Study Guides for CJ Comps

 Keep in mind that comps are a multiple choice test and these are not multiple choice questions.  However, if you can answer these questions you should be able to answer the multiple choice versions within comps.

For students on the 2016-2018 CJ or CJ/PA degree plan - You will need to study for and pass comps in Courts, Research Methods and Theory.

For students on a degree plan 2014-2016 or earlier - you will need to study for and pass comps in Homeland Security, Research Methods and Theory.

Students who are unclear which degree plan they are on should contact the Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Lorie Rubenser

Research Methods

1. What is the role of theory in criminological/criminal justice research?
2. Choose a recent journal article and identify (1) the research problem, (2) research design, (3) data-gathering strategy, (4) dependent variable(s), (5) independent variable(s), and (6) operationalization of the key dependent and independent variables.
3. Research in criminal justice and criminology faces many ethical hazards. How concerned should researchers be with ethical conduct in research? What are some elements of a code of ethics for criminology/criminal justice research?
4. Define quantitative and qualitative research and discuss the application of each in the study of criminal justice.
5. Discuss the general steps in empirical research in criminal justice.
6. Discuss the issue of confidentiality and the protection of subjects in criminal justice research.
7. Distinguish between causality and correlation.
8. Discuss the three general types of experimental designs.
9. Discuss the Uniform Crime Report as a measure of crime in the United States. Identify and discuss the UCR index offenses.
10. Define sampling and discuss the various probability and nonprobability samples.
11. Identify the preferred methods of questionnaire wording and construction.
12. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages to mail and internet surveys. How might researchers increase responses in these surveys?
13. What problems might criminal justice researchers encounter with self-report surveys? Discuss ways of checking the validity of self-report surveys.
14. Define and discuss the three basic forms of interviews. What are the pros and cons of each
15. Identify and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of participant observation. Identify and discuss methods in which participant observers may validate research findings.
16. Identify and discuss the primary arguments that have been presented against quantitative studies such as surveys and experiments in criminal justice.
17. Identify and discuss the major types of unobtrusive measures.
18. Define content analysis and provide some examples of criminal justice research that has employed it.
19. Define validity.  Identify and discuss the various ways of determining validity. Provide examples of how this can be accomplished.
20. Define reliability. Identify and discuss the primary methods of attempting to demonstrate reliability.
21. Identify and discuss the four levels on which variables may be measured - Nominal, ordinal, internal, ratio.
22. Identify and discuss Likert’s scaling procedures. Discuss other scaling options that may exist.
23. Identify and discuss the various methods used to standardize data so that useful comparisons can be made between unequal populations.
24. Identify and discuss the various types of graphic presentation – graphs, pie charts, etc.

Homeland Security

  1. Discuss the flaws of our security for the country before the terrorist attacks and what Homeland Security is doing to overcome these flaws.  Are these changes making us more safe?  Are they doing something else for us?
  1. How does the Department of Homeland Security affect our response to other national problems such as natural disasters?
  1. Discuss the need for Homeland Security to work with other agencies within the country to prepare for and respond to future terrorist attacks - who are these other agencies and what would their roles be?
  1. Discuss some of the new technologies that are being used to help with Homeland Security.  Assess their potential to keep us safe, and their potential to have other consequences - negative or positive - on our society.
  1. What gaps exist in our national security and how are we filling them through Homeland Security?  Do you think we focus too much in one area and not enough in others?  Which areas?
  1. Discuss the role that businesses and other private entities can play in Homeland Security.  Are we making effective use of these potential resources?
  1. Why do the various police and intelligence agencies fail to share information or work together to fight crime and terrorism? What methods are now in place to help overcome this issue?
  1. Discuss the differences in the threats posed by domestic and international terrorists.  Is the police role different for these different types of threats?
  1. Discuss the role of state and local law enforcement under Homeland Security?
  1. Discuss the threat Bin Laden and al Qaeda posed to the US before 9-11.
  1. Discuss the idea of incident command and how this helps police respond to both terrorist and non-terrorist situations.
  1. Discuss the Patriot Act - its various sections and the legal challenges each section faces
  1. Discuss the various pieces of legislation that create and define Homeland Security and its parts, duties, etc.
  1. Discuss the 9/11 Commission and its work/findings.
  1. Discuss the concept of critical infrastructure – components, threats, methods of security, etc.
  1. Discuss the Department of Homeland security and its major directorates.
  1. Discuss the issues surrounding security at our nation’s borders.  What methods are we using to enhance that security and what vulnerabilities remain?
  2. Discuss the issues surrounding illegal immigration - crimes and other threats by the immigrants, agencies and methods involved in control, etc.


1.  There are 5 major paradigms in criminological theory.  Include the assumptions of each school, the theoretical leaders of each school, and the societal influences on each school.

