Justice Policy Journal – Volume 10, Number 2 – Fall 2013
From the Editors
By Elizabeth Brown, Ph.D. and Randall G. Shelden, M.A., Ph.D.
Welcome to the Fall, 2013 issue of Justice Policy Journal. We want to begin by thanking all the people who have submitted papers in recent months. To put it mildly, we have been swamped with submissions, so many in fact that we plan on putting out a special Winter issue early next year!
The current issue includes five excellent articles, starting with yet another study of a serious problem facing the criminal justice system, namely the increasing numbers of veterans who find themselves behind bars. This is the third in a series of studies conducted by William B. Brown and his colleagues at Western Oregon University. One earlier article was called “An Emerging Storm.” In this paper, “The Perfect Storm: Veterans, culture and the criminal justice system,” they argue persuasively that the “storm has landed” and is engulfing the criminal justice system all over the country. One of their main arguments is that the criminal justice system, especially the courts, fails to take into consideration some key “core values” which they define as a unique set of “belief’s, norms, values and language.” This often leads to the failure of court officials, both prosecutors and defense attorneys, to place the offenses charged to these veterans within the contact of the “military total institution. They write that “The veteran’s civilian culture values and beliefs have been systematically trained out of him.” Then he or she is supposed “to re-enter a society whose cultural influence was systematically stripped away by military training that does not want to know his experiences except in ghoulish ways such as how many did you kill.” Part of their study examined the number (and rate per 100,000) of veterans in prisons in several states around the country. They found that the states with the highest rates were those that tended to have the fewest military bases, with the state of Oregon ranked first and Nevada second. The implications of such findings are discussed at length in this excellent paper.
Next is a study of volunteers in a juvenile diversion program by Marc Settembrino, “Values Over Structure: An ethnographic study of volunteers participating in a juvenile diversion program.” In this study the author examined 19 volunteers who participated in a Neighborhood Accountability Board (NAB), which represents an illustration of “restorative justice.” In particular, he examined the values that NAB volunteers communicate to youths participating in the program. Not surprisingly he found that these volunteers “encourage children to obey the law, work hard, and have a good attitude.” In other words, typical middle class values. Yet there is a contradiction in that there are structural obstacles which hinder youths from doing so. Some of these obstacles are found within the schools, such as unyielding “zero tolerance” policies. It is an old problem that has often been recognized by both practitioners and researchers. One problem the author encountered was the “inability of school personnel to ask ‘why did this happen?’ and to display reason and flexibility.”
The third paper, by Mike Tapia, Leanne Fiftal Alarid and Arturo Enriquez, Jr., is called “Court-Ordered Mentoring Programs for Adjudicated Juveniles: When should youth be referred?” This study examined the referral process, the rates of program completion and the recidivism rate for two groups of youth on probation: 97 who participated in a special mentoring program and 287 who did not participate. Most of these youths were Hispanic and lived in a predominately low-income, mostly Hispanic community. They found that group that participated in the mentoring program had a rate of “technical violations” that was almost three times higher than that of non-mentored youth. Also, this group had a re-arrest rate for new crimes that was three times higher than that of the comparison group during the actual participation of the mentoring program and their post-release recidivism rate was four times higher than the non-participating group. The study clearly showed that mentoring was unable to “change the trajectory of youth who had already begun a distinct pattern of technical violations on probation.”
The fourth article dealt with a case that made national headlines, namely the abuse of athletes at Penn State University and in particular the conviction of Jerry Sandusky. Called “Pretrial Publicity and Pedophilia: A content analysis of the Jerry Sandusky case” the authors did a content analysis of 238 pretrial news stories focusing especially on both the legal and policy implications of Sandusky’s trial and how pre-trial publicity may have played an important role in influencing the jurors. The results suggested that there was a bias towards Sandusky and that this could have been detrimental to the defendant.
