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Introduction to Criminal Justice

Kingsborough Community College
The City University of New York


CRJ 63: Introduction to Criminal Justice - 3 credits, 3 hours

Course Coordinator: Professor Libby Garland

Course Description:
This course endeavors to provide students with an overview of crime in America and the three elements of the criminal justice system: the police, the courts, and corrections. Questions to be investigated include: What is the difference between crime and deviancy? What environmental, psychological and biological factors contribute to the making of the criminal mind? Given that all crimes are not known to the police, how large in scope is the crime problem in the United States? What methods are used to control it? Should the police be allowed to break the rules in order to catch criminals? To what extent do class and race affect the quality of justice? Is punishment more effective than rehabilitation in deterring crime? Does capital punishment deter crime? Is trying juvenile offenders as adults a rational or emotional response to the problem?

While many students are curious about the crime problem, few have a clear understand of its causes, the techniques that the police use to combat it, and the legal principles that guide judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys. This course uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore and understand the aforementioned, and other, pressing questions. It uses an historical perspective to understand the development of crime and the evolution of methods to fight it. From political science, it borrows the concepts of the rule of law, individual rights, due process, and theories of power. Sociology provides knowledge on criminology and the structure of organizations, and psychology helps us understand the criminal mind.

Learning Goals:

To develop students' basic understanding of the workings of the U.S. criminal justice system

To give students an understanding of the three parts of the criminal justice system: policing, the criminal courts, and corrections

To encourage students to further the pursuit of, and perhaps major in, the study of criminal justice

To foster skills necessary for students to know the elements of the criminal law, proper police procedures and the rights of the accused

Learning Outcomes:
Students will be able to understand:

The elements of a crime

Why people commit crime

Police functions, rules and organization

The history of policing in the United States

The role of the courts and the rights of the accused

The distinction between legal and illegal police methods sand prosecutorial procedures

The roles played by the police, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, juries, and corrections officers

The difference between violations, misdemeanors and felonies, and the corresponding fines, jail and prison sentences

Assessment:This course will employ the following instruments to measure students' learning and will test reading comprehension and fluency as well as mastery of critical thinking skills.

Giving essay exams

Giving quizzes

Homework assignments

Asking direct questions of students in class

Soliciting students informed opinions in class

Assigning oral presentation


Quantitative and qualitative evidence based on the aforementioned instruments of measurement reveals that:

Written exams and quizzes reveal that eighty percent of students are able to articulate a working knowledge of how the various components of the criminal justice system work as well as mastery of critical thinking skills.

Class participation shows how well students understand key criminal justice concepts

Topical Course Outline:
I. Introduction and Overview

  1. Criminal Justice as a System
  2. Models of the Criminal Justice System
  3. Stages of the Criminal Justice Process

II. Crime and Criminals

  1. Types of Crime
  2. Counting Crime
  3. Explaining Criminal Behavior

III. The Criminal Law

  1. The Seven Basic Principles of Criminal Law
  2. Excuses and Justifications

IV. The History and Organization of the Police

  1. The History of American Policing
  2. The Problem of Political Control
  3. Police Systems in the United States
  4. The Federal System
  5. State and Local Systems

V. Police Functions

  1. Managing Police Functions
  2. The Service Function
  3. Order Maintenance
  4. The Law Enforcement Function

VI. The Police Culture

  1. Selecting Police Officers
  2. The Changing Composition of the Police Force
  3. The Police Subculture
  4. Corruption
  5. Unionization

VII. The Rule of Law in Law Enforcement

  1. Criminal Justice under the Constitution
  2. Fourth Amendment: Unreasonable Search and Seizure
  3. Fifth Amendment: Self-Incrimination
  4. The Exclusionary Rule
  5. The Use and Abuse of Force

VIII. The Origin and Role of the Courts

  1. Origin of America's Courts
  2. State Courts: Organization and Role
  3. Federal Courts: Organization and Role
  4. Interaction between State and Federal Courts

