Dalhousie University

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

 

 

SOCIOLOGY OF CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

 

Prof.: Dr. Julian Hermida

Course number: 2180

Teaching hours: Tuesdays 18.05-20.55

Term: Fall and Winter

Office: Room 2117 (FASS Building)

Tel.: 494-6284

Office hours:†††† Fall: Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4.45 to 5.45 pm, or by appointment (Fall).

††††††††††††††††††††††† Winter: Tuesdays from 4.45 to 5.45 pm and Thursdays from 5.30 to 6.30 pm. Winter office hours may change. If so, they will be announced in class at the beginning of the winter term and posted on the course website.

Email address: julian.hermida@dal.ca

 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

 

The objectives of the course are to introduce students to the social scientific study of criminal behavior. The class will examine the notion of crime as a social phenomenon, the theories of crime, the development of criminal law, the methods and strategies to control criminal behavior and the main research findings in criminology. Additionally, the class will delve into the study of the structure and impact of the criminal justice system, with emphasis on contemporary Canadian criminal justice. The course also aims at helping students develop critical thinking, research, and writing skills. This class provides a general understanding of sociology of crime and criminal justice and a sound basis for further study in the area of social order and human justice.

 

PREMISES

 

CONCEPT OF KNOWLEDGE AND LEARNING

 

       Knowledge is a constantly evolving process, which can be constructed personally and collectively.

       From an individual perspective, knowledge is personal, socially and historically contextualized, and dependent on psychological variables.

       From the class perspective, knowledge is a collective construction, where all participants can make their contribution.

       In the process of constructing knowledge, there is a dialectic relationship between action and reflection, where one feeds the other and vice versa.

       Successful learning is based on a personal involvement of students in their own learning.

       The learning environment, including the teaching methods, the teacherís attitude, and the class atmosphere, among other factors, is determinative of the studentsí approach to learning, as well as, the learning outcomes.

        The role of the teacher is that of a facilitator and tutor rather than a lecturer.

        Student peers are a powerful source of learning.

        Evaluation is conceived mainly as formative.

 

OBJECTIVES

 

This course is conceived so that students can:

 

1.         Understand crime as a social phenomenon.

1.1 Understand criminal behavior, and crime control as social phenomena.

 

2.         Appreciate and view crime from a sociological perspective.

2.1. Understand the methods used by criminologists.

 

3.         Critically evaluate the major theories and fundamental concepts in criminology 3.1. Analyze the basic theories of crime.

3.2  3.2   Be familiar with the major schools of criminology.

3.3  3.3   Be aware of the development of sociological criminology.

3.4  3.4   Understand the basic concepts, topics, issues, and terminology used by criminologists.

 

4.         Be aware of the influence of race, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, and social class on the process of defining criminality and the process of labeling criminals.

 

5.         Critically analyze the structure of the criminal justice system and the impact of the criminal justice system.

5.1. Understand the different models of conceiving the justice system.

5.2. Value and appreciate the significance of rights and guarantees in the Canadian criminal justice system.

5.3. Comprehend the differences between individual rights and social control perspectives.

5.4. Critically assess the prevailing theory of offense and crime participation in the Canadian criminal justice system.

 

6.         Apply sociological theories of crime to a myriad of contemporary criminology and criminal justice problems.

6.1. Use the knowledge on sociological theories of crime and criminal justice to analyze contemporary problems of Canadian society.

6.2. Apply the theories on crime and criminal justice to propose solutions to some of the current crime problems of Canadian society.

6.3. Critically reflect on media reports and cultural products concerning crime and criminality.

 

 

TEACHING OBJECTIVE

 

Deploy a range of advanced transferable skills, such as, oral and written communication skills, media literacy, the accurate exposition of complex arguments and sets of research findings, the critical evaluation of competing explanations or complex arguments relating to some criminology and criminal justice sensitive topics.

 

METHODOLOGY

 

Classroom activities will be designed to encourage students to play an active role in the construction of their own knowledge and in the design of their own learning strategies.

