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Criminal Justice Studies

Course Descriptions

Criminal Justice Studies Courses

CJS 101 Intro to Criminal Justice Studies (4.00 SH). This course is designed as an introduction to the U.S. criminal justice system; including, but not limited to the history of the U.S. criminal justice system, foundational aspects of law, various components of law enforcement, the criminal court process and the practice of corrections. We will approach and discuss various issues related to crime, prosecution and corrections from a sociological perspective. The main goal of this course is to develop a general understanding of the history and current composition of the criminal justice system, as well as how it interfaces with individuals and societal intuitions.

CJS 200 Studies in Criminology & Crim Just (4.00 SH). This course will deal with specific aspects of criminology and the criminal justice system not included in the regular curriculum. Topics will be announced prior to registration.

CJS 200B CJS Special Topics (4.00 SH). This course will deal with specific aspects of criminology and the criminal justice system not included in the regular curriculum. Topics will be announced prior to registration.

CJS 201 Juvenile Delinquency & Justice (ST) (4.00 SH). An exploration of juvenile misconduct and its legal consequences. Theories explaining juvenile delinquency from a variety of perspectives will be examined. The emergence and present state of the juvenile justice system will be covered as well. Meets Social Thought and Tradition Intellectual Perspective requirement (ST).

CJS 202 Criminology (4.00 SH). This course covers the workings of the criminal justice system. Students will explore how we define and respond to crime, how the institutions of the criminal justice system (police forces, criminal courts and prisons) have developed and functioned, and the reasons criminal justice policies are adopted and the effects those policies have.

CJS 203 Victimology (2.00 SH). This course provides an introduction to the study of criminal victimization. We will investigate patterns of criminal victimization using empirical data, apply theoretical concepts to empirical patterns, analyze specific forms of victimization (e.g. intimate partner violence, child maltreatment, property victimization), consider the impact of crime on victims and society (e.g. fear of crime), the role of victims within the criminal justice system, specific remedies, and victim rights and services.

CJS 204 Police (2.00 SH). This course explores the history, development, current practices and future of the police at the local, state, federal and, at times, global level. Students will receive a basic introduction to the role of the police in a diverse and democratic society, with a focus on police discretion, types of policing and use of force.

CJS 205 Criminal Courts (2.00 SH). This course focuses on America’s criminal courts. We will discuss the major players in the criminal justice system—defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges—and the ways in which their behavior is influenced by their roles, their experiences on the job and the small group environment. We will also discuss controversial policies in the criminal justice field, paying particular attention to the motivation behind the adoption of such policies and the degree to which the effects of such policies have fulfilled or conflicted with those motivations.

CJS 206 Corrections (2.00 SH). This course explores the history, development, current practices and future of correctional systems at the local, state, federal and, at times, global level. This course takes a multi-disciplinary view of selected areas and issues relevant to correctional goals (general/specific deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, restitution, retribution and restorative justice) for offenders in secure confinement (jails and prisons) and community-based alternatives to jails and prisons (probation, parole, restitution, community service, intensive probation/parole, electronic monitoring, boot camps and community-corrections programs).

CJS 207 The Death Penalty (2.00 SH). This course explores the death penalty, the ultimate penalty meted out by the state. The class will address a series of important questions: Which societies have used capital punishment and in what circumstances? Which countries besides the US continue to use the penalty? What methods of execution do states use? What legal standards are applied to the death penalty in the US? Does the death penalty deter crime? What do Americans think about the death penalty? What impact does being on death row have for inmates and their families? What issues of injustice and reform are raised by the use of capital punishment?

CJS 215 Drugs and Society (ST) (4.00 SH). In this class we examine drug-related issues in an objective manner, as informed by historical context, medical research, social scientific theory and data, policy analysis and, briefly, comparative perspectives. We pay special attention to the treatment of drug use and abuse within the criminal justice system. We consider questions that include: Do more lenient drug use laws necessarily produce greater drug use? How does the harm to society of the War on Drugs compare to that of drug use? What general costs and benefits surround drug regulation, and what unintended consequences does it produce? While both alcohol and tobacco are medically and legally considered to be drugs, given the broad scope of this topic we focus our attention on substances usually or sometimes considered to be illicit drugs.

CJS 302 Sociology of Law and Legal Systems (4.00 SH). This course tests several common assumptions about the law—that it embodies morality; that it ensures justice; that it serves everyone’s interests; that it constrains behavior; that it can be used to bring about social change. We will compare the law to other forms of social control and consider the utility of law in countries making transitions from violence and repression.

CJS 303 Management & Leadership (4.00 SH). This course analyzes the organization, management, and administration of local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies with emphasis on how the structure and functions of such agencies, as well as culture, affect the administration of justice. Prerequisite: 4 semester hours of CJS coursework or permission of instructor.

CJS 304 Crime & Law Enforcement Rural Commu (4.00 SH). This course explores the specific ways that crime and law enforcement work in the rural context. Rural areas are often seen as peaceful, orderly places, but they present a range of geographic, cultural and economic opportunities for crime. This course will explore a range of crimes (like poaching and meth production) that have particular ties to rural areas. The course will also explore the particular challenges of providing police protection to rural areas that are different from those faced by officers in urban and suburban jurisdictions.

