Criminal Justice: The Unethical Cash Cow

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by sanantone, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I figured that there might be current and former criminal justice students here who would be interested in discussing this topic. I have found it extremely disturbing how many criminal justice programs are popping up. As some schools are seeing declining enrollment, they have been starting up criminal justice programs. They know this major attracts a lot of students. I think it has the potential to break into the top 10 of most popular majors in the U.S. It might already be in the top 10.

    The problem I have with this is that criminal justice degrees are not in demand. There are a lot of police officer openings in some states. There are always a lot of security guard openings everywhere. However, a very small percentage of these jobs require a degree. Among the jobs that require a degree, a very small percentage exclusively require a degree in CJ. This is why Payscale ranked CJ as the second most underemployed major.
    Criminal Justice Major Underemployment Stats

    According to the 2013 Georgetown study of 2010/2011 unemployment rates, newly graduated CJ majors aren't doing so great in that area either. They might be doing a little better now if cities have stopped cutting back on the police officer positions that don't even require a degree in the first place.

    But, one of my biggest pet peeves is that it seems like most students don't know what is going to be studied in criminal justice programs. It is not a social work degree, it is not the police academy, it is not forensic science unless it has that concentration attached, and it is far from being the best preparation for law school.

    I thought students being bored with CJ was just a problem at my type of school since it is a nationally-accredited school that accepts students who can barely read. It's amazing how many of them think they can immediately start working as police officers after they graduated without having to go through an academy. However, for the introductory course of my PhD program, we read an article that discussed how criminal justice students aren't really interested in criminal justice after they discover what criminal justice is really about. My professor has also found this to be the case at the universities for which he's taught. This really isn't an issue at the graduate level because those students have already decided that CJ is interesting enough to continue studying it. Still, the number of PhDs in CJ aren't enough to keep up with the growth of undergraduate programs, so schools are still heavily relying on sociology PhDs to fill the gap.
  2. jhp

    jhp Member

    I think digging into the criminal justice degree might reveal something more than "that criminal justice degrees are not in demand."

    I believe criminal justice is popping up because of "cyber" related fields which require as much legal as technical knowledge. I conjecture that digital forensics, cyber-intelligence, cyber- and network-security and similar are going crazy. "Electronic discovery", a field that requires both legal and IT expertise is shaping up to be a multi-billion, if not trillion dollar business worldwide.

    To enter the criminal justice field, the easiest is indeed police and similar law enforcement training. I watched several colleges do just that. First they offered "generic" criminal justice degrees, then when they were sufficiently ramped up added all the Legal/IT related degrees.

    I get bombarded with e-mails hourly to go work for some firm here or there, relocation paid, bonus, and six figure salary.:bandit:

    Just my two möngö.
  3. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Criminal justice is an applied social science, not IT or cyber security. CJ programs very briefly touch upon cyber security if at all. There may be a handful of CJ programs with cyber security concentrations, but this is not the norm. It is not even the norm to see cyber security programs housed in the same department.

    CJ is not legal studies or paralegal studies either. It doesn't go very deep into law.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2014
  4. FJD

    FJD Member

    I generally think you make valid points, expect this one. You link to LSAT scores by college major to show a CJ major is not good prep for law school. However, the LSAT doesn't test legal knowledge. Economics, Philosophy, and Engineering majors score better on the LSAT probably because they're a little smarter on average than those in other majors.

    BTW, I was a CJ major who chose the path because my particular school's program could be taken more or less as a pre-law major. It prepared me as well as anything probably could for law school (which isn't saying much). Law school is quite a different animal altogether. If I didn't have law school in mind, I would probably have taken another major.

    That aside, I tend to agree with your thoughts, although I think that if students graduate with bachelor's degrees in CJ but can't find work in CJ, that's not a terrible outcome. They can always find jobs in other fields, like so many seem to do. Having a degree is what matters far more, in my opinion, and I think what one's major was matters very little in the long term. I know some feel different on this. Also, you can change your major. I did. Like three times. It's not that big of a deal.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2014
  5. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Most of the people in law schools have degrees in political science and economics. You don't need prior knowledge in law in order to be successful in law school; you need the intelligence and analytical skills to get through the difficult coursework. If one wants to learn about law at the undergraduate level, then paralegal studies would be a much better major than CJ.
  6. jhp

    jhp Member

    Yet it appears so in many degree granting institutions. Note that I am not disputing if the constructs and naming is proper.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2014
  7. FJD

    FJD Member

    Well, paralegal studies wasn't an option for me, but CJ was. And my coursework gave me a good deal of exposure to the law, albeit primarily to criminal law and procedure. It still was nothing like law school though. I don't know whether "most people in law school have have degrees in political science and economics" in part because when I was in law school, I don't recall anyone ever talking about their undergraduate majors. But you may know something about this that I don't.
  8. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    What are your degrees in?
  9. jhp

    jhp Member


    The jobs often require a Criminal Justice, Security or similar degree or several years of experience. I have the later.
  10. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Are you referring to 1-3 year contracts in overseas nations for those with law enforcement, military or security experience?
  11. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    That UMUC program is not even close to being a criminal justice program. It looks like all of the other cybersecurity degrees. Champlain College falls into my "handful of schools." That John Jay program is also not a criminal justice program. UMUC's investigative forensics is not CJ. Champlain's Computer Forensics and Digital Investigations program, again, not CJ.

