For this milestone, you will write a draft that will include these sections of the final project: Introduction, Theory and Methods, and Literature Review. Your instructor will provide feedback that will be incorporated into your final project, which you will submit in Module Nine.
In Module One, you will explore the anatomy of a good decision maker. Effective criminal justice decision makers are capable of maintaining a level head in the face of adversity. This necessitates maintaining control of their emotions and not allowing an emotional reaction to dictate the types of decision they make.
To be a successful criminal justice decision maker, you should make good use of every resource available to you before making a decision. Resources available to you include any previous research done on the problem you are facing, crime trends/statistics, and the best practices used by those in the field. Additionally, it will prove beneficial to develop several possible choices and predict their outcomes. Often a decision will have to be made in a rapidly changing environment. Therefore, it is vital to be knowledgeable on departmental policies and procedures before a situation arises.
When collecting information to make a decision, you must know what type of data is being collected. There are two types of data and research designs: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative data and research designs focus on descriptions, emotions, and information that can be observed but not measured. In contrast, quantitative data deals with information that can be measured numerically. There are times when you will be called upon to explain why a crime trend is occurring. That trend could be the number of riots in a prison or speeders in a specific area. A quantitative research design will explain the number of times a violent riot has occurred or the average speed vehicles are traveling over the speed limit. A qualitative research design will explain that race-related issues are arising within a correctional facility, or that vehicles are speeding because the drivers are late for appointments/work. In summary, the explanation of why an event happened will be different across the two research designs, which is also why they work so well together.
Module One focused on the anatomy of a good decision maker and the methods used to become a more effective decision maker. These methods will be explored further in Module Two. This module will also help you understand the process of using research to assist you in determining the best possible solution for a given problem, as well as how data is collected within the criminal justice system. Research methods that are used to analyze that data will also be explored.
Criminal justice professionals will utilize a variety of different research methods. Some of these methods are listed below.
- Experimental research is a type of study that is conducted within the criminal justice system to evaluate a new policy or procedure that has been implemented. This type of research method measures the efficacy of the decision that was made.
- Surveys and questionnaires may be a bit more versatile. Criminal justice professionals use this type of research method to gather data from the external environment (i.e., the surrounding community).
- Crime mapping is a research method used to analyze and interpret crime data. This research method correlates aspects of crimes such as location, patterns, and the specific types of crimes being committed.
- Systematic literature review collects and analyzes multiple existing research studies or papers.
Utilizing these research methods create a greater opportunity for making an effective decision.
In Module Two, you reviewed the research methods that are available to the criminal justice professional. In Module Three, you will build on the principles of those research methods and review data analysis. Analyzing data is an essential task within the field of criminal justice because it yields results that will allow for more concrete decision making.
Analyzing data is a task that takes place throughout your workday and consists of trying to add value to numbers. You take the data and inspect it with the main objective of discovering information relative to the issue you are presented with. A common method of applying value to the data includes sourcing established research done with data similar to what you have. Another method of analyzing data is to assemble a focus group to discuss and evaluate the data. This will greatly assist you as a criminal justice professional in the next step of the process, which is interpretation of the data. Drawing a conclusion based on what the data displays is the final interpretive step in data analysis. This is the culmination of a series of processes that will give the criminal justice professional a better understanding of the issue and the avenues to possible remedies.
In Module Three, you focused on data analysis and how you, as a criminal justice professional, should dissect numbers and add value to those numbers. In Module Four, you will focus on how that data is obtained.
Finding patterns within the field of criminal justice is a very important task for agencies that want to remain relevant. Internal and external patterns are often referred to as trends. Some examples of internal trends are patterns across research studies, or across departmental policies or procedures. External trends often come in the form of citizen complaints, crime statistics, or other patterns that form within the surrounding community. Identifying a trend is the first step in recognizing an issue before it snowballs out of control.
Crime trends are specifically defined as repeated offenses of a specific type of crime within a localized geographic area, and they are designed to measure the quantity of crime types within any given area. This information is useful because it not only addresses crimes that have already been committed but also predicts a pattern of behavior with accuracy, thereby assisting in making decisions to eliminate the trend effectively.
In Module Four, you learned about crime trends and how to establish patterns to predict future behavior. In Module Five, you will take a look at some of the major criminological theories that explain why people commit crime. These theories are an important aspect of the research process, and they will ultimately guide you in your decision-making process.
There are many published assumptions that offer an explanation behind a personâ€™s motivation to commit crime. A few of the most prevalent criminological theories used by criminal justice professionals today are listed below.
- Rational choice theory offers the explanation that people commit crime rationally after weighing their options. For example, after their options are weighed, they make the choice that the reward of the criminal act is worth the risk of punishment.
- Labeling theory takes a different approach by explaining that people are more likely to be influenced by the classifications of society. For example, someone convicted for breaking into cars would be labeled a criminal and thus would be predisposed to commit the same offense again. Whereas if an offender is arrested but not convicted of the crime, they may be less likely to commit the same type of crime.
- Deterrence theory assumes that people in society have some semblance of rationality and are actively aware of the consequences of their actions. For example, when an offender commits a crime, he or she expects certain rewards from the incident. If crime is to be reduced, the punishment must be more significant than the potential reward for committing the crime.
Deductive and inductive reasoning are also important to the field of criminal justice, as they go hand in hand with qualitative and quantitative research methods. Deductive reasoning starts with a premise which you believe to be the truth. You then figure out other principles that would have to be true based on your foundational premise. Inductive reasoning is quite the opposite, in that you are presented with some data first. After the data is presented, you begin to draw general conclusions on facts that can be taken from that data. You figure out which criminological theory or theories you could apply to the data.
In deductive reasoning, you will frequently see quantitative research design, whereas with inductive reasoning you will see qualitative research design.