IX. Lawyers and Judges

  1. Prosecution
  2. Defense Counsel
  3. Judges
  4. Other Court Personnel

X. Criminal Prosecution and Adjudication

  1. No Trial
  2. Pretrial and Plea Bargaining
  3. Trial
  4. Post trial

XI. Sentencing

  1. Purposes and Goals of Criminal Sanction
  2. The Choice of Sanction
  3. Structuring Sentences
  4. Capital Punishment

XII. Corrections

  1. The History of Institutional Corrections
  2. Major Developments in American Corrections
  3. Institutional Corrections Today
  4. The Size and Cost of the Corrections System
  5. Privatization of Corrections

XIII. Juvenile Justice

  1. Juvenile Crime
  2. Juvenile Courts
  3. Treating Juveniles as Adults

Textbook: Robert M. Bohm, Keith N. Haley, Introduction to Criminal Justice, McGraw-Hill, 7th ed., 2012.
ISBN: 978-0-07811153-2

Robert M. Bohm, Keith N. Haley, Introduction to Criminal Justice, McGraw-Hill, 8th ed., 2014.                                  ISBN: 978-0-07-802653-9 

Selected Bibliography:
Allen, Henry E. and Clifford E. Simonsen. Corrections in America. New York: Macmillan, 1981.

Bratton, William. Turnaround: How America's Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic. New York: Random House, 1998.

Cole, David. No Equal Justice. New York: New Press, 1999.

Clarke, Michael. Business Crime: Its Nature and Control. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990.

Criminal Justice 2000, 4 vols. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice, 2000.

Crowell, Nancy A. and Ann W. Burgess, eds. Understanding Violence Against Women. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1996.

Currie, Elliott. Crime and Punishment in America. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Donziger, Steven R. ed. The Real War on Crime: The Report of the National Criminal Justice Commission. New York: Harper Perennial, 1996.

Dwyer, Jim, Peter Neufeld, and Barry Scheck. Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make It Right. New York: Signet, 2000.

Geis, Gilbert and Leigh B. Bienen. Crimes of the Century. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998.

Goldstein, Lynne and Doris MacKenzie. eds. The American Prison: Issues in Research and Policy. New York: Plenum, 1989.

Goodman, James. Stories of Scottsboro. New York: Pantheon, 1994.

Inciardi, James A. Reflections on Crime. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978.

________, Duane C. McBride, and James E. Rivers. Drug Control and the Courts. Newbury Park, CA: 1996.

Handler, Joel F. and Julie Zatz, eds. Neither Angels nor Thieves: Studies in the Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1982.

Hawkins, Keith. ed. The Uses of Discretion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Irwin, James and James Austin. It's About Time: America's Imprisonment Binge. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1997.

Kelling, George L. and Catherine M. Ross. Fixing Broken Windows. New York: Free Press, 1996.

Klein, Malcolm W. The American Street Gang. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Maxson, Cheryl L. and Malcolm W. Klein, Responding to Troubled Youth. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Neubauer, David W. America's Courts and the Criminal Justice System. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1992.

Ohlin, Lloyd E. and Frank J. Remington, Discretion in Criminal Justice: The Tension Between Individualization and Uniformity. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

Pollock-Byrne, Jocelyn. Women, Prison, and Crime. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1990.

Schultz, David A. ed. The Encyclopedia of American Law. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2002.

Sheley, Joseph F. And James D. Wright. In the Line of Fire. New York: Aldine, 1995.

Skolnick, Jerome and James Fyfe. Above the Law: Police and the Excessive Use of Force. New York: Free Press, 1993.

Sparrow, Malcolm K., Mark H. Moore, and David M. Kennedy. Beyond 911: A New Era for Policing. New York: Basic Books, 1990.

Thompson, Joel, and G. Larry Mays, eds. American Jails: Public Policy Issues. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1991.