Crime, Law and Justice

CRJU 150

Fall, 2005


Dr. Tod W. Burke


CRJU 150 Section 02 (Index # 1304)

Tuesday/Thursday  9:30 am – 10:45 am  

Room: Young 309


CRJU 150 Section 03 (Index #1305)

Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:15 pm

Room: Peters 137


Office:  307 Adams Street, Room 6B (upstairs)

Work number:  831-6657

Fax number:  831-6075


Home page:


Office hours:  Tues:  3:30-4:30 & Wed. 3:00-6:00pm (subject to change) “Appointments available




 This course is designed as the required introductory course for criminal justice majors.  As such, it will introduce students to the key theoretical and methodological understandings necessary for a background in the study of criminal justice.  The primary focus will be on an assessment of the ideas that underlie criminal justice – namely, the nature of crime, law and justice – and the nexus between them.  This background will help ground students’ understandings of subsequent coursework in criminal justice. 

This course will be designed as “discussion-oriented”. As such, lectures will be kept to a minimum.  Topics for discussion may include (but not limited to): 

·        What is Criminal Justice?

·        Criminal Justice careers

·        Criminal Justice at R.U.

·        Criminal Justice faculty

·        Opportunities

·        Forensic Studies minor

·        Getting a job

·        Graduate education

·        Conducting C.J. research

·        What is social control?

·        What is authority?

·        What is power?

·        The utility of groups

·        Gangs

·        Vigilantism and civil disobedience

·        Crime and location

·        Social Contract Theory

·        What is crime?

·        Elements of a crime?

·        Crime trends

·        Criminological theories

·        Criminological schools of thought

·        Why do people commit crime?

·        Why don’t people commit crime?

·        Routine Activity

·        Protective factors

·        Why do we punish?

·        Law and morality

·        Deciding what is good

·        Morality and legal moralism

·        Consensus of morality

·        Discussion issues on law and morality

·        The courtroom process

·        Ethical and legal issues

·        Ethical questions

·        Constitutional law

·        Sentencing guidelines

·        Current legal debates


There will not be a required text for this class (I know that makes you happy).  However (you can remove that smile), you will have a number of selected readings that correspond to specific topic areas.  I do believe that you will enjoy most, if not all, of the selected readings.  Some may require additional time to fully appreciate the meaning, so don’t be fooled by the brevity of some of the articles.  Most of the readings can be downloaded from the library home page, reserve section:  Simply type in “Burke” and you should see all the articles I have either written or placed on reserves for you to read/print.


The student will be graded based upon the following:

Research paper:  This assignment will better prepare you (hopefully) for papers that you will be writing in future criminal justice courses (Of course, future papers may be much longer in length.  This is just a teaser).  Focus will include:

o       Topic selection (5 points) – due Thursday, September 1

o       Annotated Bibliography (10 points) – due Thursday, September 22

o       Paper outline and first page (10 points) – due Thursday, October 6

o       Final Draft of paper  - 3 pages (body of paper) + abstract + highlighted photocopies (25 points) – due Thursday, October 20

Printout paper guidelines:  This is only a guide and we will go over the specific requirements for this course during class period.  Don’t panic!

Periodic quizzes:  There will be no tests for this class, but quizzes, valued at 10 points each, will be administered periodically.  The dates of the quizzes will be announced in class.  Quizzes will cover class discussion, readings, movies, guest speakers, etc.  The format of the quizzes will be hypothetical/short answers.  Quizzes will not be multiple choice, true/false, etc.  The student can not make up a quiz, so do not bother to ask. 

Brief group presentation:  Students will be divided into 5 groups representing the major components of the criminal justice system: police, corrections, courts, constitutional law and juvenile justice.  Each of the 5 groups will contain 4 subcategories.  Students will select from a “grab-bag” (randomly) their chosen subcategory. The students (as a group) will then research that topic and present the information to the class. Students will graded based upon my “oral report guideline”  Each group should take approximately 15 minutes (there will be 4 groups presenting daily at the end of the semester) to present their information in a concise and interesting manner. Each student will be expected to speak during their segment.  All members of the group will receive the same grade (the group leader must submit the names of all group members to the professor prior to their presentation).  The professor has the right to lower the grade of any individual group member if that student does not meet the guideline requirements and/or is ill-prepared for the presentation.  The group presentation is valued at 50 points.  Be creative and have fun with the topic!!!

