This course introduces students to the characteristics of the criminal justice system in the United States. Focus is placed on examining crime measurement, theoretical explanations of crime, responses to crime, components of the system, and current challenges to the system. The course examines the evolution of the principles and approaches utilized by the justice system and the evolving forces which have shaped those principals and approaches.
- This section will broadly introduce crime, criminal justice, and criminology. This section is designed to be a broad overview of what the subsequent chapters will cover in detail. It also demonstrates how the United States create laws, policies enacted to enforce laws, and the role of the media.
- This section focuses on the task of measuring crime. Measuring crime is quite complex and requires an understanding of different data sets and how we use them. Defining crime seems complex, but measuring crime is just as complicated of a task. Without crime, there is no need for the criminal justice system. We must have a clear and accurate understanding of crime in order to create effective policies to combat it or help minimize it.
- This section examines the fundamental principles of criminal law and describes the functions of formal criminal law (what criminal law does and what it cannot do), how crimes differ from civil and moral wrongs, and various classification schemes used in discussing criminal law.
- In this section, you will be introduced to policy in the criminal justice system. Policies that can be examined include issues related to juvenile justice, drug legislation, intimate partner violence, prison overcrowding, school safety, new federal immigration laws, terrorism, and national security.
- This section introduces the importance of theory and theory creation. It also briefly describes some of the major paradigms of criminal explanations.
- In this section, you will be introduced to the history of policing in the United States. Today, policing is under the microscope to ensure past mistakes are not repeated and forward momentum is reached. It is for this reason this section will explore the history, as well as the foundations, that the American policing system was built upon.
- This section examines the structure and function of the criminal courts in America. It examines the concept of jurisdiction and describes the dual court system (the federal court system and the various state court systems). This section also examines the role and function of the various courtroom participants–the people who work in the courts.
- In this section, you will be introduced to juvenile justice. This section is designed to be a broad overview of the juvenile court system, to examine the pros and cons of the juvenile justice system, examine the various stages in the juvenile justice system, and discuss contemporary issues facing juvenile justice.