Criminal Justice Schools by State

Presidential Pardons

Presidential pardons, forgiveness or clemency are typical functions of the Executive office of the U.S. Government. In years past, there have been high-profile pardons, such as President Carter’s pardons for those who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War and President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon after the Watergate Scandal as well as the commutation of Scooter Libby’s term in prison by President George W. Bush. Not all pardons are so politically-motivated, though. Recently, President Obama has exercised his authority, as well, and has pardoned nine people for their crimes, including one man who was sentenced in 1960 for a felony liquor law violation.

Presidential pardons are granted at about the rate of 60 per year, on average, and can only be granted in cases of felony convictions. The process for applying for a Presidential pardon requires that a person convicted of a crime not only completes their sentence, but that they also show reason why their sentence should be pardoned. This is the process of convincing the federal law enforcement agents investigating the application that the criminal is remorseful for the crime that was committed and has taken steps to ensure that further convictions will not happen. Unless the convicted criminal can show reason for the standard five-year waiting period to be waived, most petitions for pardons are not considered until five years after the completion of a sentence.

Felony convictions are the only sentences that can be pardoned or commuted by the President. State-level convictions can be pardoned by most Governors, or they may be able to grant clemency to the person currently serving a sentence by reducing the time involved or forgiving the crime all together.

If a Presidential pardon is denied, there is no appeals process. The applicant can re-apply no sooner than two years after the official denial is recorded,  and there is no other recourse. If a Presidential pardon is granted, it does not remove the conviction from the criminal’s record, and, if asked, the conviction should be disclosed, as well as its clemency status.

Presidential pardons, even those that are fiercely political in nature, such as the pardons by Presidents Ford, Carter and Bush, are written into the U.S. Constitution as an executive power. These pardons serve to not only overturn convictions, but also can be interpreted as ways to shield others from prosecution.  In response to the serious nature of Presidential pardons, it has become an annual Thanksgiving tradition to even pardon a turkey from its fate as a celebratory food, making light of the serious  nature of Presidential pardons, but also showing that the President can be merciful and magnanimous.

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Colorado Technical University MBA Mediation and Dispute Resolution Degree Concentration

Mediation professionals help protect businesses from lawsuits and possible employee strikes, they may be an important part in family law issues, such as divorce or elderly care, and can help find reasonable compromises between two parties that satisfy the needs of each. For those who wish to pursue a career in mediation, either within a business or organization or as a mediation consultant who may work with arbitrators, lawyers or other law-related agencies, the first step may be to obtain a Master Degree in Business Administration - Concentration in Mediation and Dispute Resolution.

The popularity of mediation over legal action is growing as more people and businesses see the financial savings involved in settling legal issues out of court. This trend has opened up the field for those with the education, skills and experience in mediation to not only achieve their own career goals, but also to help people and corporate entities settle their legal disputes in a more peaceful manner. Colorado Technical University offers a Master Degree in Business Administration - Concentration in Mediation and Dispute Resolution online that includes a CTU Academic Certificate in Business Administration, helping to not only build a student’s education and knowledge, but enhance resumes and CVs with even more skills listed. This program is offered online in order to help a student maintain any current work or life obligations while still gaining valuable education and experience through the MBA program.

In 2008 mediators earned an annual median income of $50,660. The job growth for mediators is expected to grow by more than 18% over the next decade, even more than other legal fields, as corporations and private citizens turn to more cost-effective means of settling disputes. Mediators with a Master Degree in Business Administration - Concentration in Mediation and Dispute Resolution are employed by corporations as Labor Arbitrator, Labor Mediator, Adjuster, Arbitrator, Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator (ADR Coordinator), Alternative Dispute Resolution Mediator (ADR Mediator), Antidiscrimination Agent, Public Policy Mediator, Service Coordinator, Workers' Compensation Mediator, Contract Negotiator or Contracts Specialist among other functions.

Careers in mediation, especially those that require a MBA in Mediation and Dispute Resolution are on the rise and provide an interesting and challenging environment for those who strive to help others resolve their conflicts. With the ease of an online program, such as Colorado Technical University’s Master Degree in Business Administration - Concentration in Mediation and Dispute Resolution, a career as a professional mediator for businesses, organizations or other legal entities is within the reach of those dedicated to a career in conflict resolution and mediation.

