Classics in Criminal Justice Film and Literature


Dr. Tod W. Burke


Spring, 2008




CRJU 490 Section 01 Index # 1329 & CRJU 590 Section 01 Index # 1330

Wednesday 5:00-8:00 PM (Waldron College Hall 216)

Office: 307 Adams St. 6B
Work Phone: 831-6657
Fax : 831-6075 E-mail:

Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 3:30-4:30 PM & Wednesday 2:20-4:30 PM  (Subject to change)
*Appointments available

Course Description:                    

This course will examine the relationship between classic films and scholarly literature within the field of criminal justice.  Special attention will be devoted to issues in policing, corrections, diversity, deviance, and law.

Assignments and Grading: 

Group Presentation:  Each student will be assigned to a group based upon a themed topic.  The group members will examine various films (other than those viewed during class) providing a minimum of 3 video clips for integration within the assigned group theme for class presentation and discussion. The group members will include a minimum of 5 literature sources (3 of which must be peer-reviewed articles) to support their classroom presentation. The main purpose of the presentation is to examine the relationship between the themed topic, the classroom films/literature and the chosen film clips and selected review of the literature.  The group presentation should be approximately 45 minutes, including classroom discussion.  The group presentation will be valued at a maximum of 50 points (a group presentation grading matrix will be provided).  Each member of the group will receive the same point value.  See link for oral report grading policy:  Required for both undergraduate and graduate students

Reflection Journal:  The purpose of the reflection journal is to provide a film critique for each movie (approximately one typed double-spaced page per movie).  The critique should include the central issue and your scholarly opinion on the issue (not necessarily your opinion of the movie).  The journals will be collected 5 times throughout the semester for review and grading:

February 6 (for Police Section films)
February 27 (for Correction Section films)
March 26 (for Diversity Section films)
April 9 (for Deviance Section films) 
April 30 (for Courts/Legal Section films). 

The journal will be valued at a total maximum of 50 points (maximum 10 points each review). Required for undergraduate students only!

Short Reflection Paper:  Two films/videos will be shown per class per topic (one movie per class session, unless circumstances require otherwise).  The graduate student should select one of the 2 films per topic and type a brief (2-3 double-spaced pages and stapled) paper – ˝ movie review, ˝ discussion of the issue(s).  The paper should include at least 2 additional literature sources, not including the assigned reading.  All writings must adhere to APA standards!  There will be a total of 4 short papers valued at a maximum of 15 points (total maximum of 60 points).  Required for graduate students only!

Note:  Graduate students may NOT write their paper on their chosen group presentation topic!  For instance, if you have been assigned to the Corrections Section, you will not write your short reflection paper on the films in that section (therefore you can ignore that due date).

Graduate papers will be due on the following dates (excluding chosen group presentation topic date):

February 6 (for Police Section)
February 20 (for Corrections Section)
March 19 (for Diversity Section)
April 9 (for Deviance Section)
April 30 (for Courts/Legal Section)

Films will be shown in 2 week segments; group presentations will follow each completed topic area (with the exception of the Police and Corrections section, which will be combined into a one-day discussion session).  Student papers are due at the beginning of class.


            Readings:  There will not be an assigned text for this class (I know that pleases each of you).  However, students will be required to read a classic criminal justice article (linked from my web page –  see articles below next to assigned films) and be prepared to discuss the article with classmates (within a small discussion group format) and instructor.  Discussion questions should focus upon the central issues of the article and the relationship between the article content and the film.  Each assigned article will correspond (to the central theme) to the film of the week.


            Graduate Students: In addition to above required writing, each graduate student will be assigned to lead a small discussion group on the required reading assignments and be prepared to summarize the group findings.  The graduate student will report to the instructor any student ill-prepared, not-participating, etc. That student may be counted absent for the day (see attendance below). 


            Attendance:  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).  7 points will be deducted for each class missed, whether excused or not – no exceptions; so please do not even bother to ask!  Any student ill-prepared, not paying attention to the films/discussion, sleeping or falling asleep, working on another assignment, etc. may be counted absent for that class period.

 Other important information:  If you bring a cell phone to class, please turn off the ringer (you may wish to put the phone on vibrate).  If you receive a call during class, do NOT respond to the message unless it is an emergency that the entire class should be made aware of (example - a campus emergency).

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 Code of Conduct 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).


Students seeking accommodations are required to provide documentation from an appropriate health care provider or professional. The documentation must outline the functional limitations that substantially limit a major life activity. Providers are also asked to provide recommendations for reasonable accommodations based upon the disability. However, Radford University's disability services professionals ultimately decide on what accommodations are appropriate and reasonable.

Having a diagnosis is not the same as having a disability!


ADA Statement

If you are seeking classroom accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are required to register with the Disability Resource Office (DRO). The DRO is located in Tyler Hall, Room 64; telephone number 831-6350; email address To receive academic accommodations for this class, please obtain the proper DRO forms and meet with me no later than the second week of class during the regular semester session (or the second day of the class during the summer session).


Tentative Schedule:


Week One (January 16):  Introduction to class


Police Section:


Week Two (January 23): Serpico (130 min) – - Learning the Ropes (Van Maanen)


Week Three (January 30): Choirboys (121 min) –- A Sketch of a Policeman’s Working Personality (Skolnick)


Corrections Section:


Week Four (February 6): Cool Hand Luke (127 min) –Pains of Imprisonment (Sykes)


Week Five (February 13):  Shawshank Redemption (142 min) –Asylums (AKA: Characteristics of Total Institutions) (Goffman)


Week Six (February 20): Group presentations on Police & Corrections Sections


Diversity Section:


Week Seven (February 27):  Do the Right Thing (120 min) – (Myth of a Racist Criminal Justice System (Wilbanks)


Week Eight (March 5): The Laramie Project (96 minutes) (The Nature of Prejudice (Allport)


Week Nine (March 12):  Spring Break – No Class


Week Ten (March 19):  Group Presentation on Diversity Section


Deviance Section:


Week Eleven (March 26): A Clockwork Orange (137 min) –The Dramatization of Evil (in Theories of Deviance) (Tannenbaum)


Week Twelve (April 2): One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (134 min) –Being Sane in Insane Places (Rosenhan)


Week Thirteen (April 9): Group Presentation on Deviance Section


Courts/Legal Section:


Week Fourteen (April 16): To Kill a Mockingbird (130 min) - (Asimov, Michael (1996).  When Lawyers Were Heroes.  University of San Francisco Law Review, 30: 1131-1138.


Week Fifteen (April 23):  My Cousin Vinny (120 min) - Models of the Criminal Process (in The Criminal Justice System – Politics and Policies) (Herbert Packer)


Week Sixteen (April 30): [Final’s Week] Group Presentation on Courts/Legal Section & Wrap-up

** This syllabus is subject to change!!