Introduction to Criminal Justice Studies Tips

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What are Some Important Criminal Justice Terms?

Criminal Justice Lexicon

Every field has its own lexicon, or vocabulary, that is relevant to its study and practice. Criminal justice is no different. When you begin a degree program in criminal justice; specifically if you have no prior background in the field, it can be very overwhelming to hear and be expected to quickly learn all of these terms and implement them.

If you are interested in studying criminal justice that you do some quick and easy research to familiarize yourself with the language used, so that you will not be completely in the dark when you begin classes. This can be particularly important if you are earning your degree online, where less availability to field-related language and conversations will exist.

What Do I Have to Do to Work with Youth in the Criminal Justice System?

Youth in Criminal Justice

Juvenile Justice is an ever growing area of study for criminal justice majors. While juvenile justice studies can lead to a rewarding career on some levels, the difficulties and sometimes heart-wrenching realities of this kind of work cannot be ignored. If you are interested in working with youth in the criminal justice system, it is recommended that you review the website for The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. This will provide you more information on preventative measures and employment opportunities in this area of work with juveniles. Additionally, speak with employees who work on the "after effects" end of the crime infiltrating juveniles in cities around the country. Preventative work is quite different than working with teens who are already in the system.

What are Some Common Issues in Criminal Justice?

Issues in Criminal Justice

One of the important issues to consider in criminal justice (specifically if you are interested in the corrections, criminal, forensic or homeland security components) is the amount of "reality" you are able to consume in a given day. Many jobs that sound glamorous on paper can also be quite painful to experience at times. For instance, if you are not used to seeing death, crime beset upon vulnerable populations and unexplainable traumas, it may be difficult for you to practice this kind of work. While it is easy in theory to say that we want to "save the world" or "make a difference," this kind of vast change in society is not possible in the way that we may think it is prior to working in the field.

That being said, however, work in the area of criminal justice can also be rewarding. It can be a good feeling to know that you are trying -as an individual-to right some of society's wrongs. But it cannot be emphasized enough that one's ability to leave work at work, to have a physical/spiritual/relational outlet through which to make meaning of these difficult circumstances, or at least to let them go, is essential to any success in the field.

It's a good idea to interview people already in the field, but also keep an open mind to what they have to say about their experiences. It is easy to put that idealistic veneer on one's ability to listen. If you are able to take in the realities of what criminal justice professionals have to say and to recognize your ability to grapple with these issues in a way that keeps you healthy, then the field may very well be a great one for you to consider!

What Should I Know in Terms of Job Attainment About the Criminal Justice Field?

Criminal Justice Field: Job Attainment

The criminal justice field, which often involves government work, is an interesting animal. While education can always be an integral element in a job search (especially if you do not already have your bachelor degree), it is difficult to assess whether higher degree programs (other than if you are interested in university or criminology work, that is) are always the best road in which to break into the field.

Since the criminal justice field is rapidly expanding, especially related to homeland security management and increased fears of terrorist attacks, jobs are immediately available. Since there are too few incoming grads with appropriate degrees, many of these jobs are going to people already in the field-even retired military men and women. If you already have a job in a related field, it is recommended that you look into your career options and opportunity for upward movement prior to obtaining your degree. It is not uncommon for government groups/agencies to pay for higher education, when needed, for valued employees.

What is the Importance of Knowing your Career Plans prior to Obtaining a Criminal Justice Degree?

Criminal Justice Field: Knowing Your Career Plans

You should put in a great deal of time and research (in the way of contacting schools, reading literature, interviewing people in the field) prior to determining which area of criminal justice in which you want to focus your education (and ultimately career). This decision can greatly affect the specific degree level and program to which you apply. For example, if you are interested in criminology, you'd better be ready for the study long-haul, as a PhD is generally required. It should also be noted that level of degree and time in school is not always an accurate determinate of how much money you will make upon graduation. Jobs and place of work vary in terms of pay scale. The good news is that most criminal justice jobs (especially those working for the government) come with great benefits. And don't feel pressured to decide today what you want to do, as it is better to take a little longer to make a decision and to have a more fruitful and fulfilling career life.

What Should I Know About "Criminal Justice" Prior to Degree Attainment?

Criminal Justice as a Broad Term

It cannot be emphasized enough that the term "criminal justice" is a very broad term for many specialties and/or career endeavors. For example, Paralegal Studies, Forensic Science, Legal Studies, Corrections (to name a few) ALL fall under the criminal justice category. It is highly recommended that prior to just signing up for a "criminal justice" degree program that you research emphasized curriculum and area(s) of focus. That is why it is important to know your career goals prior to seeking out your degree program (and definitely prior to fronting your valuable time and money into something this important).

What Should I Know About Women and Criminal Justice?

Women in Criminal Justice

In terms of jobs and degree offerings for women in criminal justice, the opportunities are numerous. If you are interested in the field, you can break in -with the right degree and/or experience-in any of the previously described specialty areas.

If you are interested in the study of women and criminal justice behaviors and/or patterns, the research is more sparse. Women are less reported and researched in terms of criminal patterns and/or behaviors, so this means two things: the existing literature on women/criminal behaviors is limited AND the field is wide open for you budding professors and researchers out there. The Texas Woman's University's "Women and Criminal Justice" website offers statistical pattern data, domestic violence victim/perpetrator information, international data, women in law and so on. This page is not only comprehensive, but, again, a good depiction of some of the data you could expect to study if you chose to focus your higher degree in the area of women in criminal justice. The most important element of this site is that it offers countless links to other, more detailed, information.

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