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  • Learning Objectives

    • Students will increase the breadth of their knowledge and understanding of the American Criminal Justice System.
    • Students will enhance their critical thinking skills via writing, reading, and discussion.
    • Students will learn the history, functions, responsibilities, processes, and importance of each component of the criminal justice system.
    • Students will become familiar with research and its relationship to criminal justice policy.
    • Students will use the foundations learned about the American criminal justice system in future CCJ courses.

    There is a dearth of OER textbooks in Criminology and Criminal Justice, which made creating this textbook all the more exciting. At times we faced challenges about what or how much to cover, but our primary goal was to make sure this book was as in-depth as the two textbooks we were currently using for our CCJ 230 introduction course. The only way we were willing to undertake this project as if it was as good, or better than the current books students read. We have had very positive feedback about the required textbooks in the course but consistently heard how expensive the books were to buy. We also needed to ensure we met the learning outcomes outlined by SOU for a general education course, as well as the state of Oregon, to make sure this textbook helps students meet those outcomes.

    SOU’s catalog course description for CCJ 230 states this course surveys the functional areas of criminal justice in the United States. This OER covers law enforcement, criminal courts, sentencing, penal institutions, and community-based sanctions. It also includes historical and contemporary perspectives on components of the criminal justice system, as well as the legal and constitutional frameworks in which they operate.

    Additionally, myths and controversies are incorporated in the course covering the above-noted content areas in the American criminal justice system. In our experience, this tends to be the most exciting part of the class. It also helps students build all learning outcomes through assignments, readings, and materials covered in class. The primary goal when writing this book was to make it easy to read, with fun examples, thought-provoking discussion questions, and is accessible to all to ensure that students would read. The content level targeted first-year students who are taking their first course in Criminology and Criminal Justice, but also as a general education course for those that may not intend to major. In order to ensure each area has accessible materials for the course and meets our learning objectives and goals, we have conducted preliminary research in order to determine our best option is moving forward.


    Dr. Shanell Sanchez wants to personally thank all her colleagues at SOU for taking on this endeavor with her. The first plan was to adapt and edit an existing OER, but after an exhaustive search of OER’s, we found there is a dearth of CCJ OER’s. We realized that if we wrote this book, we would be one of the first CCJ OER’s available. The initial idea seemed a bit overwhelming, but watching it come together was amazing. Dr. Sanchez had a vision for what an ideal textbook should look like for first-year students and our newest majors or potential majors, but it was not possible without all of us working together.

    Amy Hofer at Linn-Benton Community College served as our grant manager, but she went beyond that. She has served as an excellent resource, mentor, and helped us find opportunities to present our experiences at conferences.

    Dr. Jeffrey Gayton is our university librarian at Southern Oregon University and helped coordinate this project from the start of our application to the release of our OER going live.

    Brian Stonelake, a professor in the Mathematics department at Southern Oregon University, provided excellent guidance and insight to us when we were applying for the grant.

    Christina Richardson was our student that served as a contributing editor, as well as created our glossary for this OER. She went through the entire book to pose suggestions, edits, and comments that helped make the end product better.


    We dedicate this book to our students at Southern Oregon University, who continuously work hard in our classes and develop lasting relationships with us. We also dedicate this book to all our partners, children, fur babies, and friends that supported us in the writing process.

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