Honors | Introduction to Criminal Justice
P100 | 2850 | Dennis Rome
Open only to perspective and current COAS students only
The verdict in the Rodney King case which sparked the incident in
Los Angeles was perceived to be wrong by the vast majority of
Americans. But whites have often failed to acknowledge the
widespread mistreatment of black people, especially black men, by
law enforcement agencies, which helped ignite the spark. The verdict
was merely the occasion for deep-seated rage to come to the surface.
The news media provide a steady flow of stories about crime
and how the justice system attempts to cope with it. Many news
reports become “media events,” as was the case during the 1990s with
the trials of O.J. Simpson and Timothy McVeigh. However, there is
uniqueness to the majority of criminal cases that achieve national
attention, and much of what is seen and read in the media fails to
reflect what is typical in the American system of justice. Within
this context, the purpose of this course is to analyze the nature of
crime and the processes of justice in the United States, to examine
the historical and constitutional foundations of the American system
of justice, and to consider its strengths as well as its weaknesses.
Criminal Justice refers to the structure, functions, and
processes of those agencies that deal with the management of crime –
the police, the courts, and corrections. The study of criminal
justice as an undergraduate academic enterprise is relatively new,
having emerged as an outgrowth of calls for “law and order” during
The study of criminal justice follows a logical succession
of topics – definitions of crime and law, the nature and extent of
crime, the constitutional foundations of law and justice, and an
examination of policing, the court system, and correctional
processes. In this course we will discuss a number of major themes.
Such as the due process and crime control models of criminal
justice, the impact that drug abuse and the “war on drugs” have on
crime and criminal justice processing, the growing role of women in
criminal justice, cross-cultural and international perspectives in
the administration of justice, the significance of victims in
processes of justice, the criminal justice “non-system,” and the
importance of critical thinking about criminal justice issues.
1.Chermak, Steven. 2002. Searching for a Demon: the Media
Construction of the Militia Movement . Boston: Northeastern
2.Davis, Angela Y. Are Prisons Obsolete? 2003. New York: Seven
3.Reiman, Jeffrey. 2003. 7th edition The Rich Get Richer and the
Poor Get Prison: Ideology, Class and Criminal Justice. New York:
4.Samuel Walker, Cassia Spohn, Miriam DeLone. 2004. The Color of
Justice: Race, Ethnicity and Crime in America. 3rd Edition. Belmont,
CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
You must complete five written assignments that will be discussed
during our regular seminars. These assignments will require you to
reflect on materials presented in class lectures, readings, and
films and then to demonstrate your comprehension of these materials.
The assignments will vary from traditional essays to interviews, to
drawings, to site visits, to oral and written debates, etc. – the
altering structures of each assignment is done on purpose to allow
students from diverse backgrounds to express their diverse talents.
For the first assignment you are to draw a picture that best
illustrates your definition of crime. You may use crayons, paint,
pens, and pencils, whatever materials you need to best capture your
conception of crime. This assignment is due during class time on
Wednesday, January 21st.