Course description

Substance addiction, mental health, youth, and poverty. How do these elements influence criminal behavior? How are criminal justice systems responding to such issues? What causes people to commit crime, and why do people choose to commit specific types of crime? This course explores the most challenging issues facing the criminal justice system today and in the future. The course consists of an examination of theories related to crime causation, crime typologies, and special considerations such as substance addiction, mental health, youth, and poverty. Facilitated in part by a reading of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, students are given the unique opportunity to synthesize their learning to create pre-sentence reports, which are used in modern-day courts to inform sentencing decisions. Students gain a deep appreciation of the challenges courts and judges face in assessing criminal behavior. Students are challenged to consider the changing landscape of criminal justice and how rehabilitation and alternative sentencing can and will play a vital role in the future of our court systems. This course is not limited to those who work in the field of criminal justice or the courts and would benefit students from a variety of disciplines.

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