Guidelines For Choosing an Online Criminal Justice Program

It does not matter whether you are fresh out of high school, trying to look for a higher position within your present career, looking for a change in your career path or you simply wish to obtain a higher level of education in your life, You have plenty of education opportunities available to you to pursue your dreams and one of the best way to do this is through online learning. However, before you start head on with this type of education, you should know a little more about this type of opportunity. Comparing the pros and cons of online learning will let you observe that it is almost similar to those for most schools. Figuring out what will be the best for you based on your personal priorities and even circumstances should be the first thing in your mind. If you always prefer face-to-face contact with your instructors to further expand your educational experience, you might not want to go a larger school or university. In this case, online learning is not suited for you, as the most contact you have with instructors and classmates is through e-mail or discussion boards. On the other hand, this lack of interaction might be of more interest to you, if you are the type of student who might be wary of first impressions or biases in class. Of course, teachers, professors and instructors are also humans, just like the rest of the population in the world. Nobody is perfect, as the saying goes. We all have our own inherent flaw that causes us to unintentionally produce biases towards people within the first time of interacting with them. Physical interaction will be pretty limited in these kind of environment, therefore, most if not all of these kinds of behaviors is limited or will not exist. This will help persons with this kind of attitude to focus on studying than interacting with his peers. Thus, the flow on information will be sterile and it will not provide an impression of a boring lecture or a teacher you do not like.

Attending online schools or programs will provide flexibility for you. It will allow you to study at your own pace without any pressure, and at whatever time of the day you would prefer the most. You can have your own breaks whenever you need them, attend to other important chores or even commitments if need arises. It is something that traditional learning will not allow you based on its nature. However, it also has its own disadvantages. In online learning, you have to manage your own time so that you can get the most out of your online learning experience, you even have to budget a set amount of time each day or week in order to get everything done, and it will force yourself to stick to that schedule as day goes by. Moreover, there might be unwanted interruptions if you are trying to learn at home that might not exist in a traditional setting. If you would feel that it cannot be helped, then online schooling is not for you, because its flexibility might be more of a disadvantage rather than an advantage.

Getting back to the topic, comparing or choosing the right online colleges or programs that you will be attending to is way different than choosing traditional colleges. When looking for traditional colleges, it will help to visit the campus that you are eyeing and take a tour or even talk to its students. It will help you in deciding which college to attend. Such is not a case when looking for prospective online colleges. However, researching and asking questions online will help you evaluate and decide which online school to attend to. What is your goal for studying? What will be your goal once you graduate? What type of online school you are looking for? What type of program or course are you planning to have? What are your learning needs? What type of schedule will suit you? These are the important questions you should consider when looking for the perfect online school and program for you. It will be the key to help you out in researching and getting information online.

As for choosing an Online Criminal Justice School that will best suit your needs and your goals in life, it would be best to start with choosing the appropriate online school, choosing the right distance learning program comes next. One of the basic things you should consider to help you save your time and energy learning about each school is to make sure that the colleges you are considering are accredited by one of the six regional accreditation agencies recognized by the US Department of Education of CHEA. This way, it will not waste your time considering unaccredited institutions where you might just waste your time and money and not even receive a real college degree. Once you have narrowed your searching pool down to all the legitimate schools to be considered, you need to establish your own set of criteria to find out what are the important things that you are looking for in a school. You should consider its affordability if you are stick on setting a budget, and if the school has the program in the field that you want to go to. If it meets your criteria, you should also consider if the school has the classes with complete flexibility, or if you have to participate in online discussions at some point of time. It is very important if the online criminal justice school that you are considering will fit your personal needs and you have to make sure that you will base on your own criteria to get the most out of the school that you are considering. You may want to consider or evaluate a school by its instructors and their qualifications. When you have a good list of these online criminal justice schools, doing your background research will be of great importance. It will make all the difference. Try going to message boards, websites, and even blogs about the schools on your list. Even though the information that you will get might be somewhat biased to promote their school, you will at least get a better idea of what their school programs are like, and what others state to be the schools’ pros and cons.

