Beto Criminal Justice Center
The Criminal Justice program's roots go back to the mid-1960s and a joint venture between the university and Texas Department of Corrections. Originally the Institute of Contemporary Corrections and Behavioral Sciences, courses were part of the Sociology Department and held in the Woods Building.
Construction began in the early 1970s on a new four-story, 197,000 square-foot building containing classrooms, offices, a 500-seat auditorium, and courtroom. Funded by the federal government, the center was built entirely by inmate labor, severely reducing the cost of construction. A display in the building honors the inmates who helped with construction, noting the irony of the convicted felons building a facility to prepare future generation for careers in law enforcement. The cap of one such inmate, Terry, is included in the display. Friel writes that Terry was one of the last inmates to work at building the center and probably "inadvertently forget his cap at the end of a long day, which I found in one of the classrooms the day the center opened." Terry was paroled in 1978 after serving three years.
Shortly after opening, State of Texas v. Nicol became the first criminal case tried in the building's courtroom. Two years later the courtroom - which has been used for numerous seminars, programs, and trials over the years - was renamed in honor of Hazel Kerper. The building's 400+-seat auditorium was renamed in honor of founding director, George Killinger, in 1986.
The sundial located outside the southern entrance was dedicated in 1990, the 25th anniversary of Criminal Justice classes at SHSU, to honor criminal justice alumni and other law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The Commemoration, or Sundial, Ceremony is held each April.
The CJ Center is home to a number of research institutes, including:
The Criminal Justice time capsule was created to celebrate the program's first quarter century (1965-1990). Memorabilia was placed in the time capsule on Criminal Justice Commemoration Day, April 26, 1991. The capsule is due to be opened in 2015, whereupon the materials will be reviewed and then be placed back into the time capsule along with materials covering the second quarter century (1990-2015).
In 2013 the Texas Department of Criminal Justice donated 78 acres of land to SHSU along Highway 75 north of campus. Initial plans for Innovation Plaza are to build a criminal justice complex with structures for the Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas, the Correctional Management Institute of Texas, and a training facility for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
comments powered by Disqus