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Justice Policy Journal - Volume 2, Number 1 - Summer 2005

(ISSN 1530-3012)


From the editor

By Randall G. Shelden, M.A., Ph.D.

From the Editor

I would like to welcome readers to the latest issue of the Justice Policy Journal. I am proud to be serving as the editor of this fine journal. In fact, this is my first crack at this kind of work and it is very challenging, but enjoyable.

Volume 2, No. 1 of this journal contains a good mixture of articles, but without meaning to, it turns out that they all deal with prisons and jails. The lead article, written by Monica Robbers, deals with the growing issue of what happens to children when their parents go to prison. While much has been written about the problems facing women as they enter prison because of the children they leave behind, we need to face the fact that there are almost two million men behind bars on any given day. Additionally, there are just under 5 million people on probation and parole, most of whom are men. As is so often the case (especially in recent years) they are a step away from going to prison. As Robbers correctly notes the effects of an absent father "include an increased risk of poverty, substance abuse and intergenerational criminal involvement; and a decrease in ability to cope with trauma, a disruption of development, and erosion of respect for authority figures." While there are now several "fatherhood" programs in prisons and jails (sponsored by the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) or by various religious organizations), few of these have been evaluated. It is hoped that in reading this article you will get an idea of the importance not only of having such programs, but even more importantly, doing good evaluations.

The second article is written by Annette Kuhlman who talks of her experience teaching classes inside a women's prison in Wisconsin. Here we are dealing with an issue of growing importance, namely that the fastest growing population inside the nation's prisons happens to be women. Kuhlman correctly notes that the crimes that women commit (along with their motives) are much different than men and "are closely related to the structural situation of women in this society. The characteristics are histories of abuse, of being responsible for children, and being limited to low skill/low income jobs. Incarcerated women grew up in abusive families to a much higher extent than men and a majority of them had experienced domestic violence." Also, they have been marginalized and are among a large segment of the population whose voices we rarely hear. Kuhlman's article allows these voices to get through to us. This reminds me of a statement by Howard Zinn who said that there "is an underside to every age" that is rarely written about because most of what we read about is taken from the "records left by the privileged." You will thoroughly enjoy reading Kuhlman's article.

The third deals with the sensitive and controversial issue of certifying juveniles as adults, especially as it relates to the obvious racial bias. In an excellent review of the literature on this subject, Jodi Olson writes eloquently about this issue. I take particular pride in presenting this paper since Jodi was one of the top graduate students I have ever seen. This was a paper she wrote for a graduate seminar on juvenile justice last year. In her conclusion, Olson states the issue well, noting that the "lack of attention to the specific characteristics of youths and their unique situations further illustrates the departure of the waiver process from rehabilitative ideals." Especially important is that the fact that "youths waived to adult court have displayed higher rates of recidivism and face a number of risks upon being sentenced to adult prison."

Rounding out the issue is a very thoughtful and unique take on the police subculture as it relates to local jails. Daryl Meeks, a veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office and an adjunct professor at National University, explores the socialization of rookie officers as they get introduced to the world of criminals in the Los Angeles County Jail. He notes that the jail experience exposes one to some rather horrible conditions and such an exposure "can have the same debilitating affect and influence on the jail officer's social and professional development and behavior as it has on the incarcerated inmates." More importantly, however, "the transition from guard duty in the custodial environment to the police assignment of street patrol can pose problems for the jail officer who has developed aberrant and professionally dysfunctional behavioral traits, while working inside the county jail." Rookie officers employed in the jail internalize what Elijah Anderson called an "oppositional culture" that is part of the "code of the street," which is often expressed through specific behaviors such as: "violations of formal ethical standards, such as in the use of force, the acceptance of preferential or discriminatory treatment, use of illegal investigation tactics, differential enforcement of laws, lying and deception, and the use of perjury to protect yourself or get a conviction on a 'bad guy'."

