Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

20 Civil Liberties Laws Every American Should Know

By Kelly Kilpatrick With over half of Americans not knowing what "due process" is, not to mention how it relates to civil liberties, it is apparent that despite Americans’ love for our civil liberties, more than a few of us need to brush up on the basic laws which provide the foundation of our civil liberties. While there are literally hundreds of laws, not to mention constitutional protections under the Bill of Rights which comprise our civil liberties, we have chosen 20 laws which every American should know because of their current political importance and relevance. Understanding the basics of these 20 laws is an important first step for every American to know the extent and limitations of the civil liberties he or she is afforded.

Social Discrimination

Same sex marriages and those with disabilities are still discriminated against even though they are protected by the law. Find out which legislations stand up for you.

  1. Fair Housing Act:

    The Fair Housing Act was first adopted in 1968 but has undergone several amendments since then. The legislation was enacted in order to make it illegal for anyone to refuse to rent, sell, or make housing available to another person based on their national origin, race, color, religion, sex, handicap or familial status. The law also protects individuals in mortgage lending circumstances, making it illegal for anyone to discriminate when appraising property or require different fees or contracts of someone just because of their race, religion, etc. The Fair Housing Act extends protection to individuals with a disability like AIDS, hearing or visual impairment, mental retardation, chronic alcoholism and others. These individuals are allowed to make changes to their new home as long as they are necessary for the disabled to live comfortably in the home.

  2. Racial Profiling Laws:

    Racial profiling affects minorities of all ethnic and religious backgrounds in the United States. While states like Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana, New York, Georgia, North Carolina and Iowa have no racial profiling ban, Amnesty International reports that states like Nevada, California, Washington, Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma do have bans on racial profiling of motorists, pedestrians, or both. Some states have chosen to extend this ban to profiling based on religion and religious appearance. Make sure you understand the profiling laws in your state in case you are unjustly accused of criminal behavior.

  3. Same Sex Marriage Laws:

    The California and Massachusetts governments cannot prohibit same sex couples from getting married. Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2004, and California overturned the ban on same sex marriages in 2008. The California Supreme Court ruled that "an individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."

  4. Voter I.D. Requirement Laws:

    In April 2008, when the U.S. Supreme Court backed Indiana’s new rule requiring citizens to present a photo I.D. when they show up to vote, civil rights advocates were upset about the disenfranchisement of the "thousands of elderly, poor and minority voters [who] could be locked out of their right to cast ballots," as reported by CNN. These individuals may not have access to or the ability to obtain driver’s licenses or state identification cards, according to the legislation’s opponents. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles, however, will provide a voter I.D. card to anyone who wants one, free of charge. Though this case focuses on Indiana state law, citizens in all U.S. states may want to be prepared in case the trend spreads to other areas of the country and changes the voting process.

Workplace and Labor

These laws focus on equal pay and employers’ rights or limitations when hiring minority employees.

  1. Americans with Disabilities Act:

    Job seekers afraid of discrimination need to know about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. This law makes it illegal for employers — including private and government employers — to refuse to hire a qualified individual based on a disability that would not interfere with their job. Employers are not allowed to ask about the person’s disability or give them a special medical examination that isn’t already required of all job candidates. Employers are allowed, however, to ask if the individual is able to perform the duties directly associated with the particular job opening.

  2. Equal Pay Act of 1963:

    The Equal Pay Act of 1963 "requires the employer to pay equal wages within the establishment to men and women doing equal work on jobs requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility, which are performed under similar working conditions," according to the Feminism and Women’s Studies website. In addition, women who discover that they have been paid less than their males colleagues for a certain amount of time may file a suit or complaint to request that back wages, including salary raises and back pay, be awarded to them.

  3. Ledbetter v. Goodyear:

    This court case, settled in 2007, involves Lilly Ledbetter, an employee at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Gadsden, AL, who, after nearly twenty years of work, realized that she was being paid less than her male colleagues. Ledbetter sued Goodyear, citing the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that because Ledbetter did not make the complaint within 180 days of the discrimination taking place, she did not get any rewards. This ruling affects gender pay discrimination and race pay discrimination.

