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What is Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice is the term used to refer to the entire US system of laws and law enforcement. The field includes police, courts, and correctional facilities. Criminal justice focuses on the methods and practices of law enforcement and does not primarily study the overall impact of crime on society (such as the field of criminology). The criminal justice system involves organizations that maintain social order, attempt to deter or prevent crime, and that assert the power of the state against those who violate criminal laws.

The range of criminal justice careers is broad and far-reaching. Professors teach criminal justice at colleges and graduate schools. Management of criminal administrative processes is a distinctive field of study and practice. Lawyers perform key roles in criminal justice systems; these roles include advisors, judges, and legislators. Lawyers also serve as prosecutors and defense attorneys, and these roles are essential to criminal judicial processes. Attorneys advise the legislative process to develop workable laws and regulations consistent with the state and federal constitutions.

Criminal justice professionals comprise the system that keeps residents of Hawaii safe from crime and civil conflicts. They perform a range of professional and administrative activities. While criminal justice majors will find work in government positions, the private sector also hires criminal justice graduates for protection and security positions.

When you become a criminal justice professional, you can find career paths in social, scientific, and business fields. Security, cyber security, and corporate compliance professionals use essential skills that can be acquired in criminal justice studies. Because of Hawaii’s Pacific location, there are federal and corporate jobs that rely upon the strategic advantages of its location and work to protect the state’s people and natural resources.

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Criminal Justice Education in Hawaii

A criminal justice degree in Hawaii can open a wide range of employment opportunities and career paths. The administration of justice involves crime prevention, investigations, corrections, and rehabilitation. Criminal justice courses can also prepare students for roles in related disciplines like social work, counseling, and victim advocacy.

The state maintains organizations and networks of public safety including police, criminal courts, and correctional offices and facilities. The federal government also provides criminal justice jobs in Hawaii. Federal government facilities, Homeland Security, and US military installations are important to Hawaii. The state’s strategic position in the Pacific Ocean makes it an ideal location for US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard stations. Each branch employs personnel in criminal justice positions.

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Associate Degree in Criminal Justice (ASCJ)

The Associate of Science degree is typically a two-year program consisting of about sixty credit hours of college coursework. Each college sets the requirements for coursework and graduation, and colleges may provide or require further study in related fields like emergency or crisis management. Five Hawaii schools offer the AS in Criminal Justice either in on-campus or online formats.

An associate degree represents an entry-level educational qualification for positions like police officer, probation officials, investigators, and evidence technicians. It can also be helpful in administrative roles, such as those of clerk and office assistant.

An associate degree is a steppingstone to further learning. Students can also add certifications through short courses of study in order to specialize in a particular field. The associate degree supports further education leading to a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, a master’s degree, or a law degree.

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice (BSCJ)

A bachelor of science in criminal justice can open a range of career paths that require a four-year degree. The typical educational requirements for a bachelor’s degree include about 120 credit hours of study. The offered coursework provides a depth of understanding in the principles that guide criminal justice functions and administration. In Hawaii, students can enter programs with on-campus or online classes. Criminal justice graduates can develop career paths as legal professionals in government and in private businesses.

With a bachelor’s degree, Hawaii criminal justice graduates can enter public and private sector positions in police work, security, and investigations. Criminal justice coursework can also prepare students for job opportunities in crime policy and criminal justice administration. Bachelor’s degree curriculum may also offer options for specializations, concentrations, and related minor fields. The BS in criminal justice helps students access career paths in broader fields of legal services, public administration, and social services.

Master's Degree in Criminal Justice (MSCJ)

A Master of Science can be an advantageous criminal justice degree in Hawaii and across the nation. The educational requirements for admission to a master’s degree program include a four-year degree in criminal justice or a related field. Students can complete the coursework for a master’s degree in 18 months to two years; the typical course requirements include about 30 credit hours of classwork and a capstone project. Hawaii master’s programs can also offer opportunities for internships that provide firsthand experience.

Students with a bachelor’s and graduate degree have a wide range of career choices in the administration of justice, and in public administration more broadly. And a master’s degree can open even opportunities in private industry and the non-profit sectors. The state economy provides public and private career paths for advanced degree holders.

Employers favor master’s degrees as a preferred qualification for a wide range of jobs and graduates with master’s degrees can enter the workforce at substantially higher salaries than bachelor degree holders. The best criminal justice schools and universities in Hawaii offer coursework options for concentrations and specializations. This allows students to develop a depth of knowledge in an area of interest. Specializations can improve career prospects and broaden the available career pathways. For example, a student with a background in information technology might combine an MS in Criminal Justice with homeland security or cyber security knowledge.

