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CRM 2002 Correctional Systems

Course Description

Overviews the origins, evolution, theory, practices, and current problems of correctional systems. Includes the history of corrections in the United States, short-term detention and jails, state and federal prisons, inmate typologies, capital punishment, correctional law, probation and parole, and community corrections.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to

  • Basic knowledge of the history of corrections
  • Basic knowledge of the differences between jails and prisons
  • Knowledge of the different security levels of prisons
  • Understand the three basic ideologies and components concerning corrections
  • An understanding of the rights of prisoners
  • Knowledge of the operations of prisons and duties of correctional staff
  • Become familiar with the work of Bentham, Peel, Howard, and Beccaria
  • Basic knowledge of issues surrounding special inmate populations
  • Know the vocabulary associated with offenders and correctional staff
  • Be familiar with the stereotypes and realities of prison life and offenders
  • Basic knowledge of victimology
  • Know the basic components of a career in corrections

Week 1

Lecture: Corrections: An Overview


  • Define the term corrections, and list the ACA’s five fundamental purposes of corrections
  • Present the major components of the corrections subsystem
  • Explain the importance of professionalism in corrections
  • Describe the characteristics of a true professional
  • Determine the major criminal punishments used throughout history
  • Describe the major criminal punishments used throughout history
  • Explain the ideas that led to the use of incarceration as a criminal punishment
  • Discuss the role of correctional reformers in changing the nature of criminal punishment

Week 2

Lecture: Sentencing


  • Describe sentencing philosophy and identify the central purpose of criminal punishment
  • Name the seven goals of criminal sentencing
  • Explain what a model of criminal sentencing is and identify models in use today
  • Describe three-strikes laws and their impact on the correctional system
  • Identify and explain some major issues related to fair sentencing
  • Define diversion and know its objectives
  • Summarize the rationales for diversion
  • Give examples of stages at which diversion occurs in the criminal justice process
  • Define probation and know its goals
  • Explain the reasons for using probation
  • Describe the investigation and supervision functions of probation officers
  • Explain revocation hearings

Week 3

Lecture: Intermediate Sanctions


  • Define intermediate sanctions and describe their purpose
  • Define net widening
  • Explain how intensive supervision probation works
  • Distinguish between a policy-centered approach and a program-centered approach to planning intermediate sanctions
  • Define community corrections
  • Discuss the purposes of jails and understand how jail populations are different from prison populations
  • Explain how first, second, and third-generation jails differ in design and in method of inmate management.
  • Discuss ways to reduce jail crowding

Week 4

Lecture: Prisons Today


  • Describe the characteristics of today's prisoners and discuss reasons for the incarceration of women and minority prisoners
  • Explain prison classification and its purposes
  • Compare state and federal prison organization and administration
  • Discuss the question “Does incarceration work?”
  • Determine the function of parole in the criminal justice system
  • Define parole and explain the parole decision-making process
  • Explain the circumstances under which parole may be revoked
  • Summarize current issues in parole

Week 5

Lecture: Staff


  • Define custodial staff
  • Identify the types of power available to correctional officers
  • Explain what structured conflict is and how it applies to correctional institutions
  • Define the word subculture and identify some of the essential features of correctional officer subculture
  • List and describe the seven correctional officer job assignments
  • Explain why stress is a problem in corrections work, and list some techniques for reducing stress
  • Distinguish the elements that correctional administrators must consider when planning for staff safety
  • Explain what inmate subculture is
  • Distinguish among deprivation theory, importation theory, and the integration model as they explain the development of inmate subculture
  • Determine what is meant by the prison code, and be able to list some elements of the prison code
  • Explain what is meant by prison argot

Week 6

Lecture: The Legal World: Prisoners' Rights


  • Explain what is meant by the hands-off doctrine
  • Identify the sources of prisoners' rights
  • List the five ways in which inmates can challenge their conditions of confinement
  • Describe the major changes that took place during the prisoner rights era
  • List and explain the four amendments to the U.S. Constitution on which most prisoners' claims are based
  • Define the term special-needs inmate
  • Report on the management needs of special population inmates
  • Analyze the impact of substance abusers on the corrections system
  • Explain why there are so many inmates with mental illnesses
  • Describe the ways to divert persons with mental illness from the criminal justice system
  • List the cost and health issues associated with older inmates
  • Discuss the rationale for drug treatment programs in prisons and jails
  • Evaluate the legal issues surrounding special population inmates

Week 7

Lecture: Prison Issues, Concerns, and the Death Penalty


  • List the four main reasons prisons are overcrowded
  • Identify six methods of controlling prison overcrowding
  • Identify five causes of prison riots
  • Describe what can be done to prevent prison riots
  • Outline the emergence of supermax housing and its impact on prisoners and staff
  • Describe “no-frills” jails and prisons and their impact on corrections
  • Discuss the impact of technology on corrections
  • Identify and describe important federal victims' rights legislation
  • Understand why a victim's rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution may be considered necessary
  • List and describe crime victims' costs
  • Understand how corrections agencies participate in meeting victims' needs, and list victim services provided by correctional agencies
  • Explain how crime victim compensation programs work
  • List the three avenues available to victims to recover financial losses due to crime
  • Understand the nature of victim impact statements, and explain why they are useful
  • Discuss the politics influencing capital punishment
  • List and summarize the major U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have influenced capital punishment legislation
  • Summarize the arguments for and against the death penalty
  • Describe the five ways capital punishment jurisdictions weigh aggravating and mitigating circumstances to determine if a death sentence is appropriate
  • Describe the death penalty appeals process
  • Discuss the Supreme Court's reasoning for banning the execution of the mentally retarded and juveniles

Week 8

Lecture: Juvenile Corrections and Professionalism in Corrections


  • Explain parens patriae
  • Summarize five U.S. Supreme Court cases that changed modern day juvenile court proceedings
  • Discuss the two types of juvenile crime
  • List and explain the three stages of the juvenile justice process
  • List disposition options for adjudicated juvenile offenders
  • Discuss why it is difficult to recruit correctional staff
  • Discuss the nature of professionalism
  • Describe the ways a correctional leader can foster professionalism
  • Explain what professional development is and list three ways it can be achieved in corrections

The course description, objectives and learning outcomes are subject to change without notice based on enhancements made to the course. February 2012