Taken together, these four articles bring forth data and commentary that we may all use to better understand some of the complex and persistent issues within both the juvenile and criminal justice system. These excellent writers force us to look at both prisons and jails from different lenses than we are accustomed to. On behalf of the people associated with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, I am happy to present to you, the reader, the latest issue in what we hope will be a continuously successful journal.

Editor Randall G. Shelden, M.A., Ph.D.

Waiver of Juveniles to Criminal Court: Judicial Discretion and Racial Disparity

By Jodi K. Olson

The existence of racial disparity in the waiver of juvenile cases to adult criminal court has been acknowledged in past research. In addition, questionable practices with respect to prosecutorial decision-making in the waiver process have also drawn attention to existing juvenile waiver policies. The consequences and effectiveness of waiving juveniles to criminal court also warrants further examination as current literature points toward negative experiences for youths waived to adult court and a lack of success with reference to the intended objectives of the waiver process. Upon a review of the literature, policy implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Jodi K. Olson
University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Jodi K. Olson received her Masters Degree in the Department of Criminal Justice, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, May, 2005. This paper was submitted as partial fulfillment for the requirements of a graduate seminar on Juvenile Justice during the fall semester, 2004.

The View From the Other Side of the Fence: Incarcerated Women Talk about Themselves

By Annette Kuhlmann

Women are the demographic group with the fastest growing incarceration rates, yet historically women's prisons have been built and organized according to the male model. In this manner female convicts' special needs have been ignored. In recent years a small body of literature has begun to address the special situation of women in the criminal justice system, the way that the nature of their crimes and their life in prison is different than that of men and is rooted in patriarchy. Listening to the voices of the women themselves reveals the interrelated nature of the crimes for which they are convicted and their structural position.

Annette Kuhlmann
University of Wisconsin Colleges
Annette Kuhlmann teaches Sociology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin Colleges in Baraboo. For the last 10 years she has regularly taught classes at an upper-medium security male prison. In recent years she has visited state women's prisons for college preparatory sessions. This is a revised version of a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Sociological Society, March 31- April 3, 2005.

Focus on Family and Fatherhood: Lessons from Fairfax County's Responsible Fatherhood Program for Incarcerated Dads

By Monica L.P. Robbers

During the next five years, researcher's estimate that some 10 million children under the age of 18 will have a father who is incarcerated (DOJ, 2003). Children who grow up without a father are five to six times more likely to live below the poverty line, are at increased risk of substance abuse, physical and emotional abuse, and are more likely to become involved in the justice system themselves. In an effort to re-connect children with estranged or absent fathers, Responsible Fatherhood programs have been implemented in prisons and communities around the country. In March of 2002, Fairfax County implemented a Responsible Fatherhood program for incarcerated Dads. This article presents quantitative results from the evaluation of the first six cohorts to complete the program, using a classic four group experimental design. The program's effectiveness in building family relationships, increasing knowledge and improving attitudes toward fatherhood, improving the quality of relationship with mother's of children, and increasing awareness of the justice system are discussed, along with other program benefits, and recommendations for future programs.

Monica L.P. Robbers
Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Marymount University
Monica L.P. Robbers is an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, Marymount University. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2003 American Society of Criminology meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Doing Jail Time: The Socialization Process of a County Jail Environment

By Daryl Meeks

The socialization process that occurs within a custodial environment has primarily been examined through the lens of the prison inmate. However, largely ignored in this analysis of the development of inmate behavior has been the socialization process that actually begins with incarceration in the local county jail system. Interestingly, current research in this area has ignored the socialization process and the custodial acculturation experience of the jail officers tasked with guarding the inmates housed in the jail system. This paper will examine the socialization process that occurs within the county jail system, how this socialization process effects the acculturation of the jail officer, and the social and criminal justice policy polemic posed by this jail socialization process.

Daryl Meeks
National University, San Diego
Daryl Meeks is an Adjunct Faculty Member, Department of Organization Management and Administration, National University, San Diego. He is also a lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Keywords: jails, law enforcement, reentry, rehabilitation

Posted in Volume 2

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