Institute Leads Criminal Justice Legal Research

Established just four years ago, the Institute for Legal Studies in Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University continues to seek a wider influence on the study of law as it relates to criminal justice.

Dr. Rolando del Carmen
Dr. Rolando del Carmen
In the process, it has provided mentorship to graduate students and helped them publish law articles. It reached out to other criminal justice programs and organized panels and discussions, particularly in the annual meetings of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Its immediate benefits comes by way of providing one-on-one mentorship to graduate students; its ultimate result for students and the College of Criminal Justice is in the publication of journal articles.

"We want to become the leading university in the effort to address issues on law as it relates to criminal justice research and practice," said Dr. Rolando del Carmen, a professor at Sam Houston State University, who serves as co-director of the Institute with Dr. Michael S. Vaughn.

Dr. Michael S. Vaughn
Dr. Michael S. Vaughn
"While there is no criminal justice without law, little has been done by way of integrating the discipline of law into the day-to-day concerns of criminal justice," del Carmen continues. "There is a need to find creative ways whereby the disciplines, regarded even in some academic quarters as mutually exclusive, can interface better, particularly in research and the dissemination of scholarly findings to field practitioners who can benefit most from them."

A closely related concern is how law can more effectively be learned by students who do not aspire to become lawyers. Law schools have their own pedagogical approaches to learning that may not be as effective in criminal justice programs where students are trained to become agents of law in a different way, such as by being a police, probation or parole officer, or being an agent of the FBI and other federal and state law enforcement agencies.

Since most professors teaching law in criminal justice programs throughout the country are lawyers, there is a natural tendency to adopt law school teaching methods that may not be as useful or effective when teaching criminal justice students.

To explore this issue, a major effort of the Institute for Legal Studies in Criminal Justice was to conduct a national survey of problems and practices in the teaching of law in criminal justice programs. The results of that survey were presented in a panel discussion at the ACJS national convention.

Several publications have come out the of the Institute. Among them are:

Lee. H., & Vaughn, M.S. (2010) 'Organizational Factors that Contribute to Police Deadly Force Liability.' Journal of Criminal Justice, 33(2), 193-206.

MacMillan, S., & Vaughn, M.S. (2010) "Weighing the Evidence: Neuroimagery Evidence of Brain Trauma or Disorder in the Courts." Criminal Law Bulletin, 46(3), 395-514.

Nolasco, C.A.R.I, Vaughn, M.S., & del Carmen, R.V. (2010). "Toward a New Methodoloy for Legal Research in Criminal Justice." Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 21(1), 1-23.

Nolasco, C.A.R.I, Vaughn, M.S. & del Carmen (2011). "What Herring Hath Wrought: an Analysis of Post-Herring Cases in the Federal Courts," American Journal of Criminal Law, 38.

Reyes, N.C., & Vaughn, M.S. (2009) "Revisiting the Bicutan Seige: Police Use of Force in Maximum Security Detention Center in the Philipines" International Criminal Justice Review, 19 (1), 25-45.

Tapia, N., & Vaughn, M.S. (2010). "Legal Issues Regarding Medical Care for Pregnant Inmates," Prison Journal, 90 (4) forthcoming.

"We want our graduates to have a good working knowledge of laws related to criminal justice and appreciate better the role and place of law in criminal justice," del Carmen said.

"The College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston, by virtue of history and funding, is in a strong position to continue to be in the forefront of the effort to better integrate criminal justice and law. The groundwork has been laid with the establishment of the Institute for Legal Studies in Criminal Justice. With the continuing support of the university, the ILSCJ hopes to become an even stronger program in the future within the College of Criminal Justice."

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