Health and Medical

For information about euthanasia, abortion, emergency contraception, and medical marijuana, check out this list.

  1. Oregon Death With Dignity Act:

    Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act is as close as the United States has gotten to legal euthanasia. In 1997, the state made it legal for "terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose," according to the Oregon state government website.

  2. Roe v. Wade:

    Even though Roe v. Wade was settled in 1973, much controversy surrounds the legality of abortion and the woman’s right to choose. Despite protests, terrorist threats and action, and other campaigns, abortion is legal in the United States, though the processes, time frames and rules for minors vary by state.

  3. EC in the ER laws:

    EC in the ER stands for Emergency Contraception for Sexual Assault Victims in the Emergency Room. Several states like California, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, New Mexico and Washington require emergency room staff to provide victims of sexual assault with information about emergency contraception that can prevent unwanted pregnancies.

  4. Medical Marijuana Laws:

    Many groups feel that interfering with an individual’s right to eat, drink or otherwise consume whatever he or she wants is unconstitutional. The medical marijuana controversy takes the issue to the next level, arguing that patients deserve to access medicine or other substances that help them lead a more comfortable life. Medical marijuana is legal in states like California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska.

  5. Occupational Safety and Health Act:

    The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970 to "assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women," as stated in the legislation. Working conditions that are considered harmful include exposure to toxic chemicals, unsanitary work spaces, too-loud noises, dangerous machinery or exposure to extreme heat and cold. If an employee tries to exercise his or her rights under the protection of the act, an employer cannot become discriminatory towards that employee or fire the employee. Through the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employees are also protected by 16 statues, including The Clean Air Act, The Solid Waste Disposal Act, The Safe Drinking Water Act, and others.

Family and Children

Parent-custody laws and protecting children against predators online are major issues right now. This group discusses them both.

  1. Parent-child custody laws:

    Child custody laws vary by state, and citizens need to understand the policies enforced by institutions like Child Protective Services, as well as the state government. If the state declares a parent unfit, the government can take custody of the child, without getting approval from the parent. For more information on your state’s statues regarding child welfare, adoption, child abuse and child neglect, visit this page.

  2. Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act:

    This legislation, enacted in 2006, is designed "protect children from sexual exploitation and violent crime, to prevent child abuse and child pornography, to promote Internet safety, and to honor the memory of Adam Walsh and other child crime victims," as stated in the act. Adam Walsh, the son of America’s Most Wanted‘s John Walsh, was kidnapped and murdered when he was seven years old. The act also organized a database of child molesters and child predators to increase the protection and security of children.


Learn more about the civil rights for immigrants in U.S. custody and detainee camps here.

  1. Detainee Basic Medical Care Act:

    Immigration is a big issue in the United States, affecting politics, the economy, social and moral standards, and civil rights. In 2008, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey proposed the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act, which if passed, would "develop procedures to ensure adequate medical care for all detainees held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)," according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Currently, there are no standards of providing real medical care to detainees in immigration camps run by the U.S. government.

Privacy, Security and Right to Information

From The National Security Act of 1947 to the U.S. Patriot Act, these civil liberties laws are controversial today.

  1. The National Security Act of 1947:

    According to the ACLU, The National Security Act of 1947 prohibited the U.S. government and U.S. intelligence services "from operating domestically." This law is cited when criticizing the Bush administration’s allowance of the NSA to "eavesdrop" on U.S. citizens after September 11 via e-mail and telephone calls without securing a warrant, as reported in The New York Times.

  2. U.S. Patriot Act:

    The controversial U.S. Patriot Act, passed in 2001, allows the U.S. government to have more jurisdiction and more leniency when investigating terrorism threats and suspects, even in the United States. The act also gives the Secretary of Treasury more "authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities," as reported by Wikipedia, and it introduced stricter policies regarding immigration and border security. National Public Radio lists several "key controversies" surrounding the U.S. Patriot Act, including "sneak and peak" warrants, "which let authorities search a home or business without immediately notifying the target of a probe."

  3. Freedom of Information Act:

    Anyone, including foreign nationals, is allowed to submit a request for information from U.S. federal government agencies, including agency records. The Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1966 and does include some exemptions, including for information pertaining to national security, personal privacy, certain law enforcement records, geological information and more. A 2007 report found that "only one in five federal agencies actually complies with" the Freedom of Information Act.

