Justice is Served
A new Criminal Justice Studies Center takes an innovative approach in examining issues of law and the courts.
“I can’t say I always aspired to a criminal justice career. Growing up, my interests ranged from being a mechanic to a veterinarian. Teaching did, however, enter my mind quite a few times,” says Dr. LaNina Cooke, assistant director for the Center for Criminal Justice Studies.
Cooke did, indeed, enter the teaching profession, though she took an unusual and circuitous route. As a freshman at Morgan State University she majored in Sports Administration. When she lost interest in the curriculum, though, Cooke switched her major to Psychology, which she loved. An internship at the Juvenile Justice Remediation Center in Baltimore led her to degrees from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and CUNY Graduate Center, and a seven-year stop at the King’s County District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.
“When I started my doctoral program, I was asked if my career would ultimately be in the field or in teaching,” she says. “I chose the field because I wanted to have an inside view of the criminal justice process, and to get an understanding of the people who impact and are impacted by the system and those who are instrumental in its functioning.
“After I worked in the field in various capacities and in local government at a reentry program, I felt it was time to share what I had experienced and hopefully get more students interested and involved in the behind-the-scenes areas of criminal justice.”
Now Cooke is preparing for the opening of FSC’s new Center for Criminal Justice Studies, an initiative that includes bringing the Criminal Justice Department’s programs and the School of Engineering Technology’s Security Systems/Law Enforcement Technology degree under one roof. Making the Center even more timely is the launch of a new four-year degree, Criminal Justice: Police, Courts, and Corrections, which Cooke describes as social science oriented with courses in intelligence, victimology, reentry, and counterterrorism.
The program was already being developed when Cooke arrived at FSC in 2016, but she has left her mark on it by creating courses in Corrections and Reentry, Policy and Program Evaluation, and Criminal Justice Leadership and Ethics.
According to Cooke, “the degree is absolutely important to the area, in that it offers students the opportunity to stay local, while taking a major that hits all corners of what they need to know to be effective in the field. This program offers a non-technical outlet for students who are geared toward the social-science aspect of criminal justice. Students will be well prepared to either join the workforce or extend their academic career.”
And do their Farmingdale education justice.