Once you decided which online criminal school you are going to attend to, the next thing would be choosing the program that will not only fit your needs, but the one that will most likely be your personal goal. You have to make sure that you will not only need that type of program, you should also consider whether you really want it to be your stepping stone in your career path. Online degrees in criminal justice have a good number of programs and specialties to choose from such as law enforcement, crime scene investigation, corrections and forensic psychology, security, and more. First will be Computer Security, and under its set of programs will include Organizational Security, Computer Forensics, Cyber Crime, Cyber Security, and more. For Corrections, there will be Corrections for women and juvenile corrections. For Forensics, there are Forensic Nursing, Forensic Psychology, Computer Forensics and other programs related to its field. Justice and Security, For Private Security and Safety, there are programs like Private Security, Public Safety Administration, Disaster Preparedness and Crisis Management. Next will be the Law Enforcement, Policing & Investigation course, which includes Law Enforcement, Fraud Examination, Policing and Criminal Investigations under its wing. As for Homeland Security, there are Homeland Security program itself and Homeland Security Administration as well. For Criminal Justice in general, it includes Criminal Justice, Fraud Examination, Global Issues, Law, Justice Administration, Public Administration, and more. And as for Crime Scene, there are programs such as Crime Analysis and Crime Scene Investigation. You have to identify which program will be suited for your needs and your wants, and then identify the field that you want to specialized yourself with.

In terms of funding, online universities tend to be cheaper than their traditional counterparts. They are a lot of scholarships and funding for criminal justice programs, grants and loans are also available, and typically worth it! You are investing in your future!

While there are many learning opportunities available online that will help you in earning a certificate and increasing your skills, there are a good number of opportunities that can simply help you enrich your personal experience. Some only pursue online education for the joy of learning, some set it as their personal goal in life. There is no such thing called as limit if you want to enrich your life or if you want to pursue your education. Thus, whether you are pursuing a degree or a training certificate, or if you only want to gain personal enrichment, it does not take thousands of dollars or even hours out of your life. Do not even hesitate to take the first great step to getting a good education. Who knows, it might be your stepping stone to success!

Let’s Focus on Helping Criminals Change!

The 1960s was a watershed decade in the United States, and maybe worldwide, and particularly the year 1968. For example, in 1961, voters elected John F. Kennedy as the nation’s first president who was also a Catholic. That was the same year that Barack Obama was born on April 4 in Hawaii. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King gave his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington. On Nov. 22 that same year President Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in downtown Dallas, Texas. Soon thereafter, Dallas police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, subsequently charging him with the gunshot death of a Dallas police officer, J.D. Tippit, and the Kennedy assassination as well. Two days later Jack Ruby, a Dallas businessman, gunned Oswald down as he was being transferred from the police headquarters to the Dallas County jail. “

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241, July 2, 1964) was a landmark legislation in the United States that outlawed segregation in the US schools and public places. First conceived to help African Americans, the bill was amended prior to passage to protect women in courts, and explicitly included white people for the first time. It also started the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In order to circumvent limitations on the federal use of the Equal Protection Clause handed down by the Civil Rights Cases, the law was passed under the Commerce Clause. Once it was implemented, its effects were far reaching and had tremendous long-term impacts on the whole country. It prohibited discrimination in public facilities, in government, and in employment, invalidating the Jim Crow laws in the southern US. It became illegal to compel segregation of the races in schools, housing, or hiring. Powers given to enforce the bill were initially weak, but were supplemented during later years.”(From Wikipedia).

The National Voting Rights Act of 1965 (United States Code” outlawed the requirement that would-be voters in the United States take literacy tests to qualify to register to vote, and it provided for federal registration of voters in areas that had less than 50% of eligible minority voters registered. The Act also provided for Department of Justice oversight to registration, and the Department’s approval for any change in voting law in districts that had used a “device” to limit voting and in which less than 50% of the population was registered to vote in 1964.” (From Wikipedia)

On April 4, 1968, a gunman assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King as he stood on the balcony outside his room in the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, and 61 days later, June 5, 1968, a gunman shot presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy as he left a speaking engagement at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Kennedy died the next day.

The 1960s was a watershed decade for me personally. Convicted for the first time on Dec. 17, 1959, I spent most of the 1960s in and out of prison. I was released for the first time in May 1962 and was back in prison in August 1963. Released on parole in December 1965, I returned to prison in July 1966. My final release came on Dec. 9, 1968.

