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Course Description

The following call-out boxes contain examples of course descriptions for community corrections classes. Many more can be located online with any available search engine. For universities in which an equivalent course is already present a description has likely already been created and established, potentially as a component of what is referred to as a “syllabus of record.” In such cases it may be necessary to get approval from the department chair or university administration to make changes.

The course description should include the rationale or justification for the course and major topic areas to be covered (Nilson, 2010). If using the term “community corrections,” it is important that it be well defined in the course description. As mentioned previously the term can be used in reference to probation, parole, halfway houses, work release programs, and even pretrial supervision (Hanser, 2014; Lutze, 2014). If the focus will be primarily on probation and parole supervision, it would be helpful to indicate that in the description. It is also beneficial to indicate the orientation of the class in terms of examining the correctional system (e.g., history, philosophy), the work of those with jobs in the system, and the lives of the individuals involved in that system (i.e., victims, defendants, probationers, inmates, parolees). Finally, if there is a focus on any specialized populations such as sex offenders, gang members, domestic violence perpetrators, it would be useful to indicate that as well.

The following are samples of course descriptions from community corrections courses from several colleges and universities.

American Public University’s Probation and Parole Course Description

Probation and Parole will guide students through comprehensive, up-to-date, evidence-based practices and research for probation, release from prison, and other community-based alternatives. Students will explore community-based correctional programs in their historical, philosophical, social, and legal context and integrate real-life practice to the greatest extent possible.

Mr. Donald Rallyson’s Spring 2015 Introduction to Community Based Corrections Course Description at WOR-WIC Community College

This course will focus on all forms of community-based corrections. The student will examine origins, organization and trends in current traditional corrections as well as focusing on non-traditional community corrections: electronic monitoring, house arrest, day-treatment, boot-camp and fines.

Dr. Faith Lutze’s Spring 2014 Community Corrections Course Description at Washington State University

U.S. policymakers have become increasingly punitive in the last 40 years resulting in the war on drugs, mandatory sentencing, and longer sentences resulting in extreme increases in our prison population. While attention is often focused on the record setting 2.5 million Americans incarcerated in our nation’s prisons and jails, the overwhelming number of offenders under state control is supervised in the community. There are approximately 740,000 offenders released from prison each year with approximately 5 million Americans serving time on probation or parole. This course will provide a review of the complex issues confronting the criminal justice system, corrections agencies, community corrections officers, offenders, and the communities in which we all live—both offenders and law abiding citizens. Be prepared to stop thinking about offenders as “those people” and begin thinking about them as “our people,” being released from “our prisons” into “our communities” where “we live, work, and play.”

Mr. Edward Mosley’s Fall/Spring 2013-2014 Community Corrections: Probation and Parole Course Description at Passaic County Community College

This course examines the relationship between institutional confinement and community-based supervision. Emphasis is placed upon probation, parole, pretrial release programs, and halfway houses. The application of these programs to special offender groups, as well as to the larger population of adult male offenders, is addressed. The overall effectiveness of community-based correction programs is also evaluated.

Dr. Martha Hurley’s Spring 2015 Community Based Corrections Course Description at Texas A&M University Commerce

A study of probation, parole, diversion, pre-trial release, and intermediate sanctions. A critical analysis of the statutes and policies relating to the administration of community-based correctional programs. Specifically, this course will highlight critical issues and trends in community-based corrections as well as evaluate the practice of community corrections nationwide. Special emphasis will be placed on exploring the development of community corrections, including probation, parole, intermediate punishments, special offenders in the community, and juvenile offenders in the community.