You are here

Striking the Balance

Striking the Balance
Debating Criminal Justice and Law

January 2017 | 304 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Award-winning professor and author Matthew Lippman enhances teaching and learning with his newest text, Striking the Balance: Debating Criminal Justice and Law. Organizing the book around clashing points of view on contemporary issues in criminal justice and criminal law, Lippman puts each debate into context for students to help them develop a better understanding of the issue. Designed to develop the reader’s critical thinking skills, the text offers students summaries of contrasting views from original sources, questions for classroom discussion, and engaging “You Decide” activities. Additionally, chapter topics are independent of one another, giving instructors the flexibility to customize the material to their individual course organization. Edited to minimize technical legal terms, the text is the perfect companion to any criminal law or introductory criminal justice textbook.  

PART 1. Introduction
PART 2. Criminal and Regulatory Laws
2.1 Constitutional Restrictions: Assault Rifles
2.2 Constitutional Restrictions: Hate Crimes
2.3 Criminal Defenses: Stand Your Ground Laws
2.4 Criminal Defenses: Battered Spouse Syndrome
2.5 Criminal Defenses: The Fleeing Felon Rule
2.6 Criminal Defenses: Entrapment
2.7 Crimes Against the Person: Assisted Suicide
2.8 Crimes Against the Person: Felony Murder
2.9 Crimes Against the Person: The Gay Panic Defense
2.10 Crimes Against the Person: Chemical Battery
2.11 Crimes Against Public Order and Morality: Prostitution
PART 3. The Administration of Justice
3.1 Guilty Pleas: Plea Bargaining
3.2 Juries: Peremptory Challenges
3.3 Juries: Nullification
3.4 Evidence: Rap Music
3.5 Sentencing: Mandatory Minimum Sentences
PART 4. Prison, Punishment, and the Eighth Amendment
4.1 Prison: Solitary Confinement
4.2 Punishment: Life Imprisonment for Juvenile Homicide Offenders
4.3 Capital Punishment: The Death Penalty
4.4 Capital Punishment: The Death Penalty for the Rape of a Child
4.5 Capital Punishment: Lethal Injection
Responses to the "You Decide" Features
Key features


  • A brief introduction to the U.S. judicial system and to the public policy dimension of judicial decisions provides context for the material.
  • Criminal and regulatory laws are presented with contrasting views on various contemporary public policy issues, including assault weapons, hate crimes, stand your ground laws, police use of deadly force, and much more.
  • A question for debate and learning objectives appear at the beginning of each chapter. The debate format features contemporary topical issues that engage students and ask them to consider various points of view.
  • Brief essays introduce students to each debate and put the issue into context to help students understand how policy issues arise in criminal justice and law.
  • Summaries of the positions follow the debate sections to ensure students have a clear understanding of the contrasting arguments.
  • “You Decide” exercises and discussion questions appear at the end of each debate to give students the opportunity to apply what they read to new and novel situations.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 2.1

Chapter 3.3

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase this book and request an instructor sample on our US College site:

Go To College Site

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.