  4. Extraordinary Rendition:

    The sketchy U.S. policy of extraordinary rendition has garnered more attention since the terrorist attacks in September 2001, and it was even the subject for a major movie in 2007, Rendition. Extraordinary rendition features a partnership between the U.S. government and the CIA and is an "intelligence-gathering program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to detention and interrogation in countries where — in the CIA’s view — federal and international legal safeguards do not apply," according to the ACLU. The interrogation methods used do not have to follow traditional U.S. regulations, questioning their compliance with basic human and civil rights. In 2005, the Bush Administration was under fire for the hasty seizure of ultimately innocent individuals.

  5. No laws for the terrorist watch list:

    We chose to highlight the final item on this list because of its total lack of any civil liberties law. Many Americans already know about the TSA’s terrorist watch lists, which can be used when screening passengers ready to board a commercial flight. The ACLU estimates that as of February 2008, "the government’s centralized terrorist watch list passed the 900,000 name mark," as reported by The indistinct and possibly inaccurate nature of the list is guessed to include names of innocent people, and Jon Stokes of ars technica reports that everyone from an anti-terrorist specialist to a State Department diplomat have found themselves on the list. There are no civil liberties laws protecting individuals if they find themselves on the list, and you probably won’t even be notified if your name is included.

The Changing Status of Criminal Justice Jobs

Criminal justice jobs have typically dealt with the more unappealing forces of society: people accused of crimes dealing with drugs, sex, and corruption. Organizations such as the ACLU and other civil liberties organizations have teamed up with defense lawyers and the accused in an effort to promote their meanings of justice as the Supreme Court decides a half-dozen cases about the rights of people who are accused of these jobs. As a result of these court cases, other larger conservative and libertarian groups have also joined alongside criminal justice jobs in an effort to contain the “big government” aspect of criminal justice.

Criminal justice jobs were came into the political forefront during the Nixon administrations’ tough-on-crime policies as they were seen as a manner to curb the atrocities which were occurring within many city streets. However, since this time, more and more conservatives in the government have determined that criminal justice needs to be less regulated by the government and work on its own to contain the seedy underbelly of society. The organizations teaming up with the accused defendants maintain that government intrusion into criminal justice has spawned a system in which there are a majority of criminal offenses that no longer require a criminal intent.

Since this has come to the fore-front, civil liberties organizations have been thrown into the limelight as they campaign against the modern criminal justice system and the jobs it carries with it. Criminal justice jobs are about upholding the peace, but enacting laws that make it a federal criminal offense to give a false weather report do seem to overstep many civil liberty boundaries. “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent”, a recent book by Harvey A. Silverglate, mentions the fact that there are thousands of federal criminal laws which American citizens break everyday without realizing it because of their obscurity within the criminal justice system. It is difficult to determine how we got to this place, especially when so many Americans put a lot of faith into the criminal justice system and criminal justice jobs that help uphold the law. No one wants to wind up on the wrong side of the system.

We are currently at a crossroads with our criminal justice system and it is up to the current graduates of criminal justice schools to re-evaluate the necessity of many crimes that target innocent Americans every day. Criminal justice jobs do not have to be about a larger political motive, but can in fact still maintain their original status as being “tough on crime” and upholding the law. Current graduates can choose to alter the criminal justice system to get back to its original roots and away from the political atmosphere it has recently retained. Getting away from this newfound political criminal justice system is important if we care about having a separate criminal justice system that does not intrude onto our civil liberties.

Volunteering in College

It is easy to get completely wrapped up in your own life when you are in college. Campuses are crawling with self-involved students who think the world revolves around them. The stress of classes and grades, hanging out with friends, and thoughts about the future can dominate your life. It is important to remember that there are people a lot less fortunate than you in the community around your college. This is a time in your life when you can get out in the community and truly make a difference. Talk to your advisor about volunteer opportunities or find a club on campus that makes a commitment to improving the lives of the people that live near your school.

