Attitudes And Relationships Of Nature And Society Criminology Essay

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Farley stated: "Attitudes and relationships are caused by the nature of society and the nature of social positions of groups within society." The perspective or manner in which we look at a question or problem to determine the types of questions to ask about a particular topic determines the kind of answers received. The perspective includes a theory or a set of theories describing what we believe to be true as well as values, stated or unstated, concerning potentially controversial issues related to social situations we "like or dislike. Farley supports a sociological approach exploring the society's political system, the pre-dominate culture within society as well as the economic production of society with the focus on collectives or groups of people (2000: 70-71).

Modern society is complex depending on a number of interdependent parts and the coordination and cooperation of these segments as these differing parts depend upon one another. Perceivably, a change at one point will have an impact somewhere else suggesting that all of the parts of the social system has a bearing on "holding society together" and if it exists, then it must serve the interests of the greater whole (Farley, 2000). Conflict is naturally built in to society as wealth and power are unevenly distributed creating different groups having different and conflicting needs. The dominant group often exercises power to control most aspects of the social structure to ensure society operates in a manner that serves the interests of the dominant group. This consensus, as it appears in society, is often artificial and likely to persist over the long run. The resulting conflict is desirable because it makes possible social change which could lead to a more equal distribution of wealth and power (Farley, 2000:73-75).

Two studies were most impressive in the use of integrating sociological research and theory as the perspectives with the studies addressed. Chappell and Lanza-Kaduce produced a peer-review article on sociology and community-oriented policing (COPS) entitled Integrating Sociological Research and Theory with Community-Oriented Policing: Bridging the Gap Between Academics and Practice. In this particular work they discussed the controversies of the "promises and problems of community-oriented policing" that provided opportunities to analyze how sociological knowledge can be applied to both the philosophy and practices of COPS.

Among the various aspects discussed by Chappell & Lanza-Kaduce are community involvement, using the early 20th century study of Chicago, which continues to influence today's thinking about social organization/disorganization, and how disorganization affects social control and community building. For example, Community-Oriented Policing (COPS) focuses on going beyond public relations to community involvement and the development of partnerships between community members, the police, and service providers. The public are no longer "victims, witnesses, or suspects" but "stakeholders" in their communities and they share the responsibility for crime control and order maintenance as they help identify problems and search for solutions. (Chappell & Lanza-Kaduce, ).

Further discussion on literature helping us think about and analyze issues questions how to strike a balance between accountability and problem-solving as well as anticipating and combating resistance to change. Analyses of the many ways in which sociology can be applied through organization/disorganization theories illustrates the relevance of sociology to community issues (Chappell, Lanza-Kaduce, ).

Human science and bureaucratic administration have always had a rather problematic relationship whether it here in the United States or in Victoria, Australia. McCallum and Laurence question whether or not welfarist criminology has failed in their 2007 report entitled Has Welfarist Criminology Failed? Juvenile Justice and the Human Science in Victoria. This author chose this study due to the similarities in the historical movement of juvenile justice issues faced by the UK and the United States. The questioning of the social scientific model for reducing crime and whether or not psychiatry, psychology, social work or other human sciences are reliable ways of knowing the criminal mind or offending child are postulated (2007).

Australia, like many states in America, has "three strikes" or "truth in sentencing" legislation as well as mandatory sentencing of juveniles by governments in Western Australia and the Northern Territory of Australia. UK politicians, like their American counter-parts, have made policing and law and order their key policies for re-election. Signs of expanding prison populations, as a result of longer sentences and stricter bail conditions, are evident in the adult justice system. In the juvenile population, rates of incarceration have been steadily decreasing since the 1980's. Court diversion programs and other reform measures aimed to curb youth criminalization have seen positive outcomes in several states but, like the United States, the political and popular debates seem to support the ideology of a weakening of the welfarist approach to juvenile justice.

The implications of policy shifts encompassing investments in reforms focused on risk management, recidivism reduction, and the warehousing of individuals, with little, if any therapeutic or punitive value, are interestingly portrayed as a "pendulum swing" between the welfare and justice models (Naffine & Wundersitz, 1994; O'Malley, 1994, 1999a, 1999b).

