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Criminal and Social Justice

by K. Strittmater

Course Description

Examination and explanation of crime including sociological, economic, psychological, and biological theories of crime causation; theories examined in light of criminal justice data.

PREREQUISITE: CJUS 1100, either CJUS2226 or CJUS 2326 or CJUS 2426, and CJUS 3130

Syllabus and Student Agreement

Tentative Topical Outline

Professor Contact Information

Dr. Sheri Jenkins Keenan

Professor Sheri Jenkins Keenan

Office Hours
  • Tuesday 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Thursday 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. 
Preferred Method of Contact

 The Professor's preferred method of contact is via email:

Emails will be returned within 24 hours on weekdays and 48 hours on weekends. 

Required Reading/Books



Pick one of the following:

Reference books are great for finding:

  • definitions of terms, theories, and concepts
  • background information and historical context of a topic 
  • a list of references that may lead to more sources of information on your topic

How to find books at our Lambuth Campus:

  1. Go to the Lambuth Library Homepage.
  2. Click on Classic Catalog. 
  3. Enter a keyword or words into the search box.

​Want to just browse the library book shelves to explore all the books on criminology?

Just go to the 2nd floor of the library and look for the HV section. See the Library of Congress (LC) call number list below. 

Example: If you are researching the topic of drug abuse, you would find the HV section and then look for the 5800s. 

**See box below for specific call numbers related to criminal justice.

HV40-4000 Social service; social work; social public welfare

HV4023-4470 Poor in cities. Slums

HV4480-4630 Mendicancy; Vagabondism; Homelessness

HV5800-5840 Drug habits; Drug abuse

HV6001-7220 Criminology

HV6035-6197 Criminal anthropology; Including criminal types, criminal psychology, prison psychology, causes of crime

HV6201-6249 Criminal classes

HV6250-6250 Victims of crimes. Victimology

HV6251-6773 Crimes and offenses

HV6774-7220.5 Crimes and criminal classes

HV7231-9960 Criminal justice administration

HV7428 Social work with delinquents and criminals

HV7431 Prevention of crime, methods, etc.

HV7435-7439 Gun control

HV7551-8280.7 Police. Detectives. Constabulary

HV7935-8025 Administration and organization

HV8031-8080 Police duty. Methods of protection

HV8035-8069 Special classes of crimes, offenses and criminals

HV8073-8079.35 Investigation of crimes. Examination and identification of prisoners

HV8079.2-8079.35 Police social work

HV8079.5-8079.55 Traffic control. Traffic accident investigation

HV8081-8099 Private detectives. Detective bureaus

HV8130-8280.7 By region or country

HV8290-8291 Private security services

HV8301-9920.7 Penology. Prisons. Corrections

HV9051-9230.7 The juvenile offender. Juvenile delinquency.Reform schools, etc.

HV9261-9430.7 Reformation and reclamation of adult prisoners

HV9441-9920.7 By region or country

HV9950-9960 By region or country

Below is a small sampling of print books available on the second floor of the Lambuth Library. Please search the catalog to find others. Books available on the main campus may be requested through Interlibrary Loan.

Topic Selection Guide

Narrowing a Topic


Process of Narrowing a Topic 

topic narrowed from a large circle of ideas to a small circle of ideas

  1. Read the Assignment – You’ll need to narrow your topic in order to do research effectively. Without specific areas of focus, it will be hard to even know where to begin, so read your assignment carefully. 
  2. Think About What Interests You – After you have honed in on topics that meet the purpose of your assignment, begin thinking about what’s interesting to you. One way to get ideas is to read background information in a source like Wikipedia.
  3. Explore Library Databases – It’s wise to do some more reading about your topic to learn more about it, and learn specialized terms used by professionals and scholars who study it. Check the library databases to make sure that your topic is not too broad or too narrow. This may take some time, but will save you time later. Your goal should be to to get just the right amount of information so it is not too overwhelming. 
  4. Develop Your Research Question – After you narrow your topic think about exactly what you are trying to find out. Identifying a topic research questions will influence most of the steps you take to conduct the research.

Annotated Bibliography Guide/Rubric

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief, usually about 150 words, descriptive and evaluative paragraph; the annotation.