    These programs are similar to criminal justice: criminology, justice administration, administration of justice, corrections, police science, and law enforcement. Almost everything you posted looks nothing like a criminal justice degree. These are all variations of cybersecurity, information security, and information assurance programs. Adding "investigations" to a degree title does not make it like criminal justice. It's like saying that forensic accounting is a CJ program. This thread is about schools starting up criminal justice programs, not cybersecurity programs that have more in common with IT than CJ.
  12. jhp

    jhp Member

    Almost. Indeed there are some overseas contracts, but I am talking about Metro-DC and other large cities.
    Contracts that I have been approached with range from 6 months to 5+ years. These jobs are primarily in IT, IT security, IT incident response, and such - no physical security required. Usually 3 years of experience and some certification relevant to the area of need will substitute for a college degree.

    My personal experience is that both governments, gov. contractors and businesses will forgo the degree demand (and may even prefer) for actual demonstrable experience.

    Back to the original topic - I was always under the impression that Criminal Justice was law enforcement, courts and finally corrections. The first part implies detection of malfeasance, including IT crimes. IT incident response and IT security is a great part of that, which is now lumped under the government-talk "cyber" monicker.

    This is why I guess schools may be interested taking their regular IT teaching expertise, add some legal aspect onto it, and dishing it out as Criminal Justice.

  13. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    How many schools are dishing out IT programs as criminal justice. There are a handful of schools offering variations of cyber security as as a concentration in CJ programs. IT professionals with no CJ background have been working in IT security for a long time. IT security is in every type of organization, and the employees working in IT security usually have technical and business/management backgrounds. The legal people working in these departments are usually lawyers and paralegals.

    Please post some links to the job ads for these 6-figure positions asking for criminal justice degrees. Did you even click on the results you got from your search?
  14. jhp

    jhp Member

    Again, I am not debating that they should or should not fall under Criminal Justice. I am simply noting that they are presented in relation to their "Criminal Justice" - whatever that maybe - correctly or incorrectly.

    Maybe there is a giant disconnect between what is supposed to be Criminal Justice, and what schools are selling.

    From what I got from your original post : schools are increasing CJ programs, yet there are no jobs out there.

    I brought "cyber" into the topic as a conjecture on why criminal justice programs are what they are. I rarely see a Criminal Justice program which does not have at least one degree that has some computer flavor to it. YMMV

    Can you define in a paragraph what you consider a proper "Criminal Justice" program, and what career one would take with such degree?

  15. jhp

    jhp Member

    My experience is a bit higher than handful, but indeed then we agree.

    Yes, I clicked on them, which is how I read that they are connected with their "Criminal Justice" program, correctly or incorrectly.

    I am not sure how having a legal background disqualifies an individual to also get a Criminal Justice.

    The "six figure" was referring to the area of interesting in IT security, IR and similar. I specifically noted that many will forgo a degree for experience.

    Since you demanded it, here is an example where a government job will pay up to 116,901.00/year, and part of the requirements is "[a]cademic training in criminology, criminal justice, sociology, or a related empirical social science" -

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2014
  16. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Criminal justice programs might have one course that covers white collar crime (which usually talks about cyber crimes), but that is not nearly enough to work in IT security.

    Yes, my thread is about more CJ programs being offered, not programs called cybersecurity or digital forensics. Your typical CJ program will have courses like criminology, criminal law, victimology, corrections, policing, criminal investigation, white collar crime, and report writing. Criminal justice programs are meant to make better law enforcement and correctional officers and to prepare people for jobs in probation/parole, supervisory law enforcement/corrections positions, private security, and social services. Some CJ programs are starting to add addiction counseling and homeland security concentrations.

    I don't have a bachelor's in CJ, but I do have a bachelors in social science that included a lot of CJ courses. I make that clear on my resume and cover letters. I have applied for several entry-level, IT jobs, but I was only interviewed for a technical support job that hired just about anyone with a high school diploma regardless of their experience level. These are the jobs I have either worked in or been interviewed for ever since completing my BA.

    Parole Officer
    Child Protective Services Caseworker
    Community Supervision Officer (probation)
    Correctional Officer
    Police Officer
    Security Supervisor
    Security Manager
    Operations Manager for a Security Company
    Account Manager for a Security Company
    Substance Abuse Counselor
    Law Enforcement Dispatcher
    Criminal Justice Instructor
    Claims Adjuster (this job just required any generic bachelors if you didn't have experience)
    Pre-Trial Bond Officer

    I don't quite understand what you're saying here. Do you mean that most criminal justice departments have a computer-oriented degree? Or, do you mean that most CJ programs have at least one computer-oriented course? I haven't seen that to be the case with either of those.
  17. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    SAS is a statistics program. This job is basically for a statistician. A lot of people with social science degrees are well-trained in statistics. This isn't IT security.
  18. jhp

    jhp Member

    "Please post some links to the job ads for these 6-figure positions asking for criminal justice degrees."
  19. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I should have been clearer. When I said "these," I was referring to the CJ jobs you were referring to in this thread; the jobs you are being offered.
  20. jhp

    jhp Member

    I re-read the posts of this topic. Apologies for not contributing to your liking, so I bow out.

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