Dalhousie University

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology





Prof.: Dr. Julian Hermida

Course number: 3275

Teaching hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 14.35-15.55

Term: Winter

Office: Room 2117 (FASS Building)

Tel.: 494-6284

Office hours:††† Tuesdays from 4.45 to 5.45 pm and Thursdays from 5.30 to 6.30 pm or by appointment.

Email address: julian.hermida@dal.ca





This course analyzes the public policy principles that dominate the Canadian criminal justice system. The class will focus on selected criminal problems and the structure of the criminal justice system. The class will also analyze contemporary public policy debates related to crime both in Canada and internationally.

The course also aims at helping students develop critical thinking, research, and writing skills.





       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.




This course is conceived so that students can:


1.    Analyze public policy issues related to crime.

1.1 Understand and critically evaluate public policy principles that dominate the Canadian criminal justice system.

1.2. Analyze and critically evaluate public policy principles that influence Canadian criminal law.



2.     Appreciate the main public policy debates related to crime.

2.1. Appreciate the main contemporary public policy debates related to crime in Canada and abroad.


3.        Understand the dynamics of change in the criminal justice system.

3. 1. Understand the influence of major factors, such as social movements (victims movement, womenís movement), social forces (aging, multiculturalism), and internal processes (professionalism, rationalization) in the criminal justice system.

3.2. Appreciate how outside pressures modify, and are channeled by, the criminal justice system.


4.  Apply sociological theories of crime and public policy principles to a myriad of contemporary criminal and criminal justice problems.

4.1. Critically reflect on media reports and cultural products concerning crime and the criminal justice system.





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 crime and public policy.




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 crime and criminal justice topics, debates, construction of web sites, and production of audiovisual materials. 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 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: a project or essay, class participation/portfolio, and two mid term exams. The first midterm exam accounts for 35% of the final grade. The second midterm exam accounts for 25% of the final grade. The audiovisual project/essay accounts for 20%, and class participation/portfolio accounts for 20%.


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




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?




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. Many class activities will include the writing of short essays.


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; and (ii) all class activities, including one minute papers, small group activities, proposals for the test banks made in class, and short essays.


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 27, 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.


  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?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?
  6. Are the responses to the activities creative, original, and intellectually challenging?Is there reference to theoretical issues and problems discussed in class?





All students are strongly encouraged to produce an audiovisual project. However, students may opt to write a conventional critical essay. The deadline for communicating the option is January 25, 2007. Students who do not make an explicit option by the deadline will have to do the audiovisual project.






The project must directly relate to any of the topics analyzed in class and must make specific reference to theories, debates, and problems discussed in class. Students must select a topic for the audiovisual project, prepare a brief outline, and submit it for approval and feedback to the professor by February 1, 2007.


Students are expected to research about the topic and to read from several sources for the project. Students may resort to video, photography, or any other audiovisual resources. The project can include the recording of short ethnographic fieldwork or research, analysis of news media usages related to crime, analysis of film or television programs depicting scenes related to crime, and production of media texts, such as a documentary, news program, or short film, or other issues previously approved by the professor.



Students may produce the project individually or in teams made up of 3 or 4 students.


Students must present their audiovisual project in class. For this purpose, they must agree with the professor a mutually suitable day. The length of the project is subject to the discretion of students. The presentation may last a maximum of 15 minutes.


Students are welcome to meet with the professor for consultation, suggestions, and feedback on the evolution of the project. The deadline to hand in the audiovisual project is March 15, 2007 in class.


Passing requirements and scale of evaluation: a positive response must be given to the following questions in order to approve the audiovisual project. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions which the teacher will ask with respect to each project.


1.        Does the audiovisual project deal with the selected topic? Does the project show an understanding of topic dealt with? Does the project show a clear, coherent, and comprehensive treatment of the selected topic?

2.        Does the project integrate knowledge acquired throughout the course?

3.        Does the project make reference to theories, debates, and problems discussed in class?

4.        Is there a critical personal assessment of the topic presented?

5.        Is the project creative?

6.        When presented to the class, have the students engaged the audience throughout the presentation?








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 15, 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.


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?






Percentage Grade Value

Grade Point Value







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











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.











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










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).





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








Neutral and no credit obtained

Withdrew after deadline




Neutral and no credit obtained

Compassionate reasons, illness






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.





Jan. 4


Introduction and orientation

Jan. 9


Overview of the Criminal Justice System

Criminal Policy

Influence of internal processes, e.g., professionalism, rationalization, in the criminal justice system.


Jan. 11


Crime Control vs. Due Process models


Jan. 16


Child pornography


Jan. 18


Child pornography

Internet and child pornography

Jan. 23

Public policy principles informing the Canadian criminal justice process


Jan. 25


Womenís movement and criminal justice

Domestic Violence

Battered woman syndrome

Jan. 30


Womenís movement and criminal justice

Domestic violence

Battered woman syndrome

Feb. 1


Review for midterm

Feb. 6




Feb. 8


Broken Windows

Zero tolerance


Feb. 13




Feb. 15



Social forces and the criminal justice system

Feb. 27



March 1



March 6


Sexual harassment and crime

March 8


DNA and the Criminal Process

March 13


Minorities and the criminal justice system.

Minorities and crimes.

Hate crimes

March 15


Crime and Drug policy

March 20


Crime and media

March 22


Guns and crime

Gun control

March 27


Review for midterm

March 29



April 3 and 5








          Julian Hermida et.al., course reader.





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.




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.




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 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.)