The nearly four decades since 1968 has been a watershed time in this country as well.

During the early 1970s, the nation’s prison population was less than 250,000 inmates, but between 1970 and 2005, the number of prisoners ballooned eight-fold to more than 2.2 million incarcerated individuals. A report released in February 2008 by the Pew Charitable Trusts estimates that the number of prisoners will increase by 192,000 between now and 2012. This prison population growth could cost taxpayers another 27.5 billion.

In 1976, Charles Colson, a former aide to former President Richard M. Nixon, launched Prison Fellowship Ministries, now one of the oldest and largest efforts in the nation to reduce prison populations. Another such group, though not particularly faith-based, is a public policy organization in Washington, DC called C.U.R.E. (Citizens United (for the) Rehabilitation (of) Errants. This organization began in 1972 in Texas, and now operates internationally from its headquarters in Washington, DC. Just for transparency purposes, I am working to launch a C.U.R.E. chapter in North Carolina.

Here’s a sampling of prison ministries, anti-recidivism programs and reentry efforts operating around the country. The year these programs launched is in parenthesis: (1893) Wheeler Mission Ministries, Indianapolis; (1954) St. Leonard’s Ministries, Chicago; (1958) Teen Challenge International, Missouri; (1972) C.U.R.E., Washington, DC; (1976) Prison Fellowship, Washington, DC; (1992) New Horizons Ministries, Colorado, Islamic Health and Human Services, Detroit; (1993) Helping Up Mission–Spiritual Recovery Program, Baltimore, Detroit Transition of Prisoners (a PFM initiative); (1994) Prodigal Ministries, Kentucky; (1995) Conquest Offender Reintergration Ministries, Washington, DC, Inner-City Muslim Action Network, Chicago; (1996) Women At The Well House Ministries, Texas; (1997) Project Blanket, Pennsylvania; (1999) Episcopal Social Services–Network Program, New York; (2000) Amachi, Pennslyvania; (2001) Keystone Ministries, Mississippi, Men of Valor, California; (2002) Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency–Faith Community Partnership, Washington, DC. This sampling represents just the tip of an iceberg of various efforts designed to help criminals to become contributing citizens.

As you can clearly see, these various efforts–this reentry movement–as my good friend Joe Williams terms it– have launched during the spectacular eight-fold growth of the prison population in the United States.

With that background, let’s consider the central questions of this article: 1) Why have prison populations increased more than eightfold during the past 40 years, despite the gargantuan efforts of anti-recidivism programs and various other re-entry strategies? 2) Why have I managed to stay away from crime and prison for the past 40 years?

As I have observed, even worked alongside several of the anti-recidivism and reentry programs over the years, including some work with Prison Fellowship during the 1990s, I have concluded that far too many programs, ministries, etc. focus on changing the system, rather than helping criminals to change. I am certainly not denying that much about our failed criminal justice system needs changing. Rather, I contend that in order to move progressively along the Change Continuum, criminals must change whether the system does or not.

About 40 years ago, when I got out of prison, the deck was stacked high against a former criminal and prison inmate who was released and wanted to change. For example, I tried to enroll in two business schools in Durham, NC during 1969. Both turned me down. I knew, though, that I needed to become better educated, not because academic credentials would make my trek from crime to contribution any easier, but because I needed the knowledge and the understanding to continue my progress toward personal transformation. Therefore, I mapped my own educational program, learning to conquer challenges as they appeared before me. By contrast, I got my first job after prison just two weeks following my release–Dec. 24, 1968. I worked as a member of the janitorial crew at the long since defunct Jack Tar Hotel in Durham.

Now as I reflect on 40 years of the following four trends, I see a clear conclusion. Before I share the conclusion, consider the four trends: 1) the eight-fold growth of prison populations; 2) the roller coaster like increase and decline of crime rates; 3) the steady growth of anti-recidivism and reentry programs; 4) my personal transformation from criminal to contributing citizen. Now the conclusion: I have succeeded in the arduous trek from crime to contribution because I changed, whether systems improved or not.

