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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Criminal Justice Administration and Human Services Department
Course Prefix and Number: CJAD 420
Course Title: Legal Issues in Criminal Justice
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description: Analysis of current and controversial legal issues in the criminal justice system. Topics may include current Supreme Court issues, hate crime, domestic violence, gun control, the death penalty, police civil liability, privacy rights, wrongful conviction and public policy, plea bargaining, specialty courts, reforms to the justice system and law enforcement counter-terrorism activities. Prerequisites: CJAD 101 and junior standing.
Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): CJAD 101 and junior standing.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Occasional offering.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Many suitable textbooks are available from various publishers and the following list is not comprehensive. Other textbooks may be judged by individual instructors to be more suitable in meeting course objectives. Many current textbooks have companion websites, and the instructor is encouraged to enhance the course experience for the student by utilizing available technology.

The instructor may also want to consider directing the student to websites containing Criminal Codes and Criminal Cases, such as or other legal sites maintained by governmental or not for profit entities.

Annual Editions in Criminal Justice
By Victor, Joseph (Dushkin Publishing)
Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Legal Issues
By Katsh, M.E. (Dushkin Publishing Co.)
Guilty: The Collapse of Criminal Justice
By Rothwax, Harold (Random House Publishing)
Critical Issues in Police Civil Liability
By Kappeler, Victor (Waveland Press)
Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongfully Convicted
By Scheck, Neufeld and Dwyer (Doubleday Publishing)
Course Objectives
  • To understand and appreciate current legal issues in the criminal justice system.
  • To focus on legal issues in the criminal justice system that are not considered or analyzed in other courses.
  • To gain experience with common legal terminology and competing legal and policy arguments.
  • To apply legal and policy principles to real and hypothetical fact situations.
  • To demonstrate critical thinking, research and writing skills on legal and policy issues in the criminal justice system.
    Measurable Learning
  • Identify current legal and policy problems and issues in the criminal justice system.
  • Assess and evaluate past and present legal and policy solutions to problems and issues in the criminal justice system.
  • Analyze legal issues connected with existing and proposed crime policies, programs and projects.
  • Apply competing legal principles and theories to real and hypothetical problems in the criminal justice system.
  • Construct and evaluate arguments on legal and policy issues in the criminal justice system.
  • Appraise current literature, materials and developments regarding legal and policy issues in the criminal justice system.
    Topical Outline: In an effort to better prepare students for future educational pursuits and professionalism in their chosen fields, it is highly recommended that all courses bearing the CJAD prefix contain both a writing and speech communication component. Formal writing projects should be prepared in APA format.

  • The death penalty
  • Wrongful conviction and public policy
  • Hate crime
  • Gun control
  • The right of privacy
  • The war on terrorism and domestic counter terrorism activities
  • Police civil liability
  • Domestic violence
  • Specialty courts/plea bargaining/issues in the court system
  • Reforms to the justice system

    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 25

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at the Columbia College Stafford Library.  You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Barry Langford Date: May 15, 2005
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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