Department of Criminal Justice

With an intentional focus on scholarship, faith integration, diversity, and internationalization, APU provides high-quality academic programs within a tight-knit community of disciples and scholars.

Mission Statement

The Department of Criminal Justice prepares students to apply knowledge of criminal justice and critical analysis of social problems to promote the equitable application of the law for all people and become ethical Christian leaders in public and private organizations that intend to make communities safer. The department provides an academically rigorous focus within a liberal arts education, developing criminal justice professionals who embody Christian social justice perspectives.

About the Department

Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary social science involving the study of crime and societal responses to it. The department seeks to foster an environment of inquiry, innovation, and lifelong learning in which students learn to recognize, critically examine, and solve social problems related to crime and criminal behavior. By examining the policies and systems designed to control criminality, students learn the sociopolitical context of crime and explore the historical and contemporary theories of violent and antisocial behavior. In addition to learning academic theories and analyzing criminal justice practices, students develop practical skills such as writing for criminal justice audiences, locating relevant laws and regulations, and understanding courtroom procedures.

The department provides foundational courses for understanding contemporary criminological theory and criminal justice practice with scholarly appraisal of law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. The department also offers elective courses that encourage the reflection, critical thinking, and ethical decision making essential to becoming responsible practitioners and leaders in the criminal justice field. Department programs include a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, a professional bachelor’s completion program for transfer students who want to complete a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and a professional minor in criminal justice.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the criminal justice program are prepared to enter a broad range of career paths and/or graduate study in the criminal justice field, including criminology/criminal justice, forensic psychology, forensic science, and law.

CJ 110, Introduction to Criminal Justice, 3 Units

This course will provide an overview of the field of criminology/criminal justice as an academic discipline. The academic discipline of criminal justice involves the scientific study of theoretical perspectives on crime and justice. In this course students will consider the respective roles of law, rehabilitation, public health, morality, and justice in the study of why crime occurs, how society responds to crime, and the scientific methods criminologists use to measure the extent of crime. The people who commit crime, the crimes they commit, and society's response to those actions cannot be fully understood outside the context of the larger criminal justice system, how it operates, the differential treatment of certain racial/ethnic groups, and the systems necessity in society. These issues are discussed throughout this course. Meets the General Education Requirement: Social Science. 

CJ 200, Criminal Justice, Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, 3 Units

This course provides an experiential introduction to the criminal justice system. Issues of ethics, justice, and poor relations between criminal justice professionals and community members, are issues every 21st century criminal justice professional must be prepared to address. In this course students are introduced to types of civic engagement in a democracy as it relates to the criminal justice system. Students will organize community forums to address issues in policing, the courts, and the reintegration of offenders into the community. Meets the General Education Requirement: Civic Knowledge and Engagement. 

CJ 220, Police and Society, 3 Units

This course provides an introduction to the history of policing and examination of major trends in contemporary law enforcement. By comparing community policing, problem-oriented policing, evidence-based policing and many others, students will identify the legal framework of policing and administration of police work. This course also includes an in-depth examination of police behavior, police discretion, and societal attitudes towards law enforcement.

Prerequisite: CJ 110

CJ 240, Introduction to Corrections: Jails and Prisons, 3 Units

Prisons are total institutions that exert control over inmates' daily lives. This course provides an in-depth introduction to the historical evolution and current state of incarceration and detention in the United States. By focusing on the theories and ideologies informing punitive practices, the goals of deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation will be explored. Students will take a critical look at life in prison by exploring how incarceration affects the inmate and the potential consequences for society. Special emphasis is given to current controversies in jail and prison policy, such as overcrowding and violence.

Prerequisite: CJ 110

CJ 250, Juvenile Justice, 3 Units

This course is designed to familiarize students with the juvenile justice system. This course will educate students on: types of delinquency, causes of delinquency (why a minor would engage in delinquent behavior), gang culture, social problems contributing to delinquency, law enforcement agencies that address delinquency, court proceedings and courts orders. Interventions that can be utilized with children who engage in delinquency and prevention programs that reduce the risk factors contributing to delinquency will also be discussed.