For the remainder of this article, I share with you my personal change process. I recommend it highly for anyone who wants to successfully negotiate the Change Continuum.

Near the beginning of my transformation process, I adopted a personal mission statement that I have refined and expanded several times since adopting this core value: “My personal mission in life is to win the war of self by learning to fully live in the seven freedoms that Jesus, the Christ, purchased for us with His death on the cross millennia ago. In this context, I define “self” as the residue impact of my sinful nature that remains primarily in my memory, following my miraculous new birth as a child of God. The seven freedoms are as follows: 1) Freedom to live fully in the Word of God; 2) Freedom to live fully by faith; 3) Freedom to live fully, trusting in the hope of the gospel; 4) Freedom to live fully according to the principles of love; 5) Time freedom; 6) Financial freedom; and 7) Debt freedom.

During the 40 years of my personal transformation, I’ve learned to build my new life on the foundation of a set of core values that I’ve termed the 40 Powerful Principles of Transformation. I learned to organize these 40 principles into the following seven categories: 1) The thinking and perspective principles; 2) The effectiveness principles; 3) the planning principles; 4) the continual action principles; 5) the daily application principles; 6) the C.A.R.E. principles; 7) the T.E.A.M principles.

I am working on an E-book that explains these principles in detail. I plan to have it ready by my 40th anniversary–Dec. 9, 2008. In summary, it all boils down to this: let’s teach criminals how to change, whether systems change or not. I have learned that I can live successfully, even when surrounded daily by people who fail.

How to Choose From a Confusing Array of Specialized Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Nowadays law enforcement is, to put it mildly, a lot more complex than it once was. More sophisticated criminals, ever-changing technologies and new concerns about how foreign terrorists can injure Americans have re-shaped the jobs of professional “good guys” in all areas of criminal justice. The Homeland Security Department, which was only formed in 2002, now has a $50 billion dollar budget and 216,000 employees. Most of them worked relatively independently as border guards, customs agents or transportation security specialist until the attacks of 9/11/2001 prompted the government to change their mission and work with each other in different ways.

At the same time, the methods that police departments use to assemble crime evidence for court cases and to deal with the issues of criminals in the penal system and in the community have evolved quickly, creating a need for new kinds of specialists both in enforcement and prevention-type functions. That has created a need for everything from computer security experts to human services specialists and even new kinds of business administrators who can manage the complex budgets of large law enforcement organizations.

Bachelor Specializations
If you’d like to get your career started with an associate’s degree, you’ll probably be looking at a fairly generalized 2-year criminal justice curriculum. But when you’re ready to move to the bachelor’s degree level, you’ll find that, in addition to the basic BA or BS degree in criminal justice, there are all sorts of other more specialized degrees to consider. If you shop around, you’re likely to find colleges offering over a dozen different specialty degrees within this career track.

The good news is that, at the bachelor’s degree level, you can get specialized training in a particular area of criminal justice that interests you without losing the generalized learning that can qualify you for a broad range jobs. Regardless of the school you attend, your bachelor’s degree program will almost certainly include a core of liberal arts courses in humanities, math, social sciences and the like as well as a series of “major” or “core” courses that cover subjects like corrections, juvenile Justice, legal and procedures, drugs and crime, ethics and criminal behavior. The study for your specialized degree will, in many cases, involve less than 8 courses, with a possible independent study project added on.

Here’s a rundown on some of the most popular “specialized” criminal justice degrees being offered online right now at the bachelor’s degree level.

Criminal Justice Management
A degree in this specialty prepares you for either a “front line” type job as a police officer, parole or correction officer or a more administrative/supervisory position. The latter can be anything from a position as a local police chief to a senior manager of a department in a state police organization or even a national agency. The degree can give you some career flexibility if you are not sure at the outset whether you want to be in a true enforcement position, or if you would prefer to be more of an administrator working on disaster response policies, technology strategy or personnel issues. Of course, it’s also true that many supervisory positions require a mix of theoretical and practical knowledge, which a management degree like this can help provide.

