Regis welcomes new criminal justice advisory board

Regis recently hosted a number of criminal justice and law enforcement representatives to serve on a newly formed advisory board. This panel of experts, which represented the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Denver District Attorney, Arvada, Lakewood and Denver police departments, gang intervention organizations, prisoner reentry and more, was welcomed on campus to share their expertise.

Amin Asfari, Ph.D., associate professor in Regis College, led the efforts in developing this board, which will assist in crafting a unique curriculum that is responsive to the needs of students and employers, many of whom serve on the advisory committee.

The recent panel meeting was part of a larger strategic vision for the department, one that Asfari hopes will become a singular department of criminology and criminal justice. This program will be more strategic, mission-driven, student-focused, and one that is aligned with market needs and realities, Asfari said.

“We’re developing programs that are inclusive of all other components of the criminal justice system, including ones we traditionally may not consider, for example: social justice/engagement. That is why we invited to the panel, among others, the Denver District Attorney, Colorado Department of Corrections, and numerous agencies from Colorado criminal justice reform to social work, to prisoner reentry, and many more,” Asfari said.

Asfari said this newly developed program also ties into the University’s mission of social justice and activism nicely, while remaining aligned to what is traditionally considered to be “criminal justice.” These organizations can and should be represented for a number of reasons, he said.

A main goal is to allow of the input of stakeholder organizations to help develop the program instead of the process being led solely by Regis.

“These organizations have needs that we can meet if they are present and helping to craft programs that are responsive to those needs. Students also want choice. Many Criminal Justice and Criminology students actually may not want to go into policing, which is a common misconception,” Asfari said.

Students are seeking a diverse program that includes preparation for work in ancillary agencies allowing them to have the choice they need to make decisions in their interests, he added. Ideally, Asfari would like to develop a robust forensics program (forensic science) in which courses could be offered across various departments, assisting them in terms of enrollment, while delivering robust and rigorous courses for students.

Asfari believes this aligns with market needs because policing is seeing a decline across the country, and as a society, he said we are shifting into a future where police are more specialized and less likely to deal with cases of mental health, poverty alleviation, jobs training, and more. Denver is leading the way in that regard, he said, and this program will therefore be more responsive to a future in the making. Asfari’s hope is that with Criminal Justice/Criminology as a separate unit, the University could also begin to develop a rigorous on-campus master’s program that would generate research funds, enhanced student experience and eventually lead to a Doctoral program.