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Justice Policy Journal - Volume 3, Number 2 - Fall 2006

(ISSN 1530-3012)


From the editor

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

From the Editor

I am pleased to present to the readers of this web site the fourth consecutive issue of this journal. This issue, Volume 3, Number 2, is especially significant, as we have a total of six fine articles covering a variety of unique topics. I believe readers will find that we are, as promised, becoming a leading on-line journal in the field of criminology.

The lead article represents what I consider to be a first in criminology: a female ex-convict who is now a professor at Indiana University-Southeast. Here we have a first-hand account of life inside a women's prison. Bernadette Olson writes about the often painful journey through a federal penitentiary and shares not only insights into her own struggles, but the struggles of some of her fellow prisoners. This was a unique experience for me, as I think it will be for the readers of this journal.

Next up is yet another unique perspective on the criminal justice system, in this case a concept I have yet to see in the criminological literature: therapeutic mental health courts. Judge Randal Fritzler, a pioneer in applying mental health perspectives in a courtroom (his own court, in fact), addresses a growing concern within the criminal justice system: that a significant proportion of offenders have serious mental health issues, which have a direct impact on their offending behavior. Traditional approaches in criminal justice, following the usual punitive approach and the idea of deterrence, need to be thrown in the dustbin of history when it comes to this kind of offender. Judge Fritzler tells us how this is to be accomplished.

Next up is a good look at what delinquency experts know (or should know) all too well: adolescents engage in a lot of risk taking behavior and as such should be treated more leniently. John D. Hewitt, Robert M. Regoli and Christopher A. Kierkus take one of the central arguments in the recent Supreme Court Case of Roper v. Simmons where the basis of the decision (that applying the death penalty to juveniles was unconstitutional) centered around the notion that adolescents can be distinguished from adults by their immaturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility.

In the next article, Glenn W. Muschert, Melissa Young-Spillers and Dawn Carr take on the many myths associated with child abduction cases and the AMBER alert system. Here they note that the legislation creating the AMBER alert system was based upon a few isolated horror stories of child abductions by complete strangers. As their analysis of actual cases demonstrates, the vast majority of abductions stem from familial conflicts. (Personally I found that this research paralleled a master's thesis I chaired in my own department by graduate student Michael Smoll who also arrived at identical conclusions.) One of the central arguments the authors make is that excessive attention to the rare cases of stranger abduction deflects attention away from family conflicts and thus do more harm than good to children.

In the fifth article Wendy Hicks utilizes a computer simulation model known as "PowerSim" to analyze the contrast between the deterrence argument and the "brutalization" argument (offered by Cochran and Chamlin in their study of the re-introduction of the death penalty in Oklahoma).

Finally, Terry E. Gingerich and Gregory D. Russell write about their study of the subject of Accreditation and Community Policing by contrasting the views of "Street Cops" and "Management Cops." This study compared CEOs, staff officers/middle managers, first line supervisors and line officers in "accredited agencies" with those of like officers in "non-accredited agencies" regarding "community policing." Some of their findings were surprising, such as the fact that line officers in accredited agencies were more receptive of community policing than their counterparts in non-accredited agencies. However, acceptance of community policing was greater the higher the rank (regardless of accreditation).

In the previous issue I asked readers to begin sending book reviews. So far I have not received any. I am hoping that this will be a regular feature of the journal, in addition to "research briefs" (see previous issue for an example). Feel free to send me any comments you may have about the journal, including suggestions for improvements and/or special issues. Your support will be appreciated. Please send your research to me at the following e-mail: [profrgs@cox.net]

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

The System-Wide Effects of Capital Punishment on the American Criminal Justice System: The Use of Computer Modeling in Death Penalty Research

By Wendy L. Hicks

Issues pertaining to the use of the death penalty are many and varied. Far too often debate regarding the use of the death penalty centers on emotional arguments regarding the moral questions generated by the use of the death penalty. This paper strives to examine issues surrounding capital punishment utilizing a systems analysis approach. Two models were created utilizing the PowerSim modeling program in an effort to explore the brutalizing effect posited by Cochran and Chamlin in their work on the reintroduction of the death penalty in the state of Oklahoma and the deterrence argument presented by those in favor of capital punishment. While neither PowerSim models provides a definitive answer with regards to the issues inherent in the larger capital punishment debate they do shed some additional light on an otherwise highly complicated social issue.