We will combine traditional lectures with other active teaching methodologies, such as group discussions, cooperative group solving problems, analysis of video segments depicting scenes relevant to criminology and criminal justice topics, debates, and construction of web sites. Class participation is a fundamental aspect of this course. Students will be encouraged to actively take part in all group activities and to give short oral group presentations throughout the course. Students will be expected to interact with media resources, such as, web sites, videos, DVDs, and digital photography, etc. In line with the postulates of Writing Across the Curriculum, writing will be integrated in all class assignments.

 

 

EVALUATION AND FEEDBACK

 

Evaluation is conceived mainly as formative and feedback will be provided all throughout the course. While strictly respecting University, Faculty and Department standards and policies, reasonable efforts will be made to include shared evaluation practices, i.e., a process where students have an active role in their own evaluation.

 

The evaluation of the studentsí achievement of the objectives of the course will be based on four main components: an essay, class participation/portfolio, and two exams. The first midterm exam accounts for 35% of the final grade. The second midterm exam accounts for 25% of the final grade. The essay accounts for 20%, and class participation/portfolio accounts for 20%.

 

Successful attainment of objectives depends mainly on class attendance and active class participation.

 

EXAMS

 

Students will discuss and propose good-faith questions for each of the exams based on the topics dealt with in the course. If the questions have a general consensus they will be part of a test bank. The exams will only contain questions that have been included in the test bank.

 

Passing requirements and scale of evaluation: The definitive evaluation criteria for the exams will be given to the students once the test bank has been completed. In general, however, a positive response must be given to the following questions in order to obtain full grade for each question in the exam. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions. The value of each evaluation criterion will also be given once the test bank for each exam is completed.

 

 

1.         Did you answer the question comprehensively? Are all relevant problems discussed? Was the answer readable and well organized? Did you make connections between issues discussed in your answer? Did your answer show an understanding of the topic dealt with?

2.         Did your answer discuss problems by reference to theoretical issues learned during the course? Did your answer show an understanding of the appropriate readings or class discussions? Did your answer show an understanding of the discussions and issues arisen in class? Did your answer make reference to class discussions, activities, and readings?

3.         Is there a critical personal assessment of the topic discussed? Does the personal assessment show some originality?

 

CLASS PARTICIPATION-PORTFOLIO

 

Students are expected to actively participate in every class with a positive attitude and to treat their classmates and instructor with respect. Their participation must make a positive impact on the class activities. Students are expected to be prepared for every class. Class attendance is a prerequisite to obtain the corresponding percentage of the grade under the class participation-portfolio category. Students are expected to create a portfolio to record all class assignments. Each portfolio will include, at least, the following materials: (i) a title page and a table of contents; (ii) all class activities, including one minute papers, small group activities and proposals for the test banks made in class, and (iii) a short summary essay on two of the activities included in the portfolio. The idea is to complete these two activities with knowledge acquired in the course after we originally did those two activities.

 

Portfolios will be turned in for review and feedback at least once during the year. A major prerequisite for the creation of a good portfolio is active participation in every class assignment. The deadline to hand in the portfolio is March 20, 2007 in class.

 

Passing requirements and scale of evaluation:a positive response must be given to the following questions in to obtain the maximum grade within this evaluation component. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions which the teacher will ask with respect to each student. All these criteria have the same value.

 

  1. Does the student actively participate in every class?
  2. Does the student show a positive attitude toward his or her classmates, the instructor, and the activities?
  3. Is the student prepared for every class? 
  4. Does the student volunteer to lead activities, debates or debriefs?
  5. Is the portfolio complete? Does it contain all activities made in class and all required components?
  6. Is there evidence that each of the activities was completed when discussed in class? Does the portfolio evidence the studentís active engagement with the activities?
  7. Are the responses to the activities creative, original, and intellectually challenging?
  8. Do the short essays integrate knowledge acquired throughout the course?
  9. Is there reference to theoretical issues and problems discussed in class in the two short essays?
  10. Has the student presented the portfolio for feedback to the professor? Does the final portfolio include the given feedback?

