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Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 11-Jul-24

Fall 2024 | CRJ-1010-VR01 - Introduction to Criminal Justice

In Person Class

Standard courses meet in person at CCV centers, typically once each week for the duration of the semester.

Location: Rutland
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Tuesday, 08:30A - 11:15A
Semester Dates: 09-03-2024 to 12-10-2024
Last day to drop without a grade: 09-16-2024 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 11-04-2024 - Refund Policy
Open Seats: 10 (as of 07-21-24 3:05 PM)
To check live space availability, Search for Courses.


Melissa Holmes
View Faculty Credentials
View Faculty Statement
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Philip Crossman

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following CCV General Education Requirement(s) for the current catalog year:
VSCS Social Sciences
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program catalog year page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description

This course provides an overview of the American criminal justice system, tracing its history and development while assessing its strengths and weaknesses. The roles of the agencies that comprise the criminal justice system (representing law enforcement, courts, and corrections) are examined. Students explore career opportunities in the criminal justice system, including positions as a law enforcement officer, court personnel, attorney, paralegal, corrections, justice advocacy, and victim services.

Essential Objectives

1. Describe the historical development and major components of the American criminal justice system including law enforcement agencies, the courts, rehabilitation, and corrections, as well as victims' rights and services.
2. Identify the major U.S. Constitutional amendments and Supreme Court decisions applicable to the American criminal justice system.
3. Describe various psychological and sociological theories used to understand and explain criminal behavior.
4. Identify the major elements in the American penal system, including probation, parole, corrections, and restorative justice.
5. Describe the objectives and outcomes of various societal responses to criminal behavior including incarceration, restitution, social service intervention, and other alternatives to the criminal justice process.
6. Explain how societal definitions of criminal behavior and responses to that behavior have created disparities based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender expression, and sexuality in the criminal justice system.
7. Critically examine how data on crime, recidivism, crime prevention, and the use of force by law enforcement and corrections are collected, reported, and used in an ethical manner.
8. Evaluate at least one innovative criminal justice intervention practiced locally, nationally, or internationally.
9. Discuss the importance of cultural competence and trauma-informed practice in criminal justice professions and identify skills and strategies for supporting and collaborating with individuals from diverse backgrounds.
10. Explore the scope and diversity of career opportunities in the field of criminal justice through assignments such as informational interviews, job shadows, or other career exploration activities.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

*** This is a no cost textbook or resource class. ***

This course only uses free Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or library materials. For details, see the Canvas Site for this class.


As a vibrant educator, I will engage and challenge you, ensuring you stay alert and take charge of your learning in this course. Over the past four years, I've incorporated a wellness component into the curriculum, receiving outstanding annual feedback from students. Lectures are posted on Canvas after each session, so you can catch up if you're absent. Learning is a two-way street; I aim to learn from you as you do from me. Students often remark that my real-world experiences bring the lessons to life. Expect to meet some remarkable guest speakers. I promise an educational journey that's both enlightening and enjoyable. With over two decades of teaching, I ensure my classes are never stagnant; they're dynamic and constantly evolving. Prepare to be challenged in your thinking and to find ease in the complexities.

  • small and large group discussions
  • interactive projects and/or activities
  • multimedia presentations and resources
  • readings, writing, and inquiry-based research
  • professional work-based learning experiences
  • interviews
  • guest speakers
  • service learning

Evaluation Criteria

This course uses a weighted categories system to calculate final grades.

Attendance = 10% Perfect attendance=10 1 miss=9% 2 to 3 misses=8% 4-5misses=5% more than 5=0 points
Assignments = 50%
Wellness Journal: 20%
Final Project = 20%

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Weekly Schedule

Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments


Current Issues in Criminal Justice: The Criminal Justice Process


To Learn: From Lectures, articles, movies and videos, as well as interviews with professionals from many areas in criminal justice.


To Write: Bias Paper

To Discuss: Welcome Discussion and Photo Collage



Measuring and Explaining Crime/Types of Crime, Victims and Causal Links to Crime


To Learn: Lecture, articles, movies, videos and interviews (when applicable).


To Write: Uniform Crime Report on your assigned state, A synopsis of your state crime situation

Assignment: Journal Entry-Wellness Journal-VSP Physical Fitness Guidelines

To Discuss: Post your state findings from the UCR assignment on crime in your assigned state and reply to three classmates.



Criminal Law-Written sources of law and elements of crime. Justified use of force.


To Learn: Lecture, articles, movies, videos and interviews.


To Write: Justifications for committing crime

To Discuss: Tort Law Scenario-Who is to blame?

