Criminal justice: Process and politics

Offer semester
1st semester

Lecture time
Tuesday 18:30 – 21:20

Lecture venue

Course description

This course critically reviews the process of law enforcement with focus on the ways criminal justice policies are developed and the problems and issues arising from the implementation of different approaches to crime control. The course draws on relevant examples in local and global contexts to reflect on how questions about crime and its control are framed and how criminal justice policies are negotiated and put into practice.

Course learning outcomes

  1. An ability to understand main criminological concepts and debates about crime, crime control and criminal justice.
  2. An ability to assess competing assumptions and rationales in the development of crime control policies and criminal justice policies, practices and their impacts in the contemporary context.
  3. An ability to develop a reasoned argument and to present ideas in a clear and concise manner in oral presentation and in written work.


Individual Essay40%
Group Presentations20%

Required reading

Each week, there will typically be two required readings that students must read in preparation (e.g. two journal articles). The required readings for this course are principally drawn from a range of journal articles and book chapters listed below. PDFs of all required readings will be available online for students, students are not required to purchase any reading materials for this course.

  1. Wozniak, K. H. (2016). Public opinion and the politics of criminal justice policy making: Reasons for optimism, pessimism, and uncertainty. Criminology & Public Policy, 15, 179.
  2. Scott, T. M., & McPherson, M. (1971). The development of the private sector of the criminal justice system. Law & Society Review, 6(2), 267-288.
  3. Weitzer, R., & Tuch, S. A. (1999). Race, class, and perceptions of discrimination by the police. Crime & Delinquency, 45(4), 494-507.
  4. Langer, M. (2005). Rethinking plea bargaining: The practice and reform of prosecutorial adjudication in American criminal procedure. American Journal of Criminal Law, 33, 223.
  5. Rakoff, J. S. (2016). Why prosecutors rule the criminal justice system-And what can be done about it. Northwestern University Law Review, 111, 1429.
  6. Greenblatt, N. (2008). How Mandatory Are Mandatory Minimums-How Judges Can Avoid Imposing Mandatory Minimum Sentences. American Journal of Criminal Law, 36, 1.
  7. Kurki, L., & Morris, N. (2001). The purposes, practices, and problems of supermax prisons. Crime and Justice, 28, 385-424.
  8. Dikötter, F. (2002). The promise of repentance. Prison reform in modern China. British Journal of Criminology, 42(2), 240-249.
  9. Lu, H., & Zhang, L. (2005). Death penalty in China: The law and the practice. Journal of Criminal Justice, 33(4), 367-376.
  10. Brown, W. J., Duane, J. J., & Fraser, B. P. (1997). Media coverage and public opinion of the OJ Simpson trial: Implications for the criminal justice system. Communication Law and Policy, 2(2), 261-287.
  11. Wong, D. S. (2000). Juvenile crime and responses to delinquency in Hong Kong. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 44(3), 279-292.
  12. Gelles, R. J. (1977). Power, Sex, and Violence: The Case of Marital Rape. Family Coordinator, 339-347.
  13. Weitzer, R. (2010). The movement to criminalize sex work in the United States. Journal of Law and Society, 37(1), 61-84.
  14. Shay, G., & Strader, J. K. (2012). Queer (In) Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 102(1), 171-194.

Course co-ordinator and teachers

  • Eddie Wei

    Part-time Lecturer

Student view

This course allowed me to gain a ‘backstage’ insight into the social process that produces criminal policy, which gave me a deeper understanding of the magic of power and politics in society.

– Mavis Yip Oi Ying, 1st year MSocSc Criminology student