By Barbara Young:
Starting in fall 2014, the University of Wisconsin–Stout will have a new major: Criminal Justice and Rehabilitation.
“It is a unique program,” said Kyle Kleist, senior lecturer and program director at UW–Stout. “It looks at identifying the needs of offenders and how we can go about rehabilitating individuals rather than incarcerating them.”
The new program was created by turning the Criminal Justice concentration in the Vocational Rehabilitation program into its own major.
“As of fall 2014, we will no longer have the concentration in Voc Rehab,” said Kleist. “We will just have the Criminal Justice and Rehabilitation major.”
The creation of the new program will be beneficial to both students and admissions. By creating a major with the words “Criminal Justice” in the title, students will be able to explain their major with more ease and it will also help with recruiting future students.
“It just spells out the program a little bit clearer,” Kleist said. “Admissions had brought up that students are looking for a degree with Criminal Justice in the name.”
The concentration currently has around 100 students, making it the largest concentration in the Voc Rehab major. About 70 are expected to make the switch to the major, with another 20-25 transferring in.
“We’re projecting up to 150 students in five years,” said Kleist, “but that could be an underestimation.”
The process to separate the programs began two years ago. After a few hitches that involved redoing the proposal and assuring the UW system that the major was unique and fulfilled a need, permission was given for work to begin on constructing the major.
“We did not look at any other programs to base it off of. We put together a provisional planning committee. Everyone agreed they wanted to make sure it was a unique program and that it would address the needs of the offenders,” said Kleist.
Students entering the original concentration were advised on which classes to take based on the fact that the new major would be coming.
“The majority of freshman and sophomores that are currently in the concentration will automatically be changed to the new major,” Kleist said. “For the past year, those coming into the program have been advised knowing that this would come to be.”
The new major will involve the hiring of a new faculty member to teach the criminal justice specific courses, as well as creating several new classes on campus.
“We added some more selectives, so students take a required 68 credits within the major and then they have 12 credits of selectives that they can choose from that are more geared toward their specific career interests in the program. “
A degree in Criminal Justice and Rehabilitation will allow graduates to pursue careers in a wide range of professions.
“Students go into law enforcement and probation or parole for juveniles and adults. They go into employment programs working with offenders or rehabilitation education programs. Many go into courts, working with different plea agreement programs,” Kleist said.
The major comes at a time when the job market for offender-based programs is expanding. “There has been more money going into rehab by states than ever before,” Kleist said.
The new program will be the 47th undergraduate major at UW–Stout.