Wendy L. Hicks
Loyola University New Orleans
Wendy L. Hicks is currently an associate professor of criminal justice at Loyola University in New Orleans. A graduate of Michigan State University's School of Criminal Justice Dr. Hicks also holds a master's degree in psychology and criminal justice from Illinois State University. She has published on such topics as police vehicular pursuits, Skinhead neo-Nazi gangs, and police operations and administration. Professor Hicks teaches research methods, statistics, and program planning and evaluation at Loyola University New Orleans. Her areas of interest within the field of criminal justice include quantitative methods, police vehicular pursuits, law enforcement administration, and white supremacy. E-mail: Wlhicks@loyno.edu

Improving Compliance and Producing Positive Outcomes in the Mental Health Court Setting, with a Brief Look at Dynamic Risk Management

By Randal B. Fritzler

Criminal behavior and the resultant large scale incarceration of persons with mental illness causes public concern and are associated with illness relapse, hospital recidivism and poor outcomes in treatment. The present approach produces poor outcomes but there is an alternative, therapeutic mental health courts can divert people out of the criminal justice system and engage in effective dynamic risk management. The court can make more efficient use of existing resources and mandate for the community mental health system to provide adequate services for people who need them, such as medication management, psychotherapy, rehabilitation and case management -- services which the patient might not otherwise receive. Court clients can be motivated to engage in positive behavior. All this can be accomplished while protecting the rights of mentally ill individuals and victims.

Randal B. Fritzler
Pacific Policy and Research Institute
Randal B. Fritzler is a senior researcher and principal with Pacific Policy and Research Institute, Inc. and teaches at Western Oregon University. His professional experience includes fifteen years experience as an attorney in private practice and seventeen years as a state trial court judge. As a judicial officer, he served several terms as the American Judge's Association representative to the Conference of Chief Justices and advocated for court reform. He has written and published extensively on the subject of specialty courts, court innovation and therapeutic jurisprudence. He has also served on many state and national boards and committees and received state and national recognition for his public service.

Degradation, Apathy, and Acceptable Casualties: Serving Time in a Women's Federal Correctional Institute

By Bernadette Olson

Despite the dramatic increase in the number of women incarcerated in the United States, there is a significant gap in the literature detailing the female offender and her experiences being processed through the criminal justice machinery, her adaptation and survival within correctional institutes, and her reintegration into society. Concentrating specifically on the daily experiences of life in prison, this manuscript employs a convict perspective to examine the nature of incarcerating females. In addition to the information garnered from the prison literature, this paper utilizes personal accounts of the author (an ex-convict) and her interactions with prisoners to provide a critical look at life and culture hidden behind razor wire. Few people outside the prison walls know what goes on in prison; fewer still are motivated to address the issue. The demonization of the female convict is accepted by a misinformed public, perpetuated by an over-zealous media, promoted by self-serving political figures, and supported by a flawed criminal justice system. The threat these women are believed to possess represents a failure to acknowledge the damaging effects of even limited incarceration. There is very little practical understanding of the experiences and perspectives of women in prison, therefore, this description is offered to increase awareness, fill the scholarly void, and stimulate a more constructive discourse.

Bernadette Olson
Indiana University Southeast in New Albany
Bernadette Olson is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany. A graduate of Washington State University's Criminal Justice Program, Dr. Olson also holds a master's degree in criminal justice and a bachelor's degree in psychology. She teaches courses in criminal investigation/policing, criminology, and corrections. Professor Olson's areas of interest within the field are largely focused on serious, violent and chronic offenders, particularly those involving homicide and sexual assault. Her own involvement in the criminal justice system (she served 6 months in a federal correctional institute) has led to an additional research area that explores penal policies and practices; specifically the current nature of incarcerating female offenders, their largely unexplored experiences while in prison and the multi-faceted barriers they face when attempting to rebuild their lives following incarceration.

Adolescent Risk-Taking as a Justification for Paternalistic Legal Policy

By John D. Hewitt, Robert M. Regoli, and Chris Kierkus

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled the death penalty for persons under age 18 at the time of their crime, was unconstitutional. The ruling was justified, in part, by a continuing perception that adolescent risk-taking clearly differentiates juveniles from adults. The Court referred to juveniles having a lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility, resulting in "impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions." In earlier decisions the Court said that adolescents are more impulsive and less self-disciplined than adults, and described juveniles as "prone to experiment, risk-taking, and bravado." This paper examines the nature of risk-taking and how perceptions of juvenile risk-taking have historically been used by the courts to justify an oppressive denial of their personhood and an exemption from punishment proportional to the crime. We examine findings from research on both juvenile and adult risk-taking behaviors. It appears that risk-taking does not end at age 18: it is simply recontexualized to support legally supported policies aimed at maintaining control over youth. We conclude that such policies are both empirically unsound and fundamentally unjust.