 

ESSAY

 

The topic of the critical research essay must be selected from the list of topics listed on the course website. Other instructions for the essay will be given in class and included on the course website. It is expected that the length of the research paper will not exceed 10 double-spaced pages. The deadline to hand in the essay is March 20, 2007 in class.

 

Passing requirements and scale of evaluation: a positive response must be given to the following questions in order to approve the research paper. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions which the teacher will ask with respect to each paper. All these criteria have the same value.

 

1.      Does the research paper adequately deal with the selected topic? Does the research paper show an understanding of the topic dealt with?

2.      Does the research paper show a clear, coherent, and comprehensive treatment of the selected topic?

3.      Does the research paper integrate knowledge acquired throughout the course? Does it make specific reference to theories discussed in class?

4.      Does the research paper make reference to class discussions and activities?

5.      Does the research paper follow the style, language, citation method, and organization analyzed in class?

 

GRADING SYSTEM

 

 

Grade

Percentage Grade Value

Grade Point Value

Definition

 

A+  

90_100

4.3

Excellent

Considerable evidence of original thinking; demonstrated outstanding capacity to analyze and synthesize; outstanding grasp of subject matter; evidence of extensive knowledge base.

A  

85_89

4.0

A_

80_84

3.7

B+  

77_79

3.3

Good

Evidence of grasp of subject matter, some evidence of critical capacity and analytical ability; reasonable understanding of relevant issues; evidence of familiarity with the literature.

B  

73_76

3.0

B_

70_72

2.7

C+  

67_69

2.3

Satisfactory

Evidence of some understanding of the subject matter; ability to develop solutions to simple problems; benefiting from his/her university experience.

C  

61_66

2.0

C_

55_60

1.7

D

50_54

1.0

Marginal Pass

Evidence of minimally acceptable familiarity with subject matter, critical and analytical skills (except in programs where a minimum grade of `C' is required).

F

 

0

Inadequate

Insufficient evidence of understanding of the subject matter; weakness in critical and analytical skills; limited or irrelevant use of the literature.

INC

 

0

Incomplete

 

W

 

Neutral and no credit obtained

Withdrew after deadline

 

ILL

 

Neutral and no credit obtained

Compassionate reasons, illness

 

 
 

 

MAIN TOPICS COVERED

 

The curriculum is flexible and is open to suggestions from students. We can examine criminology and criminal justice issues of interest to most students, even if they are not listed here. The following is a sample of issues which we will most probably be discussing. Note that we may not examine every single topic listed here.

 

1.         A brief history of criminology

2.         Gender and crimes

3.         Victims and victimization

4.         Theories of victimization

5.         Criminal Law and its Process

6.         Theory of offense

7.         Restorative justice

8.         Choice Theory

9.         Trait theories: biological and psychological trait theories

10.   Social structure theories

11.   The Chicago School

12.   Violent crimes

13.   Violence against women

14.   Strain theory

15.   Merton and Durkheim

16.   Theory of anomie

17.   Cultural deviance theory

18.   Terrorism

19.   International crimes

20.   Property crimes

21.   Social Process theories

22.   Social learning theory

23.   Labeling theory

24.   Primary and secondary deviance

25.   Substance abuse and crime

26.   Social conflict theory

27.   Marxist criminology

28.   Radical feminist theory

29.   Marxist feminism

30.   Peacemaking criminology

31.   Culpable and non culpable homicides

32.   Public order crimes

33.   Corporate crime

34.   Canadian criminal justice system

35.   Sentencing

36.   Crime participation

37.   The police

38.   Correctional institutions

39.   Release and re-entry

40.   The courts

 

CLASS SCHEDULE

 

This is a tentative calendar of readings and class activities. If class discussions or class activities take longer than originally estimated because everybody gets involved, they will not be cut short to follow this schedule of readings. They will simply be put off for the following class or rescheduled. Additionally, the teacher may substitute new topics for some of the ones included in this schedule, particularly if most students show an interest for some topics not planned to be covered. Changes to this schedule, including changes of midterm dates, will be announced in class and posted on the course website.

