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Media, Crime and Criminal Justice
Syllabus for CRMJ 385. Fall 2012

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
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Created: August 24, 2003
Latest update: December 6, 2012

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Index of Topics on Site Syllabus for Media, Crime and Criminal Justice

Susan Takata
Office: 370 MOLN
Office Hours: MWF 8:45-9:45am & by appointment
Phone: (262) 595-2116
FAX: (262) 595-2471
Class meets MWF 11-11:53 a.m.

Brief Description:

CRMJ 385 will examine the interrelationship between the mass media, crime and the criminal justice system. Some topics to be covered: the media construction of reality, crime and justice in the entertainment media, how real is reality television, the media and crime waves, media based anti-crime efforts, and so forth. In addition, we will explore the role and influence of the media throughout the criminal justice process -- from law enforcement to corrections.


  • Potter and Kappeler.(2006) Constructing Crime.
  • Rafter. (2006) Shots in the Mirror: Crime Films and Society.
  • Surette. (2011) Media, Crime and Criminal Justice .
  • Dear Habermas website.
  • other materials to be assigned
  • read the newspaper and/or watch the news regularly


You must have:
  • a three-ring binder
  • an e-mail address (available through the university)
  • Internet access (access to PCs in microcomputing labs on campus)

Course Objectives

  • Answerability Objective: To master the concept of the aesthetic process of answerability and its role in creating an atmosphere of morality and ethics in our institutions and world systems, particularly the educational system. Outcomes: You will participate in class discussions respecting the answerability of every member of that community, and the aesthetic process of collaborative creation. You are expected to demonstrate active and involved learning. Written expression is as important as dialog participation and other means of expression (such as art or photography). Silence will not be acceptable, though I am willing to consider a preference for interpassivity.

  • Theoretical Objective: To come away from this course with a deep understanding of the role that theory plays in our lives, particularly as it relates to the media, crime and the criminal justice in the United States. To use a vocabulary which permit discussion of theory: social constructionism, difference, the Other, structural violence, privileging subjectivity, unstated assumptions, relativism, tolerance of ambiguity, inequality, diversity and so forth. Outcomes: Measured by the inclusion of references in written and oral contributions to discourse. In our discussions, you will consider the framing of the facts you cite, the illocutionary discourse in which you must engage to hear one another in good faith, and the importance of such a forum to in depth consideration of issues in media and crime.

  • Visual Objective: To review and evaluate materials on media, crime and criminal justice by creating a visual presentation of your learning in this course. Outcomes: You will present at least two major visual projects to the class, (one at midterm and the second toward the end of the semester). Visual projects should reflect our competence and creativity in this course.

  • Praxis Objective: To recognize differences between theory, factual knowledge, and the application and synthesis of that knowledge in praxis. Outcomes: You will apply theoretical discussions to examples within their own institutions and lifeworlds, as they relate to media, crime and criminal justice. Focus on conceptually linking criminological theory to current events and personal narratives shared in your work and in face-to-face class discussions.

Grades and Grading

Grades can be important feedback when they are collaborative and used as feedback to guide further learning. They are harmful when they become a reified end in their own right. Because we are required by the institution to give grades, there must be a means of your letting us know what you hae learned. We expect each of you to communicate with us, so that we come to know you and your learning. Meaningful learning comes when we stretch the corners of each other's mind by looking at these concepts from multiple perspectives that come from our myriad unique experiences.

The six Cs - communication, courtesy, cooperation, consistency, competency, and creativity continue to represent our standards for evaluation. Refer to Evidence of Learning on the Dear Habermas website. Your coursework must show scholarly discipline in conceptually linking your learning to theory, policy, practice through the course readings and discussions.

Ideally, four progress checks throughout the semester are recommended (meeting with the professor every four weeks). A minimum of two progress checks with the professor is required (before midterm and toward the end of the semester).

Measures of Learning

  • First Half of the Semester (10%)
  • First Half Visual Project (20%)
  • Second Half of the Semester (20%)
  • Second Half Visual Project (50%)

    Grade Scale

    95-100 = A
    90-94 = A-
    88-89 = B+
    85-87 = B
    80-84 = B-
    78-79 = C+
    75-77 = C
    70-74 = C-
    68-69 = D+
    65-67 = D
    60-64 = D-
    59 and below = F
  • Statement on Plagiarism: DON'T DO IT!! Give credit to those whose ideas and words you use. Cooperation and sharing in this class will earn you a better grade. Adversarialism is not a part of our teaching. We believe that learning flowers in an environment that permits mutuality to flourish.

    Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities are encouraged meet with me as soon as possible to discuss accommodations. Accommodations should be authorized through the Disability Services Office in WYLL D175, (contact Dr. Renee Sartin-Kirby, Coordinator at 595-2610).

    Concealed Carry Law: As provided in the 2011 Wisconsin Act 35 - Concealed Carry Law, you are notified that firearms are not permitted in the classroom or during class activities. Anyone found in violation will be subject to immediate removal in addition to academic and/or legal sanctions.

    Deadlines/Due Dates: All due dates, meeting times, and deadlines are firm. Late assignments will not be accepted. A "no show" will result in an "F" for that particular task.

    Communicating: It is your responsibility to communicate an emergency and other situations in a timely manner to the professor. Communicating your whereabouts is important. Don't be a field mouse.

    Groupwork: You may work in groups on any or all exercises or assignments. Cooperative learning groups are strongly encouraged. You can work with more than one group, and with different groups. All names of active group members should be recorded as indicated on the exercise material. (Refer to Cooperative Learning on the Dear Habermas site ).



    WeekTopic and Class PreparationTextual Readings
    Week 1
    Introduction R, Intro + ch. 1, S, ch. 1
    Week 2
    Teaching/Learning Model
    Media, Crime & Criminal Justice: An Overview
    R, ch. 2, S, ch. 2
    Week 3
    Making News P&K, preface, introduction, ch. 1-5
    Week 4
    Constructing Crime Problems P&K, ch. 6-13
    Week 5
    Crime and CriminalityR, ch. 3, S, ch. 3
    Week 6
    Effects of Constructing Crime P&K, ch. 14-18
    Week 7
    The Media and the Police R, ch. 4, S, ch. 4
    Week 8
    Media, Crime, Criminal Justice @ Midterm
    **Friday, Oct. 26th - Last Day to Drop Course
    R, ch. 1-4; S, ch. 1-4
    P&K entire book
    Week 9
    The Media and the Courts R, ch. 5 & S, ch. 5
    Week 10
    The Media and Punishment/Corrections R, ch. 6 & S, ch. 6
    Week 11
    The Media, Juveniles & Delinquency P&K, ch. 6, 11 &15
    Week 12
    The Media, Juveniles & Delinquency Continued
    ** Friday, Nov 23rd - Thanksgiving Break (No Class)
    R, ch. 7 & S, ch. 7
    Week 13
    The Media, Crime Control, and Criminal Justice Policy R, ch. 7, S, ch.7& 8
    Week 14
    Media, Crime, Criminal Justice: The Future P&K, epilogue, R, ch. 8, S, ch 9
    Week 15
    Teaching/Learning Model Revisited
    Summary & Conclusion

    ** Monday, Dec 10th - Last Day of Class
    all texts

    Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, August 2003.
    "Fair use" encouraged.