Prerequisite: CJ 110

CJ 251, Criminal Law, 3 Units

A study of the principles and doctrines embodied in the criminal law. Topics such as substantive crimes, justification, complicity and liability, causation, and inchoate crimes will be explored and emphasized.

Prerequisite: CJ 110

CJ 255, The Criminalization of Youth, 3 Units

This course explores the criminalization of youth and its effects in today's society. The criminalization of youth refers to the myriad ways in which youth in the U.S. are ignored, mistreated, or otherwise excluded and incarcerated by society long before they are sentenced to time behind bars. The study of the criminalization of youth seeks to investigate U.S. systems and structures that treat young people like criminals, police their bodies, and hold young people accountable for larger systemic and institutional failures. The course begins with an investigation of the overpolicing of young people, especially young people of color, in communities and schools. Then, by examining these issues, students search for possible alternatives to the criminalization of youth.

Prerequisite: CJ 250

CJ 280, American Court System, 3 Units

This course provides an analysis of the structure, process, and personnel involved in the American Court system. By examining both state and federal courts, students will be exposed to the relationship between the judiciary and other criminal justice functions. Special emphasis is given to current court reform programs and the role of technology in the court room.

Prerequisite: CJ 110

CJ 310, Criminological Theories, 3 Units

Students in this course identify different perspectives on crime causation and critically assess why people commit crimes. Course material includes the ideas, worldviews, and theories common to criminal justice professions regarding criminal motivation, what is considered a criminal act, how those acts should be handled, and the role of professionals in the criminal justice system.

Prerequisite: CJ 220, CJ 240, and CJ 280

CJ 340, Victimology, 3 Units

This course provides advanced study and critical appraisal of the theories and recent research on victims of crime. This analysis often focuses on the physical, emotional, and financial harm people suffer because of criminal activities and the role of the victim in the criminal justice system. By exploring the relationships between the offender, the victim, and the criminal justice system, students will gain a greater understanding of the frequently forgotten member of crime. This course will also discuss the programs and policies that have resulted from society's increasing concern about the rights of victims.

Prerequisite: WRIT 262

CJ 350, Race, Ethnicity and Crime, 3 Units

Race, and companion factors such as race, ethnicity, social economic class (SES), gender and age are critical factors in the administration of criminal justice in the US. This course critically examines race, ethnicity and SES within the U.S. criminal justice system. The course will provide an overview of the history and background of the experiences of different racial and ethnic groups with different facets of the criminal justice system (policing, juvenile justice, sentencing, courts, etc.). This course will also introduce students to theories about the treatment of the poor compared to the non-poor in criminal offending; and will examine theoretical issues of race and justice. Empirical understandings of the intersectional relationship between race, class and gender and the criminal justice system will also be discussed.

Prerequisite: CJ 310

CJ 351, Criminal Procedure, 3 Units

This course offers a study of specific criminal procedural concepts, such as the right to counsel, exclusionary rule, search warrants, permissible warrantless searches, stop and frisk, entrapment, wiretapping, confessions, lineups, jury selection, voir dire, negotiated pleas, and postconviction relief.

Prerequisite: CJ 110

CJ 355, Gender & Crime, 3 Units

This course explores the intersection between gender (with special focus on women) and crime. We will discuss such topics as gender differences in offending, theoretical explanations for female offending, the social construction of offending, women as victims of crime and violence, the sexualization and criminalization of women's bodies, women's experiences with prison and the criminal justice system, and women working in criminal justice fields.

Prerequisite: CJ 110 and Junior or Senior standing

CJ 362, Writing 3: Criminal Justice Research Design, 3 Units

The course focuses on the nature, purpose, and value of doing and communicating research in the field of criminal justice. Material builds on students' understanding of research methods (as learned in WRIT 262) and focuses on teaching students basic concepts and tools for designing a research project, collecting and analyzing data, and writing for an academic and professional audience. Students develop and conduct a methodologically sound empirical research project and craft a well-written scholarly research paper that communicates their research and findings. Meets the General Education Requirement: Writing 3: Writing in the Disciplines. 

