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Criminal Justice - Overview


Criminal justice programs prepare people to manage agencies such as a police or sheriff's department. Students learn about the legal system, theories of crime, and public policy. They also learn how to manage a budget and staff.

Is it better to let a guilty man go free or imprison an innocent man? In America, the criminal justice system is based on the first idea, that wrongful imprisonment is worse than letting a guilty person go free. However, that doesn't mean that the criminal justice system doesn't want to stop and punish crime. All the components of the justice system – courts, prisons, police, and even psychologists and crime scene investigators – work together to make sure that crime is punished and citizens are protected. Criminal justice programs prepare people to work in the justice system to do just that.

In criminal justice programs, you take courses from many areas, including sociology, business, psychology, and statistics. You learn theories about why crimes occur and why people commit them. You also study project management and labor relations. In addition, you learn about the different elements of the criminal justice system. You learn how courts and prisons work. You learn about the police system as well as the parole and probation systems. Moreover, you learn about different ways to deal with criminals besides imprisonment, including rehabilitation and education.

Many four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in criminal justice. Many also offer graduate degree programs. Typically you receive a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in four years. Most community colleges offer two-year programs in criminal justice, which can be transferred to a four-year college or university. Graduate programs take from two to five years after you finish your bachelor's degree. Most people with graduate degrees become high-level administrators or professors.

Criminal justice programs also provide additional training for people already involved in law enforcement administration, correctional administration, forensic science, and security management. Students study the roles and activities of people with regard to maintaining law and order, providing services, and protecting life and property. They also learn about administration, planning, and research.

With a degree in criminal justice, you can work as a court administrator, security officer, social worker, or parole officer. You can work at prisons and other types of correctional facilities. With additional training and experience, you can work in a management position at police departments and other related agencies. In addition, many people get degrees in criminal justice before they study to become police officers.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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