One of the most rewarding types of volunteering comes through mentoring younger children. For some reason they seem to connect with college students in a unique way. It might be because most college students are not too threatening – they still look young. The age gap is not so large and college kids remember how it is to be carefree (many still are). Go to a local elementary school or YMCA and find out if they have any program with which you can get involved. Get involved early in your college career and you might be able to foster a relationship with a particular child or organization for your entire college career.

If you get involved with volunteering in college, there is a good chance it will be a habit that remains with you the rest of your life. While performing charity work should take little motivation aside from the joy found in helping others, there are some other, "selfish" reasons why some might desire to get involved. Volunteering looks excellent on a resume. It shows a prospective employer that you are a compassionate person who cares about the well being of others. That is the type of person they want to hire.

If you stop and think about the people who helped you along the way to get you to where you are, you would want to play a similar role in someone else’s life. Of course, your schedule is jam-packed and you feel like you don’t have a moment to spare. But, think about the difference you could make in someone’s life, young or old, if you gave them an hour or two of your time a week.

The Key to Actually Enjoying Your General Course Requirements

Going over your four-year academic plan with your advisor can be challenging and stressful. There are many major requirements that you must fulfill, and these can be tricky to fit into your schedule because of sequence demands and other scheduling conflicts. In addition, you may find yourself wrestling with the massive order of general course requirements that all degree holders must complete before they can be eligible to graduate. However, before you brush aside those general course requirements as a waste of time because they have nothing at all to do with criminal justice, consider the benefits of completing such courses.

Though general course requirements may have little to nothing to do with the criminal justice field, as they often are more related to English, art, humanities, science, and mathematics courses, they are essential to your college education. After all, when you go to college, you do not want to learn solely about your intended field of study. You also want to learn about various other things and become a more well-rounded individual. General course requirements also help students from getting too deep into their major requirements early on in case they should change their mind about their initial major choice, which happens quite often.

To make the most of your general course requirements, you should learn about something new and seemingly unrelated to your major. You will not always have the opportunity to so easily explore potential new interests, so be sure to use your chances in college wisely. Rather than simply signing up for the easiest classes to fulfill your general requirements, enroll in a class that truly piques your interest. If you have always wanted to learn about different cultures, consider enrolling in an anthropology course to fulfill your humanities requirement. If you have always been curious about theatre, enroll in a drama literature class to fulfill your English requirements. There are a myriad of possibilities and many opportunities for you to discover something new to be passionate about. Your general education classes also allow you to interact with a whole new group of peers. In your major-related classes, you tend to see the same faces over and over again, which can unfortunately become tiring and monotonous. General courses can help you to meet new people and make new connections that could also benefit your career later on.

College is not only about training you for a future occupation. If that were the case, going to a university would be no different than going to a vocational school. Remember that you have the opportunity to explore more than just your career field while you’re a student, so take advantage of those general education requirements.

Showing Gratitude to Those who Help You

It is common for college students to get swept up in the fast-paced lifestyle that comes with attending college. For many students, their four years on campus seem to fly by before they even know it. However, it is important for students to recognize the people that help them along their way. Regardless of who you are, there are people that aid you in these turbulent years. It could be your parents, professors, or friends. Recognizing other people’s efforts designed to help you will make you a better person and more aware of goodwill later on in your life.

It is likely that your parents played a big role in getting you to where you are. They could be helping out with paying your tuition. They might give you some money when your own funds are running low. Remember that they take great pride in your accomplishments and, while they will not ask for recognition, it will make them feel even better about helping you out if you show some. Think back to how they may have helped you in high school through a difficult time or how they helped you with your college applications. They did this because they love you. Take a minute and send your mother a card expressing your gratitude.

Hopefully, you will encounter many great professors during your college experience. It is their job to make sure their students receive a thoughtful and useful education. Many professors go above and beyond their job descriptions. Their office hours are not just the required two hours a week. Many professors meet with students for lunch or spend substantial time after class helping students get through difficult material. At the end of the semester, take a minute to write an email or letter expressing how much you appreciate their efforts to help you succeed in their class.