Assignment: To do Wellness Journal for Week 3- Breath Work and Relaxation Techniques

Assignment 2: Vigilante Justice Paper (Short)

Assignment 3: Case Studies



Law Enforcement Section: What exactly does a law enforcement officer do in modern society.


To Learn: Lecture, articles, movies, videos and interviews.


To Write: Your hometown crime rate, and where police should focus, if you were the Chief of Police for a day!

Assignment: Journal Entry-Eating Right?

To Discuss: Women and Minorities in Law Enforcement



Problems and Solutions in Modern Policing


To Learn from: Lecture, articles, movies, videos, and interviews.


To write: The Police Subculture: The good, the bad and the ugly.

Assignment: The Police Sub-Culture

Assignment #2: Brief Both Case Studies for Week 5

To Discuss: A new Twist, your attendance will be graded by your participation in discussion points from this week's lecture.



The Police and the Constitution of the United States


To Learn: Lecture, articles, movies, videos and interviews.


Assignment: Midterm Test on the Police

To Discuss: Police and the Constitution-See very specific guidelines this week.



The Court Section: Courts and the Quest for Justice


To Learn: Lecture, videos, movies, articles and interviews.


Assignment: #1: Your fitness Journal Entry-Setting Goals

#2: Paper: Defense Attorney or Prosecutor-Which would you choose and why? See Lecture Slide Show: slides 22-27 you must also listen to a Supreme Court Oral Argument of your choice. Give me the case citation and describe the case.

To Discuss: Attorney/Client Privilege/Ethical What would you do? See Lecture Slide #26



Pretrial Procedures and the Criminal Trial


To Learn: lecture and a movie this week to watch.


To Write: Using the movie My Cousin Vinny-Outline the steps in a court trial.

Assignment: Your fitness journal-Anger Management

Assignment #2: My Cousin Vinny-The Steps in a Criminal Justice Case

To Discuss: Should plea bargaining remain as a viable way to dispense justice?



Punishment and Sentencing


To Learn: Lecture, videos, movies, articles and interviews.


To Write: Capital Punishment: Discussion and Homework are combined this week, all about the death penalty and punishment alternatives

To do: Fitness Journal-What Brings you Joy?



Welcome to Section Three of the Criminal Justice Triad: Corrections


To Learn: lecture, movies, articles, videos, and interviews.


Part Two Test

Discussion Board: Grill your professor on questions surrounding being a Federal Probation Officer.



Prisons and Jails-Two Lectures this Week


To Learn: Interview with a prison guard. Lecture and media sources.


To Discuss: Your feelings on rehabilitation vs. incarceration, share a new strategy being used in prisons.

Assignment: Prison Design paper



Beginning of Mandatory Infromational Interview Assignment


Using the College Rubric, study a job you might be interested in the Criminal Justice Field


Assignment One: Send me your chosen job and a locate a person you would like to interview, or work through the career services department for help in finding someone.

Discussion: TBD



Job Description Assignment with Reading Material in lieu of lecture. Find a job description for your interview candidate, research salary and job availability this week. You will write your informed interview questions and in lieu of lecture you and I will go over them. You must schedule and conduct your interview this week.


Articles Assigned in Hartness Library this week.


Mandatory Assignment: After you locate a job description, you will now write your interview questions for me to approve and complete your interview this week.



Where Do You See Yourself in the Field of Criminal Justice Employment?


To Learn: You will evaluate your interview and what you learned, you will include your interview in your final paper, along with all the other components of the rubric.


To Write: Your last journal entry for the year. A summation of goals you met, and overall improvements to your well-being.

Assignment: Write your final paper, with the rubric questions answered and research components completed.

No discussion this week. Use the extra time wisely.



Last week, will be decicated to a discussion board to wrap up your interview and job outlook. We will also have a review of the class and the learning objectives.


No lecture, this week is all about final on your chosen career topic and interview. Just a little presentation by me, to say goodbye.


To Discuss: You will discuss your career papers and those of your classmates in the last discussion board of the semester.


Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Missing & Late Work Policy

All late work will receive -10 points right off the top. That being said, Late work will only be accepted up to one week after the due date. If you should have an extraordinary issue that dictates an assignment being more than a week late, you must contact me right away. If I do not hear from you, I will place a zero if your work is more than a week late, and the zero cannot be altered.

In discussions in class, I am looking for a full conversation. Many voices makes for an amazing learning experience for all. You have three absences, it does not matter if it is for illness, vacation, or a rest week for your mental health. I do not need to know why you are out, it is your business. After three absences, we will be in contact with your advisor to see if you can successfully stay in the course. That is a CCV guideline for all classes. In my opinion, missing class is robbing yourself of the education you might need later on in your professional life.

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.