Spring 2022  |  SOC 3101 Section 001: Sociological Perspectives on the Criminal Justice System (53537)

Class Component:
3 Credits
Grading Basis:
A-F or Audit
Instructor Consent:
No Special Consent Required
Instruction Mode:
In Person Term Based
Class Attributes:
UMNTC Liberal Education Requirement
Times and Locations:
Regular Academic Session
01/18/2022 - 05/02/2022
Mon 05:30PM - 08:00PM
UMTC, West Bank
Hanson Hall 1-106
Enrollment Status:
Open (78 of 80 seats filled)
Also Offered:
Course Catalog Description:
This course introduces students to a sociological account of the U.S. criminal justice system. We will critically examine the components, dynamics, and effects of policing, criminal courts, community supervision, jails, and prisons. Throughout the course, we focus on sociological understandings of these processes, with particular attention to ethnic, racial, class, and gender inequalities as well as long-term problems associated with the high rate of criminal justice supervision in the U.S. prereq: [SOC 1001] recommended, Sociology majors/minors must register A-F
Class Notes:
Click this link for more detailed course information: http://classinfo.umn.edu/?barr0325+SOC3101+Spring2022
Class Description:

This course will introduce you to sociological perspectives on crime and punishment in the United States. We will cover the major stages of the criminal justice process- from investigations and prosecutions to courts and punishment- and beyond.

Within the stages of the criminal justice process, the sociological imagination is especially useful in enabling a macro-level perspective on what are commonly seen as micro-level issues that individuals involved in the criminal justice system face. We will discuss how race, gender, and socioeconomic status matter throughout the various stages of the criminal justice process. Additionally, sociological theories will be applied throughout the course to deepen your sociological understanding.

The course meets the Council on Liberal Education's (CLE) Civic Life and Ethics Theme. As such, this course provides an opportunity to become more critical and thoughtful about the world around you and, in the process, to become more engaged in public life, whether that be through voting, serving on a jury, participating in politics, or pursuing a criminal justice career. As a Civic Life and Ethics Theme requirement, this course provides you with the tools to evaluate central moral questions including: what is crime? Who is a criminal?
Is the U.S. system of punishment fair? How do we, as a society, respond to racial and ethnic inequalities in the criminal justice system? These questions are not just factual, but also ethical- and they may provoke strong feelings and controversy. We will spend the semester working through these controversies, and this course will help you learn how to move beyond your individual "gut reactions" to issues and to consider the broader research evidence from sociology, psychology, anthropology, and law in evaluating criminal justice patterns and policies. Not only will you be learning the central sociological literature on the criminal justice system through readings and lecture, but you will grapple with these issues yourself through class discussion, small group work, and written exams. In the process, this course will train you in how to think sociologically, digest and reformulate research findings, and use the research literature to come to your own opinions and build your own sociological arguments.

Who Should Take This Class?:
Anyone interested in learning about and examining the criminal justice system. Also, the course meets the Council on Liberal Education's (CLE) Civic Life and Ethics Theme.
Learning Objectives:

After completing this course you should:

  • Have developed a comprehensive understanding of the criminal justice process in the United States from start to finish.

  • Be able to critically evaluate the way crime and punishment are portrayed in mainstream media, recognizing the larger social forces operating around the issues.

  • Apply sociological theories to the criminal justice process in the United States.


10% Attendance & Participation

10% Engagement (daily quizzes on the readings)

20% Research Paper

30% Midterm Exam

30% Final Exam

Exam Format:
multiple choice, short answer, essay
Class Format:
40% Lecture
40% Discussion
20% Other Style Guest speakers
20-40 Pages Reading Per Week
4-10 Pages Writing Per Term
2 Exam(s)
1 Paper(s)
Weekly quizzes
Instructor Supplied Information Last Updated:
22 January 2022

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