Criminology is a field of criminal science that collects and analyzes information on crime and criminal behavior. It is strongly connected to psychology and sociology. In criminology, the suffix “ology” denotes a field of study. It is a social science that examines how people behave with regards to offenses and criminal activities.
The main goals of criminology are to evaluate the types of crimes that are committed, their statistics, the criminal conduct that leads individuals to engage in crimes and crime prevention. The study of criminology is incredibly intriguing since it examines both the psychology of crime and its behavior using scientific methods.
It also discusses the social factors of crime and provides an explanation for why crimes occur in the world. The how, why, when and where of crime are topics that you will learn about through a criminology education. Criminologists utilize their specific expertise to create guidelines and techniques that aid in combating and preventing crime.
Criminologists look at a number of related disciplines, which include but are not limited to the following:
Studying traits and characteristics of different offenders.
- Exploring the various causes of criminal behavior.
- Understanding the consequences of crimes on people and societies.
- Identifying techniques for reducing criminal behavior and consequent crimes.
Criminology is essentially divided into three sub-disciplines. These include:
- Criminal etiology, which examines how crimes are caused,
- Sociology, which examines the social aspects of crimes, and
- Penology, which examines how crimes are prevented.
Brief history of criminology
The history of criminology begins with an effort to modernize the penal and criminal justice systems more than 200 years ago. The first gathering and utilization of crime statistics in the 19th century established the foundation for a number of increasingly complex tools and techniques, which eventually gave rise to the predictive analytics, descriptive statistics, typologies and case studies we use today.
Role of criminologists
Criminologists examine a variety of viewpoints about the origins and effects of crime in their study. According to the interdisciplinary approach used by criminologists, people do not indulge in criminal behavior due to a single reason. In fact, a series of events or reasons motivate an individual to commit a crime. At present, factors might be social, psychological, biological or economic. Greed, rage, envy and arrogance are among the most common emotional drivers of criminal behavior. Other frequently reported feelings also include desire for power, control, retaliation or monetary gain. The following list includes some possible root causes or driving forces behind criminal behavior:
- Parents’ relationships.
- Genetics and mental activity.
- Alcohol and drug addiction.
- Influence by others.
- Hormonal and chemical imbalances.
- Peer influence.
- An easy opportunity.
What is criminal justice?
Criminal justice is the framework of laws, regulations and organizations created to hold offenders accountable for their crimes and aid in the maximum amount of victim restoration. There is no solitary criminal justice system in the United States. Instead, there are several independent systems that cooperate. The governing body determines how they operate, whether it is a tribal, federal, state, county, city government or military installation. Depending on the area of jurisdiction, there may be different statutes, authorities and proceedings. Criminal justice systems function at both the state and federal levels, depending on where the crime occurred.
Many people immediately picture police forces when asked what criminal justice is, but the field actually includes a lot more than simply law enforcement. The criminal justice system is composed of three main parts:
- Law enforcement: Specialists in criminal justice who identify and locate lawbreakers and enforce the rules. Programs and initiatives aimed at deterring criminal conduct are also included in this category.
- Correctional institutes: Detainment, punishment and rehabilitation of lawbreakers and offenders are the responsibilities of correctional institutions.
- The court/judicial system: The legal system protects witnesses and victims who come forward to participate in court procedures while also prosecuting and defending against criminal charges. The judicial system is also in charge of researching existing laws that forbid or punish activity and establishing new ones.
Different roles for criminal justice professionals
Hardworking, dedicated and highly qualified or trained workers are essential to law enforcement organizations, prisons and courts. Detailed information about the various criminal justice specialists who strive to enforce the legislation, safeguard the public and establish a just culture is found below.
- A profession in law enforcement
Police officers monitor their designated regions and report any illegal behavior they see. They make arrests, investigate offenses, acquire evidence and testify in court. Careers in law enforcement often fall into one of the following categories: sheriffs, police officers, police detectives, patrol officers, police investigators and federal agent officers. The majority of entry-level police officer positions require graduation from high school or a GED; however, recruiting criteria varies.