One of the greatest things about going to college is meeting new friends and classmates. You are all in this boat together. Think about the sleepless nights cramming for a big exam. If you had a friend right there next to you the whole time, recognize how much of a sacrifice they are making as well. One of the simplest gestures you can make is saying "thank you." If you get a test back and you scored better than you could have imagined, think of who helped you. Maybe it was your roommate who made coffee for you all night. Maybe your roommate simply stayed clear of your room for a couple hours so you could study in peace. Thank them for their help. Another reason you should show your gratitude is that it makes you want to return the favor the next time your friend is struggling.

12 Online Tools to Discover Where Sexual Predators and Criminals Live in Your Neighborhood


Parents, teachers and other guardians who are concerned about the safety of their children can often reduce the risks their children face by educating themselves as to where sexual predators and criminals reside in their neighborhoods. Registered sex offenders are listed in a national and/or state database, available to the public online, as well as on criminal background check websites. Listings usually include their full name and home address, letting parents type in their zip code and find out which homes in their neighborhood conceal potential threats to their children. Here are 12 different online tools that can be used to search for sexual predators in your area.

Quick Searches

For a fast and easy search, use one of these non-governmental sites to discover if there are any sex criminals living in your area.

  1. Family Watchdog: Family Watchdog maintains that "awareness is your best defense." Users can search multiple states at once if they want to search by location. The site also lets users search by name if they are trying to track down a particular offender. In addition, this site posts information about food and drug recalls and product recalls.
  2. Search by name or zip code at to find registered sex offenders in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. If users search by zip code, they can view a map of their area that pinpoints the exact location of sex offenders.
  3. This website urges parents to "protect your family from sex predators" by searching through their database of more than 300,000 offenders. The site also features articles and an educational video that discuss child safety on the Internet.
  4. Vision 20/20: This company provides many services, including automatic alerts that let parents know when their teenager is driving over the speed limit and allow them to monitor a GPS tracking device for members of their family. Vision 20/20 also features a free sex offender search. Users can register with the site to get an automatic alert whenever a new offender moves into the neighborhood.
  5. This site gives a history of sex offender laws in addition to providing a comprehensive search. Users who suspect their neighbor of being a sex offender can type in their name or address to find out if they are listed. Otherwise, users can search by zip code or city.

National and Governmental Sites

These websites are organized by national and/or governmental agencies, making your criminal search more official.

  1. National Alert RegistryThe motto of the National Alert Registry is to "be aware, be alert, be safe." Currently, the registry includes over 500,000 listings that include names, addresses and even photos of the sex offenders. Users can register their neighborhood or area of interest with the registry to receive RED ALERTs by e-mail whenever a new name is added.
  2. Megan’s Law Nationwide Registries and Links: This page features a Megan’s Law Report Card, which grades states on how accessible they make sexual predator information to the public and on the number of registrants vs. the number of actual offenders. The site also displays links to sex offender registries by state and provides users with an easy way to report child pornography. Megan’s Law was passed in honor of a New Jersey girl named Megan Kanka, who was raped and murdered in 1994 by a convicted sex offender who lived in her neighborhood. There is a federal Megan’s Law, but some states have chosen to add other amendments and punishments to the law.
  3. Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Registry: This website is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice and lets users search for violent sex offenders who may prey on adults as well as children. There is also a search for general sex offenders who have a criminal past with minors. Users can search by region, state, zip code, name or conduct a nationwide search.

By State

This list includes state registries for states with some of the most populous areas in the country, making it easier for parents and school administrators to quickly find registered sex offenders in their neighborhoods.

  1. Megan’s Law Sex Offenders in California: This site is sponsored by the Office of the Attorney General of California. The site includes more than 33,500 listings of sex offenders and includes their last registered address. More than 30,500 offenders are listed by zip code.
  2. TXDPS Sex Offender Registry: The Texas Sex Offender Registration Program allows searches by name, city and zip code, and by name and city/zip code. There is also a mapping service to show how sex offenders may be spread out in your community. The site features a FAQ page that answers questions like "How does the Texas Department of Public Safety keep track of sex offenders" and more.
  3. New York State Sex Offender Registry: According to this program, sex offenders are ranked as low risk, medium risk and high risk. Only medium and high risk offenders are listed on the website, but there is a phone number listed that parents can call to find information about low risk offenders too. In addition to the search, this site includes links to crime victims assistance, the NYS Most Wanted, Internet safety and more.
  4. Illinois Sex Offender Information: The Illinois Sex Offender Information site clarifies that offenders included in the database may have been convicted of committing or trying to commit an offense against a child, as well as those found not guilty by reason of insanity for a crime against a child or general sex crime. There is also a guide to sex offender registration in Illinois, a link to the Sex Offender Registration Act and other resources. Users can search by last name, zip code, city, and/or county, as well as by child sex offender, adult sex offender or child murderer.


