PULLMAN, Wash. – The Criminal Justice Program at Washington State University has been granted autonomous status to become the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology.
Chaired by David Brody, the program is based on the Pullman campus and will maintain its presence in Spokane.
The decision to separate from the department of political science was made five years ago and was an amicable one, Brody said. Resource allocation and increased focus were reasons for the decision, he said.
In research, faculty members found linkages with health sciences researchers on the Spokane campus.
“There’s a growing and dynamic paradigm within criminal justice that views crime and its impacts on society as a public health problem,” said Brody. “It really fits with some of the work being done in Spokane.”

For example, Bryan Vila, professor of criminal justice, has been conducting grant-funded studies on the effects of fatigue on police performance through his affiliation with the Sleep and Performance Research Center. Recent Pullman hire Zach Hamilton, an assistant professor, has contributed his knowledge on criminal reentry into society as part of a grant application team led by substance abuse expert John Roll.
And clinical assistant professor Jacqueline van Wormer, known nationally for her expertise on drug courts, is collaborating with Bob Short in the Washington Institute for Mental Health Research and Treatment.
“We’re committed to continuing to work in an interdisciplinary nature, with a focus on the linkages between crime, criminal justice and the health sciences,” said Brody.
Program offerings will stay the same, with the undergraduate major and minor based in Pullman and the M.A. and Ph.D. available to students in Spokane and Pullman. An online master’s degree is anticipated for fall 2012.
The second oldest of its kind in the U.S., the department enjoyed autonomous status from its founding in 1943 as the Department of Police Science. Later known as the Department of Criminal Justice, it merged with the Department of Political Science in 1982 and became the Criminal Justice Program.