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The Reality of Forensic Science

Watching television shows like CSI may give the public a more glamorous picture of what it means to be a forensics professional. Crimes are committed and solved, and criminals tried and prosecuted neatly in the span of an hour, including commercials. Real life is hardly this easy for crime scene investigators and forensics professionals, and while the interest in shows like CSI may be partially responsible for the number of people filling those positions in police departments and law enforcement agencies, the reality of those positions is not as fast, easy or spotless as the television show may lead us to believe.

Forensic scientists and crime scene investigators work as much in a laboratory or at a computer as they do at a crime scene. Collecting the evidence of a crime is only part of the job, the rest of the investigation happens by cataloging information, testing blood, tissue or other samples, researching computer or phone records, or any other number of investigation tactics. None of these forensic specialties produce definite answers immediately, and each can take days or weeks, sometimes months, to process evidence. Once the evidence is processed and potential matches or other information is discovered, forensic scientists then are able to analyze the results to determine the value of evidence, how accurate the findings are, and potentially link a criminal to the crime.

There are also different specialties of forensics professionals. Forensic toxicologists test for drugs and other chemicals, forensic accountants investigate fraud and embezzlement, computer forensic specialists who find and preserve digital criminal evidence and forensic psychologists or profilers. Television may make it seem like there is only one or two forensics professionals in a law enforcement crime lab, but in reality, it takes an entire team to analyze evidence from crime in order to catch a criminal.

Forensics professionals may have one of the most dramatic and interesting jobs, thanks in part to television shows and movies, but these specialists are more than tools for quick answers to hard, sometimes unanswerable questions. The dedication, education and training involved in forensic science, while tough, can make the difference in the lives of many people, especially those who are personally affected by crime. Television may have one benefit to the field of forensics and crime scene investigation: it has ignited an interest in many people who want to help others in need by helping to solve crimes and even prevent more crime from happening.

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US Career Institute - Legal Transcription Certification

Legal transcription is a flexible and interesting career option for those who enjoy the court system and legal proceedings. Legal and other transcriptionists, armed with a laptop, Internet connection and the knowledge of complex legal or industry-based terminology are projected to have an 18% increase in career growth over the next decade, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This means that jobs for those who understand legal issues and can quickly put words into text will have more opportunities to fulfill their career goals, potentially work from home or start their own business, and can make over $35,000 per year.

All courts have a legal responsibility to maintain hard-copy records of any and all legal proceedings related to all types of court cases. These legal records include trials, depositions, briefs, interrogatories and pleadings. A good legal transcriptionist must have the ability to understand legal terminology, plus have excellent typing and grammar skills. Besides working for attorneys or courts, legal transcriptionists can be employed by government agencies, transcription companies, insurance companies or even social service agencies. Some states require a legal transcriptionist to be licensed, while others will accept proof of a qualified training program or few years of actual experience in order to qualify as a legal transcriptionist.

The U.S. Career Institute offers a certificate program in legal transcription for those who wish to start a career as a transcriptionist, or enhance their current skills as a legal assistant or paralegal. This course enables the student to work at their own pace and outlines the process of legal transcription as well as provides information about what to expect from the audio recording of a trial, criminal and civil law specifics, where to find information outside of the recordings to help clarify terminology or general understanding of the law and how to prepare a lawsuit. The course also includes resources for medical terminology, grammar, and instructions on how to read from a stenograph transcript plus lessons in putting the legal transcription knowledge into action.

A career as a legal transcriptionist can be fulfilling and help a person bring in a supplemental income or be a considerable factor in creating a favorable work-life balance. The education and training involved with legal transcription can be attained while working in or out of the home. U.S. Career institute provides the necessary educational materials and support to help with a legal transcription career, bringing confidence and the love of a job well-done together with the ease of a self-study program that creates results. For those who wish to pursue a flexible career that helps make a difference in the community, legal transcription can be a viable option. Legal transcription can lead into jobs within legal systems and beyond, potentially generating income and career satisfaction above and beyond any expectation.

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Protecting Sexual Assault Victims

Every two minutes, a sexual assault occurs in the U.S., yet only 6% of rapists spend time in jail. The statistics are astounding, and the divide between the victim’s experience and the perpetrator’s courtroom justice may seem overwhelming. With the recent attention of victims’ rights groups and sexual assault survivors like Elizabeth Smart, law enforcement agencies are beginning to understand not only the effects of sexual violence upon a victim, their loved ones, and the community at large, but also how to educate the public, prevent the abuse, collect evidence and convict any criminals found guilty of sexual assault.