Homeland Security
A degree in homeland security is designed to prep the graduate for work in the very rapidly growing Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or possibly in a regional or local police organization that co-operates on disaster planning with national agencies. The Homeland Security Department now incorporates many agencies like Border Protection, FEMA, the Secret Service, Customs and even The Coast Guard which used to be independent organizations. As such, it’s now a very large organization (over 170,000 employees) that is continuing to hire people with a very wide range of skills. Homeland security degrees usually include a mix of training in computer security or “cyber-warfare,” airport security, counter-terrorism and inter-departmental emergency planning. The career path can be either in front-line enforcement positions (border guard, customs inspector) or in more office-based work in administration or technology. Pay scales for jobs in DHS can run anywhere from $35,000 up to $60,000, with senior administrators making more.

Social and Criminal Justice
This specialization is, as the name implies, a mix of sociology and criminal justice disciplines. In addition to the standard criminal justice subjects like corrections, law enforcement and investigations, students in this major study theories of sociology – how institutions and society function – in a law enforcement perspective. Learning how to research issues that affect governments and individuals and draw policy conclusions is generally an important part of the curriculum. Job opportunities with this degree include Court Worker Specialized in Juveniles, Prison Counselor, Parole Officer, Community Mediator or any number of administrative jobs like Urban Planner, Corporate or Government Research Analyst, Demographer or Consultant in Industrial Relations.

Criminology is one of the bedrock specialties that have been a key part of the criminal justice system for many years. Stated simply, it is the analysis of criminal behaviors, coupled with an effort to provide useful explanations for why people commit crimes and what methods they use in breaking the law. At its more analytic level, criminology involves the study of how and why crimes are committed throughout entire societies. A degree in this field will usually include in-depth study of psychology and sociology, to train specialists who can develop a profile that might help the police capture a criminal, testify as an expert in court, develop programs to prevent crime or to rehabilitate criminals coming out of prison. Courses in a specialty like this might include white collar crime, policing in society, counseling and guidance, theories of deviance or abnormal psychology. Jobs for criminologists exist in the court system, prevention departments in law enforcement agencies and corrections.

Juvenile Justice
Sometimes combined with corrections, juvenile justice is a specialty for those who want to help the police, the courts and the penal system deal with young offenders. Courses can cover topics like the community context of juvenile offenders, international issues with juvenile offenders, laws and ethics or key societal trends affecting juvenile criminals. Intervention techniques and dealing with behavioral disorders are generally a key part of the curriculum. Job opportunities in this specialty are very wide ranging in the criminal justice system, and include functions from counselor or probation officer to a juvenile court attorney for students to carry on to a graduate law degree.

Corrections officers tend to be in fairly steady demand, given the large U.S prison population. A degree in this specialty prepares a graduate to maintain security in supervising either convicted criminals or people awaiting trial. It is a sometimes challenging career category where professional must work to prevent assaults inside the prisons, various types of disturbances or even escapes.

Forensics and Investigations
Forensics can be a science or health care specialty, but in criminal justice it generally involves collection and analysis of evidence from crime scenes, and the use of that evidence in court prosecutions. A forensic technician can be a kind of puzzle solver for the police. Degrees under the forensics heading will often include technical training in DNA, toxicology and other lab specialties. Degree programs that combine forensics and investigations, on the other hand, will often focus on the broader methods involved in in-depth criminal investigations. A related specialty that’s grown popular in recent years is computer forensics, which involves investigating crime-related data stored on laptops, phones and other devices.

Human Services
Earning an HS degree under the criminal justice heading can prepare you to enter a career providing social services to varied criminal populations, from low-income persons to juveniles at risk of criminal behavior. Key employers in this area include government and private family support services, mental health clinics and rehabilitation programs. The degree can also prepare you to work in a detention center. These degrees sometimes go under the heading of “client services” or “special populations.”

International Criminal Justice
A specialty that has grown in importance in recent years not just because of terrorism issues but due to the increasingly “cross-border” nature of many crimes, international criminal justice can have a unique attraction if you are interested in world crime issues. The curriculum usually focuses on understanding the differences between various national law systems, and the issues it presents police who a pursuing international criminals. This type of degree can also provide entree to work in certain areas of the Homeland Security Department that are focused on foreign terrorists. Other potential employers in this field include the FBI and even multi- national police organizations like Interpol.