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Principles of Criminal Justice

Boston University, Metropolitan College


MET CJ101 Spring 2015
Professor: Shea Cronin, Ph.D.
Office:
808 Commonwealth Ave., Room 233 (Applied Social Sciences)
Office Hours:
Monday & Wednesday 3-5:30 and by appointment
Email:
swcronin@bu.edu
Phone:
617-358-6068 (office)
617-620-6586 (cell)
Website:
learn.bu.edu (then login with BU id & password)

Course Description
Crime and criminal justice are important areas of inquiry. Crime is a complex
social phenomenon that inflicts harm on victims and imposes costs on society.
At the same time, our public responses to crime raise serious questions about
how best to deal with crime problems in a democratic society. This course is an
overview of the criminal justice system in America, examining the system from
the development of criminal law, enforcement, prosecution, sentencing,
corrections and reentry. It focuses on understanding the complex organizations
and processes that make up our criminal justice system. To highlight these
concepts, throughout the course, we will analyze a variety of contemporary
public debates about crime policy and administration of justice, from stop-andfrisk policy to mandatory sentencing to punishment of juvenile offenders. The
overall goal of the course is not only to develop each students understanding of
the criminal justice system, but also to prepare students to evaluate problems
within the criminal justice system and propose reforms.

Course Objectives

Provide students with a general understanding of the history,


organization and administration of justice in America
Provide students with a foundation for future study in criminal
justice or application of their field to the study of crime and criminal justice
issues
Promote students ability to evaluate and analyze contemporary
issues around justice policy and administration
Enhance students skills communicating through various writing and
presentational assignments

Course Readings
Cole, George F., Christopher E. Smith and Christina DeJong (2014). Criminal
Justice in America, 7th Edition, Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. Textbook is
available at the Boston University bookstore as well as online etext vendors.
Other required readings will be available on the course blackboard site:
learn.bu.edu. Readings and links will be put into folders corresponding to the
day in which they are due.

Assignments & Grading


CJ Administration & Policy Research Paper (25%): This assignment asks
you to become an expert on specific problem or challenge facing the criminal
justice system. You will write a memo-style paper to a criminal justice leader,
which will draw heavily on appropriate scholarly sources of information. The
paper includes a brief presentation component on the last day of the course. I
will provide you with detailed instructions and helpful information about this
paper throughout the course.
Exams (35%): We will have three exams throughout the course. The exams
will consist of a fairly even split of multiple choice and short answer questions,
which seek to assess your knowledge of concepts from class lectures and
readings.
Short Essays (30%): These assignments are relatively short (4 pages, doublespaced) writing assignments that ask you to analyze, apply, interpret and/or
support positions on specific topics. The essays require you to draw on lectures,
readings and other course materials (speakers, videos, etc.) in your response to
the questions. They do not require outside sources, but these may be
incorporated appropriately. There will 3 essays assigned periodically throughout
the course.
Debates & Class Participation (10%): The debate topics will correspond to
various areas of criminal justice (police, courts, correction) and reflect
contemporary policy debates. While I provide some basic background materials
(article, news reports) the best teams will conduct some outside research and
work together to organize a coherent argument. In addition, active participation
is important to your success in this course. You are expected to come to class
prepared and ready to engage in class discussions and activities.

Course Policies:
In general, I hope that you will work to get as much out of the course as
possible. The course addresses interesting and complex topics as well as issues
that elicit emotional responses so we should always be respectful of others and
their points of view. There should be a great deal of disagreement and debate.
I hope that you will do so in a manner that is well-informed and sensitive to the
perspectives and experiences of others.
Academic Assistance. If you are experiencing difficulty in the course or have
any questions, please feel free to meet with me and ask for guidance. I am
happy to assist you in any way I can. You may also want to reach out to the
Universitys academic help resources: http://www.bu.edu/erc/.
Academic Integrity & Plagiarism. I expect you to abide by all of the Universitys
academic integrity guidelines (See
http://www.bu.edu/academics/resources/academic-conduct-code/). In particular,
plagiarism is a serious violation of the student code of conduct. All work that
you produce in class should be solely your own. Do not download, copy or
otherwise borrow sections of existing papers or any other materials without
citing the source appropriately. Sanctions for plagiarism include failure of the
assignment, failure of the course, and referral to academic review committee.
Course Communications. There will be times during this course when I will need
to make an announcement or e-mail materials to you. These e-mails will be
sent to your BU provided e-mail account. It is your responsibility to get access
to this e-mail and check it or have it forwarded to your own personal account
(i.e. g-mail, yahoo etc). See the IT departments website or call them for
assistance.
Late & Missed Assignments. You must pass in all assignments on-time. You will
lose 10 points (one letter grade) for the assignment for each day it is late.
Except in rare circumstance, there will be no make-up for missed quizzes,
debates and presentations. When circumstances beyond the control of the
student (i.e. medical) occur that cause you to miss or delay handing in an
assignment, please make every effort to contact me as soon as possible before
the due date. You must also provide documentation of the reason for the makeup assignment.
Missed classes. I require and encourage your attendance in class during this
course. Being involved actively in classroom discussion is essential for your
development as a student and understanding of concepts. This is especially
important given this class format with one meeting each week for 3 hours. You
are responsible for any missed lecture and discussion notes and missed classes
will count against your participation grade.

