Department of Sociology at Ohio State Lima







Dr. Ted Houghton


Dr. Godwin  Ekechuku


 This course covers principles of criminology and penology, with emphasis on historical and contemporary theory and practice. Throughout the term, we will also address controversies related to public policies on crime control. There is great debate about these topics.  In contrast to the sensationalism often found in popular treatments, we will rely more upon the findings and reflections of criminological and legal research


 1.      To become familiar with the evolution of criminological theory and practice, and the state of criminology in contemporary America and beyond.

 2.      To develop skills in critical thinking and conceptualizing ideas about crime causation, crime control and criminal justice.

 3.      To become informed about major policy debates regarding crime control and criminal justice.

 Required Reading:

Schmalleger, Frank.  Criminology Today: An Integrative Introduction

Other readings made available in class.

 Class and Attendance: Class time will be used in a variety of ways, including lecture, discussion and films.  Lecture and discussions will presume and build upon the readings, so you should read and be prepared to discuss assigned reading. STAY CURRENT IN YOUR READING EACH WEEK.  Lecture and discussion will also often focus on material not in the reading.  Regular attendance and good note taking will be necessary.  Contribution to class discussions on a regular basis may influence grading (i.e. you may receive additional points if you are on the border of receiving a higher grade).

 Exams, course project, and grading: There will be three exams and a course project.  The format of the exams may vary and will be discussed in class.  Exams will cover both lecture and reading material. Your grade will be weighted as follows:

Grading:           Three exams                 80%

                        Course project             20%

                        Total                            100%  


Topics and corresponding textbook chapters are indicated.

Supplemental readings will be made available as needed.

 WEEK 1.

Introduction:What is Criminology  Schmalleger, Chapter 1


Patterns of Crime Schmalleger, Chapter 2

Issue: Sentencing and prison policies in the U.S.

WEEK 3. 

The Classical Thinkers Schmalleger, Chapter 4


Issue: On Capital Punishment




Sociological Theories I: Social Structure Schmalleger, Chapter 7


Sociological Theories II: Social Process and Development Schmalleger, Chapter 8


Sociological Theories III: Social Conflict Schmalleger, Chapter 9



Issue: Civil Liberties and the War on Terrorism

 WEEK 9.

White Collar Crime Schmalleger, Chapter 12

Organized Crime Schmalleger, Chapter 12

WEEK 10.

Drug Abuse and Crime Schmalleger, Chapter 13

Issues: The War on Drugs and Legalization




 The following assignments are designed to provide you with an opportunity to develop more in-depth knowledge about some aspect of criminology and the justice system.  You will complete one of the following options.   Any policy issue relevant to crime and criminal justice can be the subject of either option (with approval).  A list of suggested topics is provided.

 Option 1 Crime Policy Paper

Few subjects are more controversial than crime control.  Each step in the criminal justice system raises a number of difficult issues about which the public, criminologists and criminal justice professionals often disagree.  In this assignment, you can either (1) argue in favor of a specific change in criminal justice policy, or (2) defend and support current policy in relation to specifically proposed alternatives.  The paper should include these main parts:

 1.       Give a clear definition of the issue.

2.       Describe the various sides of the controversy.

3.       Show how your policy change or the current policy meets the need.

4.       Justify your position in light of relevant criminological theory and social scientific evidence.

5.       Consider advantages and possible disadvantages of your position.

6.       End with a strong conclusion that will convince the reader that the change you propose should be adopted, or that the current policy you support should be maintained.

 The paper should integrate material from several different sources.  Most of these should be from social science and criminological works.  References must be properly cited and included in a bibliography. 

 This assignment should take approximately 5 double-spaced typed pages (no larger than 12 pt. Font size, Times New Roman preferred).

 Papers are due Last Week of Class.  They will be graded for thoroughness, depth of research, effectiveness of arguments, proper use of supporting theoretical and empirical material, grammar, spelling and syntax (clarity of exposition).  Clear, well-written presentation is a must. 

 Plagiarism is not tolerated and easy to detect.  All sources must be properly quoted and referenced.


 Option 2 Panel or Debate

You select a controversial issue or policy in the area of crime and criminal justice.  You then prepare an in-class presentation.  Two, four, or six students (no odd numbers) work together and organize the presentation as either a panel or a debate.  Materials and instructions for organizing a debate can be obtained from me. Each person will be required to hand in their TYPED notes and a bibliography at the end of the presentation.

 All those wishing to do this option must get approval from me by seventh week.  The presentations will be scheduled near the end of the quarter.  Performance will be evaluated on grasp of the issue and important related points, proper use of supporting evidence, ability to anticipate and counter opposing viewpoints, structure, organization and strength of presentation.  The written parts handed in should reflect a strong outline structure and depth of research.


Develop your own topic, but these are possibilities.


Are our civil liberties threatened by government initiatives to counter terrorism?

What rights do terrorist suspects and "persons of interest" have?

Do policies of the U.S. government increase the likelihood of terrorism in the US?

Will increasing government surveillance violate our rights to privacy?

Is increased security at airports effective?

Is racial profiling justified?

The Drug War: Good Policy or Bad?

Should drug use be decriminalized?

Will decriminalization of drugs, prostitution and pornography decrease organized crime?

Should sex offenses carry stiffer penalties?

Should prostitution be decriminalized?

Should mandatory sentences be used more or less frequently?

Should community service sentences be used more extensively?

Should more alternatives to prison be developed?

Is the operation of prisons by private-sector corporations a good idea?

Should the prison population be reduced?

Are violent criminals and delinquents treated too leniently.

Is capital punishment bad policy.

Should the death penalty be abolished?

Will gun control reduce crime?

Should euthanasia be a crime?

Does rap music contribute to violent crime?

Are the dangers of internet child pornography exaggerated?

Should there be greater or lessor penalties for white-collar crime?

Does stress on victim's rights and assistance enhance or hinder the justice system?


Last Modified on 12/16/2006