Prerequisite: WRIT 262 and a minimum of 90 units.

CJ 395, Sex Crimes, 3 Units

This course focuses on sex crimes, sex offenders, the criminal justice system response, and policy, and begins with an overview of the types of sex crimes that occur, and their prevalence. Criminological theories and theories specific to sex offending are identified. Three broad types of sex crimes are assessed: (1) rape, (2) child sexual abuse, and (3) child pornography. An emphasis is placed on typologies, which emphasize the heterogeneity that exists among sex offenders. Attention is also given to specialized groups of sex offenders: (1) juvenile sex offenders, (2) female sex offenders, and (3) those who sexually abuse in the context of an institution (school, church, daycare, etc.). Recent trends in investigation strategies, assessment tools, treatment approaches, and legal responses are reviewed and discussed. Students have the opportunity to explore problems with current trends and discuss related issues. Emphasis is placed on critical research disputing commonly held myths regarding this population of offenders.

Prerequisite: CJ 110

CJ 450, Forensic Psychology for Criminal Justice Professionals, 3 Units

This course provides an in-depth introduction to the science of psychology applied to the criminal justice system. Students will explore the psychological principles related to eyewitness testimony, lineups, police interrogations, jury decision making, competence, insanity, and future dangerousness. Special emphasis is given to current research findings in forensic psychology.

Prerequisite: CJ 310 and PSYC 110

CJ 460, Criminal Justice Internship, 3 Units

The purpose of the internship program is to provide advanced student majors with practical experience working in the field of criminology and criminal justice. Classroom time focuses on processing your learning in the field, addressing any questions, challenges or concerns regarding the experience, and facilitating thinking about professional and graduate work in related fields. As such, classroom time is spent in a small group facilitated discussion format. Students in this course will apply their learning experience practically within a criminal justice professional setting. Class assignments will assist students in looking at different professional experiences from the lens of multiple criminal justice professionals (e.g. law enforcement officers, prosecutors/defense attorneys, probation officers, etc.). Additionally, this allows students to make contact with professionals who might later serve as references or points of contact, and it also allows students to gain actual experience which can be included on a resume or job application. Meets the General Education Requirement: Integrative and Applied Learning. 

Prerequisite: Criminal Justice Majors Junior or Senior status.

CJ 494, Senior Capstone in Criminal Justice, 3 Units

This course gives students experience working in the field of criminology and criminal justice. Classroom time focuses on processing students' field learning; addressing questions, challenges, or concerns regarding their experience; and facilitating thinking about professional and graduate work in related fields. Class assignments help students view professional experiences through the lenses of multiple criminal justice professionals (e.g., law enforcement officers, prosecutors/defense attorneys, probation officers, etc.). Students also network with criminal justice professionals, and participate in seminar-style lectures about how to succeed in criminal justice organizations and beyond. Meets the General Education Requirement: Integrative and Applied Learning. 

Prerequisite: WRIT 262, CJ 310, and a minimum of 90 units.

CJ 495, Special Topics in Criminal Justice, 3 Units

This course addresses topics of current interest in criminal justice not covered by the core and elective courses. Topics vary from semester to semester and may reflect new issues in the criminal justice system, theories, or faculty research interests in the field. This course may be taken more than once as topics change.

Prerequisite: CJ 110

CJ 496, Writing 3: Senior Capstone in Criminal Justice, 3 Units

This course provides students an opportunity to combine their learning experience from multiple courses in criminal justice into a research project that demonstrates their learning. This course will focus on writing instruction for students entering criminal justice professions. Students will expound on a contemporary issue in criminal justice and present their findings to professionals in the criminal justice field. Meets the General Education Requirement: Writing 3: Writing in the Disciplines. 

