10-Year Anniversary, 79-Year Legacy

The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology marked its 10th anniversary as an independent academic unit in the fall of 2021, although it has continually graduated students under one banner or another for 79 years. In 1943, the Department of Police Science was established at WSU with Professor V.A. Leonard serving as chair. Leonard founded Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society, and was among the founding members of the organization that later became the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). In 1975, the unit’s name was changed to the Department of Criminal Justice, and, in 1982, it was moved into the Department of Political Science, becoming the Criminal Justice Program.

In the summer of 2010, the Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) invited three professors in the program, Faith Lutze, Laurie Drapela, and Zachary Hamilton, to meet with their directors and research staff. Facilitated by Research Manager Teri Herold-Prayer (a WSU alum), an interinstitutional partnership was soon forged. This partnership has created a data sharing clearinghouse that is unprecedented and unrivaled by any other program nationally. Beginning somewhat organically, the partnership between the eventual Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and the WADOC developed around the formulation of a research project. The project sought to examine guidelines for supervision dosage, whereby WSU would identify the duration and frequency of community supervision contacts for those offenders reentering the community from felony convictions. To achieve these lofty project goals, WSU faculty suggested all WADOC would be needed. WADOC agreed and, in partnership with WSU, established a process for the secure and routine transfer of any and all data collected. A data sharing agreement was created to allow WSU access to any and all WADOC data through the year 2021. This general agreement has provided for additional data access possibilities for faculty and student research projects utilizing DOC data.

In 2011, the Program was granted autonomous department status as the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, then housed on the seventh floor of Johnson Tower. At first, only Criminal Justice degrees were offered until the Faculty Senate approved adding Criminology to the major as well. Since then, the department has offered B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in Criminal Justice and Criminology. The department also has been able to provide programs such as Faculty-Led Study Abroad for undergraduate students, the Complex Interactions Lab for undergraduate and graduate students, and the Prison Debate experience (now an Inside-Out program) for undergraduate students. The department also houses undergraduate and graduate student clubs: the WSU (founding) Chapter of criminal justice honor society Alpha Phi Sigma, Criminal Justice Club, and Graduate Student Association.

Since 2011, we have graduated 1,844 bachelor’s, 83 master‘s, and 53 doctoral students.

In July 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic, we moved from Johnson Tower to Wilson-Short Hall, where we occupy a suite on the main level as well as one on the ground level. This has allowed us to bring the Complex Social Interactions Lab closer to the heart of our activities and to plan for further growth. With the addition of two new faculty colleagues in 2021, and many new exciting projects in the works, we are ready for the next 10 years and beyond!

Below you will find a slideshow of photos from the past decade.