- Court-related professions
Attorneys who analyze the evidence and decide whether to press charges against a person are known as prosecutors, both at the federal and state levels. They present court cases, cross-examine witnesses, and, most importantly, must prove the guilt of the defendant in order to achieve a conviction.
Defense attorneys for accused criminal defendants are seated on the other side of the courtroom. These attorneys ensure that their clients are adequately represented throughout the court procedures. Defense lawyers defend persons charged with a crime, while prosecutors represent the state.
On the prosecution’s side, as well as the defense’s, there are many different kinds of lawyers, including federal defenders, city attorneys, attorneys general, alternate public defenders, county public defenders and district attorneys. In addition to attorneys, various other professions lead and assist in courtroom procedures to support the criminal justice system, including judges, court officers, victim advocates, court clerks, paralegals, process servers, witness coordinators and court reporters.
- Careers in corrections
The network of organizations in charge of monitoring persons who are imprisoned as well as those on bail, probation or rehabilitation is known as corrections. Depending on the seriousness of the crime and the offender’s past, the offender may be imprisoned or sentenced to various forms of punishment.
In less serious situations, criminals may be sentenced to probation instead of prison. During this time, they must regularly check in with their probation officers and may also be required to pay penalties or complete community service. Some criminals may be put on parole and closely monitored after being released from jail and allowed to complete the duration of their terms in their communities.
Many professionals focus their work on the criminal justice system’s correctional division, where they assist in supervising and rehabilitating criminal defendants. The following roles are included in the correctional division: corrections counselors, corrections officers, parole officers, probation officers, wardens and rehabilitation specialists.
How can someone pursue a career in the field of criminal sciences?
Due to the increasing level of crime in society today, many people are interested in working as criminal justice professionals. Whether they serve as police officers, investigators, social workers or criminologists, each role provides the public with an essential service. People with degrees in criminal justice have a wide range of professional options within the criminal justice system.
The first step to pursuing a career in criminal justice is to earn a degree in the respective subject. A criminal justice degree is an interdisciplinary study. It combines several disciplines, including sociology, psychology, law and public administration. Through a degree in criminology or criminal justice, you will learn how the legal system functions and gain an appreciation of the system from the viewpoints of both offenders and victims.
Many students decide to continue their legal careers, while some may opt to work in politics or go into academia to teach criminal justice. A four-year Bachelor’s degree followed by a Master’s degree in criminology or criminal justice also enhances the possibility of higher income and career growth. Studying a specifically designed curriculum will help you develop the skills necessary to become a competent professional.
With the changes brought about by Covid-19, online education has become a widely accepted mode of instruction. An online criminal justice degree is also the ideal educational option for those currently working or with hectic schedules. The online degree program at Central Christian College of Kansas is built to be flexible and provide the best possible education – if you are considering a professional career in criminology vs criminal justice, you can begin your studies at any time and transfer credits from other colleges so that you can complete your degree on your schedule.
What do students who pursue degrees in criminology learn?
You will investigate and theorize about crime as part of your criminology degree. As this degree program draws from the disciplines of psychology, sociology, scientific research and law, your curriculum will cover various topics. You will study the reasons for crime in-depth in your lectures, taking into account economic, social, biological and psychological aspects. Additionally, you will review public policy, social science and the criminal justice system.
Careers in criminology
After earning your criminology degree, you will have a wide range of professional opportunities. These include:
- Forensic science technician.
- Criminal profiler.
- Criminal psychologist.
- Jury consultant.
- Criminal attorney.
- Public policy lawmaker.
- Private detective.
- Clinical social worker.
What do students who pursue degrees in criminal justice learn?
You will learn about the three components of the American criminal justice system, including policing, prisons and the courts if you enroll in a criminal justice program. You will study the prison system, become familiar with the fundamentals of criminal law, delve deeply into the details of criminal proceedings, and engage in discussions about crime-related ethics, sociology and psychology. You may anticipate taking the following courses as part of your degree program:
- Criminal law.
- Criminal justice ethics.
- Administration of police.
- Juvenile justice.
- Counterterrorism and terrorism.
- Crisis management.