The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills; concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

  • First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic.
  • Briefly examine and review the actual items.
  • Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.
  • Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate APA style.

Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that:

  • (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author,
  • (b) comment on the intended audience,
  • (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or
  • (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.

The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation.

NOTE: APA requires double spacing within citations.

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and

the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51, 541-554.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

You can begin evaluating a physical information source; a book or an article for instance, even before you have the physical item in hand. Appraise a source by first examining the bibliographic citation. The bibliographic citation is the written description of a book, journal article, essay, or some other published material that appears in a catalog or index. Bibliographic citations characteristically have three main components: author, title, and publication information. These components can help you determine the usefulness of this source for your paper. (In the same way, you can appraise a Web site by examining the home page carefully.)


  1. What are the author's credentials--institutional affiliation? Where does he or she works? What are their educational background, past writings, or experience? Is the book or article written on a topic in the author's area of expertise? You can use the various Who's Who publications for the U.S. and other countries and for specific subjects and the biographical information located in the publication itself to help determine the author's affiliation and credentials.
  2. Has your instructor mentioned this author? Have you seen the author's name cited in other sources or bibliographies? Respected authors are cited frequently by other scholars. For this reason, always note those names that appear in many different sources.
  3. Is the author associated with a reputable institution or organization? What are the basic values or goals of the organization or institution?

Date of Publication

  1. When was the source published? This date is often located on the face of the title page below the name of the publisher. If it is not there, look for the copyright date on the reverse of the title page. On Web pages, the date of the last revision is usually at the bottom of the home page, sometimes every page.
  2. Is the source current or out-of-date for your topic? Topic areas of continuing and rapid development, such as the sciences, demand more current information. On the other hand, topics in the humanities often require material that was written many years ago. At the other extreme, some news sources on the Web now note the hour and minute that articles are posted on their site.

Edition or Revision

Is this a first edition of this publication or not? Further editions indicate a source has been revised and updated to reflect changes in knowledge, include omissions, and harmonize with its intended reader's needs. Also, many printings or editions may indicate that the work has become a standard source in the area and is reliable. If you are using a Web source, do the pages indicate revision dates?


Note the publisher. If the source is published by a university press, it is likely to be scholarly. Although the fact that the publisher is reputable does not necessarily guarantee quality, it does show that the publisher may have high regard for the source being published.

Title of Journal

Is this a scholarly or a popular journal? This distinction is important because it indicates different levels of complexity in conveying ideas.

Having made an initial appraisal, you should now examine the body of the source. Read the preface to determine the author's intentions for the book. Scan the table of contents and the index to get a broad overview of the material it covers. Note whether bibliographies are included. Read the chapters that specifically address your topic. Scanning the table of contents of a journal or magazine issue is also useful. As with books, the presence and quality of a bibliography at the end of the article may reflect the care with which the authors have prepared their work.

What type of audience is the author addressing? Is the publication aimed at a specialized or a general audience? Is this source too elementary, too technical, too advanced, or just right for your needs?

Objective Reasoning

  1. Is the information covered fact, opinion, or propaganda? It is not always easy to separate fact from opinion. Facts can usually be verified; opinions, though they may be based on factual information, evolve from the interpretation of facts. Skilled writers can make you think their interpretations are facts.
  2. Does the information appear to be valid and well-researched, or is it questionable and unsupported by evidence? Assumptions should be reasonable. Note errors or omissions.
  3. Are the ideas and arguments advanced more or less in line with other works you have read on the same topic? The more radically an author departs from the views of others in the same field, the more carefully and critically you should scrutinize his or her ideas.
  4. Is the author's point of view objective and impartial? Is the language free of emotion-arousing words and bias?


  1. Does the work update other sources, substantiate other materials you have read, or add new information? Does it extensively or marginally cover your topic? You should explore enough sources to obtain a variety of viewpoints.
  2. Is the material primary or secondary in nature? Primary sources are the raw material of the research process. Secondary sources are based on primary sources.

For example:

If you were researching Konrad Adenauer's role in rebuilding West Germany after World War II, Adenauer's own writings would be one of many primary sources available on this topic. Others might include relevant government documents and contemporary German newspaper articles. Scholars use this primary material to help generate historical interpretations--a secondary source. Books, encyclopedia articles, and scholarly journal articles about Adenauer's role are considered secondary sources. In the sciences, journal articles and conference proceedings written by experimenters reporting the results of their research are primary documents. Choose both primary and secondary sources when you have the opportunity.