CJS 405 Critical Issues in Policing (4.00 SH). This course offers an in-depth investigation of the evolution of law enforcement in the United States, leading into inquiry of a number of current, critical issues shaping policing locally, nationally and internationally. Critical issues examined include: the militarization of U.S. police forces, policing post-conflict cities, technological advances in policing, policing the drug trade in rural and urban America as well as abroad and the increased role of police forces in homeland security. Prerequisite: 8 semester hours of CJS coursework or permission of instructor.

CJS 590 Field Experience/Internship (4.00 SH). Field Experience/Internship (1-4 SH)


Supporting Courses

SOC 101 Principles of Sociology (ST) (4.00 SH). In taking this course, students will become more aware of the effects of social forces on the individual. The course provides an introduction to the concepts and methods used in the systematic study of society. Topics include: social norms, social groups, social conflict, social inequality, social institutions, social change, and the sociological perspective. Meets Social Thought and Tradition Intellectual Perspective requirement (ST).

SOC 102 Deviance (ST) (4.00 SH). An exploration of norm-breaking behavior and its consequences. Traditional and contemporary theories of deviance will be examined, as will particular areas of deviant behavior. The change in definitions of what is regarded as deviant will be dealt with at length. Meets Social Thought and Tradition Intellectual Perspective requirement (ST).

SOC 204 Social Work (4.00 SH). An exploration of the knowledge base, theories, and methods that social workers use. Several of the major fields of practice are examined including family and child welfare, health care, mental health, criminal justice, and gerontology.

SOC 209 Minority/Majority Relations (ST) (4.00 SH). This course will trace the history of race as a concept, examine how racial and ethnic relations changed over time in the U.S., analyze the causes and consequences of prejudice and discrimination, and consider how majority-minority relations shape life chances for various groups in the U.S. and throughout the world. Some of the topics we cover include: ethnic identity, popular culture, segregation, immigration, racial profiling, and interracial relationships. Meets Social Thought and Tradition Intellectual Perspective requirement (ST).

SOC 214 Social Class in America (ST) (4.00 SH). An examination of the various forms and systems of social inequality in human societies, with attention to the mechanisms that perpetuate inequalities, ideologies that legitimate them, and possibilities for social mobility. Particular focus is on the pronounced and growing income and wealth inequality in the contemporary United States and the social problems of poverty and food insecurity. Meets Social Thought and Tradition Intellectual Perspective requirement (ST).

SOC 241 Sociol Violence NonViolence (4.00 SH). Violence, from a sociological perspective, is considered a social phenomenon that evolves in a socio-historical-political moment. This course will evaluate theory and research on violence and nonviolence from both a macro and micro sociological lens. Topics investigated will be interpersonal violence, violence against animals, hate crimes, school violence, bullying, terrorism, structural violence, and social movements that involve both violence and nonviolence. We will also investigate how race, social class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and ability shapes who is more likely to be a victim or perpetrator of violence.

SOC 305 Contemporary Organizational Soc (4.00 SH). A general analysis of human organizations, their structures, normative systems, and conflicts. A special emphasis is placed on theories of bureaucracy. Prerequisite: Four semester hours of sociology or criminal justice studies coursework or permission of instructor.

SOC 306 Sociology of Family (4.00 SH). This course examines the function, structure, and variety of families. Topics include: the historical origins of contemporary American family life; patterns in family formation and dissolution, including dating, cohabitation, marriage, and divorce; sexuality and families; work-family (im)balance; and social problems, such as poverty and intimate violence. We will discuss and debate the implications of changing family life in the United States and abroad. Prerequisite: Four semester hours of sociology or criminal justice studies coursework or permission of instructor.

SOC 306A Sociology of Family/Inside Out (ST) (4.00 SH).

SOC 350 Social and Criminological Theory (4.00 SH). This course provides a general introduction to the major classical and contemporary theories in sociology and criminology. We examine the major tenets and critiques of these theories while embedding them in their historical and cultural contexts. We also discuss theoretical applications in contemporary sociological and criminological research. Taken fall of the junior year. Prerequisites: Eight semester hours of sociology or criminal justice studies courses or instructor permission.

SSC 251 Research Methods (4.00 SH). An introduction to the nature and processes of social science inquiry. Particular attention is given to designing social science research projects, and to techniques for gathering, analyzing, and communicating data from both primary and secondary sources. The course is intended to increase the student’s ability to understand published studies and to enhance student research skills. Prerequisite: Eight semester hours of sociology or criminal justice studies coursework.

SSC 252 Data Analysis for Soc Sci (QR) (4.00 SH). This class covers some introductory but powerful statistical techniques for analyzing and interpreting social science data. Students will use both descriptive and inferential statistics, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various statistical methods. They will also develop skills in presenting and interpreting statistical charts, graphs and tables. There is no formal prerequisite, but SSC 251, PS 301 or other exposure to research methods is recommended. Meets Quantitative Reasoning Intellectual Perspective requirement (QR).

SSC 601 Capstone (4.00 SH). The student will execute a research proposal that studies a research question in sociology or criminal justice studies. As befits the culminating course in the two majors, students demonstrate knowledge of relevant literature, theory and methodological techniques during the research process. The final research is presented to disciplinary and general audiences. Taken fall of the senior year. Prerequisites: SOC 350, SSC 251 and SSC 252; SOC 350, SSC 251 OR SSC 252 for International Studies majors.


What can you do with a Criminal Justice Studies degree?

Imagine yourself an investigator, detective, police officer, paralegal, counselor, or probation officer.