Many programs also offer a selection of broad electives to assist you in expanding your studies in specific disciplines in addition to the basic topics mentioned above. Here are a few examples of possible electives for you to consider:
- Investigations and evidence.
- Drugs and criminal justice.
- Community corrections.
- Disordered/abnormal psychology
A degree in criminal justice will prepare you for a variety of law enforcement careers. You may be protecting the streets as a police officer, investigating crimes as an investigator or detective, protecting data through cybersecurity or appearing in court as a lawyer. Whether you care about ensuring the country’s or your neighborhood’s safety, a criminal justice curriculum will prepare you to do so.
The relationship between criminology and criminal justice
Criminal justice and criminology play vital roles in identifying and investigating offenses as previously illustrated. Both are interconnected and substantially rely on one another to fully convey their significance. The study of already developed and established statutory sets of legal concepts is known as criminal justice. These theories were developed using research and data that criminologists accumulated through statistical data and studies. Criminology has had a significant impact on the criminal justice system. It has significantly advanced several criminal justice doctrines.
Criminology’s main goal is to create globally accepted definitions and guiding principles for offenses, their investigation, their punishment and their prevention. Criminology is often a critique of the law and is as ancient as the criminal justice system. Criminology has a critical perspective of the law and how it is applied rather than concentrating on the criminal justice system and other concepts relating to criminal justice. Justice and criminal law-related concepts are given less weight in this course of study.
Criminology and criminal justice are conceptually and practically intertwined despite being separate disciplines. The main distinction between criminal justice and criminology from the perspective of future law enforcement and criminologists is that criminal justice is focused more on practical implementation and administration. In contrast, criminology focuses on the science and study of crime.
Criminology versus criminal justice
There has often been a debate between criminology vs criminal justice because there is a lot in both fields that coincide. However, it is important to note that these are two closely linked but separate fields. The study of crimes and their various factors is called criminology, whereas criminal justice is the application of criminology.
There are several authorities in the criminal justice system. It consists of multiple multi-disciplinary units that function at every level, from entry-level to the upper-elite level. Criminal justice looks for the reasons why crimes happen, enforces the law, investigates the offense, punishes the criminal and attempts to give victims justice. It also aims to help criminals become better citizens.
Forensic science specialists who typically use forensic science to identify the offender are considered experts in criminal justice and criminology because they investigate and analyze criminal behavior and research aspects of the crime.
Criminal justice and criminology share a deep connection. Both are necessary for attorneys and law enforcement officials who work with the behavior of offenders and other facets of offenses. Criminologists primarily concentrate on a crime’s social and behavioral elements. They frequently look for trends in criminal behavior.
Criminal justice is a well-established judicial framework that investigates crimes, apprehends offenders, detains them in custody and prosecutes those convicted of a crime. Law enforcement organizations and criminal justice are inextricably interwoven because their prime objective is to identify offenses and detain individuals who are suspected of committing them. On the contrary, criminology is the in-depth study of criminals’ genesis, motivation and psychological inclinations, as well as the impact of criminal activity on society among other factors.
Criminologists and criminal law specialists each have their own respective fields. They specialize in a certain area. Criminal law specialists focus on the legal and criminal justice systems, law enforcement organizations, the juvenile court system and correctional facilities, including rehabilitation centers and jails. Criminal law’s primary goals are to apprehend offenders and deliver justice to those who seek it. It operates using a set theory.
Criminology is a different study domain that aims to investigate crime and its patterns at the local level. It researches criminal propensities and the immediate impact of crimes on the community. It also seeks to analyze the effectiveness of institutions for penalty and rehabilitation.
Different careers in criminal justice
Based on your own preferences and desired career path, you have a wide range of employment opportunities after earning a degree in criminal justice. A criminal justice degree provides the fundamental knowledge required for any job on this list, even if certain law enforcement occupations also require additional schooling or specialized training. You may train to become:
- FBI agent.
- Police officer.
- Security guard.
- Correctional officer.
- DEA agent.
- Prison officer.
- Paralegal or legal assistant.
- Homeland security employee.
- Parole or probation officer.
- Juvenile counselor.
- Police detective.
- Forensic investigator.
- Fingerprint technician.