The Criminal Justice Center at Sam Houston State University offers a lifetime of learning opportunities for individuals who want to begin or advance in careers in criminal justice in the fields of law enforcement, victim services, forensic science and security studies.
“We start from the 18 years old just entering college to the highest levels in law enforcement and corrections in the state, providing opportunities for lifelong learning in the field,” said Dr. Phillip Lyons, Dean of the College of Criminal Justice and Director of the Criminal Justice Center. “Our university is unique in the depth and breadth of the programs we offer, which provide a unique advantage in putting theory into practice in criminal justice.”
The College was founded 50 years ago with a four-fold mission: to teach undergraduate and graduate students, to do research in criminal justice, to provide technical assistance to the field and to train professionals in the latest tools and best practices.
In addition to a broad array of bachelor, master and Ph.D. offerings, with options for online, weekend or face-to-face classes, the Criminal Justice Center has unique professional training and research institutes to assist in nearly all areas of criminal justice. The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT) trains police chiefs, constables, and up-and-coming leaders in law enforcement in the latest tools and techniques for managing agencies. The Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT) also provides opportunities for supervisors and front line staff in prisons, jails, community corrections, probation and parole to advance in their careers and knowledge. Both programs are internationally recognized, attracting participants and interest from across the globe.
The Institute of Forensic Research, Training and Innovation is the newest addition to professional programs and will provide refresher training to crime lab employees to help them pass broad-based certification tests and to build partnerships that will allow labs to develop and use the latest techniques in such areas as toxicology, drug identification, DNA and more.
The Center also hosts several research institutes that addresses some of the most pressing issues in the field. The Police Research Center continues to work with major cities, such as Houston and Dallas, as well as smaller departments to identify evidence-based practices, such as hot-spot policing and information management systems. Through the College, LEMIT and CMIT assist agencies in the state by studying common issues, such as eyewitness identification, sex assault case backlogs, racial profiling, mental health issues, crisis intervention, women in policing, education programs in prison, specialty courts and many others.
The Center also assists other key professionals that aid victims in the criminal justice system, providing research on the latest developments and issues, such as intimate partner violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, human trafficking, juvenile offenders, stalking, and much more. The Crime Victims’ Institute is charged with making policy recommendations to the Texas legislature on these issues and keeping agencies informed about the latest victim-centered research.
Many of the advanced academic programs are designed specifically for working professionals in the field. The College recently introduced a Master of Science in Homeland Security Studies, which includes two, one-year certificate programs in Emergency Management and Critical Infrastructure Protection, to help agencies address natural and manmade disasters in their communities.
The masters of Criminal Justice Leadership and Management is designed for working law enforcement and corrections professionals who want to climb the career ladder. It provides practical studies on leading and managing today’s workforce. The masters of Victim Services Management teaches students to lead advocacy programs and develop policies to guide agencies.
In Forensic Science, the master’s program trains students to work in crime labs and other related fields upon graduation. The Department recently introduced the first multidisciplinary Ph.D. program in its discipline, which will help fill much needed supervisory positions and provide academic faculty for the burgeoning field.
To help develop the next generation of criminal justice professionals, the Centers and their institutes target middle and high school teachers and students with annual camps and summer courses to introduce them to the wide array of jobs available in the field and the latest techniques and technology being used. These teachers and students go back to their schools with new knowledge and passion about future careers.
The Criminal Justice Center continues to be a leader in criminal justice 50 years after it was founded, providing new and innovative ways to touch the lives of students and professional who serve the communities of this state and nation.