sex offender registries are still controversial, and searching for sex offenders and child murderers in your area will probably enlighten you to the more negative aspects of your neighborhood. It can, however, also give you the tools and information you need to protect your child, set up new boundaries, and better understand your neighbors.

Forensic Science Helps Solve Crimes

Forensic science is the study of all of the available information and evidence that is gathered from a crime scene and how it can be used to answer questions that the legal system has about crimes. Crime scene evidence is made of more than just a murder weapon. It can include blood, fingerprints, body fluids, hair and fibers. Along with the physical evidence that is gathered at a scene, investigators can also gather verbal evidence from testimonies given by witnesses or people in the general area. When physical and verbal evidence fit together, it can help investigators use scientific principles to determine specific information about how a crime was committed, what time it might have occurred, and why it occurred. Evidence taken from a crime scene can also indicate valuable clues about the person who may have committed the crime, such as age, race, and marital status.

If you are interested in how forensic science is used to solve crimes, you may want to consider majoring in it. Forensic science majors learn how to collect crime scene evidence, conduct lab work in order to test evidence, interview witnesses, write reports, and get ready to present evidence at a trial. Since forensic scientists use science to study evidence, majors take courses like organic chemistry, physics, forensic serology, and genetics. They also take many courses directly related to criminal justice, such as crime scene investigation, criminal evidence and procedure, expert-witness testimony, instrumental analysis, and the U.S. criminal-justice system. Usually forensic science majors can choose to concentrate on a specialization within the field like forensic biology, forensic chemistry, forensic psychology, or forensic psychology.

If you are an observant and detail-oriented person who is good at math and writing, then you may want to consider a career in forensic science. Those working in this broad field use their different specialties to draw conclusions from crime scene evidence in order to bring criminals to justice. Forensic science technicians collect and analyze physical evidence, document their findings through written reports, and give testimony on their findings during trials. Forensic psychologists help legal professionals understand the psychological findings in a case, provide psychotherapy to victims of crime, and evaluate the mental competency of those involved in a crime. Forensic anthropologists use their knowledge of human bones to help find and uncover human remains and determine information about those remains, such as height, age, and sex. Forensic biologists conduct DNA analysis on crime scene evidence and examine organic substances, and forensic chemists conduct chemical analysis on evidence like soil, pieces of glass, and drugs.

Don’t Shy Away From Tough Courses

Mention any number of stereotypically brain-pounding college courses – microeconomics, organic chemistry, any class involving the writings of William Faulkner – and chances are you’ll elicit a scrunched up nose, wrinkled brow, and scoff from the other party. Yet, those who survived those tough courses will also speak of them with a tone of respect and admiration because beneath the scarring memories of all-nighters and novella-length essays, students who successful completed such nightmare courses know that their struggles to maintain a good grade made them stronger students and graduates in the end. So when you’re faced with the prospect of a difficult course, do not shy away.

No matter what major you are pursuing, there are undoubtedly well-known "killer" classes that are infamous for the challenges they present. Some of these classes are required, but many more are optional. It may seem masochistic to knowingly enroll in a tough class, but doing so may actually benefit you in the long run. The key is to take on a challenging course at the most opportune time as well as choosing one that you can truly devote your studies to. When you find yourself with a relatively light schedule, which is likely for at least a few semesters throughout your educational career, consider taking on a tougher class related to your field of study. For example, if you are pursuing a degree plan in criminal rehabilitation, consider taking a course in non-Western philosophy. It may help you to gain a different perspective in how to treat others, which may prove useful in your future career endeavors. Whatever you choose to take on, make sure that you devote yourself to it just as you would any other class. A tougher class demands more attention and more efforts on your part, especially if you are tackling an extra class that covers a subject you may not be familiar with.

