Criminal Justice courses target correctional officers’ schedules

In response to the needs of a non-traditional group, Coastal Bend College plans to offer criminal justice classes to match the work schedules of Texas Department of Criminal Justice correctional officers. The pilot program is set to launch this summer.

 “Correctional officers can’t attend on the traditional Monday to Thursday schedule of classes,” said Kevin Behr, CBC Professional and Public Services Division Chair. “The vast majority of correctional officers work four on/four off schedules. In this new program, the instructor follows their cycles, not the other way around.”

 The course offerings and certificates and degree plans are the same as they are for other criminal justice students but the delivery is different in order to meet the needs of that group. More than 60 area correctional officers have expressed interest in the program, according to Behr. The college will offer classes that track the days off of correctional officers.

 “This course schedule is designed to specifically meet the needs of correctional officers, but the classes are open to everyone,” Behr said. He spoke to TDCJ administrators and found that they were “excited and supportive of the program.”

 “TDCJ traditionally pushes for more education, but with the correctional officers’ work schedules, it’s rather difficult,” Behr said. The plan is to launch the program for the 12-week summer semester. If interest is high, it will continue. Behr offered to schedule on-site classes, but found by polling potential students that they prefer the collegiate atmosphere of on-campus study.

 “It is a significant investment of time for us, but it’s something that needed to be done for a long time. We are reaching out to customers,” he said. Courses offered won’t be exclusively criminal justice. The list of available courses on this rotating schedule will grow and change based on the needs of students. The courses are open to everyone so that it doesn’t matter where they are academically.

 The college offers about six criminal justice courses every year with two or three each semester. Course offerings to TDCJ employees will change each semester so that the following courses are available on the officer’s schedules:

 CRIJ 1301: Introduction to Criminal Justice

CRIJ 1306: Court Systems and Practices

CRIJ 1307: Crime in America

CRIJ 1310: Fundamentals of Criminal Law

CRIJ 1313: Juvenile Justice Systems

CRIJ 2301: Community Resources in Corrections

CRIJ 2313: Correctional Systems and Practices

CRIJ 2314: Criminal Investigation

CRIJ 2323: Legal Aspects of Law Enforcement

CRIJ 2328: Police Systems and Practices

 “Many correctional officers take online classes, but that form of delivery isn’t suitable for every student,” Behr said. Online course offerings are available, even within the criminal justice curriculum, and correctional officers comfortable with that medium can register for those classes or take a combination of classes.

 Jarod Bleibdrey, a Coastal Bend College graduate and former correctional officer, will teach many of the criminal justice classes. Bleibdrey assisted Behr in getting the program together.

 The college offers a criminal justice certificate and an Associate of Science Degree – Criminal Justice Field of Study. The program helps correctional officer get the academic experiences that they need to get promoted. Classes in both the certificate and degree programs transfer to a university-level, academic program of study in criminal justice. Financial aid is available to eligible students.

 “We are reaching out to a segment of the community that needs us to adjust,” Behr said. The plan is to offer it in Beeville only. Beeville is the center of correctional activities in the region.

 For more information, contact Kevin Behr at (361) 354-2338 or kevind@coastalbend.edu.

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