 

 

Date

Topic

Sep. 12

Introduction and orientation

September 19

Introduction to Criminology and Criminal Justice

Criminology views and theories

September 26, October 10, 31.

 

Theory of offense

October 3

Victims

Sexual assault: Criminal Justice problems for victims

 

October 17

 

Sexual assault: Common law rape vs. sexual assault

 

October 24

 

Restorative Justice

November 7

Classical Criminology

Methods of data collection

November 14

 

The Chicago School.

Strain theory.

Social learning theory.

Labeling theory.

November 21

 

FIRST MID TERM

January 9

Homicides

January 16 and 23

 

Feminist criminology. Radical feminist theory. Marxist feminism.

Stalking

January 30

 

Sentencing

February 6

 

Participation

February 13

Parole and probation

February 27

 

Kidnappings and abductions

March 6

 

Sex offendersí registration

Peacemaking criminology.

March 13

 

Marxist criminology.

Property crimes

Corporate crimes.

March 20

 

The police.

March 27

 

SECOND MIDTERM

April 3

Feedback

 

 

REQUIRED TEXTBOOKS

 

  • Criminology in Canada: Theories, Patterns, and Typologies, 3rd edition, by Larry J. Siegel and Chris McCormick (Toronto: Nelson Thomson Learning, 2006).

        Canadian Criminal Justice Today: A Primer, by Curt T. Griffiths and Alison Hatch Cunningham (Toronto: Nelson Thomson Learning, 2003)

 

 

WEB SITE

 

A web site for the course is available at http://www.julianhermida.com Students will be able to consult the course outline, test banks, class notes, and other useful information.

All important announcements, such as exam dates, presentation dates, reading assignments, and deadlines are given in class and will not appear on the web site.

 

ETHICS

 

None of the activities imply interviewing or interacting with human beings outside the classroom. However, if students want to interview or interact with people for any of these activities please contact the teacher well in advance to comply with ethics requirements.

 

OFFICE HOURS POLICY

 

In these large classes, it is sometimes difficult to get to know each and every one of my students. So, I would like to meet personally with as many of you as possible during the term. Please come see me during my office hours. I am available not only for class help but also for other academic-related issues, such as writing letters of reference or helping with prospective graduate studies. I want to be available to answer questions for all students. So, in addition to regular office hours and seeing me by appointment, I will every so often end class early, and invite students who have questions to meet with me right then and there. Also note that if access to the second floor is barred after 5 PM, please call me from downstairs and I will go down and let you in.

 

Students with Disabilities 

There are various university polices and procedures regarding university student disability issues.  Student Accessibility Services handles the process of identifying students with disabilities, the types of accommodations appropriate for each student, and helps provide those accommodations.  For example, if you have a student in your class who needs special equipment, space or time for an exam, SAS supervises the exam at their office in the Killam. Either the SAS office or the student will contact you and provide the information you need. For more information consult the SAS website at http://www.dal.ca/~services/ssd.html#learnproc.  

Student Accessibility Services asks faculty to include the following statement in their course outlines: 

"Students with disabilities should register as quickly as possible at Student Accessibility Services if they want to receive academic accommodations.  To do so please phone 494_2836, e_mail <disabilities@da.ca>, or drop in at the Killam, G28." 

Plagiarism 

Plagiarism has become a serious problem at all universities.  Essay assignments that allow for easy online purchase or online copying pose a particular problem. Faculty are encouraged to design their written essay assignments in a way that limits plagiarism possibilities. (See the very helpful website http://plagiarism.dal.ca for information, advice and policy on plagiarism.)