This sample research paper on Criminal Justice Studies features: 7900+ words, an outline, and a bibliography with 55 sources.
II. Sociological Approaches to Police Studies
A. Police as a Formal Organization
B. Police and Society
C. Police Culture
D. Police and Race
E. Role of Police Officers
1. The Personality of the Police
2. Police Corruption
3. Police and the Use of Force
4. Police and Stress
F. The Female Police Officer
III. Sociology of Law
A. Consensus versus Conflict Perspectives toward the Law
B. Efficiency and Justice of the Court Process
1. The Courtroom Work Group
2. Plea Bargaining
3. Juries under Attack
C. New Developments in the Sociology of Law
IV. Sociology of Corrections
A. Sociological Perspectives on the Correctional System
B. The Inmate World
C. How the Inmate World Has Changed
V. Future Prospectus
It can be argued that the topic “criminal justice studies” does not belong in a category of sociology because criminal justice studies have little to do with the field of sociology. Indeed, with the development of criminal justice programs across the nation in the decades following the 1960s, criminal justice courses became competitive with sociology courses and many former sociology majors became criminal justice majors. But the fact still remains that sociologists wrote many of policing, courts, and corrections’ classic studies. Some of these studies were done before the concept of criminal justice studies even existed or were published in the early days of the development of the field of criminal justice. Examples of such sociological studies of policing were Wilson’s (1968) examination of the varieties of police behavior in a community; Skolnick’s (1994) discussion of the working personality of the police; Pound’s (1914) presentation of the value neutral nature of law; Quinney’s (1970) conflict analysis of law; Chambliss’s (1964) analysis of vagrancy law; Clemmer’s (1958) participant observation study of inmate culture at the Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois; Sykes and Messinger’s (1960) depiction of the informal code of inmates in the Trenton Correctional Center; and Wheeler’s (1961) examination of prisonization in the Washington State Reformatory.
Another indicator of the influence of sociology on criminal justice studies is that in the last couple of decades, sociology of policing, sociology of law, and sociology of corrections courses are being taught, especially in upper division courses in sociology and criminology programs. Sociology of law curriculums were developed earlier than sociology of policing and corrections courses and are more established, but sociology of policing and sociology of corrections courses are currently receiving greater attention. But the sociology of corrections approach is much more likely to look at the influence of contemporary social and political conditions than would traditional approaches to corrections. For example, current concerns include how the “make prisoners suffer” mood of the 1990s has affected corrections, and what are the consequences of the budgetary shortfalls of the post-2000 period. There is also a need to understand the nature of the disillusionment that exists among contemporary correctional practitioners such as what it has been affected by and how extensive it is (Bartollas 2004).
II. Sociological Approaches to Police Studies
Sociological approaches to understanding the police can be divided into the following areas: the police as a formal organization, police and society, police culture, police and race, the role behavior of police officers, and police and the female police officer.
A. Police as a Formal Organization
The understanding of the bureaucratic nature of policing goes back to the writings of Max Weber ( 1958). In drawing on Weber’s analysis of the basic components and rules of bureaucracies, scholars emphasize that police organizations are complex bureaucracies, which have budgets of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.
Edward R. Maguire (2003) has recently analyzed a number of elements of police bureaucracies: (1) the division of labor, (2) hierarchical structures and established chains of command, (3) impersonal organizational relationships, (4) universal standards, (5) entrance and advancement standards, (6) authority and responsibility, and (7) span of authority. Community ecology, which relates to how agencies are structured and operated, is another important consideration. Community ecology is affected by the size of the community served by an agency; the number of departmental employees; whether the agency is in a rural, urban, or suburban area; local crime problems; and the community’s economic status. Finally, increased attention is being paid to the human side of police organizations—proactive versus reactive policing, alternative management styles, people processing versus people changing, and the development of culture.