PhD Degree in Criminal Justice (DCJ)

A doctoral program in criminal justice prepares graduates for leadership roles in academic, business, and public policy roles. The typical requirements are a master’s degree in a related field and coursework of about 50 to 75 credits hours. Students can complete a PhD program in three to five years, or more if they choose a part-time course of study. Students can attend online or on-campus in Hawaii. Colleges and universities set requirements for graduation, including the requirements for a doctoral thesis.

College faculty work to train graduate degree candidates and undergraduate students. A PhD in Criminal Justice is an essential qualification for university and college faculty. The field of criminal justice is also broad and ideal for specialization. Graduates have options for public policy careers, policy roles in private businesses, and leadership roles in the non-profit sector.

Specializations and concentrations include the below listed fields of study.

  • Homeland Security
  • Criminal Justice Organizational Leadership
  • Juvenile Justice Systems
  • Military Justice

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Become a Criminal Justice Professional in Hawaii

Hawaii offers career paths to help those interested in becoming a criminal justice professionals through education, training, and experience. The wide range of public career options include academic institutions, government agencies, law enforcement, and the military. Criminal justice graduates will also have options in the private sector. Corporations hire security personnel, investigations, and cyber-crime professionals. The non-profit sector uses criminal justice graduates in leadership, policy, and social services activities.

Criminal justice has practical applications in law enforcement. Police seek to prevent crime and identify possible law breakers. The courts decide the vital question of guilt and protect individual rights. Criminal justice systems manage the process of corrections and punishment including incarceration, parole, and probation processes. The goals of criminal justice include rehabilitation and reform and these functions utilize social services such as counseling and guidance.

Criminal justice systems must cover a wide range of activities. Cyber-crime is an emerging challenge and juvenile justice systems are a constant reminder of the need to invest in community outreach and crime prevention.

Police positions are accessible to citizens over the age of twenty-one with a GED. These positions require passing background checks, written tests, and meeting physical requirements. Employers grant preferences for applicants with higher levels of education. State and local governments require basic training, which cadets must complete and pass. On top of this required training, education is a direct path to become a criminal justice professional. Students can choose to start with an associate degree and gain education as it is required during their career.

The US military values Hawaii’s Pacific Ocean location and there are hundreds of federal jobs related to criminal justice administration. Hawaii is also a travel hub and destination, and air and sea travel requires special types of security and cyber security.

Careers for Criminal Justice Graduates

  • Emergency Management Coordinator
    Emergency conditions change the nature of law enforcement as the risks to life and safety are magnified by natural or other types of urgent circumstances. In emergency conditions, Hawaii needs experienced and trained personnel capable of managing safety under extreme conditions. Criminal justice education can equip graduates to certify and train as emergency management coordinators and professionals.
  • Victim Advocate

    In the criminal justice system, courts must decide responsibility and determine accountability for crimes. In criminal cases, the true extent of harm, injury, or consequences may not be apparent. Courts need to understand the gravity of an offense to determine a just result. Victim advocates can provide a valuable input into the criminal process that can orient the courts understanding and deliver a socially meaningful outcome.

    A victim advocate confers with victims of crime and or their families or survivors. The advocate can research the situation and make reports that add depth and factual evidence. Criminal justice education can focus on victim advocacy along with relevant criminal justice issues.

  • Substance Abuse Counselor

    Criminal justice studies can help qualify graduates for work as substance abuse counselors. The Hawaii Department of Health, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division certifies counselors and criminal justice is a recognized field of study for certification.

    Substance abuse crimes constitute a major part of the efforts to detect and prevent crime in Hawaii as substance abuse contributes to a wide variety of criminal behavior. Counselors must understand the workings of the criminal justice system including diversion and court-ordered conditions, such as rehabilitation.

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  • Police Officer
    Police officers have a fundamental role in Hawaiian law enforcement. Police officers engage in detecting crimes, preventing crimes, and apprehending suspected law violators. They have wide-ranging powers of arrest and can use force to protect lives and public safety. Hawaii, along with other states, places a priority on education for their officers. Hawaii recognizes the value of recruits with college level education.
  • Corrections Manager
    The Hawaii Department of Public Safety combines the state’s law enforcement and corrections administration. Criminal justice graduates have advantages when seeking employment with the Hawaii DPS. Corrections roles involve maintaining order at correctional institutions and DPS roles include personnel that supervise persons after release from incarceration on probation or parole.
  • Crime Scene – Forensic Science Technician
    These highly specialized technical workers usually have a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education. They often combine criminal justice education with one or more of the natural sciences. Technicians can work in laboratory settings or at the scene of a crime to detect, collect, and examine evidence.
  • Criminal Justice Professor
    Hawaii colleges and universities seek graduates with master’s degrees or PhD’s in criminal justice to join their faculty as criminal justice professors. Graduates with bachelor’s degrees can also fill college faculty roles when they offer needed experience or service backgrounds. Criminal justice educators play a key role in equipping students with knowledge and skills for successful careers in policing, the courts, and corrections.

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