Sexual assault crimes have several definitions including stranger or acquaintance rape, childhood sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, gender-based hate crimes and sexual harassment. Each crime has various mental, physical and emotional components to it, and each crime is damaging to the victim in countless ways. Legal definitions of sexual assault and the type of crimes defined by sexual assault vary depending on the location of the crime. Depending on the community in which these crimes are committed, there are also varying levels of punishment for each crime. Recently, pulled a book from its virtual shelves due to its content that promotes pedophilia, and also contains information about which states or areas have harsher penalties for those who are caught by law enforcement officers and convicted of child-related sex crimes.

Issues with the definitions of sex crimes based on the jurisdiction of the crimes, the lack of proper response to the crime and/or victim and the victim’s fear of the courtroom all add into the inability to convict criminals charged with sexual assault. There are several organizations, such as RAINN, that advocate on behalf of victims, helping to provide programs to the victim of a sexual assault as well as educate law enforcement agencies and their corresponding communities as to the damage that sexual crimes can cause. Victims like Elizabeth Smart, who, at age 14, was kidnapped and raped over a period several months, are also beginning to speak out against their perpetrators. These victims and their advocates are also speaking against the tendency for people and law enforcement to ignore sex crimes and their impact on the population. These advocates are giving a voice to others who may feel intimidated by the legal system, helping to create awareness and change in communities nationwide.

Sexual assault crimes are prevalent in the U.S. and unfortunately, they also can open up the door to judgments and assumptions by the very communities that wish to avoid the crimes. The nature of sexual assault is never about sex, but about power, control and dominance. By advocating for victims and educating the public through school and law enforcement programs, as well as having a sympathetic and responsive team of law enforcement professionals to help victims through the aftermath of their ordeal, sexual assault crimes could lessen in number, as well as their impact on the mental well-being of victims and their loved ones.

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Master of Science in Public Safety and Emergency Management

Emergency management professionals are tasked with the administration of public safety when natural and man-made disasters occur. Hurricanes, terrorist activity and countless other widespread emergency situations call for the professional management of crisis intervention, stress management as well as risk assessment, evaluation and analysis as well as countless other emergency and crisis-related management tasks . Emergency management professionals can be higher-level law enforcement professionals with the education and training provided by a graduate degree.

A Masters of Science in Public Safety and Emergency Management Specialization from Capella University can provide the education and practical training needed to manage the needs of people during a widespread public disaster. This online degree program focuses on the understanding of personal dynamics that naturally occur during times of crisis, as well as the administrative processes put into place to help coordinate various response agencies and managing critical incidents via the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Capella University provides their Masters of Science in Public Safety and Emergency Management Specialization online as a way for those currently employed or who have other commitments to increase their knowledge and achieve their educational goals. The degree teaches theory behind public safety response to disasters, cultural and ethnic influences, critical incident stress and disaster management, plus offers extra specialization in fire service administration, forensics, public health and policy or homeland security.

The Masters of Science in Public Safety and Emergency Management Specialization degree from Capella University is designed to deepen your understanding of the dynamics of all phases of natural and man-made disasters, including dealing with various human reactions and issues that arise during the aftermath of a wide-ranging public safety issue. Emergency management professionals are hired by private organizations and corporations as well as government agencies like FEMA. With all of the interest in the management of public safety issues due to weather, terrorist threats and other infrastructure concerns, the career opportunities in emergency management are expected to grow. Public safety and emergency management specialists make an average salary of $55,000 annually.

When natural or man-made disasters occur, the public reaction can be just as devastating as the event itself. Qualified individuals are needed to fill the roles of emergency management professionals in order to help ease the minds of the public, put safety plans and resources into place before disasters may occur, as well as manage the aftermath of the disasters themselves.

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Women in Law Enforcement

Law enforcement may seem like a “man’s world,” but the need for qualified and able female police officers is growing, especially in light of new community- and service-based police programs. Today, women make up only about 12% of the law enforcement population in the U.S., a slight increase since the 1970s, when female law enforcement officers were put into positions beyond clerical desk jobs and police dispatch positions. Still, there is a gender division in law enforcement that may be due to several factors. While women can apply and be accepted into law enforcement agencies, there is still a lack of female applicants nationwide.

Women may hesitate to apply for law enforcement positions because of the physical requirements of not only the initial testing for the jobs, but also the requirements of the job itself. Typically, the physical tests are based upon a man’s ability to perform strength and agility tasks, many of which women naturally fall short of, even when in top physical condition. Many police departments, however, are changing the way the physical tests are measured, or getting rid of the testing as a requirement, in order to open up their agencies to more female law enforcement officers.

