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Juvenile and Adult Justice System


Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Pathway Associations

Community Change
Interpersonal Practice
Mgmt & Leadership
Policy & Political
Program Evaluation
Older Adults
Children & FamiliesElective (Host)

Course Description

This course critically examines juvenile delinquency and the adult correctional system in the United States. Students will be exposed to the theories that help professionals understand the development of delinquency and crime within the context of individuals, families and communities. Understanding the mechanisms that contribute to offending is important for social work professionals, as this understanding should directly guide the policies and practices of the justice system. This course will focus on some of the most pressing issues that face the justice system and the social work professionals that work within this system. Such issues include adolescent brain development, poverty, child maltreatment, substance abuse, mental health, disproportionate minority contact (DMC), incarceration, peer relationships, the school to prison pipeline, evidence based interventions and the role of ideology in juvenile justice policy. The course is designed for social work students interested in working in justice settings (micro or macro) or students interested in working with youth populations that may experience contact with the justice system.


• Understand how life events and social conditions (risk and protective) contribute to juvenile delinquency and adult offending
• Understand how race and class intersect with the justice system
• Understand the goals and objectives of the justice system
• Critically evaluate direct service interventions (screening, assessment, treatment) with juvenile and adult populations
• Critically evaluate policy efforts as they related to juvenile adult offenders
• Effectively communicate the challenges facing the justice system
• Effectively communicate possible solutions to the challenges facing the juvenile justice system


This course will make use of lectures, guest lectures, discussion, media and small group exercises. Students will demonstrate their knowledge acquisition by means of class participation, weekly responses to assigned readings, written assignments and a class presentation. The class will also spend time interacting with service providers (both in class presentations and field trips to facilities).

Intensive Focus on Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice (PODS)

This course integrates PODS content and skills with a special emphasis on the identification of theories, practice and/or policies that promote social justice, illuminate injustices and are consistent with scientific and professional knowledge. Through the use of a variety of instructional methods, this course will support students developing a vision of social justice, learn to recognize and reduce mechanisms that support oppression and injustice, work toward social justice processes, apply intersectionality and intercultural frameworks and strengthen critical consciousness, self-knowledge and self-awareness to facilitate PODS learning.

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