Exploring Criminal Justice Topics: Restorative Justice

by South University 4 April 2014

For most people in the United States, justice usually can be simplified to mean that an individual is given a fair punishment for a wrong that they have committed. Typically, this justice is delivered through the criminal justice and legal system, with emotions and personal feelings considered outside the purview of providing justice. However, many believe that this approach to criminal justice is lacking. One alternative theory that attempts to address these concerns is known as restorative justice.

Criminal JusticeWhat is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is a philosophy that makes the case that justice should be more than simply punishing a wrongdoing. Instead of focusing on making the criminal pay for their crime, restorative justice seeks to address the harm caused to the victim by requiring retribution that actually benefits the victim.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that traditional justice focuses on determining which laws have been broken and the established appropriate punishment, while restorative justice focuses on who has been hurt by an action, and what actions can be taken to counteract the harm that has been caused.

Restorative Justice in the US

Mediation is one of the most common examples of restorative justice in the United States. In some civil or criminal cases, the victim and the criminal can meet with a trained mediator. During these sessions, the victim can express the ways in which they have been hurt, and the criminal can explain the mindset that led them to commit their crime. While an explanation is not an excuse, understanding someone’s actions and motivation can aid in the healing process.

Often times, mediation is used as an alternative to a formal court proceeding, which can save both parties time and money. However, most importantly for restorative justice, this mediation can reduce the emotional hardship experienced by the victim and even, in some cases, the perpetrator.

Incorporating Multiple Approaches to Justice

Restorative justice is seen by many as a more holistic approach to the justice system. Instead of simply focusing on punishing wrongdoers, restorative justice works to address the mental and emotional needs of victims and criminals. If exercised correctly, restorative justice can reduce recidivism and make society a better place in the long run. Despite the potential benefits, restorative justice is just one philosophy on criminal justice that may not always be applicable, and it is important to note that, in many legal proceedings in the United States, it is not the primary objective.

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Top Careers in Criminal Justice

by South University 15 February 2014

For better or for worse, criminal justice is one sector that is strong regardless of the health of the overall economy. This means that students interested in criminal justice have a lot of options when choosing a career path. Nationally, there are about 3.2 million people employed in the criminal justice industry, earning an average annual salary of $43,050.

Criminal JusticeLaw Enforcement

Law enforcement is a common choice for those interested in criminal justice, as it allows you to directly work to protect citizens. The field is generally focused on making sure the law is enforced while actively working to bring real criminals to justice through the legal system.

Some common jobs within law enforcement include:

• Patrol Officer
• Corrections Officer
• FBI Agent
• Security Officer
• Customs and Border Patrol Agent


Another side of criminal justice involves the study of crimes, victims and social reactions to crime. As there are many ways you can work to prevent or solve crime, a variety of personnel fall under the criminology group, including investigators and profilers.

Career paths and job opportunities in this industry include:

• Criminologist
• Criminal Profiler
• Intelligence Analyst
• Forensic Interview Specialist
• Criminal Records Analyst

Social Services

After an arrest and legal proceedings are completed, much of the work in criminal justice involves making sure individuals that go through the system don’t return to their old habits. This is where social work side comes into play. Social workers serve a variety of functions, but they most often serve as a counselor and accountability partner for juveniles and adults who are trying to get their lives back on track. Social workers can provide guidance and support for those who are struggling to improve their lives, and they serve a vital function within the criminal justice system. In addition, some professionals in social services work closely with victims and victim advocacy.

Administration and Policy

In addition to those more visible in the criminology and law enforcement professions, there are a number of people working behind the scenes in criminal justice. Management positions at any law enforcement agency often start with a degree. Advisory roles play an important part in determining when and how law enforcement personnel are utilized. Policy decisions can affect the number of new law enforcement agents hired, profiling techniques used in the field, the creation of new interview techniques and more. Those with a graduate degree in criminal justice may find a career in advising law makers about policy, or perhaps take on another leadership role in administration or policy.

Read More: http://www.criminaljusticedegreeonline.net/careers/

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Cyber crime is on the rise. How can you stay safe online?

by South University 7 November 2013

With cyber crime and the related costs continuing to rise in the US, it's time we take notice and take action to avoid being a victim. Cyber crimes include online credit card fraud, phishing scams and identity theft. While such crimes can take many shapes and forms, here are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself.


Cyber Security

By using a password that is your name, birthday, child's name or something similar, you're making it easier for others to gain access. Instead, use different characters, capital letters and numbers to make your passwords more complex.

One trick is to pick a sentence you'll remember and use the first letters of each word in the sentence. To make it harder to crack, add a number or character at the end. For example, if your sentence is "My first dog's name was Spot," your password could be MfdnwS%. Another thing to consider is using multiple passwords, so that even if one password is compromised the rest will still be safe.


Avoid clicking on pop-up ads that appear while you're browsing online. While some are just harmless ads, others may be an attempt to gain access to your information. If a pop-up asks you to enter your password or username, the best thing to do is usually to ignore it.

Anti-Virus Software

Anti-virus software is one of the best ways to protect yourself from malware and viruses. If you're using your computer for banking or business, you should have software to help detect and eliminate harmful programs that could be out to steal your data. Norton is one of the most common brands of anti-virus software.