Writing Style

Is the publication organized logically? Are the main points clearly presented? Do you find the text easy to read, or is it stilted or choppy? Is the author's argument repetitive?

Evaluative Reviews

  1. Locate critical reviews of books in a reviewing source, such as Book Review Index, Book Review Digest, OR Periodical Abstracts. Is the review positive? Is the book under review considered a valuable contribution to the field? Does the reviewer mention other books that might be better? If so, locate these sources for more information on your topic.
  2. Do the various reviewers agree on the value or attributes of the book or has it aroused controversy among the critics?
  3. For Web sites, consider consulting one of the evaluation and reviewing sources on the Internet.

Thesis Statement Guide/Rubric

A thesis statement guides your essay by identifying both your subject and your attitude toward it. A thesis statement:

  • is potentially interesting to the intended reader.
  • is specific.
  • limits the topic so that it is manageable.
  • evolves as your thinking about the subject evolves.

Construct a working thesis.

Think and pre-write; Identify important words; Choose one to use as subject; Finish the clause

Test the working thesis.

  • Try substituting other words—if the same statement can be made about another subject, the thesis needs to be more specific.
  • Ask “so what?”
  • Ask “why?” and “how?” 
  • Try filling in the “Magic Thesis Sentence”:

By looking at __________________, we can see ____________________, which most readers/viewers/observers don’t see; this is important because ___________________.

Revise the working thesis.

  • Add information that responds to the “so what?” question to explain relevance.
  • Add reason clauses to answer “why” and “how.”
    • because
    • through
    • by
    • in order to
  • Add qualifiers and conditionals:
    • although
    • while
    • despite
    • if
    • often
  • Use specific language—make every word count.
    • Use active verbs
    • Avoid abstract terms (e.g. issue, aspect, society, etc.)
    • Avoid empty modifiers (very, important, etc.)

Use a Seed Sentence

Another way to construct a working thesis is to start with a paradigm in the form of a “seed sentence.” These are patterns that reflect common ways of thinking about topics that are open to different perspectives. While anything constructed using one of these seeds will almost certainly need to be revised before the paper’s final version, they can provide a helpful starting point. If you choose to use sentence-paradigms to help you construct a thesis, try out several to find the best fit for your topic, idea, and assignment.


“Once I was _______________, but now I am _______________.”

“They say that _____________, but my experience [or closer examination] shows that ____________.”

Once I thought vulgar language was unforgivable, but now I feel sorry for those who express hatred by using it.

They say that people can learn from their mistakes, but my experience shows that once they learn prejudice, few people change their behavior.


“When I saw ____________, I saw ____________ instead of ______________.”

When I saw that I could fight the bullies or ignore them, I saw that fighting would be degrading while nonviolence would maintain my self-respect.

Cause and Effect:

“If _________________, then ________________."

“Because ______________, ________________." 

If we look at the way teens view bullying, then we see that current interventions devised by adults are not likely to be effective. Because I learned to ignore bullies when I was young, I can now find ways to encourage people with differing points of view to work together.


“Because of ____________similarities [or differences], ___________.”

Because adults and teenagers define bullying differently, the typical adult approaches to combatting the behaviors will not be effective.

Difference/Likeness (or Likeness/Difference):

“However ______________, ______________.”

However much both adults and teenagers agree that bullying behaviors damage relationships, this problem will persist until both groups begin using the same language to label the undesirable actions.


“Not only ___________________, but also _________________.”

Not only do adults want to blame technology for the problem of bullying, but they also tend to rely on ineffective solutions such as school assemblies.

Shift of Focus:

“Instead of [even though, because, etc.] _______________, we should direct attention to ________________.”

Even though these attempts to stop bullying are well-meaning, they will not be effective until they address the roots of the problem: lack of empathy and the desire for attention. 

Research Writing Assignment Rubric

Excellent Writing 


These rubric standards should be met to receive an excellent rating in each category.