Prerequisite: WRIT 262 (Writing 2) and a minimum of 90 units

PRCJ 110, Intro to Criminal Justice, 3 Units

This course provides an overview of the field of criminology/criminal justice as an academic discipline involving the scientific study of theoretical perspectives on crime and justice. Students consider the respective roles of law, rehabilitation, public health, morality, and justice in the study of why crime occurs, how society responds to crime, and the scientific methods criminologists use to measure the extent of crime. The people who commit crime, the crimes they commit, and society's response to those actions cannot be fully understood outside the context of the larger criminal justice system, how it operates, the differential treatment of certain racial/ethnic groups, and the system's necessity in society, and these issues are discussed throughout this course. Meets the General Education Requirement: Social Science. 

PRCJ 200, Criminal Justice, Civic Engagement, and Social Responsibility, 3 Units

This course provides an experiential introduction to the criminal justice system, preparing students to address important 21st-century issues of ethics, justice, and poor relations between criminal justice professionals and community members. Students are introduced to types of civic engagement in a democracy as it relates to the criminal justice system, and organize community forums to address issues in policing, the courts, and the reintegration of offenders into the community. Meets the General Education Requirement: Civic Knowledge and Engagement. 

PRCJ 220, Police and Society, 3 Units

This course introduces students to the history of policing and examines major trends in contemporary law enforcement. By comparing community policing, problem-oriented policing, evidence-based policing, and other types, students identify the legal framework of policing and administration of police work. This course also includes an in-depth examination of police behavior, police discretion, and societal attitudes toward law enforcement.

PRCJ 240, Introduction to Corrections: Jails and Prisons, 3 Units

Prisons are total institutions that exert control over inmates' daily lives, and this course provides an in-depth introduction to the historical evolution and current state of incarceration and detention in the United States. By focusing on the theories and ideologies informing punitive practices, the goals of deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation are explored. Students take a critical look at life in prison, exploring how incarceration affects inmates and the potential consequences for society. Special emphasis is given to current controversies in jail and prison policy, such as overcrowding and violence.

PRCJ 250, Juvenile Justice, 3 Units

This course familiarizes students with the juvenile justice system, including types of delinquency, causes of delinquency (why a minor would engage in delinquent behavior), gang culture, social problems contributing to delinquency, law enforcement agencies that address delinquency, court proceedings, and court orders. Course material also addresses interventions that can be utilized with children who engage in delinquency, and prevention programs that reduce the risk factors contributing to delinquency.

PRCJ 251, Criminal Law, 3 Units

This course introduces students to the concepts of criminal law, including history and development, constitutional limitations on crimes and punishment, principles of criminal liability, criminal defenses, inchoate crimes, and elements of crimes against persons, property, and habitation.

PRCJ 255, The Criminalization of Youth, 3 Units

This course explores the criminalization of youth and its effects in today's society. The criminalization of youth refers to the myriad ways in which youth in the U.S. are ignored, mistreated, or otherwise excluded and incarcerated by society long before they are sentenced to time behind bars. The study of the criminalization of youth seeks to investigate U.S. systems and structures that treat young people like criminals, police their bodies, and hold young people accountable for larger systemic and institutional failures. The course begins with an investigation of the overpolicing of young people, especially young people of color, in communities and schools. Then, by examining these issues, students search for possible alternatives to the criminalization of youth.

Prerequisite: PRCJ 250

PRCJ 280, The American Court System, 3 Units

Students in this course analyze the structure, process, and personnel involved in the American court system. By examining state and federal courts, students discover the relationship between the judiciary and other criminal justice functions. Special emphasis is given to current court reform programs and the role of technology in the courtroom.

PRCJ 310, Criminological Theories, 3 Units

Students in this course identify different perspectives on crime causation and critically assess why people commit crimes. Course material includes the ideas, worldviews, and theories common to criminal justice professions regarding criminal motivation, what is considered a criminal act, how those acts should be handled, and the role of professionals in the criminal justice system.