The administrative and correspondence files of the Children's Court Clinic for the period from February 1944 to 1948 and Clinic Case Files for the period 1945-1948, were examined to test assumptions in current literature on the historical role of human sciences in juvenile justice. The investigation as to the parameters of intervention by agencies deploying human science perspectives and the techniques and types of intervention was initiated with over 500 cases reviewed for this study. The methodology employed and the sociological perspectives of the theorists provide important data which may well be utilized in the proffered study of public opinion and how it affects the juvenile justice system by this author.

The key components of such a study seem to be what the public believes is true about juvenile crime and punishment, where they get their information, how they interpret the data, and how they react to the information.

Ghetti and Redlich produced a study on public reaction to juveniles who commit violent crimes and how those individuals allocating sentences of offenders of different ages as well as the assessment of perception of criminal accountability and legal competence. The changes of policies for juvenile offenders and the increased number of juveniles tried in criminal court suggests an argument as to the need to increase the research in to the changes in the juvenile justice system and in societies perception of juveniles who commit crime (Ghetti, S. and Redlich, A., 2001: 33-52)

It is clear from the available research data on public opinion formation that there are a number of factors or influences which cause the public to develop their opinion of the juvenile justice system and the offending juveniles. This research proposal will not address the literature in any depth nor will it examine the factors causing any particular person's values, attitude, and opinion formation. As the Ghetti and Redlich, 2001 study focused on a specific group of college students in California, this researcher proposes to offer a study conducted on undergraduate college students on the island of Oahu utilizing a similar survey questionnaire. Hawai'i has a unique and diverse ethnic culture which is often excluded in almost all studies conducted. The purpose of the study is to provide additional data either showing support or non-support of the findings at the University of California, Davis.

The methodology of the study is to be the written scenario used in the Ghetti study, in which certain factors such as age of the offender (representing pre, mid, and late adolescence), the type of crime, and the outcome of the crime are manipulated and level of impulsivity (defined as the time interval between the argument and the commission of the crime. The crime is either committed immediately after the argument/fight [high impulsivity] or waits until the next day [low impulsivity]. Following the scenario is a two-part questionnaire examining the perception of accountability. In Part I, there are 6 statements (i.e., "Andrew should be considered fully responsible for his actions; Andrew is likely to commit another crime"), in which the respondent uses a 1-5 Likert-like scale to base their decision (1= strongly agree 5=strongly disagree). Part II consists of statements as to the competency of "Andrew" (i.e., the likelihood Andrew is able to understand legal procedures, criminal charges, and criminal consequences of legal prosecution), rated on a 0-10 Likert-like scale (0=extremely unlikely 10=extremely likely). The respondents are then asked to assign/adjudicate the punishment based on a pre-set guide for suggested sentences for juveniles provided.

The scenario itself reads (with brackets indicating the variables):

"Andrew is an 11-year-old [14, 17 year old] male who lives with his mother, step-father, and younger sister. One day, Andrew had an argument with a neighbor of the same age, Sean, who made several vicious comments about Andrew's family. Andrew confronted Sean about the comments which resulted in a physical fight. Immediately after the fight [the next day after the fight] Andrew returned to his house and took his step-father's gun, went to Sean's house and shot him [took his step-father's gas can, went to Sean's house, and set Sean's father's car on fire. Sean saw the fire and went outside. As he approached the car, it exploded]. Sean was injured [killed] as a result of Andrew's actions. Andrew has no criminal record and is of average intelligence (Ghetti and Redlich, 2001)."

In addition to the scenario and questionnaire is a brief demographic questionnaire soliciting the age, gender, and socio-economic status of the respondents. The dependent variable is the assigned years in prison (ranging from rehabilitation and probation [0 months] incapacitated to 84 months incapacitation in a juvenile facility). The independent variables will be "Attribution/Accountability" and "Punishment/Reform." To test the independent variables manipulated in the study, a full-model ANOVA will be utilized, using a "punishment/reform" composite score as the dependent measure. The higher the score indicates a tendency toward punishment, where a low score should indicate a tendency toward rehabilitation.

This writer predicts age, type of crime, impulsivity, and outcome of crime will all have some significant relationship to reaction and opinion of the crime, however, it is believed that the population of Oahu will weigh more heavily in the direction of rehabilitation rather than retribution with the gender and age of the respondent having little to no significance on their answers. It is believed the populace in Hawai'i expect any person to be responsible for their actions but at the same time want, especially the juvenile population, treatment and rehabilitative measures in place to address the problems at hand in an effort to reduce costs to the community, both financially and socially that occur with such phenomena.