Integrative Writing Course
This course is an integrative writing course and will include a variety of writing assignments and assessments throughout the semester. These activities will develop student critical thinking, writing, and communication skills. It is recommended that you utilize a writing resource book and/or the University Writing Center resource as part of this course.
This course examines the intersection of the mental health and criminal justice systems. Particular emphasis is placed on the deinstitutionalization movement that has shifted the mentally ill away from hospitals and into correctional facilities. Topic areas include the following: the warehousing of the mentally ill, DSM-IV/ abnormal psychology, jail diversion programs, CERT training & prison standards, comorbidity between drugs and mental illness, as well as institutional responses to chronic mental conditions like schizophrenia. Over the semester, prisons and jails are examined as a by-proxy mental health system now responsible for vulnerable populations. Engagement and innovative policy solutions are required from students. This is an important course for the field of criminal justice, which due to deinstitutionalization is now a default mental health system for many people in our society. At the national level, there are now, “more than three times more seriously mentally ill persons in jails and prisons than in hospitals” (Torrye et al., 2010, p. 1). As a result, the three largest mental health facilities in the United States are correctional institutions (Miami-Dade Jail, Cook County Jail, and Los Angeles Jail). For criminal justice students this means that regardless of their pathway towards careers in policing, courts, corrections, or victimology they will regularly encounter mentally ill persons to whom they must provide services, assure safety, and demonstrate compassion. Currently, few departments offer any training in the area of mental illness – leading to potential negative, even dangerous, interactions between practitioner and citizen. This class should be extended to a broader South Carolina community principally for reasons of unique pedagogy, policy relevancy, need to address deficits in criminal justice agencies, and finally to access students in more remote parts of the state who do not have access to day classes at the main campus.
During 2012, Dr. Smith received a Distributed Learning Grant in order to create an online/writing intensive version of this class. The class was developed with expertise from the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE). The class is fully ADA compliant, and has been received well by students. The online version of this class is a much improved product due to this grant assistance). The professor on record has instructed this online version on three occasions since 2012, and student evaluations show a positive response. The class is popular and fills quickly, while allowing for greater inclusion of students who require greater flexibility in scheduling. The class was designed and delivered in a “writing intensive” format. This includes numerous writing assignments and reflective responses. Students are provided instruction on technical matters of writing (this involves the professor lecturing over the slides in order to explain the nuances). The nature of the class topic is highly suitable to a “writing intensive” course because the policy solutions are varied, contextual and require sensitivity. For example, students are required to write a reflection to a case study article in which the inmate displays a range of mental health, physical mental and violent tendencies. Such requirements of students place high emphasis on student providing a well-thought out and well-written response. Students are required to produce writing of a high standard and quality by the end of the class. Student feedback from this process has been very positive and I would like to make the “writing intensive” component official.