By the same token, if a challenging class is part of your required curriculum, do not dread its inevitability. You must take it, and that is that. Face your most challenging classes head on. Buckle down and do whatever is necessary to survive the course. In the end, when you successfully complete it, you will be the better for it. After all, life after college will not be like your fluff classes where you could slack off and still earn good marks. The work force is demanding, so if you take demanding classes during college and succeed, you will be better prepared for the demands of the job.

You Got a Job! Now Keep It!

Congratulations, you have officially finished the job hunt after being offered the good news. With a contract signed and an official job title under your belt, you may feel inclined to take it easy now. After all, the job hunt was exhausting – you spent hours each day sitting through interviews and dropping off your resumes from job office to job office. Shouldn’t you get a break? However, before you get too comfortable with your newfound employment, remember that even though you have a job now, you still need to take some steps to make sure that you keep it.

The easiest way to show that you are dedicated to your new job is to simply show up on time. When you are a new hire, nothing is more telling of a careless attitude than arriving late. Even if you can manage to get all of your work done despite being chronically 25 minutes late, it is still a sign of respect to show up on time every morning. After all, if all of your coworkers can manage to show up on time, then you can too. Similarly, you also do not want to make it a habit to leave earlier than the official departure time as well, unless you have made prior arrangements with your supervisor. Clocking out earlier implies that you are not completing your work, which is never a good message to send to your employers no matter if you’re a new hire or not.

In addition to showing up, you should also visibly work hard. This means that though you may be able to get all of your assignments completed in between frequent hour-long coffee breaks, you should not do so. Instead, be sure that your coworkers and supervisors actually see you working for most of the day. You should not skip lunches or breaks by any means, but do not spend the entire work day gossiping in the break room because this can send a bad message as well. If you do happen to find your work load insufficient to last you the entire day, do not hesitate to ask for more work. Your supervisors will know that you are diligent and will likely remember you when it comes time to discuss promotions and raises.

With the economy the way it has been recently, it is more important now than ever for you to ensure that you keep your job. Work is hard to come by, as you may have noticed during your hunt for employment. This means that you should not slack off once you are hired.

The History of the Criminal Justice Discipline

Criminal justice as an academic discipline is relatively new in comparison to other areas of study. It has steadily evolved over the last fifty years, with significant growth in only the last thirty years or so. Criminal justice is different from criminology, which studies the behaviors that drive commissions of crime. The study of criminal justice seeks to understand the systems of law enforcement, courts and corrections.

The study of criminal justice is traditionally thought to have started with August Vollmer, the first police chief of Berkeley, California. After being appointed to the position, Vollmer found that there was very little written on the subject of criminal justice in the United States, so he turned to European text for more information. Vollmer then modernized the Berkeley police force by creating a bicycle patrol, trained his deputies in marksmanship, created a central records system and soon required his officers to hold college degrees. Then in 1916, Vollmer established a criminal justice program at the University of California, Berkeley, which focused primarily on professionalizing policing and reducing corruption in law enforcement. He is known today as the "Father of Law Enforcement." Soon after the program was created at Berkeley, criminal justice programs were established at Indiana University, Michigan State University, San Jose State University and the University of Washington. But by 1950, the discipline only boasted around 1,000 students and still only focused on police science.

In the late 1960’s with rising racial tensions and increased corruption running rampant, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration was established as a part of the U.S. Department of Justice. The LEAA provided federal funding for state and local law enforcement agencies, crime initiatives and can be credited with advancing the criminal justice discipline through grants it established in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s for criminology and criminal justice research and academic pursuits. The administration has since been abolished, but was succeeded by the U.S. Office of Justice Programs which is still operational today.

By the mid-1970’s, there were 729 academic programs of criminal justice in the United States and roughly 100,000 students enrolled in these programs. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students who study the criminal justice discipline in hundreds of colleges across the county, both traditional and online. Those who are interested in learning more about a career or a degree in criminal justice have August Vollmer to thank for modernizing and popularizing it and law enforcement into the system we recognize today.

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