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Correctional Practice

Course Code: CRIM 3375
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Criminology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course examines a series of contentious topics in correctional practice. A variety of issues will be discussed. Included are: the influence of correctional policy, the influence of the public and professionals on the activity of corrections, the objectives of institutional and community corrections, special offender groups, the prediction of dangerousness, violence in institutions, ethics, critiquing correctional practice, and future challenges facing corrections.

Course Content

  1. Providing a Framework:
    • Current Correctional Philosophy
    • Current Correctional Policies and Reviews: Media Influence on Correctional Policy
    • Corrections and Ethics: Moral Contract, Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
    • Punishment Versus Treatment
    • Critiquing Correctional Practice: Doing Good Versus Doing Justice (Stanley Cohen)
    • Failure of Correctional "Reform"
      A selection from the following topics will be made each semester.
  2. The Use of Prisons:
    • A Review of the Research
    • Problems Surrounding the Management of Correctional facilities
    • Are The Objectives being Met?
  3. Institutional Violence:
    • Research on Prevalence of Institutional Violence
    • Response to Increased Homicide and Suicide
    • Protective Custody and Solitary Confinement: Useful Isolation?
  4. Role of Offenders Families in Corrections:
    • A Neglected Resource?
    • Children Behind Bars
    • Conjugal Visits
  5. Release Process for Post-Institutional Corrections:
    • Decision Making and Criteria for Release
      • Can We Accurately Predict Recidivism?
      • The SIR Scale and Its Application
      • Open Parole Hearings: Concern with Offender Rights
  6. The Use of Community Corrections:
    • A Review of the Research.
    • Are the Objectives Being Met?
    • Net Widening
    • Abolishment of Alternatives to Incarceration and Conditional Release
  7. Prediction of Dangerousness and Violent Criminal Behaviour:
    • Problems with the Prediction of Dangerousness
    • Consequences of this Label for the Offender and the Release Process
    • Reforming the Legislation
  8. Current Treatment Techniques and Their Effectiveness:
    • Theories, Techniques, and Policies of Correctional Treatment
    • Classification of  Offenders  
  9. Special Needs Offenders (not all of these will be covered each semester)
    • HIV Positive Offenders
      • Research on Prevalence
      • Institutional Isolation?
      • Notification Versus Confidentiality
      • Education of Staff and Client
    • Mentally Disordered Offender
      • A Review of the Research
      • Are Prisons Increasingly Housing the Disturbed Offender?
    • Sex Offenders
      • A Review of the Research
      • Youth
      • Adult
    • Aboriginal Offenders
      • A Review of the Research
      • A Comparison of Aboriginals and Non-Aboriginals in Corrections
      • Autonomous Aboriginal Correctional Programs
    • Substance Abuse Offenders
      • A Review of the Research
      • Existing Substance Abuse Programs
    • Youth Offenders
      • Intervention Strategies
    • Female Offenders
      • A Review of the Research
      • Perennial Dilemmas
      • Accommodation - Geographic Dislocation
      • Limited Programs
    • Lifers
      • Are Their Needs Being Met?
  10. The Legal Rights and Obligations of the Offender:
    • Methods of Enforcing Rights
    • The Responsibilities of Corrections Agencies and Personnel Under Law
  11. Emerging Correctional Issues:
    • Challenge of Ideology
      • Reappraisal of Correctional Practice
    • Challenge of Multiculturalism
    • Challenge of Demography
      • The Aging Population
    • Challenge of Resources
      • Continued Fiscal Problems
    • Devolution and Privatization: The Solution?
    • Challenge of Technology

Methods of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following: lectures, seminar presentations, audio visual materials including video, small group discussions, research projects and research papers.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on course objectives and carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on some of the following:

  1. Short Answer Tests
  2. Exams
  3. Oral Presentation
  4. Research Project/ Term Paper
  5. Class Participation

An example of one possible evaluation scheme would be:

Mid-Semester Exams (x2)   60%
Final Exam   10%
Research Paper   30%
Total  100%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Discuss the social and political context that shape correctional policy and practice.  
  2. Discuss the problem of reform in corrections in relation to standards of practice versus the real world of corrections.
  3. Identify the complexity of ethical decisions in correctional practice.
  4. Identify special needs offender groups (such as the aging offender, the gang member, the mentally disordered  and cognitively impaired offender, the sex offender, the aboriginal offender, the HIV positive offender, the substance abuse offender, the violent young offender, the female offender and the lifer) and discuss the issues they raise for correctional practice.
  5. Describe current treatment techniques and major issues surrounding the treatment of offenders. 
  6. Discuss the limitations of predictive judgments regarding dangerous behavior.  Discuss the impact of such judgments on correctional practice.
  7. Analyze contemporary problems surrounding the management of correctional facilities and identify     whether their stated objectives are being met (special focus is given to topics such as institutional violence, the handling of special inmates, solitary confinement and protective custody, and assess whether isolation is functional for the inmate or staff).
  8. Critically analyze community corrections, surveying the philosophy and operation of traditional and innovative probation and parole programs, including recent developments in community corrections, such as intermediate sanctions and drug courts. 
  9. Identify the legal rights and obligations of the offender and the State along with methods of enforcing rights and the responsibilities of corrections under law (constitutional, statutory, and regulatory provisions).
  10. Critically analyze the emerging paradigms that may influence the future of corrections.  
  11. Discuss the challenges impacting corrections in the 21st century.  Examples of topics will include, but are not limited to: correctional expenditures, staff morale, staff training, negative media attention and technology.     

course prerequisites

CRIM 1170

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.