*Late papers/assignments will not be accepted.  No excuses, no exceptions!


The student is expected to attend each class. If an individual is borderline between grades, class participation will be considered in making the final grade decision. Additionally, students are expected to attend class "on time." Tardiness will NOT be tolerated (the student may be denied admission into the class if tardy and will be counted absent). 

 *Bonus: 10 points (not 10%) will be added to the final scores from quizzes/paper for perfect attendance (An "excused" absence will result in the forfeit of the bonus points, but will not be counted against the student. An "excused" absence must be cleared by the professor). Any student who misses more than two (2) classes will be deducted 20 points for each class missed (Two tardies = one absence).  Any student not paying attention (example, falling asleep in class - if that is even possible in this course), or who is ill-prepared for discussion, may be counted absent for that day.


This is a discussion-oriented class.  While I will do some lecturing, I expect each class member to participate throughout the semester. Learning will occur in this class in part as a result of thoughtful discussions of difficult topics, as we exchange ideas and perspectives. If you’re shy and don’t speak up, be prepared for me to call on you – and be sure that you are prepared to respond intelligently (if you simply do not want to engage in discussion, this is not the class for you!).


Please be civil in all class discussions. We will be discussing controversial issues in this class. I encourage you to discuss (and feel free to disagree with) ideas and arguments that may be posed by the readings, by me, or by your classmates. However, please refrain from discussing personal shortcomings, making inappropriate comments (or gestures), or invoking emotional (rather than well-reasoned and supported) arguments.  This is not the Jerry Springer show – don’t throw objects!


Make good arguments.  This is important for both discussion and written assignments.  Not all arguments are created equal. You may sincerely believe and passionately argue that the earth is flat, but that argument pales to the more empirically-grounded “round earth” viewpoint.  Some issues that we discuss will be philosophical, meaning that I’ll be looking for rational arguments underlying your position; “just because” is not a sufficient justification. Other issues are more empirical (i.e., data-driven), and I’ll expect you to have your facts in line. So, if you want to argue that the death penalty is a deterrent, you’ll need some supporting evidence that refutes the studies that have found it not to be. In other words, I challenge you to make interesting arguments that are well grounded and well-thought-out, rather than resorting to armchair philosophizing. Many issues have no clear-cut and agreed-upon answer – so make good arguments to sell your point!


[Special thanks to Dr. Owen and his syllabus for providing some of the above verbatim requirements]


Please turn off all cell phones, beepers and other electronic devices that may distract your classmates and professor!



Radford University is committed to the highest standards of academic honesty. Acts of academic dishonesty include plagiarism, cheating, bribery, academic fraud, sabotage of research materials, the sale of academic papers, the purchase of academic papers, and the falsification of records. An individual who engages in these or related activities or who knowingly aids another who engages them, is acting in an academically dishonest manner and will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the bylaws and procedures of Radford University (See Student Handbook).

Each member of the academic community is expected to give full, fair, and formal credit to any and all sources that have contributed to the formulation of ideas, methods, interpretations, and findings. The absence of such formal credit is an affirmation that the work is fully the writer’s. The term "sources" includes, but is not limited to, published or unpublished materials, lectures, lecture notes, computer programs, mathematical and other symbolic formulations, course papers, examinations, theses, dissertations, and comments offered in class or informal discussions. The representation that such work of another is the writer’s represents plagiarism.

Care must be taken to document the source of any ideas or arguments. If the actual word of a source is used, it must appear within quotation marks. In cases that are unclear, the writer must take due care to avoid plagiarism.

The source should be cited whenever:

  1. A text is quoted verbatim
  2. Data gathered by another are presented in diagrams or tables/charts
  3. The results of a study conducted by another are used
  4. The work or intellectual effort of another is paraphrased by the writer.

Since the intent to deceive is not a necessary element (strict liability), careful note taking and record keeping is essential in order to avoid plagiarism. In other words, it is like being a little bit pregnant (you either are or you are not). One cannot have "accidental/unintentional" plagiarism!

Students should consult members of the faculty for clarification of the definition and substance of this policy on plagiarism as it applies to their particular discipline.

(Source: City University of New York – Proposal on Plagiarism).