Link to What's New This Week Media, Crime and Criminal Justice: CRMJ 385, Spring 2005, UWP

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Media, Crime & Criminal Justice
Syllabus for CRMJ 385. Spring 2005

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Created: August 24, 2003
Latest update: May 5, 2005

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

Susan Takata
Office: 362 MOLN
Office Hours: MWF 8:45-9:45am & by appointment
Phone: (262) 595-2116
FAX: (262) 595-2471
Class meets MWF 11-11:50 a.m.

Brief Description:

CRMJ 385 will examine the interrelationship between the mass media, crime and criminal justice. Some topics to be covered: media and the social construction of crime and criminal justice, crime and justice in the entertainment and news media, media effects on attitudes toward crime and justice, media as a cause of crime, media-based anti-crime efforts, news media and the courts, the use of media technology in the judicial system and law enforcement, and so forth. Throughout the semester, we will analyze the media's relationship to criminological theories as well as to criminal justice policies and practices.


  • Merlo and Benekos. What's Wrong with the Criminal Justice System? Ideology, Politics and the Media..
  • Potter and Kappeler. Constructing Crime: Perspectives on Making News and Social Problems .
  • Surette. Media, Crime and Criminal Justice: Images and Realities.
  • other materials to be assigned.
  • read the newspaper and/or watch the news regularly.
  • Dear Habermas Website [refer to handout]


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 teach the skills of answerability and the process of collaborative creation. Outcomes: You are expected to demonstrate active and involved learning by participating in class discussions on answerability and the aesthetic process of collaborative creation. You will also choose from these discussion topics for written discussion that will enhance your skills at translating oral thinking into written documents and serve as one measure of learning for this class. 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.

  • Substantive Objective: To review and evaluate materials on the interrelationship between media, crime and criminal justice. Towards the end of the semester, you will look back on your own class interactions as an example of the creative production of a forum through application of the aesthetic process of answerability and the understanding of illocutionary discourse. Outcomes: You will participate in class discussions on historical and contemporary issues focusing on media and crime. You may choose this evaluative process as a measure of learning in this class.

  • Specific Current Event Objective: To apply theoretical discussions to examples within your 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 face-to-face and Internet discussions. Outcomes: Class discussions, summaries of which will appear on the Internet, will provide myriad examples for applications. You will choose an application of specific personal interest and prepare an approach to the application, either for understanding, or in some cases, making it better, using the theoretical tools on which we have focused. You may choose measures of learning from these applications.

  • Discourse Objective: To understand the dominant discourse as it relates to media, crime and criminal justice by engaging in satisfying illocutionary discussions. To use a vocabulary which permit discussion of theory: the social construction of reality, definition of the situation, labeling, stereotyping, difference, the Other, structural violence, privileging subjectivity, unstated assumptions, relativism, tolerance of ambiguity, and so forth. Outcomes: You will choose an application of specific personal interest and prepare an approach to the application, either for understanding, or in some cases, making it better, using the theoretical tools on which we have focused. Measured by inclusion of references in written and oral contributions to discourse. You may choose measures of learning from these applications.

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. You are invited to choose the measures of learning that best fits your learning style best. More details will be provided in class.

The 5Cs - communication, consistency, competency, creativity, and cooperation continue to represent our standards for evaluation. Refer to Grades on the Dear Habermas web site. Your coursework must show scholarly discipline in conceptually linking your learning to theory, policy, practice, and to course readings, class discussions, and other materials.

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

The minimum requirements for a course grade of "C" are: 1) the completion of all the weekly discussion questions, 2) participatory class attendance (not only attending but participating in class discussions), and 3) at least a "C average" on pop quizzes (to note "do not count" on the majority of pop quizzes is "below average").

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.

Other Important Notes

Students with Disabilities - Any student with a disability requiring accommodations in this course is encouraged to contact me after class or during office hours. Additionally, students should contact Disability Services Office in WYLL D175. Staff can be reached at 595-2610 or 595-2372.

Deadlines/Due Dates - All due dates and deadlines are firm. Late assignments will not be accepted. A "no show" will result in an "F" for that particular task. The absolute final deadline for all course work is Friday, April 22nd at 11 a.m. central time.

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 PreparationMinimal Requirement for Textual Readings
Week 1
Answerability and Academic Assessment M&B, ch. 1
Week 2
Media, Crime and Criminal Justice: An Overview
** Monday, 1/24, 12 noon - 1p.m. -- Optional Dear Habermas Workshop in the library microcomputing classroom
S, ch. 1
Week 3
Crime Waves
** Friday, 2/4 - 12 noon-1 p.m.-- Optional Library Research Workshop in the D150 library classroom near elevators
P&K, ch. 1-5
Week 4
Media Construction of Crime and Justice P&K, ch. 6-11
Week 5
The Entertainment Media S, ch.2
Week 6
The News MediaS, ch. 3; P&K, ch. 12-15
Week 7
Media and Criminal Proceedings S, ch. 4
Week 8
Media and Police
**Friday, 3/11 - Last Day to Drop Course
M&B, ch. 2
Week 9
Spring Break
** Mon. 3/14, Wed. 3/16 & Fri. 3/18 -- No Class
no readings
Week 10
Media and the Courts M&B, ch. 3
Week 11
Media and Corrections/PunishmentM&B., ch. 4
Week 12
Juvenile Justice and the Media M&B, ch. 5
Week 13
Crime and Violence: Media as a Cause
S, ch. 5
Week 14
Crime and Justice: The Media as a Cure for Crime
** Friday, April 22nd at 11 a.m. central time - Final Absolute Deadline
S, ch. 6
Week 15
Crime-and-Justice Attitudes and Policies S, ch. 7; M&B, ch. 6, P&K, epilogue
Week 16
Media, Crime & Criminal Justice: Theory, Policy, Practice
Teaching/Learning Revisited

** Friday, May 6th- Last Day of Class
no readings
Summer 2005 no readings

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