B. Police and Society
Democratic systems of government rest on a delicate balance between individual rights and collective needs. This balance, based on a long history of constitutional government, is weighted on the side of individual rights. As David Bayley (1977) states,
Government in the United States is created by communities to achieve certain limited purposes. Government is a created artifact and is distrusted. . . . Americans believe that the only way to restrain this power is to ensure that its agents do not exceed the authority of the law. (P. 224)
Claiming to be apolitical suggests that the police will not violate the power entrusted to them. But in practice police organizations are anything but apolitical in that the police function in a public political arena, and their mandate is politically defined. According to Manning (1997), there are three reasons why the police are involved in the political system. First, the vast majority of the police in the United States are locally controlled. The sheriff is typically an elected position, and municipal policing is embedded in the context of local political culture. Second, law is a political entity. The administration of criminal law encompasses political values and political ends. The police are tied to a political system that defines the law, itself a product of interpretations of what is proper and right from the perspective of powerful segments within the community. Third, because police uphold the law, individuals may lose various freedoms and even life itself (Manning 1997).
James Q. Wilson’s (1968) classic study of styles of policing in a community describes how a particular police agency sees its purpose and the techniques that it uses to fulfill that purpose. He identified three styles of policing: (1) the watchman style, (2) the legalistic style, and (3) the service style. The watchman style of policing, according to Wilson, is primarily concerned with achieving the goal of “order maintenance.” This style makes considerable use of discretion, with its informal orientation sometimes taking a different approach in middle-class and lower-class communities. The legalistic style is committed to the full enforcement of the law. This style makes little use of discretion and, as much as possible, tries to eliminate it. Those who are involved in the service style of policing see themselves as helpers rather than as crime fighters.
Sociological studies of the police have emphasized the need for a new direction in policing, broadly termed “community policing.” Community-oriented policing (COP) is also known as problem-oriented policing (POP), strategic policing, or neighborhood-oriented policing. This approach affirms the importance of police and citizens working together to control crime and maintain order and is committed to building strong relationships with institutions and individuals in the community (Goldstein 1990).
C. Police Culture
The process of being introduced into the police culture is called socialization. Socialization usually takes place in three steps: the officer’s initiation into the culture, the development of a working personality, and the acceptance of the informal system. This informal code fills the void that the formal system of regulations, policies, and procedures does not cover. The informal system is taught to young recruits through a variety of socializing experiences at the academy, while riding with a training officer, and when interacting with peers on a daily basis. Values of the police culture, such as loyalty and individualism, are reinforced due to the belief that the formal system does not adequately provide for the needs of the police officer. The informal system provides a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood that supposedly transverses racial, gender, and jurisdictional boundaries as represented by the slogan “the thin blue line.” This type of solidarity is most evident when officers travel across state lines to share emotions at the funeral of a fallen officer.
The actual content of these informal rules varies among departments, but according to Skolnick (1994), “one underpinning of the police subculture is the belief among police officers that no one, i.e., management or the public understands them” (p. 44). Elizabeth Reuss-Ianni’s (1983:13–16) study found that the culture of the New York City police included such maxims as “watch out for your partner,” “don’t give up another cop,” and “getting the job done” (themes of solidarity); “protect your ass,” “don’t trust a guy until you have him checked out,” “don’t trust bosses to look out for your interests,” and “don’t make waves” (themes of isolationism) and “show ball,” “be aggressive when you have to, but don’t be too eager,” and “civilians never command police” (themes of bravery). Malcolm K. Sparrow, Mark H. Moore, and David M. Kennedy’s Beyond 911 (1990) suggests that police culture includes at least six beliefs: (1) the police are the only real crime fighters, (2) no one understands the work of a police officer, (3) loyalty counts more than anything, (4) it is impossible to win the war on crime without bending the rules, (5) the public is demanding and nonsupportive, and (6) working in patrol is the least desirable job in policing.
The degree to which these informal rules are accepted also varies across departments and even from one police officer to another. Officers who violate these informal rules risk having difficulties with fellow officers. These difficulties range from being the brunt of wise cracks and derogatory comments to being ignored by fellow officers or being transferred to another district or area of assignment. These informal norms serve to protect those who become involved in corruption or in the use of necessary force. The “blue curtain” or code of silence can be a firm barrier against administrative knowledge. It can also be exceptionally effective if it is perceived to involve an act that promises to tarnish all the good works that police officers do.
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