A small percentage of criminal cases even reach trial, let alone the appellate courts that produce many of the cases law students are accustomed to reading on Westlaw or Lexis. Students researching criminal law policy will want to reach outside the usual channels to get a deeper perspective of the issues arising from criminal statutes, law enforcement, the court system, criminal law’s effect on society, or the nature of justice and punishment.
The big picture of crime extends far beyond the courtroom, and far beyond basic legal research.
HeinOnline’s newly expanded and renamed Criminal Justice & Criminology library goes far beyond the Model Penal Code and the courtroom to help researchers see the effects of our crime-fighting efforts on individuals and society as a whole. Criminology, as HeinOnline explains, is a multidisciplinary topic, drawing on knowledge from philosophy and science as well as the law.
The HeinOnline collection includes articles and dedicated criminal law and criminology journals; full-text books; attorney general’s opinions; congressional hearings; and other government reports. HeinOnline’s recent expansion added more than 1,300 works to the collection, and 110 more criminal justice periodicals.
The expanded collection offers a wealth of information to find a topic and learn the doctrine. It includes sixteen subject areas of relevance to the criminal scholar, including criminal statistics; investigation and forensics; law enforcement; reform and recidivism; and victimology. Criminal law touches on so many areas of life that changes in the system reverberate throughout society, and change is constant: HeinOnline describes advances in science that have called longstanding investigatory methods into question, and the concern about mass incarceration of offenders is creating pressure for reforms.
Each legal issue arising in the criminal law context impacts a variety of stakeholders. Students may consider investigating, for example, how proposed policy changes would impact not only individual cases but the work of law enforcement officers as a whole, and how those policies could impact the lives not only of inmates and their families but also of crime victims. Students can find perspectives on both sides of the courtroom, prosecution and defense, on current controversies in the field. HeinOnline also includes much more historical content than the more familiar databases, including criminal justice works from as early at the 1760s.
It’s a lot to take in! HeinOnline’s guide on the Criminal Justice & Criminology library and Venn Diagram search feature can help. The reference librarians at can also help you navigate and find materials relevant to your particular topic, as well as point you to the vast array of legal resources and interdisciplinary sources that ASU students have access to. Feel free to Meet with a Librarian for help on your seminar paper or grad writing requirement.
Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian