Criminal justice institute educates students with real life experience

A professor in the department of criminal justice designed and administered a one week Criminal Justice Institute, for high school students interested in criminal justice, over the summer.

John Paitakes, Ph.D., senior faculty associate in the department of criminal justice and designer of the institute, said he was approached by former Dean of Continuing Education, Phillip Disalvio, Ph.D. to start the institute.

“He contacted me last November and asked, because of my background and experience, if I could create a program,” Paitakes said.

Paitakes described the program to consist of three major components of criminal justice: law enforcement, courts and corrections.

According to Paitakes, central and northern New Jersey high school students were candidates for the program.

Paitakes said the program was publicized on the Seton Hall website and mailings were sent out to high school guidance departments.

“There were eight high school students; six males and two females who registered for this non-credit institute.” Paitakes said. “The registration for the one week course (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) was $689.”

Paitakes said that the program included lectures from criminal justice professionals such as police officers, and a forensic anthropologist.

According to Paitakes, the students went on two trips.

The first trip consisted of a visit to a County Jail where the students witnessed the correctional environment, and the second trip was to a Police Academy where all students participated in a “mock shooting” scenario via video scenes.

“To add a sense of reality, prison inmates from a state correctional setting were brought to the classroom, under supervision of the department of corrections, to relate their crimes and backgrounds,” Paitakes said. “Students had the opportunity to question and discuss a variety of correctional issues.

This program, “Project Pride,” is a very popular program at various high Schools and colleges in New Jersey.”

Paitakes said that Dean Nancy Low-Hogan, the new dean of continuing education, and her administrative assistant, Cindy Jimenez, were very supportive in the administration of the summer institute.

Paitakes said that students had the opportunity to evaluate the institute.

“All students felt this was a great experience and validated their desire to pursue careers in criminal justice,” Paitakes said.

“I was extremely pleased with the students’ motivation and interest during the program and in fact several students stated they were very interested in attending Seton Hall University as a result of this experience.”

Paitakes said he is confident that the continuing education department will plan to offer the same, or at least a similar program, next summer “based on this successful experience.”

According to Paitakes, he is interested in working with the project again.

Kimberly Bolognini can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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