Course Schedule
Week 1, January 21: Course Overview; Development of Criminal Law &
Policy
Guiding Questions: Why are crime and criminal justice important areas of
study? What is crime? What are the key characteristics of crimes? What
are the rationales for behaviors to be deemed crimes? What other factors
affect the publics assessment of seriousness? Through what process do
behaviors come to be defined as crimes?
Readings:

Cole, Smith & DeJong, Chapter 3, focus on pages 73-84

Week 2, January 28: Overview of the Criminal Justice System


Guiding Questions: What are the decision-points and decision-makers
that make up the criminal justice system? What are the important
characteristics of this system? What effect do these characteristics
have on criminal justice decisions, outputs and outcomes?
Readings:

Cole, Smith & DeJong, Chapter 1


Globe Spotlight Series, Articles 1-3 (blackboard)

Week 3, February 4: Criminal Justice in a Democratic Society


Guiding Questions: What are the implications of administrating
criminal justice within a democratic society? What effect does our
governmental system have on criminal justice decisions? What effect
should it have on decisions?
Readings:

Cole, Smith & DeJong, Chapter 1, focus on pages 1-6


Cole, Smith & DeJong, Chapter 3, focus on pages 88-100

Week 4, February 11: Patterns of Crime & Justice


Guiding Questions: What is the nature of crime in society? What are
the key methods used to measure crime? What are key measures of
criminal justice system outputs and outcomes? How (and why?) do
criminal justice system outputs vary?
Readings:

Cole, Smith & DeJong, Chapter 1, focus on pages 39-59


Measures of Crime Notes & Resources (blackboard)

Week 5, February 18: Policing: Background Concepts & Issues

Guiding Questions: What roles and functions do the police serve in


society? What are the various strategies employed to reduce crime?
What are the main legal constraints on police actions?
Readings:

Cole, Smith & DeJong, Chapters 4 & 6

Assignments:

Exam #1 Foundations of CJ (covers Weeks 1-4)

Week 6, February 25: Policing: Contemporary Challenges


Guiding Questions: What are the major challenges to policing a
democratic society today? What is the importance of legitimacy and
police-community relations? How do we hold police accountable?
Readings:

Cole, Smith & DeJong, Chapters 5 & 6

Assignments:

Debate #1 Police Surveillance

Week 7, March 4: Courts & Adjudication Processes


Guiding Questions: What are the main steps in the adjudication
process? What role do various actors (prosecutors, judges, defense
attorneys, juries) play in the process? What are the main legal
constraints guiding the process?
Readings:

Cole Smith & DeJong, Chapters 7 & 8

Assignments:

Essay #1 Stop & Frisk Policies

*****Spring Recess, March 11 - No Class Meeting*****


Week 8, March 18: Courts & Adjudication Processes
Guiding Questions: How does prosecutorial discretion influence the
process? What factors affect prosecutorial discretion? What are the
advantages/disadvantages of citizen juries?
Readings:

Cole, Smith & DeJong Chapters 7 & 8

Assignments:

Debate #2 Prosecutorial Discretion

Week 9, March 25: Sentencing & Punishment


Guiding Questions: What are the primary goals of punishment? What
are the various sentencing structures? What are the various
sentencing options available to judges? What factors influence judicial
discretion?

Reading:

Cole, Smith & DeJong, Chapter 9

Assignment:
weeks 5-9)

Exam #2 Policing, Courts & Adjudication (covers

Week 10, April 1: Corrections & Incarceration


Guiding Questions: How have correctional practices evolved? What
kinds of programs exist within prisons? What are the legal constraints
on correctional facilities? What are the major types of communitybased corrections?
Reading:

Cole, Smith & DeJong, Chapters 10, 11 & 12

Assignments:

Essay #2 Adjudication in Theory & Practice

Week 11, April 8: Community Reentry


Guiding Questions: What is prisoner reentry? What are the major
challenges that formerly incarcerated individual face when leaving a
correctional facility? What strategies/programs exist to promote
successful reentry?
Readings:

Cole, Smith & DeJong, Chapter 13

Week 12, April 15: Juvenile Justice


Guiding Questions: How has the juvenile justice system evolved?
What are the major differences between the juvenile justice system
and the criminal justice system? What legal constraints are important
within the juvenile justice system?
Reading:

Cole, Smith & DeJong, Chapter 14

Assignments:
Essay #3 Corrections in Theory & Practice
Debate #3 Juvenile Justice Reform
*****April 22: Monday Schedule No Wednesday Classes*****
Week 13, April 29: Course Conclusion
Guiding Questions: What new challenges does the criminal justice
system face? What will be the new round of reforms?
Assignments:

Presentations on Policy & Administration Papers

Exam #3 Sentencing, Corrections and Juvenile Justice


(covers weeks 9-12)