bborg

Criminal Justice

107 posts in this topic

I did something unexpected. I followed a link I noticed on yahoo, for degrees.info. The ad shows illustrations of a few different careers and offers to give you information on the education required to pursue them. I’ve had a real problem with career motivation over the last few years, because I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. In fact, it’s been a source of pain for me, because I haven’t had any long term goals since I got my BA in philosophy. I had figured I would continue in philosophy and write and teach, but I think the reality is I just don’t want to. I have a passion for philosophy, but when I think back to my professors and fellow students, I find myself completely unmotivated. I almost forced myself back into the field, but decided that to spend that level of money and energy for a goal I was unconvinced would make me happy would be a mistake.

Anyway one of the careers on the link was criminal investigator. I have always been an analytical person in everything I do, so the reasoning and science element really appeals to me. Also the job itself is a fight for justice, which appeals to me even more. I need a job that gets my blood pumping, that really gets me excited to report to work, and I’m excited just thinking about this prospect.

I had completed the form on the site, which sends word to a bunch of online universities that you are interested in them. I got a call back today from an Admissions rep at South University Online, and we talked about their program and the environment and what the degree would involve. What really impressed me was that he didn’t just call me to confirm my address and send me info. He was actually trying to sell their degree to me, talking about what I’m interested in and what they offer. He walked me through their website and showed me the curriculum for their Criminal Justice degree. Actually, check it out, I thought it looked really good. Criminal Justice Degree

I got a voicemail from a different university, and I will be looking into my options, but I’m pretty impressed with Southern University. The rep gave me his cell number, so these people are pretty serious.

Part of the reason for posting this was just to share my excitement at a new potential value, especially since for the last years I have been suffering from not knowing what I was going to do with myself. The idea that that part of my life might be over makes me ecstatic!

Also I was wondering if anyone had any familiarity with the field, and could offer advice as to expectations either while getting the education and what applications there are in the field? The rep went into this a little bit, he said that police officers usually are required to have a BS in Criminal Justice, and it can also lead to crime scene investigation, which I think is fascinating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

bborg,

This sounds like a fascinating direction to take. I have no experience in Criminalistics, myself, but I did take a course in Forensic Chemistry at UCI, with visits to the Orange County, California crime lab and that part of it was something I almost went for, myself. My degrees are in biology and chemistry and this just seemed like such a great application of those skills toward improving the world around me, but, ultimately, I chose not to. I didn't want to live 24 hours a day so focused on the absolute worst part of society, the monsters, the lazy, petty thieves, the innocents destroyed. But, now, years later, having read all of Kathy Reichs' books, which are meticulously accurate in their science and its application, as well as lesser crime novels and tv dramas, I still don't want to go that way, but I admire greatly those who have. My instructor was the guy who pioneered Nuclear Activation Analysis for use in gunshot residue analysis for the Kennedy assassination (this was a while ago :)).

You might have a look at Reichs' books, since she's the real thing, a forensic anthropologist, and covers all of the tools at the disposal of investigators and the work of the investigators themselves.

It's certainly a wide-open field with lots of room for interesting specialization, including electronic security and digital forensics, which will also be growing in the coming years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[...]

Part of the reason for posting this was just to share my excitement at a new potential value, especially since for the last years I have been suffering from not knowing what I was going to do with myself. The idea that that part of my life might be over makes me ecstatic!

[..]

Congratulations on this eruption of possibilities, bborg!

I too am in a countdown toward career change, so I have some grasp of what you have undergone.

Best wishes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bborg,

This sounds like a fascinating direction to take.

It is, and for some reason it was not an option I even considered until recently. When I saw the ad, something about the career "clicked". It's not that all of a sudden I had an appreciation for it, because I've always admired detectives and investigators. I guess it just hit me that I can do that! I began in philosophy and I never really wanted to consider making a big departure from that field. However if I do decide to do this, it's not like I will be leaving philosophy behind. I think it would give me a unique and fuller perspective of the work. Also getting a degree in philosophy, alongside my study of Objectivism, has honed my reasoning skills which are essential to investigative work. I won't know for sure until I dive in, but I think this is something I might be really good at.

