Criminal justice and criminology degree programs are often combined into one department or school at most colleges and universities, but there are essential differences between the two that make a big difference for students deciding what direction they want to take their career. While criminal justice majors will study criminology, and vice-versa, the one you choose to focus on will have a real impact on your career options.
What is Criminal Justice?
Criminal justice is the disciple that refers to law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. There are different career fields that make up this field. For example, police officers, investigators, correctional officers, and federal officers are a part of this field known as criminal justice. Those working in this field work closely with the court system and also corrections, as criminals who are arrested will need to be booked in a corrections center and work into the court system.
Essentially, criminal justice is the system that is utilized for criminal activity and works to shape the policy surrounding crime and its effect on society. Those who must go through sentencing for their crimes and those who assist them through are all related to criminal justice.
What is Criminology?
Criminology refers to the study of the crime itself. Reviewing everything from criminals to law enforcement and their practices, criminology provides a solid foundation for students who are looking to pursue a long career with criminal justice in some capacity, such as jobs in forensics.
Criminologists work closely with law enforcement and study the patterns of crimes in an attempt to understand the felon and understand the reasoning behind the crime. Criminology consists of three major schools of thought, the Positivist School, the Chicago School, and the Classical School. These thoughts refer to the different factors associated with malicious behavior.
The focus of a criminologist includes the crime frequency, location, and reactions as a way to determine the reasoning behind the crimes and help law enforcement solve them. These professionals are essential in many crime cases because their expertise help brings justice to those who have suffered the crime.
What is the Difference Between Criminology and Criminal Justice?
The difference between criminal justice and criminology refer to the actions of each field. Criminology is the study of the crimes, and criminal justice refers to the system in which those who have committed crimes and must be punished. Criminologists study a vast amount of crimes at once and are not always looking to solve each individual case. Many criminologists study crime broadly as a way to develop patterns and look for similarities in terms of research.
Those working in criminal justice are looking to solve a particular case and see that a particular individual goes through the stages of the court system, which is the answer when asking what is the difference between criminology and criminal justice. The end result for those in criminal justice is not to develop a similarity but to find the person responsible and cease the crime from recurring.
What is the Relationship Between Criminology and Criminal Law?
While there is a question as to what is the difference between criminal justice and criminology, there is another relationship to consider in this field; the relationship between criminology and criminal law. Criminal law refers to the study and use of laws that are already set and legalized. Those studying criminal law are learning what is currently in existence and take these laws with them in their career. Attorneys and paralegals are the primary players in criminal law.
Criminology, on the other hand, evaluates the crimes that come through the criminal justice system and evaluates them in regard to the current laws. Current laws are evaluated and new ones are recommended based upon the studies and statistics gathered by criminologists over a period of time. Since the birth of criminology and its growing use in the criminal justice system, criminology has been having a persuasion of influence over criminal law and newer laws that are being addressed in the criminal justice system.