  • Idea Development (worth 20 points) - Ideas supported by strong specific details
  • Elaboration (worth 15 points) -  Well-written; fully elaborates points addressed with clear, accurate, and detailed information supporting thesis
  • Organizations/Paragraphing (worth 5 points) - Clearly organized and paragraphed
  • Spelling and Grammar (worth 5 points) - No spelling or grammatical errors
  • Citation and References (worth 5 points) - Makes comprehensive (numerous) references and citations to text, external sources, and classroom materials

For more details on other grading levels refer to the downloadable file below.

Effective Writing in Criminal Justice Rubric


Critical Book Review Guide/Rubric

Sample Guidelines for Critical Book Review 


Preliminary Considerations

First, one must understand that a critical book review is not a book report (a summary of the contents of a book). A critical book review is a vehicle for examining and discussing issues the book itself raises or fails to raise. One writes a critical book review for the benefit of those who might not presently have time to read the book but who nevertheless need to learn more about its basic approach should they desire to read or study it at a future time. The job of the book reviewer is to inform these readers concerning any merits and/or shortcomings the book may have. From information based on a well-written review, the reader may conclude that this book is either indispensable or inconsequential.

Components of a Critical Book Review

A. Give complete bibliographical information at the top of the page (title, author, publisher, place of publication, date of publication, number of pages, and name of reviewer).

Use the following format:

Toward Rediscovering the Old Testament, by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, l987. 250 pages. Reviewed by Randy C. Slocum.

B. Briefly state the reason this book was chosen for review. State the author's credentials (education, place of employment, previous achievements, etc.) as a preface to giving the book a serious hearing. Biographical information about the author should be included only as it demonstrates the author’s competency to write the book. Within the context of the paper, do not use titles (Dr., Rev., etc.). In most brief reviews, you will likely need to limit the introduction to one or two paragraphs.

C. Briefly (in one or two well-written sentences) summarize the thesis of the book. This is a crucial step because the thesis contains the reason why the author produced this particular book (there may be dozens on the market with similar subject matter). The thesis will state the author's basic presuppositions and approach. The critical nature of the book review will then grow from the reviewer's conclusion that the book does or does not achieve the author's stated purpose.

D. The main body of a critical book review will be concerned with "thesis development." That is, did the author achieve the stated purpose? In this section the reviewer will inspect each of the chapters of the book to see how the thesis is (or is not) developed. If the author makes progress and develops the thesis convincingly, providing adequate information and statistical data, the reviewer says so, providing concrete examples and citing their page numbers in the text.

Given the limited amount of space in a brief book review, footnotes should not be utilized. Quotations or ideas taken directly from the text should be followed parenthetically by the page number of the quotation. The abbreviation for page(s) (p./pp.) should not be used.


Rainer argues that evangelistic churches should focus on reaching youth (20). Indeed, he writes, “Many churches fail to recognize that adolescence is a critical time of receptivity to the gospel” (21).

If the thesis is poorly developed or if the examples are inadequate to support the assertions of the author, the reviewer will point this out as well. Most critical book reviews will contain both praise and criticism, carefully weighed and balanced against one another.

Remember the purpose of a critical book review is not to provide a summary of the book. You may assume that the professor and the grader know the contents of the book.

Questions the reviewer will seek to answer in this section might include:

  • Is there an adequate, consistent development of the author's stated thesis? Why or why not?
  • What is the author’s purpose, i.e., what does he/she hope to accomplish through this book? Does the author accomplish the purpose? If so, how does he/she do so? If not, why not?
  • Does the author approach the subject with any biases, i.e., do the author’s theological, experiential, philosophical, denominational, or cultural perspectives influence his/her conclusions?
  • Does the author properly support his/her thesis? Does the author adequately consider and refute opposing viewpoints? Is the book limited in application to specific types of churches? Is the book relevant to contemporary culture?
  • Does the author have to resort to suppression of contrary evidence in order to make the thesis credible (slanting)? If so, what additional evidence would weaken the case? • Is the thesis sound but marred by a flawed procedure?
  • Is the author's case proved, or would another thesis have been more appropriately chosen?

E. Finally, a summary section should be attached. How does this book differ from other treatments of the same subject matter? What is unique and valuable about this approach as opposed to the others? Would the reviewer recommend this book above others? Why or why not?