I suppose a focus on the scum of the earth comes with the job, but the idea that I might catch them and help to put them in jail I think would be extremely rewarding.

You might have a look at Reichs' books, since she's the real thing, a forensic anthropologist, and covers all of the tools at the disposal of investigators and the work of the investigators themselves.

It's certainly a wide-open field with lots of room for interesting specialization, including electronic security and digital forensics, which will also be growing in the coming years.

I will definitely check out the books, thanks for the recommendation. :) And you raise a cool point, that technology is making real strides in this area. It means I'd get to work with all sorts of gadgets. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Congratulations on this eruption of possibilities, bborg!

I too am in a countdown toward career change, so I have some grasp of what you have undergone.

Best wishes.

Thank you, Mercury, it's like being trapped in a room for 6 years and suddenly seeing a door swing open.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Enquire a little more into job opportunities after your degree. That said, go for it. You would bring a broad mindset to an area which may be narrowly focused on technical issues. Think of Perry Mason using his mind, and you will get my meaning. You may be too young to have seen this original series, and if so, you have a potential pleasant experience ahead of you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Enquire a little more into job opportunities after your degree. That said, go for it. You would bring a broad mindset to an area which may be narrowly focused on technical issues. Think of Perry Mason using his mind, and you will get my meaning. You may be too young to have seen this original series, and if so, you have a potential pleasant experience ahead of you.

Job opportunities is where I feel a bit intimidated right now. From what I understand, a degree in Criminal Justice can lead to just about anything within the legal system, depending on how far you take your education and your specialty. So doing this would open a world of possibilities for me. When I say a world of possibilities, I mean I could train to become a detective, a criminal investigator, a crime scene investigator, or even go into the CIA or FBI. Or I could decide to be a teacher or writer on Criminology. The BS is a very basic degree that can support a ton of career choices, and not even just within the area of crime (although that's where my interest is).

However even though it probably will not be boxing me into any choices, I don't want to go into the field blind or without a plan for the future. What sort of jobs I can expect to qualify for starting with the BS is a question I think I need to answer before spending any money. What my long-term specialty will be is another question, but one I think I can afford to be less certain about at this point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I had figured I would continue in philosophy and write and teach, but I think the reality is I just don’t want to. I have a passion for philosophy, but when I think back to my professors and fellow students, I find myself completely unmotivated. I almost forced myself back into the field, but decided that to spend that level of money and energy for a goal I was unconvinced would make me happy would be a mistake.

Anyway one of the careers on the link was criminal investigator. I have always been an analytical person in everything I do, so the reasoning and science element really appeals to me.

Your story sounds so familiar. Like you, I have always had a passion for philosophy, but the prospect of dealing with people like my professors and fellow philosophy students was a real turn-off. Fortunately, while working my way through college, I fell in love with computers and found an exciting and very financially rewarding career. I continued to pursue my interest in philosophy, but in my own way and on my own terms. You may choose to do something similar.

One option you might want to consider is on the job training. Some law enforcement organizations will hire you right now for an entry level position and teach you what you need to know and/or subsidize your education in the areas relevant to your work.

I'm glad you're so fascinated and excited about criminal justice. Choosing a career is a lot like choosing a romantic partner. If the chemistry is there, go for it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Your story sounds so familiar. Like you, I have always had a passion for philosophy, but the prospect of dealing with people like my professors and fellow philosophy students was a real turn-off. Fortunately, while working my way through college, I fell in love with computers and found an exciting and very financially rewarding career. I continued to pursue my interest in philosophy, but in my own way and on my own terms. You may choose to do something similar.

Oh whatever career I choose, I will always be a student of philosophy. I'll be a teacher, too, in my own way.

One option you might want to consider is on the job training. Some law enforcement organizations will hire you right now for an entry level position and teach you what you need to know and/or subsidize your education in the areas relevant to your work.

I'm glad you're so fascinated and excited about criminal justice. Choosing a career is a lot like choosing a romantic partner. If the chemistry is there, go for it!

