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Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Criminology

Main class page has additional info

CRM 611: The Sociology of Crime & Its Correction             Tues 4:00-6:40

Dr P. S. Leighton

Office: 712 Pray Harrold, x 0012

Hours: Tues 3 – 4; Thurs 6 –7 or by appointment

Please feel free to approach me & ask a question when I am in the Mudd House coffee shop, or drop me an e-mail


This seminar takes an in depth and critical look at the problems currently facing our criminal justice system and the ‘wars’ it is fighting in response to them. We will examine whether the system is effectively combating the most serious threats to our well-being and solutions to preventing crime. The goals of this seminar are to develop [1] a deeper understanding of how the system works (or fails) [2] better research skills related to claims about crime, law and public policy and [3] both written and oral skills in communicating about criminal justice issues.


William Adler. Land of Opportunity: One Family’s Quest for the American Dream in the Age of Crack. Plume/Penguin, 1996.

Oshinsky, David. 1996. Worse Than Slavery: Parchman farm and the ordeal of Jim Crow justice. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Jeff Reiman. The Rich Get Richer & the Poor Get Prison, 6th edition. Allyn & Bacon, 2001.

David Simon. Elite Deviance, 6th edition. Allyn & Bacon, 1999.

Currie, Elliott. 1998. Crime and Punishment in America. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt


30% Attendance, participation & weekly papers

25% Research Assignments

20% Paper 1: Elite Deviance

25% Final paper

Weekly papers: The idea of this paper is to ensure students have done the reading and some level of reflection on it as preparation for class. Thus, it is important to have them ready at the start of class and turn them in ON TIME. As the quality of this seminar rests on participation and everyone is expected to be a co-teacher, attendance is crucial. The weekly paper should be about 2 pages, and include a quote or so from most of the assigned chapters. After the quote, tell me why you found it significant – was it good or bad? Did it raise important questions? Did it answer something you’ve wondered about? Do NOT give me a summary of the reading; I’m asking for quotes and reactions.

There are 5 research assignments worth 5 points each. These are based on internet exercises and intended to help you become familiar with some important data sources on the internet. Please remember that one goal of Internet based research assignments is to increase you ability to use it for research. For this reason, I expect each person to spend time in front of the computer doing their own work; do not pass on or ask classmates for a printed copy of the relevant pages.

Paper #1 on elite deviance should be 10 pages and is described in the Schedule of Classes below.

Final paper should be 15 pages. The specific topics to be included in the paper are discussed in the Schedule of Classes below.

For both papers, references should be in a consistent, generally recognized format. The use of sub-headings is strongly encouraged to help organize the paper. I will gladly read rough drafts and return them with my comments (expect about one week turn around time).

Education involves not just getting a degree but a search for truth, which requires honesty and personal integrity. Thus, students at all times will behave in accordance with EMU’s policy on Academic Integrity forbidding such activities as plagiarism, fraud, cheating and knowingly assisting another student who is engaged in one of these acts. Penalties can affect both your grade in this class and your continued presence at the university.


SCHEDULE OF CLASSES: Please note that the schedule does not contain additional required readings from the internet. Please consult my webpage – - for additional internet readings and the details of the research assignments.

NOTE: some assignments for future weeks require browser plug-ins like Adobe Acrobat. I advise you to do a test to see if your computer can read .pdf documents, and if not, then take a few minutes to get and install the download. Links to Adobe are provided by all the sites that use .pdf format.

1/9 Introduction & greeting

1/16 OSHINSKY, ch 1-3

due: weekly paper.

1/23 OSHINSKY, ch 4 - 8

due: weekly paper.

Assignment #1 from Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online – see webpage for details

1/30 OSHINSKY, finish; start ADLER, p 1 - 100

due: weekly paper

2/6 ADLER, p 101- 264

due: weekly paper

Assignment #2 from the Uniform Crime Reports – see webpage for details

2/13 ADLER, finish; REIMAN, Intro & Ch 1.

due: weekly paper, which should include the internet reading ‘What Every American Should Know About the Criminal Justice System’. See my webpage for the link and list what you thought were the three most important points they made.

2/20 REIMAN ch 2 & 3; SIMON, 1-2

due: weekly paper

Assignment #3 on elite deviance - see my webpage for details

2/27 REIMAN ch 4 & Conclusion; SIMON, ch 3-4

due: weekly paper


3/13 SIMON, 5-8

due: weekly paper

Assignment #4 on elite deviance - see my webpage for details

3/20 SIMON, finish

due: PAPER 1. This project should be about 10 pages on a topic of your choice related to elite deviance. Your paper should have a description of the subject area, a discussion of the causal dynamics and it must include ideas for prevention. Simon cannot be your only source and the required text should not be a major source of information.

3/27 CURRIE, Introduction, Ch 1-2

due: weekly paper.

4/3 CURRIE, ch 3-4

due: weekly paper

Assignment #5 on crime prevention - see my webpage for details

4/10 CURRIE, ch 5 – conclusion

due: weekly paper.

4/17 final due

due: final paper

This assignment should be about 15 pages and is on the topic of what is (or isn’t) being done about the ‘crime problem’ – and what should be done. The paper should provide an overview of what you see as the crime problem, what legislation is being discussed at the federal and state level, and what legislation you would propose. Please organize your paper along the following lines:

Introduction: what is America’s ‘crime problem’?

Review of Federal Legislation

Review of State Legislation

Your proposed legislation

The webpage for this class has specific instructions and links to review criminal justice legislation. These sections should not include an extensive list of bills. Rather, try to summarize various approaches to crime control, then mention the bills and their particulars in this context. Be sure to include an assessment of whether, overall, the legislative bodies are engaged in effective and meaningful law making about crime.


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