Finally we have an article that examines an issue rarely evaluated, namely the punishment of athletes who are minorities. Anthony A. Peguero, Ann Marie Popp, Zahra Shekarkhar, T. Lorraine Latimore, and Dixie J. Koo (“Punishing Racial and Ethnic Minority Student Athletes”)
examined a nationally representative stratified sample of over 11,000 tenth grade public school students to determine whether participating in sports programs has a moderating effect between race, ethnicity and school punishment. Their study found that sports participation was a protective factor for Black and White students while it was the case for Latino and Asian students. Among the key findings was that Blacks reported the highest mean for overall school discipline, as well for each type of school discipline, followed by Latino, Whites, and Asian students. Also, they found that Latino students were far more likely to be transferred to another school for disciplinary problems.
Elizabeth Brown and Randall Shelden
By William B. Brown, Robert Stanulis, Bryan Theis, Jordan Farnsworth, and David Daniels
In 2008 an article was published that suggested an Emerging Storm, relative to veteran entanglement in criminal justice, was approaching (Brown, 2008). Well, that storm appears to have hit land. The actual/ potential damage is likely to depend upon the responses of the legal system and the American public at large. There are many veterans who appear to return to the civilian culture and manage to hold their own without significant problems. Other veterans experience socio-cultural problems, along with psychological issues, but are able to camouflage those problems and issues. Some veterans are less fortunate and they find themselves confronting criminal charges. Some end up behind bars for extended periods of time. This article addresses the complexities associated with understanding why some veterans appear normal while other veterans become entangled in our criminal justice system. Specifically, we will be addressing issues related to socio-cultural differences and irregularities between civilian and military cultures, cultural competency in relation to psychology and the court system.
By Marc Settembrino
This study is an ethnographic study of community volunteers participating in a juvenile diversion program called Neighborhood Accountability Boards (NAB). My research shows that NAB members encourage offending youths to make better choices in the future. Specifically, NAB members encourage youths to obey the law, work hard, and have a good attitude. However, the NAB members are aware of environmental factors, such as family and schools, which may limit the choices actually available to youths and influence their decision making. Ultimately, these findings represent a contradiction in which NAB members encourage youths to subscribe to middle-class values despite the fact that there may be structural obstacles which impede youths from doing so.
By Mike Tapia, Leanne Fiftal Alarid, and Arturo Enriquez, Jr.
Most mentoring programs target at-risk youth, but programs for those already adjudicated in the juvenile justice system have been less extensively studied. We examined the referral process, rates of program completion and recidivism for 97 mentored and 287 non-mentored youth on probation in a large, urban, Hispanic-dominated county. Youth who were referred to mentoring were already showing a pattern of technical violations on probation. As a result, mentored youth had higher odds of program failure and recidivism. Policy implications for mentoring programs for juvenile offenders include revisiting when youth are first referred to mentoring, better selection and more extensive training of adult mentors.
By Jennifer Klein, Danielle Tolson, and Leah Longo
Prior to the jurors in Jerry Sandusky’s trial convicting him of 45 charges of sexual abuse and sentencing him to 30 to 60 years in prison, the news media covered the story for six months (from November 2011 to June 2012). During this time period, media sources exposed the nation, to an ambush of stories about Sandusky, his victims, and his employer during the commission of his crimes, Pennsylvania State University. After a grand jury indicted Sandusky for 52 counts against 10 young boys, a storm of pretrial publicity was unleashed about him. This article examines 238 pretrial news stories using a content analysis approach. Drawing on prior literature, this study examines the legal and policy implications of Sandusky’s trial, the tone of the publicity his case received, and the role publicity might have played in influencing jurors. Results from the content analysis and future research possibilities will be discussed.
By Anthony A. Peguero, Ann Marie Popp, Zahra Shekarkhar, T. Lorraine Latimore, and Dixie J. Koo
Sports involvement for youth, generally, promotes academic progress and success; however, little is known about the relationship between interscholastic school sports and punishment. This study utilizes a nationally representative stratified sample of 11,320 tenth grade public school students and incorporates logistic modeling techniques to examine whether interscholastic sport participation moderates the relationship between race, ethnicity and school punishment. Findings indicate that participation in interscholastic sports does play a role in school punishment. Most notably, interscholastic sports participation is a protective factor for Black/African American and White American students while it is a risk factor for Latino American and Asian American students. The implications of the school punishment patterns for racial and ethnic minority student athletes in the United States school system are discussed more generally.
Posted in Volume 10, Justice Policy Journal