Criminal Justice 370

CRJU 370: Crime and Criminal Behavior

Prerequisite: CRJU 100, junior or senior standing, and declared major or minor in Criminal Justice or permission of the instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

This class focuses on the ways in which explanations of criminal behavior influence and are reflected in public policy and in the workings of the criminal justice system.


Detailed Description of the Course

1) What is crime?

  • Legal definition of crime
  • Other conceptions of crime
  • Comparative harms of crime and noncrime
  • Crime, criminality, delinquency, deviance

2) Theory, practice, and the study of crime

  • Criminology as a social science
  • Human nature, government, and public policy
  • Understanding crime and criminals as prerequisites to policy making

3) Deterrence and Opportunity

  • Formal and informal deterrence
  • Rational choice
  • Routine activities
  • Implications for policy\

4) Biological and biochemical approaches

  • Social Darwinism
  • Genetics and crime
  • Biochemical and neurological explanations
  • Biology, public policy, and criminal justice

5) Psychological approaches

  • Deviant personalities and psychopathologies
  • Intelligence and crime
  • Learning and developmental approaches
  • Implications for policy

6) Social organization

  • Social ecology
  • Social structure
  • Subcultures
  • Policy implications

7) Social process approaches

  • Differential association
  • Social control
  • Self control
  • Implications for public policy

8) Labeling and conflict approaches

  • Labels and their consequences
  • Conflict and crime

9) Marxism, feminism, and other paradigms

  • Critiques of the status quo
  • New policy paradigms


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

A number of instructional strategies will be used, including but not limited to: lecture, case studies, student presentations, group learning projects, written assignments (e.g., exams, research papers), discussion of films and other examples of popular culture.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Having successfully completed this course, students will:

  • Be aware of the role of research into the causes of crime on criminal justice policy
  • Be able to identify and critique the theoretical underpinnings of criminal justice policy
  • Be able to discuss the role of choice in criminal conduct
  • Be able to distinguish between formal and informal deterrence and to discuss which holds more promise for deterring crime
  • Be able to distinguish and evaluate macro and micro explanations of criminal behavior
  • Be able to apply analytical skills
  • Be able to apply verbal and written communication skills


Assessment Measures

 Students work will be evaluated on several bases, including but not limited to examinations, quizzes, presentations, class participation, written assignments, and group participation.


Other Course Information



Approval and Subsequent Reviews


May, 2011