This final summary should include the major strengths and weaknesses of the book and evaluate its value for readers who may be interested in that particular field of inquiry. Your primary purpose in this section is to respond both positively and negatively to the book’s contents and presentation. Needless to say, this response should be more in-depth than, “This book is a good book that should be recommended reading for everyone.” On the other hand, “This book is a lousy book not worth reading” is also inadequate. Central to this is the basic question of whether or not the author has achieved the book's stated purpose.

Answer questions such as:

  • What are the strengths of the book, i.e., what contributions does the book make?
  • Why should a person read this book?
  • What did you learn from this book?
  • How might you apply the lessons of this book in your ministry context?
  • Would you recommend the book to other ministers? to seminary students? to laypersons? Why, or why not?

Do not allow your response to this question to become lengthy (for this paper is not primarily an evaluation of your ministry), but do make some application.

Throughout your critique, be specific in your evaluations. Do not just tell the reader about the book; tell and show the reader with concrete examples from the book. As previously suggested, include page numbers when making specific reference to the book.

F. The length of the review should be between five and seven pages, double-spaced.

Style Issues for a Critical Book Review

The following guidelines are included to counter common style errors:

A. Utilize this suggested outline to guide your book review, but do not include the specific subheadings (“Bibliographical Entry,” “Summary of the Book,” etc.) in the essay. The brevity of the review demands a smooth flow from one section to another without including the subheadings.

B. Use first-person sparingly; however, you may use “I” when referring to your opinion of a text.

C. Avoid contractions in formal writing.

D. Use active voice as much as possible.

E. Be clear and concise. A brief review allows no room for wandering from your objective.

F. Use your spell-checker, but do not trust it. A spell-check will not catch the error in such sentences as, “The whole church voted too pass the amendment.” Use your eyes as well as your spell-checker.

G. Proofread your paper. Finish the paper, and proof it. Lay it aside, and proof it again at a later time. If you do not catch your errors, someone else will. 

Interlibrary Loan

Facts About UofM Lambuth Campus Interlibrary Loan

  • University of Memphis students, faculty, and staff at the Lambuth campus may use interlibrary loan to request library materials from the McWherter Library at the Memphis campus or from other participating libraries.
  • Books will be delivered to the Lambuth Library or mailed to the user's address. Journal articles, book chapters, and similar materials will be delivered electronically though your ILL account.
  • Receiving books through Interlibrary Loan may take a week or more.
  • Lambuth library patrons may return materials at the Lambuth Library.

Remember to choose Lambuth for your location when registering for ILL services.

1. Go to the University of Memphis Libraries homepage and click on Interlibrary Loan. This link may also be found on the Lambuth Library website found at


2. Log in to ILLiad (our Interlibrary Loan system) using your University of Memphis username & password:


3. If you are a new ILLiad user, you will be asked to register by providing your contact information.


 After registering, click on the appropriate item under the New Request menu (Article, Loan/Book, Book Chapter, etc.). NOTE: Textbooks cannot be requested through Interlibrary Loan.



5. Fill in the required information about the item (red starred fields).


Login to your account at any time to monitor your requests.

Borrowers will receive an email when your item is available at the Library Checkout desk (print materials) or in your account electronically (article or book chapters).


Go to ILL FAQs for more information.

Databases and Articles

Keys to Successful Database Searching

  • Choose the right database or databases for your topic.(Below are links to suggested databases for criminal justice, psychology, and sociology.)
  • Use effective keywords or search terms in our search. 
  • Instead of spending a lot of time searching, spend the majority of time looking at the search results (articles) carefully. Read the abstracts, not just the titles. 

Searching for more than 10 minutes?

Go to the Help tab and contact your librarian!



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How I Can Help

Conducting research and writing research papers is hard work. We are here to help you!

I can help you:

  • identify which University of Memphis database(s) will work best for your research paper, project, literature review, or Masters thesis

  • find, cite, save, organize and print reliable articles that support your research

  • teach you a tool that will cite your sources for you (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) OR help you with citing the "old-fashioned" way (from scratch with a guide book)

  • narrow or broaden a topic or thesis statement by assessing the information in our databases

  • assist with finding resources for literature reviews and annotated bibliographies

  • suggest ways to incorporate your sources into your paper, thesis, or dissertation

Lisa Reilly,

UofM Lambuth Campus Librarian