees personality as a complex composite of interacting mental entities.

psychological dependence
A craving for a specific drug that results from long-term substance abuse. Psychological dependence on drugs is marked by the belief that drugs are needed to achieve a feeling of well-being.42 Also called psychological addiction.

psychological manipulation
Manipulative actions by police interviewers, designed to pressure suspects to divulge information, that are based on subtle forms of intimidation and control.

psychological profiling
The attempt to categorize, understand, and predict the behavior of certain types of offenders based on behavioral clues they provide.

Psychological School
A perspective on criminological thought that views offensive and deviant behavior as the product of dysfunctional personalities. Psychological thinkers identify the conscious, and especially the subconscious, contents of the human psyche as major determinants of behavior.

psychopath
A person with a personality disorder, especially one manifested in aggressively antisocial behavior, which is often said to be the result of a poorly developed superego. Also called sociopath.

psychopathology
The study of pathological mental conditions—that is, mental illness.

psychosis
A form of mental illness in which sufferers are said to be out of touch with reality.

public defender
An attorney employed by a government agency or subagency, or by a private organization under contract to a government body, for the purpose of providing defense services to indigents, or an attorney who has volunteered such service.

public defender agency
A federal, state, or local criminal justice agency or subunit whose principal function is to represent in court people accused or convicted of a crime who are unable to hire private counsel.

public-order advocate
One who believes that under certain circumstances involving a criminal threat to public safety, the interests of society should take precedence over individual rights.

public safety department
A state or local agency that incorporates various law enforcement and emergency service functions.

punitive damages
Damages requested or awarded in a civil lawsuit when the defendant's willful acts were malicious, violent, oppressive, fraudulent, wanton, or grossly reckless.43 Also called exemplary damages.

34. BJS, Drugs, Crime, and the Justice System, p. 20.

35. Carl B. Klockars et al., The Measurement of Police Integrity, National Institute of Justice Research in Brief (Washington, D.C.: NIJ, 2000), p. 1.

36. This definition draws on the classic work by O. W. Wilson, Police Administration (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1950), pp. 23.

37. National Institute of Justice, Use of Force by Police: Overview of National and Local Data (Washington, D.C.: NIJ, 1999).

38. National Council on Crime and Delinquency, National Assessment of Structured Sentencing (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1996), p. xii.

39. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 1998 (Washington, D.C.: BJS, 1999), p. 7.

40. Private Security: Report of the Task Force on Private Security (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976), p. 4.

41. Samuel Walker, Geoffrey P. Albert, and Dennis J. Kenney, Responding to the Problem Police Officer: A National Study of Early Warning Systems (Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice, 2000).

42. BJS, Drugs, Crime, and the Justice System, p. 21.

43. Gerald Hill and Kathleen Hill, The Real Life Dictionary of the Law (Santa Monica, CA: General Publishing Group, 2000). Web posted at http://dictionary.law.com/lookup2.asp. Accessed February 21, 2002.

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