PRCJ 340, Victimology, 3 Units

This course provides advanced study and critical appraisal of the theories and recent research on victims of crime. Such analysis focuses on the physical, emotional, and financial harm people suffer because of criminal activities, and the role of the victim in the criminal justice system. By exploring the relationships between the offender, the victim, and the criminal justice system, students gain a greater understanding of the frequently forgotten victims of crime. Students also discuss the programs and policies that have resulted from society's increasing concern about the rights of victims.

PRCJ 350, Race, Ethnicity, and Crime, 3 Units

Race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, gender, and age are critical factors in the administration of criminal justice in the United States. Students in this course critically examine race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class within the U.S. criminal justice system as they explore the experiences of different racial and ethnic groups with different facets of the criminal justice system (e.g., policing, juvenile justice, sentencing, courts, etc.). Course material also introduces theories about the treatment of the poor compared to that of the nonpoor in criminal offending, and students examine theoretical issues of race and justice. Empirical understandings of the relationship between race, class, and gender and the criminal justice system are also discussed.

Prerequisite: PRCJ 220, PRCJ 240, PRCJ 280

PRCJ 351, Criminal Procedure, 3 Units

Students in this course study specific criminal procedural concepts, such as the right to counsel, exclusionary rule, search warrants, permissible warrantless searches, stop and frisk, entrapment, wiretapping, confessions, lineups, jury selection, voir dire, negotiated pleas, and postconviction relief.

Prerequisite: PRCJ 110 or instructor consent.

PRCJ 355, Gender and Crime, 3 Units

Students in this course explore the intersection between gender (with special focus on women) and crime. Topics include gender differences in offending, theoretical explanations for female offending, the social construction of offending, women as victims of crime and violence, the sexualization and criminalization of women's bodies, women's experiences with prison and the criminal justice system, and women working in criminal justice fields.

PRCJ 362, Writing 3: Criminal Justice Research Design, 3 Units

The course focuses on the nature, purpose, and value of doing and communicating research in the field of criminal justice. Material builds on students' understanding of research methods (as learned in PRWR 262) and focuses on teaching students basic concepts and tools for designing a research project, collecting and analyzing data, and writing for an academic and professional audience. Students develop and conduct a methodologically sound empirical research project and craft a well-written scholarly research paper that communicates their research and findings. Meets the General Education Requirement: Writing 3: Writing in the Disciplines. 

Prerequisite: PRWR 262

PRCJ 395, Sex Crimes, 3 Units

This course focuses on sex crimes, sex offenders, the criminal justice system response, and policy, and begins with an overview of the types of sex crimes that occur and their prevalence. Criminological theories and theories specific to sex offending are identified. Three broad types of sex crimes are assessed: (1) rape, (2) child sexual abuse, and (3) child pornography. An emphasis is placed on typologies, which emphasize the heterogeneity that exists among sex offenders. Attention is also given to specialized groups of sex offenders: (1) juvenile sex offenders, (2) female sex offenders, and (3) those who sexually abuse in the context of an institution (school, church, daycare, etc.). Recent trends in investigation strategies, assessment tools, treatment approaches, and legal responses are reviewed and discussed. Students have the opportunity to explore problems with current trends and discuss related issues. Emphasis is placed on critical research disputing commonly held myths regarding this population of offenders.

PRCJ 450, Forensic Psychology for Criminal Justice Professionals, 3 Units

This course provides an in-depth introduction to the science of psychology applied to the criminal justice system. Students explore the psychological principles related to eyewitness testimony, lineups, police interrogations, jury decision making, competence, insanity, and future dangerousness. Special emphasis is given to current research findings in forensic psychology.

PRCJ 460, Criminal Justice Internship, 3 Units

The internship program allows students to apply their learning and gain work experience within a professional criminal justice setting. Assignments help students view professional experiences through the lenses of multiple criminal justice professionals (e.g., law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers, etc.), and allow students to network with professionals and gain experience for inclusion on resumes and job applications. Classroom time is spent in small groups with facilitated discussions, and focuses on processing learning in the field; addressing questions, challenges, or concerns regarding the experience; and encouraging thinking about professional and graduate work in related fields. Meets the General Education Requirement: Integrative and Applied Learning. 