Female police officers do have an advantage over their male counterparts in many areas of law enforcement. In cases of domestic violence and sexual assault, for example, women may be seen as less threatening to victims and may be more likely to cooperate with a female officer than with a male. Also, since women typically cannot exert the same force as men, there are indications that the rate of “excessive force” lawsuits when female officers are on the scene after criminal activity has occurred.

As with any law enforcement officer, a female must pass the required tests, including physical and psychological examinations, have a clean background check and many police departments prefer an officer have a  Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice or Law Enforcement.

The growing need for intelligent and hard-working law enforcement officers knows no gender limitations and female police officers are in demand in many police departments, as well as state and federal law enforcement agencies. Female police officers may have a disadvantage in terms of brute strength, when compared to male police officers, but their actual strength may be in different areas of law enforcement and is just as beneficial. From working with women and children who have been abused or assaulted to keeping the level of physical intimidation lower, women in the police force are a vital part of any law enforcement agency.

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Terrorist Threat Color Chart Changes

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, a color alert system was implemented in order to keep the public informed as to the status of any terrorist threats to the country. This system consists of five colors, from green representing a low threat of terror to red, indicating an imminent threat to our safety. In the past four years, the level of alert in the airline sector has not changed from orange, signifying a “high risk” level of threat. Because of this lack of change in status, the ambiguity and unknown recommendations to take during the different levels of threat, the Department of Homeland Security is considering an overhaul of the alert system that not only describes the threat, but also gives suggestions as to how people should best protect themselves.

Homeland security has been on the minds of the public ever since it became an official U.S. government agency after the 9/11 attacks. The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for preventing terrorist attacks on American soil that can occur through various modes, such as airline attacks or even “home-grown” terrorist attacks perpetrated by citizens of the U.S. or those who have immigrated to the U.S. Homeland security boasts a variety of different mission support centers to help fulfill the security needs of the nation including science and technology, training, intelligence, medical, civil rights, fraud detection and many others. Through the experience and collective sharing of resources among these missions, the Department of Homeland Security and homeland security professionals are able to help keep the U.S. safe from terrorist attacks.

As time goes on and our national security needs change due to technological advances, foreign policy or other factors, the Department of Homeland Security is addressing the issues that concern the public. The old “terror threat” color chart may be coming to an end, but there are still plenty of threats, and plenty of ways to keep the nation safe. The Department of Homeland Security is growing as new threats come to the surface and old methods of dealing with terrorist threats become antiquated or confusing to the public. With the latest additions to the TSA screening process on airlines, including full body scanners and thorough "pat downs," it is clear that the ways in which the public is able to address their own security concerns are changing in ways yet to be completely understood.

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Forensic Science at American InterContinental University

Crime scenes produce large amounts of evidence that can help tie a suspect into a criminal act and lead to the arrest and conviction of a criminal. The process of discovering a criminal suspect and prosecuting them takes time, effort and specialized skills that can only be achieved through the proper education and degree programs. With the interest in television shows like CSI, and the continual development of new forensic technologies, there is a growing interest in the fields of Forensic Science, Crime Scene Investigation and Medical examination. Careers in these fields remain steady, with an average annual salary of $51,480 . Those who hold a degree in Forensic Science are able to fulfill the job duties of crime laboratory analysts, crime scene investigators, medical examiners, forensic engineers and other criminal justice positions.

A Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, with a concentration in Forensic Science is the basis for a career in crime scene investigation as well as other forensic science jobs like forensic engineers, psychological profilers, and those investigators who specialize in forensics like ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, or even biochemistry. American InterContinental University Online offers a Bachelor of Science degree online that helps a person keep an existing job and still plan for a future career in forensic science by obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree. With a degree in forensic science, it is possible to embark on a career that is not only interesting, but one vital to the safety and security of citizens.

Forensic scientists can be employed in federal, regional, state, and local forensic laboratories; district court offices, private agencies, colleges and universities, and within the military. Forensic scientists may also be called upon as consultants or to provide expert testimony during court trials. American InterContinental University Online also provides education in DNA analysis or firearm examination, testing weapons or substances such as fiber, glass, hair, tissue and body fluids. Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice students also learn about jurisdictions, how to define the cause and manner of death, and techniques in establishing identity. Students also learn how to notify the next of kin, interview witnesses and interpreting crime scene photography and other forensic evidence.

With a degree in forensic science, it is possible to be a part of a team that helps find and convict criminals, keeping the world a safer place. Forensic science careers are interesting, diverse and promise excitement and the ability to really use one’s analytical skills in a way that helps everyone who is affected by crime.

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