About the Department
SIUC Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a comprehensive degree program, preparing over 400 undergraduates for successful job placement in the criminal justice system, as well as training and mentoring Masters and Doctoral students for careers in academic, research, and criminal justice leadership positions. Faculty and graduate students are research active and have achieved international, national, and regional distinction through their scholarship, policy work, and grant activities.
The programs offer rigorous, broad-based educational programs centered on the scientific study of crime, criminals, and society’s reaction to both. They are structured to foster the development of students’ critical thinking, problem-solving, analytical, and communication abilities. The department provides students with a strong foundation to study and address the challenges raised by crime and related social problems.
The Center for the Study of Crime, Delinquency & Corrections at Southern Illinois University was approved in 1961, primarily to conduct research but also to supplement the extension education already offered to inmates at the Menard and Vienna prisons. How the academic unit became a beloved program of research and teaching criminologists and criminal justice practitioners worldwide is the result of a confluence of events.
The first significant entity in development of the CSCDC was Myrl Alexander, a high level administrator with the Federal Bureau of Prisons who became familiar with SIU when he identified Marion as the ideal site for a facility to replace Alcatraz. He was subsequently hired as the first director, and held the position until Robert Kennedy tapped him to direct the Bureau of Prisons. Alexander facilitated development of the CSCDC within the School of Human Resources to do applied research, and he helped to establish corrections as one longstanding specialty of the CSCDC. He created the ongoing relationship with the Ministry of Justice in Japan. He also recognized that understanding crime, criminals, and ways to reduce or correct offending requires a variety of areas of expertise. His commitment to a multidisciplinary research team continues in the mission of the CSCDC.
The second major impact on the evolution of the CSCDC is an effect of history. The 1960s was a time of mounting public and political pressure to develop rigorous academic programs in the U.S. for administrators in criminal justice agencies. Very few universities offered education specifically to benefit those in careers of policing, court administration, or corrections. It was precisely to address the deficiencies of the largely vocational technological training provided at junior colleges that millions of dollars were earmarked in the Omnibus Crime Control & Safe Streets Act (1968) for the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration to support development of undergraduate academic programs. Almost without exception the new undergraduate programs with core requirements from social sciences and liberal arts were called Administration of Justice degrees and located at public state universities. SIU shared in this national movement among universities and benefited from the federal LEAA support.
When the College of Human Resources closed it made sense that the CSCDC join the College of Liberal Arts to facilitate interaction with many other social and behavior scientists. In 2009 the CSCDC became the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. This change to CCJ at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is consistent with many other departments in the country. The rationale for these changes was that the "AJ" label did not accurately reflect the curricula aimed at understanding the nature and causes of crime, criminals and criminality, and the ways in which society prevents and responds to these through formal agencies and informal mechanisms.