I still have some more thinking to do about how to proceed. I've been contacted by other universities, but I haven't gotten back in touch with them yet. I was just very impressed by the South University rep, who I learned from his signature is their Assistant Director of Admissions. I will be asking him more about the program, and the career paths in the field.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Grats bborg, it's always satisfying to realize what exactly it is that fulfills your values completely! What brought you to major in philosophy?

I was fascinated with physics in high school. I actually skipped Chemistry and tested out of a year of math one summer so that I could be advanced to Physics and then Advanced Placement Physics in my senior year. In college, however, I was distracted with writing on my web page and developing ideas. I gravitated from being interested in math and physics to being interested in more abstract ideas in general. This was not as big a change as it may sound, because I was always most fascinated with theoretical physics. So to the surprise of everyone who knew me, I changed majors.

As an update, the Admissions person I was speaking to at South University suggested that instead of purusing a BS in CJ, I should just shoot for a MS. I confess I didn't know I would even be able to do that! It just seemed like such a big change in fields that they would want me to start from scratch. Obviously I'm excited about it. Still in the preliminary planning, I'm trying not to drag my feet but I'm slow to make big decisions like this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just as a personal note, a new degree in anything doesn't "lock" you in that field, at all. You can get the degree and still do something else. I think of it as an extra tool in your "toolbelt" of life. I acquired a double-degree BA in philosophy along with my BS in computer science, and I don't intend to use that degree professionally in any way, or have regretted getting in the first place. In the first place getting it provided an enlarged view of myself and of the world (though in my mind only Objectivism counted as philosophy education, not the academic classes); the certificate on paper was a kind of tangible evidence of the new added knowledge. Plus it never failed during engineering interviews to surprise the interviewer with an intense humanities degree such as this, and show my difference to all the rest. There's always a sunny side to things :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's true, and the advisor actually suggested the idea of getting my BS later if I wanted to. Right now, though, I am more interested in gaining the education I need to work in a field I can be productive in and passionate about as soon as possible. Once I'm there, I can make a hobby of earning other degrees if I choose to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s official, I’ll be starting classes Feb 21! It was an option to squeeze in for this week, but I need a little more time to prepare. If things go well, I should have a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice around July ’09.

I decided a good area for me to look into is government intelligence. It’s a pretty big area that includes counterintelligence, counterterrorism, criminal intelligence, cyber intelligence...What initially attracted me to the field is the analytical work, and this would focus on that. What turns me off about criminal investigator or crime scene investigator is the police work. I don’t really care to become a cop. It doesn’t fit my personality, and I’m not sure how I would handle being in the middle of all the violent scenes.

I did a job search on the FBI, and there’s a position called “Intelligence Analyst”. You choose a specialty from what I listed, and it mentioned that it may require some travel abroad. I’ll have to see as I continue researching it, but that seems like a pretty exciting and rewarding line of work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wanted to give an update. Monday marks the end of the first short week (started Thursday). Normally the class week will run Tues-Mon. In this class, we have discussion questions due on Saturday and projects due Sun and Monday. It’s an interesting format that allows you to focus on the material during the week and to use it all to answer specific issues.

For example, the class I’m taking now is on juvenile delinquency, and I handed in a PowerPoint presentation yesterday on things parents can do to prevent delinquent behavior. The idea is you’re giving a presentation to a community after receiving some complaints. You are supposed to cover things like how to address changes in your child’s behavior, what to do to keep them in school and away from “bad crowds”, and confronting drug issues.

To the course’s credit, the assignments are not just spitting back the material. You are supposed to present an original, reasoned argument with examples. However I don’t think the material gives you the background to give fully developed opinions, so some of the responses I’ve seen from other students are just personal speculation.

The material itself is interesting, even if it’s dominated by deterministic theories of human behavior. However I’ve noticed that the inclusion of data and surveys in the text forces the author to offer only ambivalence in his summaries, instead of completely backing any irrational ideas. The text also presents “rational choice” and “life-course” theories that aren’t perfect but are much better. The teacher does not appear to have an agenda, and I think her responses in discussion so far are rather sane.