PRCJ 494, Senior Capstone in Criminal Justice, 3 Units

This course gives students experience working in the field of criminology and criminal justice. Classroom time focuses on processing students' field learning; addressing questions, challenges, or concerns regarding their experience; and facilitating thinking about professional and graduate work in related fields. Class assignments help students view professional experiences through the lenses of multiple criminal justice professionals (e.g., law enforcement officers, prosecutors/defense attorneys, probation officers, etc.). Students also network with criminal justice professionals, and participate in seminar-style lectures about how to succeed in criminal justice organizations and beyond. Meets the General Education Requirement: Integrative and Applied Learning. 

Prerequisite: PRWR 262

PRCJ 495, Special Topics in Criminal Justice, 3 Units

This course addresses topics of current interest in criminal justice not covered by core and elective courses. Topics vary by semester and may reflect new issues in the criminal justice system, theories, or faculty research interests in the field. This course may be taken more than once, as topics change.

PRCJ 496, Writing 3: Senior Capstone in Criminal Justice, 3 Units

This course provides students an opportunity to combine their learning experience from multiple courses in criminal justice into a research project that demonstrates their learning. This course will focus on writing instruction for students entering criminal justice professions. Students will expound on a contemporary issue in criminal justice and present their findings to professionals in the criminal justice field. Meets the General Education Requirement: Writing 3: Writing in the Disciplines. 

Prerequisite: PRWR 262 (Writing 2) and a minimum of 90 units

POLI 250, Introduction to Criminal Law, 3 Units

This course introduces students to the concepts of criminal law, including history and development, constitutional limitations on crimes and punishment, principles of criminal liability, criminal defenses, inchoate crimes, and elements of crimes against persons, property, and habitation.

POLI 350, Constitutional Law: Fundamental Freedoms, 3 Units

This course analyzes U.S. Supreme Court decisions related to constitutional civil rights and liberties found in the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment, including freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly; the right to bear arms; due process and equal protection; and political rights related to representation, voting, and naturalization.

Prerequisite: POLI 150 or instructor consent

POLI 351, Constitutional Law: Criminal Justice, 3 Units

The course analyzes U.S. Supreme Court decisions related to the constitutional protections offered to criminal defendants found in the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment, including the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the privilege against self-incrimination, the right to counsel, the right to a jury trial, the protection against excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment, and other due process guarantees.

Prerequisite: POLI 150 or instructor consent

POLI 380, Terrorism and Counterterrorism, 3 Units

This course considers the sources, history, and motivations behind terrorism, the tools and tactics employed by terrorists, and terrorist organizations' political objectives, with emphasis on recent and current terrorism. Students also consider the phenomenon of state terrorism, the theory and practice of counterterrorism, and the variety of Christian responses to terrorism.

Prerequisite: POLI 150 or POLI 160

SOCW 410, Family Violence, 3 Units

Family violence is an in-depth study from a system's perspective of violence that occurs in families. This course provides an overview of child abuse, spousal abuse, abuse between intimate partners, and elder abuse. The course explores the theory and research as to the causes of abuse, including individual and family factors, elder abuse, gender issues, community and societal influences, and cultural factors. This course explores the policy and programs developed to deal with these crises. Finally, methods of assessment and intervention are investigated as applicable to both professional and personal situations.

Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing or instructor consent

Faculty

Chair and Associate Professor

Deshonna Collier-Goubil, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors

Candice Hodge, Ph.D.

Analicia Mejia Mesinas, Ph.D. (Cand.)

Aris Rodriguez, JD

Louis Tuthill, Ph.D.

Charles K. Wilhite, Ph.D.

Adjunct Faculty

Keith Anderson, M.A.

Christopher Cano, MPA

Miriam Fox, M.S.

Simeon Greene, MPA

Matthew O’Deane, Ph.D.

Robert Rose, DPA

Jared Sinclair, MBA, M.A.

Eric Stanley, MPA

Regena Weatherford, Ph.D.

Danny Young, M.A.