Criminal Justice Systems

Course Number: CRIMLJUS 7030
Course Name: Criminal Justice Systems (Online)
Course Description:    An extensive analysis of the functions, processes, and structures of the criminal justice system: interrelationships among the components of the system, with emphasis on law enforcement, courts, corrections, and juvenile justice are explored.
Prerequisites:    None
Level: Graduate
Credits: 3
Format: Online
Program: Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Registration Instructions

NOTE: The information below is representative of the course and is subject to change.  The specific details of the course will be available in the Desire2Learn course instance for the course in which a student registers.

Additional Information

Course Outcomes
Upon completion of this course, you should be able to

  • Describe in detail each component of the criminal justice system.
  • Explain the functions of each component of the criminal justice system.
  • Identify the causes of crime in contemporary society and ways to control it.
  • Identify current issues related to policing, courts, corrections, and juvenile justice.
  • Explain the flow of a typical criminal case through the criminal justice system.
  • Conduct graduate-level academic research using scholarly and peer-reviewed information.
  • Write high-quality academic papers that are consistent with the APA style of writing and citation.

Unit Descriptions

Unit 1: Overview of the Criminal Justice System
Criminal Justice is a term that is heavily used by the public, media, and practitioners. But what actually is it? In Unit 1, the groundwork is laid for the balance of the course by providing the reader with an understanding of what “criminal justice is. This unit also provides a review of the nature and extent of crime and what causes crime in the United States

Unit 2: Law Enforcement
The police are the gatekeepers to the criminal justice system. Regardless of what component of the criminal justice system individuals have a career in, they will have contact with the police at the local, county, state or federal levels.  In the context of the courts, for example, prosecutors, court staff, and judges will have direct contact with law enforcement officials. Next, in the field of corrections, police work with community corrections professionals and even prison systems to some degree. Finally, in the field of juvenile justice, they work with intake officers, probation and surveillance officers and other staff. Therefore, it is important to understand the diverse function of law enforcement and its role in carrying out justice in the criminal justice system.

This unit explores the evolution of policing and its functions and roles within society, the social and economic factors that have impacted the police and police functions, and the theoretical perspectives, research, and policies related to law enforcement, from its earliest forms to intelligence-led policing (ILP) as we know it today. The unit also provides and analytical examination of current police policies and practices as they have emerged within the historical constructs of American society. These topics are examined from several perspectives: historical, sociological, psychological, organizational, and political.

Unit 3: The Courts
This unit provides an overview of the U.S. courts, including their history, present structure, roles performed by courtroom participants, and the sentencing process. Unlike other units of criminal justice system, the courts often operate invisibly to the public and even CJ practitioners. That is, the courts may not receive as much attention from the media as do other components, including the police and corrections, resulting in a misinformed public. Additionally, the courts may not be fully understood by criminal justice professionals. However, mastery of knowledge of this component of the system is important for criminal justice practitioners; practices and policies in the police, corrections and juvenile justice subparts of the CJ system are shaped to some degree by the actions of the courts. Conversely, specific practices and policies of police, corrections the juvenile justice can also have profound effects on court operations.

Unit 4: The Correctional Enterprise
This Unit reviews the American correctional enterprise. In a broad sense, the correctional enterprise includes probation, parole, jails and prisons. This component of the criminal justice system consumes large amounts of state and local budgets. The correctional system is also exposed to a great deal of controversy by the media, public, and criminal justice practitioners regarding its effectiveness in reducing crime and preventing recidivism. And, unlike law enforcement that is highly visible to the public and practitioners, correctional practices are less visible, where some scholars have described the correctional process as “black box” – where there are inputs and outputs, but the internal functions are not understood by the public and even practitioners. To eliminate this “black box” issues among practitioners, the lessons in this Unit explore the basic core elements of and issues related to probation and parole and jails and prisons to make the reader more informed on American corrections.

Unit 5: Juvenile Justice & The Future
This final unit examines special issues and futures in criminal justice. Society and technology is constantly changing, and these changes will have profound impacts on the CJ system itself and the actors within it. Some of the changes that this unit examines is the juvenile justice system and its restructuring to address a growing concern about violent juvenile crimes and gang-related activities. This unit also includes a lesson on changing technologies – a double edged sword that has led to new crimes and new tools for practitioners to fight crime and improve the delivery of CJ-related services.

Grading Criteria for Activities

Assignment Possible Points
Outside Abstract & Critiques (5 @ 25 pts. each) 125 points
Assigned Reading Critiques (5 @ 15 pts. each) 75 points
Group Debate Projects (1 @ 40 pts., 1 @ 20 pts.) 60 points
Internet Exercises (2 @ 25 pts. each) 50 points
Research Paper 100 points
Final Exam 100 points
Participation on Discussion Board 20 points
Total: 530 points

Grading Scale
A 498 - 530 points
A- 477 - 497 points
B+ 461 - 476 points
B 445 - 460 points
B- 425 - 444 points
C+ 408 - 424 points
C 392 - 407 points
C- 371 - 391 points
D+ 355 - 370 points
D 339 - 354 points
D- 318 - 338 points
F 0 - 317 points


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