In all, I'm enjoying the class very much, even though it has its flaws. I'm free to form my own conclusions and speak my mind, which is all I'd ask.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's the description of an assignment due March 2nd.

Tom, who is 14 years old, always seems very tired and has a great deal of difficulty staying awake during school. He appears unclean and has strong body odor, at least partly because he wears the same overcoat to school every day. He even wears the same overcoat in the hottest part of summer. Tom usually puts his lunch leftovers in the pockets of this coat, and is sometimes seen taking leftovers off others' trays and even picking items out of the garbage. A lunch room attendant also thought she saw Tom grab some small packaged food items without paying but was not sure. As an assistant to Tom's school resource officer, you have been asked to look into the matter and understand the reasons for Tom's behavior, with the help of the school social worker.

First, using Word, write an analysis report of about two pages including your observations of the situation and what you suspect the social worker would find in a home assessment. Be as subjective and creative as you want to be here to flesh out all your concerns for yourself.

Then, write a request letter asking the school social worker to do a home assessment for Tom. In your letter, include the following:

Introduce yourself, and make the request in your official capacity.

Provide detailed background on what prompts you to make this request, but also make sure to delineate point by point as objectively as possible.

Conclude by tactfully requesting a response from the social worker within a certain time frame.

Note: The analysis report should focus on your subjective thinking while the letter should focus on objectively communicating your analysis to the social worker. The aim is to communicate what is required in the situation.

Obviously the author of the question is confused about the nature of objective vs. subjective, but it gives you a good idea of the teaching method.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Here's the description of an assignment due March 2nd.
[...]Be as subjective and creative as you want to be here to flesh out all your concerns for yourself.

[...]

Note: The analysis report should focus on your subjective thinking while the letter should focus on objectively communicating your analysis to the social worker. The aim is to communicate what is required in the situation.

Obviously the author of the question is confused about the nature of objective vs. subjective, but it gives you a good idea of the teaching method.

It looks like the author of the question is package-dealing the personal with the subjective -- a common confusion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It looks like the author of the question is package-dealing the personal with the subjective -- a common confusion.

I should be able to work in a note about that in the discussion. As you can imagine, my perspective on the topics has already been different than most, and I've tried really hard to present my ideas concisely and in a helpful manner, without derailing the discussions into issues of metaphysics and epistemology. It would be sooo easy. :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Obviously the author of the question is confused about the nature of objective vs. subjective, but it gives you a good idea of the teaching method.

These are probably the more common uses of these words in traditional writing. And while I hate semantics, I think the meaning somebody is trying to get across should be known before anything else.

The words Objective and Subjective originally pertained to Object and Subject, a Greek construct. But your class is not using them in this sense.

Many times, when a person says subjective, they do not mean it in the Objectivist sense. It sometimes means that it can’t be verified with empirical evidence; or that it has no frame of reference to other things like it; or, in a more abstract sense, that it represents non-material reality.

So personal ideas, for instance, will always be subjective (even if they are correct.)

F.A. Hayek is often criticized for using this definition of subjective. Basically, he said that a large part of economics hinged on human thought and motivation, which by this definition, meant that a large part of economics was subjective.*

The science world still largely uses this definition of subjective; any evidence that hinges on an individual’s personal perspective is considered subjective.

The Objectivist uses of these words (which did not originate with Objectivism) are far cleaner, and well….objective, then these ‘classic’ definitions (I actually don’t know which came first.)

- Ryan

*Hayek also subscribed to the subjectivist view of value; which states that there is no inherent value in a good or service, except what individuals put in them.

There is a certain truth in this, but not in the way that Hayek thinks. This view probably represents the biggest disconnect between Hayek and other major free-market sources; in fact, it carries with it some of the major flaws in Hayek’s philosophy (what little philosophy he did have.)

P.S. – good luck pursuing Criminal Justice :rolleyes: ; I once considered a job in this field (Forensic Psychology and Investigation.)

