The Voice: Summer 2003
Criminal justice program is moving ahead
By: Sally Jongsma
Aspiring police officers, corrections and probation workers, prosecuting attorneys, and others can
take Introduction to Criminal Justice for the first time next fall. The course
is the first in a new criminal justice emphasis in the political studies
The job market in the field of criminal justice is growing rapidly, says
Professor Donald King of the political studies department. Admissions counselors say interest in
such positions by prospective students is also growing. In fact, Registrar Jim Bos
expects to enroll at least fifteen students each year in the new program.
Planning for the criminal justice emphasis began several years ago when President Carl
E. Zylstra appointed a new initiatives task force to explore new areas of
study for Dordt College to consider offering. Of the suggestions offered, criminal justice
and a two-year computer networking program were eventually approved.
Courses in the criminal justice emphasis will focus on the major institutions of
the current criminal justice system, says King. The introductory course will examine the
nature of crime, law enforcement, court, and corrections systems to understand how they
operate. King expects that students in the program will be fairly evenly divided
between those interested in being police officers, those who plan to work in
corrections, and those who intend to go to law school with the goal
of working as prosecutors.
New techniques for rehabilitating criminals and the reality of a burgeoning prison population
have led to the growing demand for professionals in these areas.
Traditional methods of dealing with law offenders have not proved to be
very successful, says King. Emphasis on restorative justice with programs that promote rehabilitation
of the victim and reconciliation with their offender are increasing and demand skilled
As we learn how expensive it is to house people in high security
prisons, the cost of alternative programs does not seem so high, says King.
He adds that over one-third of all state and federal inmates in the
criminal justice system today are there because of drug-related crimes.
The criminal justice system is trying to work with these offenders in ways
that do not take their violation lightly, but in ways that rehabilitate them
rather than dumping them in prison with career criminals, says King. Studies have
shown that the most successful drug rehabilitation comes from long-term treatment programs, not
punitive prison sentences.
For these reasons and others, law enforcement organizations are putting more emphasis on
hiring and especially promoting people who enter the profession with a college degree.
Weve been told that you can go to a police academy and get
a job on a police force, but you arent likely be promoted to
a leadership role without a college education, says King. He is convinced that
the interdisciplinary program recently adopted will give students a valuable and broad base
of preparation for a variety of law enforcement careers.