John D. Hewitt
Grand Valley State University
John D. Hewitt is professor of criminal justice at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from Washington State University. Professor Hewitt has published extensively in the areas of juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice policy and is co-author of Delinquency in Society, 6th ed. with Robert Regoli.

Robert M. Regoli
University of Colorado
Robert M. Regoli is professor of Sociology at University of Colorado. He is the author of more than 100 journal publications and books, past president and fellow of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the recipient of two J. William Fulbright Awards. Please direct communication to Robertregoli@comcast.net

Christopher A. Kierkus
Grand Valley State University
Chris Kierkus is an Instructor in the department of criminal justice at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Chris has a Master's degree from State University of New York at Albany where he is currently finishing his dissertation. His primary research interest focuses on how family and peer factors influence delinquent development over the life course.

Accreditation and Community Policing: Are They Neutral, Hostile, or Synergistic? An Empirical Test among Street Cops and Management Cops

By Terry E. Gingerich and Gregory D. Russell

This research quantitatively examined the relationship between police agency accreditation and community policing in Washington State. Specifically, it compares the opinions (receptiveness to COP) of CEOs, staff officers/middle managers, first line supervisors, and line officers in accredited agencies with those of like officers in non-accredited agencies. The study hypothesized that accreditation (through organizational influences) leads to greater employee receptivity to a department's policies and procedures, specifically those associated with COP. Data were collected through a statewide survey of 202 Washington law enforcement agencies. Four officers from each agency (divided by rank) were invited to participate, 530 responded. Analysis considered seven control variables: the respondent's rank, age, veteran status, education, work experience, and accreditation status. Analysis also employed one index variable, constructed from 14 questions related to COP. The authors found that line officers in accredited agencies are significantly more receptive to the philosophy and strategies of COP when compared to line officers in non-accredited agencies. All other rank groups share similar (generally positive) opinions of COP. The authors also found that acceptance of the philosophies and strategies of COP (whether in accredited or non-accredited agencies) is universally predictable based on one's rank -higher rank = higher receptiveness to COP. Policy implications are also discussed.

Terry E. Gingerich
Western Oregon University
Terry E. Gingerich is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Western Oregon University. Prior to entering academia he served 25 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, retiring in 1996 as a sergeant. He is the coauthor of Law Enforcement in the United States (2005). He is an executive board member of the Western Community Policing Institute and a member of the Police Administration Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. His research interests include police history, ethics, criminal justice policy, and comparative policing. E-mail: gingert@wou.edu.

Gregory D. Russell
Arkansas State University
Dr. Greg D. Russell is the Director of Criminology at Arkansas State University. He is the author of two books, the Death Penalty and Racial Bias (1994) and with coauthors Law Enforcement in the United States (2000, 2005). He has also published in numerous academic journals, such as Police Quarterly, Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, and Journal of Crime and Justice, and the American Journal of Criminal Justice. His research interests include policing, the courts, and criminal justice policy.

"Smart" Policy Decisions to Combat a Social Problem: The Case of Child Abductions 2002-2003

By Glenn W. Muschert, Melissa Young-Spillers, and Dawn Carr

This article examines the child abduction problem during the year following the June 2002 Elizabeth Smart abduction by comparing three aspects of the problem: first, New York Times articles about child abductions; second, social scientific research findings reported in the NISMART-2 study; and third, the institution of AMBER Plans to deal with the problem. Analysis indicates that the Times and NISMART-2 offer markedly different pictures about the nature of the problem, and that AMBER Plans are more closely connected with the horror stories of stereotypical kidnappings offered by the news media. The use of AMBER Plans to combat the child abduction problem appears misguided, in that it fails to address the larger problem of more common, family abduction types. Discussion is offered regarding the relevance of the research findings with regards to the study of the abduction problem and suggestions are offered for future policy assessment.

Glenn W. Muschert
Miami University
Glenn W. Muschert is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology Program Coordinator at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His interests are in the mass media coverage of high profile crimes including school shootings and child abductions.

Melissa Young-Spillers
Purdue University
Melissa Young-Spillers is a doctoral candidate in the Law and Society Program at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Her research interests lie in child welfare and victimization, and her doctoral work focuses on adoption outcomes for disabled children.

Dawn Carr
Miami University
Dawn Carr is a doctoral student in Miami University's Social Gerontology program. Her research areas include arts, creativity, and "productive" aging, sociological and gerontological theory, and the sociology of retirement. E-mail: carrdc@muohio.edu

Keywords: federal, media, public safety, risk

Posted in Volume 3

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