Pat Jackson - Inside Criminal Justice

Pat JacksonDr. Patrick Jackson has been with the Criminology & Criminal Justice Studies Program for more than 23 years. He is founding editor of an online scholarly journal, the Western Criminology Review, and teaches criminology, research methods, juvenile justice, and the senior capstone course. He has written a book, articles and chapters on wide-ranging topics and reports based on federal and state grants.

His latest publication is a dramaturgical analysis of how people manage their identities in a dog park. His current research uses photo elicitation interview techniques to understand the role of animals and animal assisted therapy in the developing lives of foster youth.

What Makes up the Criminology & Criminal Justice Studies Program?

CCJS is mainly an upper division major in the School of Social Sciences although we teach multiple sections of introduction, a lower division general education course. There are more than 440 majors with five full-time faculty (moving to four in Fall), and there are usually three part-time adjunct instructors. We are one of the fastest growing majors in the School and have 60-70 graduates a year.

Our rigorous curriculum requires courses in theory, methods, law, courts, corrections, the internship as well as electives on topics like policing, white-collar crime, women and crime, media, and others. One of our two newer full-time faculty members is the pre-law advisor for all of SSU.

At present the job market is getting stronger; some students move directly into policing, probation, and a wide range of social services. A growing proportion of our students go to various graduate schools (criminology, law, counseling, social work, public administration and others).

How do students benefit from an internship in CCJS?

The formal purpose of the CCJS Internship is to provide students with field experience in a public, private, or community agency while under the supervision of an agency representative. It is designed to give students an opportunity to obtain a “real world” understanding of how the world operates. Students are also required to meet periodically with the intern coordinator.

For many students an internship is a critical part of their education, a time when they can experience for themselves whether they want to pursue a particular career or discover the kinds of employment choices that exist. This is often one of the only opportunities they have while in school to gain a firsthand experience working in a justice agency before going on the job market. Some do transition into a job after they graduate but most commonly the internship involves checking out an occupational environment, learning transferable work skills and building social capital through personal connections, references for their résumé and letters of recommendation.

Some students find it challenging to decide where to intern. After settling on possibilities it is then a question of finding an optimal placement for their four-unit internship in light of classes, work and other obligations. What is encouraging is that most students find one or more possible internships before they actually choose one, that they end up feeling their internship is a worthwhile learning experience that allows them to evaluate possible careers, and that the experience they have in their internship helps them to understand social change. Finally, most feel that their experience is consistent with their written internship agreement and that they also have a good relationship with their supervisor.

What are some of the internships?

During the past three years we have averaged about forty students per semester in the internship, although this semester it is around fifty. Their placements include local, county, state and federal agencies dealing with law enforcement, juvenile and adult probation, law and courts, social services, and others. Usually we have interns in Sonoma, San Francisco and Mendocino County Probation Departments as well as police or public safety departments in Rohnert Park, the SSU Campus, Cotati and Petaluma as well as Sonoma County and Marin County Sheriffs.

This semester we actually have a dozen interns in the Petaluma Police Department, which is more than we’ve ever had in any single law enforcement agency. In social services our interns work with and receive training in agencies such as Verity (formerly United Against Sexual Assault), the Boys and Girls Club Juvenile Hall Re-Entry Program, Community Youth Outreach, Forget Me Not Children’s Services, the YWCA, and others.

In law, our interns work in Legal Aid of Sonoma County, the Family Justice Center, several private law offices, and the Sonoma County Superior Court. Other interns gain valuable experiences in different situations: one works in a bail bond agency, a few supervise court mandated youth in a charter school, and others work in a private nonprofit agency that supervises people on court supervision.

- Susan Kashack