Can you tell me, what branch of Criminal Justice are you interested in working in?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Can you tell me, what branch of Criminal Justice are you interested in working in?

Well, to be perfectly honest although several ideas made criminal justice appealing to me (investigator, some type of forensics, intelligence), I don't know where I'm going to end up yet. I know myself well enough to know that if I had taken a month or two to consider the different careers, I would have wasted those months and I'd drop the whole idea. When it comes to personal goals, I have a bad habit of idle thinking. I did that for 6 years after I got my BA, and it got me 6 years of bupkiss. So I decided to just dive right in.

I'm leaning toward intelligence, maybe for the FBI, but that may change.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When it comes to personal goals, I have a bad habit of idle thinking. I did that for 6 years after I got my BA, and it got me 6 years of bupkiss. So I decided to just dive right in.

I'm leaning toward intelligence, maybe for the FBI, but that may change.

I understand that. It's not whim-worship :rolleyes:. Sitting around pondering it, even reviewing some brochures and reading some books, wouldn't give you the real sense of what the career is about that enrolling and intensive education, with the guidance of professionals and researchers in that field can. Heck, if you find out a year from now that it really doesn't grab you, you would know that and not regret the decision either way. But I've found that you can have an idea on the front end as to what you want to be when you grow up, then you get involved and some specialty you wouldn't have known anything about, wouldn't have had the background to understand, really grabs you. I know for myself and I've talked to many people who were sure they were going to go into one specialty and, when they actually got into the field, found that it wasn't what they really wanted to do and something else turned out to be perfect for their talents, knowledge, temperament, and situation. Just take the opportunity to check out as many things that interest you in the field that you have time and energy for and are offered.

It's a great field and certainly requires a mind trained to think objectively and in essentials. You've got a great head start. Maybe someday, they'll make a show out of your career.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congratulations on this exciting new work, bborg! Of course I love getting case scenarios such as the one in your assignment and then putting my analytical mind to work. It is also a good exercise in behavioral observation (although not directly of course) and trying to understand what has happened that led to those actions and the psychological significance of them. It sounds like a very interesting class and I wish you well in this!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Heck, if you find out a year from now that it really doesn't grab you, you would know that and not regret the decision either way.

That’s exactly the reason I was able to do this. Even if, when it gets down to the “nitty gritty” (as my mom says) I decide they’re not for me, I’ll have all that experience in the field to carry with me elsewhere.

I won’t lie, it’s been a little frustrating. In high school I was passionate about physics. Actually I was passionate about theoretical physics, between cosmology (friends called it cosmetology on purpose) and quantum mechanics (which I would later discover was just mysticism in the guise of science). However after my first year in college my interest had wandered to philosophy. Then it wandered from philosophy to nothing in particular. My dad is a musician and knew he was going to be a musician ever since he started playing. I “knew” I was going to be a physicist and then “knew” I was going to be a professional philosopher. So I can’t say that I know where I’m headed anymore, only that I know what I love right now. That’s going to have to be good enough

It's a great field and certainly requires a mind trained to think objectively and in essentials. You've got a great head start. Maybe someday, they'll make a show out of your career.

Ha! I can't say I haven't fantasized, I'm always bad about that. I can honestly say, and hopefully this doesn't mean I have delusions of grandeur, that whatever it was I was interested in at the time, I saw myself doing great things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Congratulations on this exciting new work, bborg! Of course I love getting case scenarios such as the one in your assignment and then putting my analytical mind to work. It is also a good exercise in behavioral observation (although not directly of course) and trying to understand what has happened that led to those actions and the psychological significance of them. It sounds like a very interesting class and I wish you well in this!

Yes, I love this sort of analytical work, it's what drew me to the field and I'm so glad that the class incorporates it. I would be so bored if we were expected to simply summarize what we'd read. Actually the assignments, which are divided between discussion questions and the projects, only refer back to the readings very generally. We have a textbook and we're provided with web links to supplement with articles and other information, but we're expected to become familiar with the information on our own and apply it to specific issues not necessarily covered in the reading. I'm sure not all of the classes will work that way, but it's what is retaining my interest so far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites