Students in a modern bachelor’s in criminal justice degree program go beyond the fundamentals of criminal investigation, developing expertise in major professional trends. These trends include restorative justice and leveraging advanced digital tools to improve the chances of catching criminals.
Today’s online criminal justice degree student also learns about the ethical considerations relevant to all criminal justice jobs, including policing, the courts, corrections, probation, and parole. Depending on their interests and career plans, students may also decide to take courses in specific areas of criminal justice, such as juvenile justice, sex crimes investigations, fraud investigations, and money laundering.
Learning the Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation
Teaching students the fundamentals of a criminal investigation is the initial focus of any high-quality criminal justice degree program. Students explore the history of criminal justice and the formation of the major federal law enforcement agencies. They also understand the current role of criminal justice in society and the constitutional implications of law enforcement.
Criminal justice graduates learn the proper procedures for gathering, recording, and preserving evidence and best practices for conducting interviews and interrogations. They also possess a working knowledge of common Latin legal phrases.
Students study modern concepts like restorative justice and integrating innovative technology to improve criminal justice operations.
Restorative Justice in Criminal Justice
Restorative justice offers a new approach that stresses healing for the crime victim and reconciliation for criminals with the victims and the community they have harmed. It increases the chances of victims moving on to live healthy lives and offers criminals the possibility of forgiveness for their crimes.
This concept differs significantly from traditional forms of criminal justice that focus on retribution for criminal behavior. By emphasizing healing rather than punishment, restorative justice seeks a better way to repair the harm caused by a crime.
With a restorative justice approach, people impacted by crime participate in a healing process that meets their needs and allows them to again feel safe in their communities. They may also want to hear a genuine apology from the criminal and ensure that the criminal understands the true impact of their crime and can do whatever is necessary to repair the damage they have caused.
In the traditional system, many of these needs for safety, apology, repair, and validation go unmet. Restorative justice continues to grow in popularity because it seeks to address these needs.
Impact of Technology on Criminal Justice
Technology represents another significant trend in criminal justice. Using innovative tech tools has long impacted the investigatory side of criminal justice. For decades, law enforcement agencies have used wiretaps on phones, advanced cameras, and listening devices to gather information on potential criminal activity. However, the evolution of technology has leaped forward in recent years, leading to even more uses of digital tools in criminal justice, according to Forbes.
Smart device data. This includes video doorbells and voice assistants that can capture what is happening in the environment around them. Forbes also reports that data from an Alexa smart speaker and a Fitbit fitness tracker have been used in several cases, including homicide investigations.
Computer vision. This technology aids criminal justice agencies in a variety of ways. For example, facial recognition software was famously used to identify people during the January 6 riots in the U.S. Capital. It’s perhaps most used for automatic license plate recognition, allowing law enforcement to identify a vehicle and driver quickly.
Robotics. Deploying robots to defuse potential explosive devices is perhaps the most well-known and dramatic use of robotics in criminal justice. Human users guide modern versions through VR-style headsets. Law enforcement also uses robots for surveillance, equipping them with infrared vision to see in the dark.
Digital twins. A digital twin is a virtual environment created to mimic a setting in the real world. Officials in Guangdong, China, have created a real-time map of the province’s capital, the port city of Guangzhou, home to more than 15 million people. The digital twin map shows law enforcement where incidents happen and the location of public interactions, calls, use of police resources, and suspected or potential threats.
DNA. The science and technology behind DNA continue to evolve and improve. Police increasingly use DNA tests to accurately determine if someone was present at the scene of a crime, down to the detail of what a person touched at the scene.
The Point Park University Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice
By earning a bachelor’s in criminal justice, graduates prepare themselves for success in a field with various career options. By becoming knowledgeable about the latest trends, including digital tools and restorative justice, graduates position themselves for the best jobs in various areas of criminal justice. Potential criminal justice jobs include:
- Police officer
- Private investigator
- Security manager
- Corrections officer
- Customs official
Graduates can also qualify for jobs in emerging fields such as criminal justice social work, a specialized field in social work that serves people in the criminal justice system. These social workers connect offenders with rehabilitation programs and find support for families impacted by criminal actions. LinkedIn notes that criminal justice social workers “protect the rights of people in society who often get dismissed, abandoned, or forgotten.”
The BS in Criminal Justice from Point Park University is 100% online and offers a curriculum that studies policing, courts, corrections, parole, investigations, law and procedure, science, and psychology. Students can focus on their area of interest with six elective courses (chosen from 18 options). All classes are taught by professionals with years of experience in the criminal justice field.
Applicants to the program may apply experience to their college credit through a prior learning assessment. The program also offers students affordable tuition and personalized support.