2.  Discuss why the Positivist School moved from biological to environmental explanations of crime.

3.  Explain the works of the following theorist and how these contributed to the formulation of other theories - Quetelet, Guerry, Weber, and Bentham

4.  How does Criminological theory fit into public policy on crime.  Use specific examples to demonstrate this role.

5.  Discuss the Chicago School of Criminological theory.  Who were its leaders and how was this school of thought different from other schools of thought.

6.  Discuss environmental theories of criminology.  Describe how these theories would work in the real world.

7.  A.  Discuss theory formulation and criteria for evaluating a theory.  B.  Now choose a theory and evaluate it according to those criteria.

8.  Biological theories have largely been discounted, however they represented several important advances in our study of criminal behavior.  Discuss these advances and the reasons why these theories have been discounted.

9.  What is an integrated theory and why do we have them?  Use an example to explain.

10.  Choose an integrated theory to critique.  Does this theory represent an advance over the individual theories that it is made up of?  How?

11.  How did the women's movement influence criminological theory? Describe at least 3 of the major feminist theories.

12.  What is the concept of the social bond and how does it contribute to promoting or preventing delinquency?

13.  A. Which theory best explains juvenile delinquency?  B. Which theory best explains adult criminality? C. What do these theories say about stopping or preventing this delinquency?

14.  Describe the various formulations of Marxist theories.  What do these theories say about fixing the crime problem?  Is this a realistic solution?  Why or why not?

15.  Describe Strain theory in detail including the variety of different strain theories that exist.

16.  There are three major disciplines from which Criminological theory is taken.  Describe in general terms the differences in theories that come from each discipline and then choose a particular theory from each discipline to describe in detail.

17.  Discuss the following types of theories, including a summary of the varieties of each:  Learning theories, Cultural Transmission theories, and Anomie based theories.

18.  What is the purpose of Criminal Justice theories?  What do they explain and how are they useful in the real world?

19.  Most theories Most theories explain why people commit crimes. Describe in detail a theory that explains why people do not commit crimes.

20. Theories are often based on a particular conception of mankind. Describe the nature of mankind used in deterrence theory. Explain the details of deterrence theory, the types of deterrence, and evaluate its potential to lessen crime.

21. Explain the importance of the Broken Windows theory.

22. Discuss Life Course theories of criminology.  Include in your discussion a distinction between Career Criminals and Criminal Careers.  What do these theories tell us abou stopping or lessening crime?

Courts and Judiciary –

1. Define law, its component parts and the conditions which create it. Explain how laws create and/or mediate conflicts in society and the limits laws might place on individuals and the state.

2. Distinguish between the following types of law – natural law, positive law, rational law, common law, procedural law, substantive law, civil law, criminal law, administrative law and regulatory law.

3. Discuss the concepts of equity and precedent and how these fit the various law systems.

4. Discuss the origins and evolution of legal education in America. Include influential actors, methods of study, and the role of bar associations.

5. Discuss the works of William Blackstone and their importance in the American court system.

6. Define/discuss the 10 different types of court jurisdiction. Why are there so many? Be sure to include types of cases, responsibilities, procedures, etc. in your discussion.

7. Discuss the process of getting a case before the US Supreme Court from original trial through levels of appeals.  Which types of cases are most likely to be granted certiorari? Include in your discussion the decision process of the Justices concerning recusing themselves, and who will write the decisions.

8. Define/discuss the following terms: precedent, judicial restraint, legislative intent and plain meaning approaches to legal interpretation, strict constructionism and originalism.

9. Discuss the historical interaction between US courts and the economy. Include in your discussion the relevant court cases, showing how these cases impacted various aspects of the economy.

10. Discuss American judges – their qualifications, selection and removal, responsibilities, etc. at the various levels and different types of courts.

11. Discuss/define the following concepts: Solicitor General, horizontal and vertical prosecution, public defender, affirmative defense, crime control and due process models of case processing.

12. Define/discuss the following types of hearings: Grand Jury, probable cause, voire dire.

13. Discuss the various types of immunity – what is covered and what is not covered. (Transactional, use, qualified, etc.)

14. Discuss the concept of plea bargaining – types, benefits and roles for all parties, criticisms, etc. How do police and victims interact with the plea bargain process?

15. Discuss the differences in criminal and civil cases – processing, participants, outcomes, levels of proof, discovery rules, etc.

16. Discuss the Exclusionary Rule – cases the rule is derived from, limits, exceptions, etc.

17. Discuss the difference in case processing between adult and juvenile courts. Also discuss the differences in personnel and their qualifications.

18. Discuss the various types of alternative dispute resolution and specialized courts – mediation, restorative justice, therapeutic justice, drug courts, etc. How do these compare to traditional practices in terms of recidivism, client satisfaction, etc.

19. Discuss the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment and their impact on court processing. Include relevant cases as examples.

20. Discuss the courtroom workgroup – who are they, what are their individual qualifications and responsibilities. Why is it important for this group to work so closely together?

21. Discuss the importance of the separation of powers in our form of government. What role does the judiciary play in relation to the other two branches?