Bad Neighborhoods

In the real world, hanging out in bad neighborhoods makes you more likely to be a victim of a crime. The Internet works the same way. If you visit or download content from unsecure or unverified sites, you are at a higher risk of becoming a victim of a cyber crime. The same goes for opening emails, email attachments or social media messages from people or sites you don't know. When you're shopping online or using personal information, make sure the URL appears as https:// site instead of http://. The s stands for secure.

On the Lookout

When your bank or credit card statements come in, check them for suspicious transactions. If you watch for abnormalities, you have a much better chance of spotting cyber fraud before it becomes a major problem. If you notice anything that seems odd, contact your financial institution and make them aware of the issue as soon as possible. They may put a freeze on your account or stop payments to keep the fraudulent activity from happening.

Interested in learning more about cyber crime or other topics in Criminal Justice? Explore our Criminal Justice degree programs.


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Electronic Monitoring Trends in Criminal Justice

by South University 23 July 2013

Electronic monitoring has comes a long way since 1983, when Judge Jack Love, inspired by a Spiderman comic, slapped an electronic monitor on a defendant and sentenced him to house arrest. By the late 1980s, the concept had grown in popularity, but many still had concerns on whether electronic monitoring was a step toward a civilized future or an undesirable invasion of privacy.

Scales of justice

Since then, electronic monitoring has spread rapidly across the country as crowded courts and over-crowded jails required creative solutions. At approximately one-sixth the cost of imprisonment, electronic monitoring is one alternative to jail time, and advances in technology give criminal justice professionals a variety of monitoring systems to choose from. Let's look at a few.

Types of Electronic Monitoring

RF Monitors: The most common monitor is the RF "ankle bracelet." The radio-frequency transmits a periodic signal to a base station attached to a phone line. If the offender gets too far from the receiver, it sends an alarm either to the monitoring contractor or to the probation officer.

GPS Monitors: Offenders can be tracked in real time through a GPS unit either in the ankle bracelet or in a cell phone accessory. Contractors or court service officers can log in and find the offender at any time. GPS can be combined with RF units for extra security.

Drug and Alcohol Monitors: Common in drunk driving and drug cases, the substance monitoring bracelets periodically sample the wearer's perspiration and then run it through a device similar to a breathalyzer. The results are transmitted to the service center and positive results reported to the court.

Cell Phone Breathalyzers: Courts and criminal justice programs also use portable breath-testers to monitor for alcohol usage. The system sends out a call and the client has a limited time to blow into the phone's attachment. The cell phone camera snaps the client's photo to prevent cheating. Results are calculated immediately and transmitted to the contacts programmed into the phone.

The Results

As courts seek to find alternatives to incarceration, especially for non-violent substance abuse violations, electronic monitoring will continue to grow and evolve with technology. At least in Florida, electronic monitoring may be working. In 2011, the National Institute of Justice published a study entitled “Electronic Monitoring Reduces Recidivism” that found "electronic monitoring reduces offenders' risk of failure by 31 percent" in the state of Florida. With these and other studies showing the efficacy of the units, it appears that electronic monitoring may be here to stay.

What is Electronic Home Monitoring? 
Not Just for the Drunk and Famous: Ankle Bracelets That Monitor AlcoholThe New York Times
Electronic Monitoring Reduces Recidivism, U.S. Department of Justice
Brief History of House Arrest and Electronic Monitoring, Northern Kentucky Law Review 
You're Grounded! How do you qualify for house arrest?

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Learn about your options for studying Criminal Justice at South University!

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: How to Be Part of the Solution

by South University 17 April 2013

April was officially dedicated to the eradication of sexual violence in 2001, with the goal of educating both individuals and communities on how to raise awareness and participate in prevention and advocacy efforts. However, by 2001, the month had been known for advocacy activities for more than a decade, starting with Take Back the Night marches and the establishment of Sexual Assault Awareness Week in the 1980s. In 2001, The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and Resource Sharing Project (RSP) took leading roles in expanding the awareness campaign to a full month.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month logo

Recognize the Problem

Sexual violence is a serious problem in society and one that is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood. Thankfully with programs such as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, attitudes are changing. Each year, the month selects a campaign on which to focus, with the 2013 campaign focused on preventing child abuse.

While the majority of victims aren’t children, it is the attitudes we develop at these ages that mold our responses to threats as an adult. Sexual Assault Awareness Month asks groups and individuals to address these issues both with kids and parents. By focusing on teaching safe, healthy behaviors and attitudes to these populations, we can maximize our advocacy efforts.

Talk About It, Early and Often

Talk Early, Talk Often

Preventing abuse often starts with education. As adults, it’s important to talk to children about setting boundaries and their right to privacy. Adults should also allow children to make their own decisions about showing affection. For example, children should decide whether they prefer to give a high five or handshake instead of a hug. As an adult, you can teach children polite ways of refusing kisses, hugs and other forms of affection they may not be comfortable receiving. Assault survivors often lament staying in dangerous situations out of fear they might overreact and hurt someone else’s feelings. Thus, teach children to respect their instincts and their right (as well as everyone else’s right) to privacy and control over their bodies.

Parents and adults should also allow for open communication with children and honestly answer questions as they arise. A child who feels scared to talk about these issues faces another obstacle to seeking help. Adults should also learn the warning signs of abuse, and be prepared to speak out when needed. Although it can be difficult to speak up, especially if the adult is someone you know, you should always report suspected abuse to the police, child protective service or a local or national hotline.