Spring 2023 - CRIM 131 E100

Introduction to the Criminal Justice System - A Total System Approach (3)

Class Number: 6950

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 4:30 PM – 6:20 PM
    SWH 10041, Burnaby



Introductory analysis of the structure and operation of the Canadian criminal justice system. Examination of the patterns of crime and victimization; police operations, discretion and decision making; the criminal courts, including sentencing; the corrections system, including correctional institutions and community-based models; the youth justice system. Patterns of contact and conflict between various social groups and the criminal justice system. Breadth-Social Sciences.


This course is designed to introduce students to the study of the Canadian Criminal Justice System.  The criminal justice system refers to three inter-related social institutions – the Police, the Courts and Corrections – that are responsible for reproducing social order and controlling criminal behaviour within Canadian society.  Lectures, readings and tutorials will help students understand the basic structure and legal processes associated with the justice system as well as provide a review of the major issues and challenges facing Canada’s major criminal justice institutions. Although an emphasis will be placed on Canadian institutions and criminological research, relevant findings from international studies will also be discussed.


Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

1) Identify and demonstrate understanding of the relationship between various components of the criminal justice system and their structure and operation in Canada;
2) Identify and explain challenges, trends and policy shifts in the criminal justice system;
3) Describe and critically assess the challenges to operating a CJS for diverse groups;
4) Describe and critically assess the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in Canada’s CJS and the factors that led to their over-representation;
5) Describe and critically assess the structure and culture of policing, factors that influence police decision-making and discretion, policing models, use and abuse of police powers, and  relationships between police and various institutions and communities;
6) Describe and critically assess the structure and types of courts, factors that influence legal and decision-making and discretion, sentencing, relationships between court room actors  and the accused, victims, witnesses and other affected individuals; and
7) Describe and critically assess the structure and operation of corrections programs, factors that influence custody and release decisions, use and abuse of power in correctional      facilities, and programming and re-entry.


  • Mid Term Test 35%
  • Essay 35%
  • End of Term Test 20%
  • Tutorials, participation 10%



  1. Griffiths, C. T. (2019). Canadian criminal justice: A primer (6th ed.). Toronto, ON: Nelson. Note: there will be reserve copies available in the Bennett Library.

         Note: You must use the sixth edition.

  1. Other readings will be provided by the Instructor.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

If you have any Criminology course enrollment requests (course adds, course swaps), please contact a Criminology advisor. Please do not contact instructors for enrollment assistance as they will ultimately refer you to a Criminology advisor.

Criminology course enrollment requests should be sent to a Criminology advisor no later than the last day of the Second week of classes. Late enrollment requests are subject to approval and are not guaranteed. 

Enrollment requests for non-Crim courses should be directed to the advisor for the program offering the course. 

ATTENTION: STUDENTS WITH A DISABILITY: Please contact the Center for Accessible Learning, (MBC 1250 or Phone 778-782-3112) if you need or require assistance, not your individual instructors.  

  • N.B.: Students are reminded that attendance in the first week of classes is important. However, there are no tutorials in the first week.
  • ON CAMPUS COURSES ONLY: Assignments not submitted to the Professor/T.A. during class/office hours must be placed in the security box behind the General Office (SWH 10156), or submitted as per Professor’s instructions for courses taking place at Surrey Campus. The assignment drop box is emptied Monday to Friday at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. only, with the contents date stamped accordingly. No other department’s date stamp will be accepted (e.g. Library/Campus Security).  For the Surrey Campus, assignments must be hand delivered to the General Office of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, located at SUR 5180, on Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30p.m., or placed in the assignment drop box located at the southwest corner of Galleria 5.  The Surrey assignment drop box is emptied Monday through Friday at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., with the contents date stamped accordingly.  The School of Criminology is not responsible for assignments submitted in any other manner (e.g., slid under office doors).  The University does NOT accept assignments by fax or email.
  • A student must complete ALL aspects of a course (including assignments, exams, class participation, presentations, chat room components of Distance Education courses and other), otherwise they will receive a grade of N. 
  • The University has formal policies regarding intellectual dishonesty and grade appeals which may be obtained from the General Office of the School of Criminology.
  • Under GP18, the University has policies and procedures which respond to our obligations under the BC Human Rights Code to provide a harassment and discrimination free environment for the students, staff and faculty of this institution.  Members of this community have an affirmative obligation to safeguard the human rights of others.


Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html