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Free Involvement of Criminal Justice Students in Crimes Essay Sample

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Criminology is field of study that involves studying criminal behavior, the causes and control of activities that are related to crime. Crime on the other hand refers to activities that are against the set rules which govern a county or society. Consequently, there are two broad classes of laws namely, natural laws which are based on what is right or wrong and the other class is made up of laws that are made by the legislature of any government. Both classes of laws are used to identify criminals in criminal justice systems as both are formed under a common foundation which is non-violation of human rights.

Statement of the problem

            Professionals in the field of criminal justice study criminal justice which entails delivery of adequate results after undertaking thorough investigations during a criminal activity. However, sometimes the criminal justice professionals are faced by challenges where their safety is compromised at the scene of crime and they may need up being framed for a crime they never committed. These occurrences make students pursuing criminal justice overly cautious as they have to protect themselves from any sort of harm. Consequently, these challenges make criminal justice students more likely to being victims of crimes as a result of the direct contact with the criminals.

Objectives

            The major objective for this particular proposal is to determine the relevance of criminology in causing victimization. Consequently, the proposal is meant to shed more light into various forms of victimization which the criminal justice officers may be exposed to, in addition to, understanding various criminological theories that affect victimization. Therefore, a literature review on criminology, victimization and theories of criminology will be presented in order to get a deeper insight into these phenomena.

Literature review

Criminology

            Criminology as a profession involves getting an in depth understanding of the causes, types and control of criminal behavior. Criminal justice on the other hand entails government systems or institutions that are established to curb occurrence of crime in a country. Criminal justice also allows a country’s judicial system to deliver fair judgment to criminals while at the same time protecting the general public from any harm that may be inflicted by criminals (Walker, 1980).

            According to recent research, our body’s physiology and biology play key roles towards determining whether an individual is likely or unlikely to engage in criminal activities. For instance men are more likely to engage in criminal activities due to their masculine forms which makes them appear ferocious than their female counterparts. This phenomenon is supported by the high levels of testosterone in males which makes them daring, in addition to, aggressive when undertaking any activity (Fazel & Grann, 2006).

Age is another biological element that determines the chances of an individual engaging in crime. For instance, human beings in their second decade of life are less likely to entertain criminal thoughts but upon celebrating their twentieth birthday, most of the adult human beings begin experimenting in criminal activities. Therefore, the criminal justice students specializing in law enforcement are more vulnerable to being criminals at this age. However, due to the nature of training they are given, very few are likely to end up as criminals as they have been presented with an opportunity to understand the country’s laws (Siegel, 2003).

            Similarly, early childhood experiences also have an impact of the occurrence of criminal behavior in adulthood. Individuals who were victims of bullying during their early schooling days are more likely to engage in crime as a defense mechanism of showing their self-worth. On the other hand the nature of parenting that was experienced by the individual when growing up has an impact on their affinity to engage in crime. For instance children who are brought up in families where both or one parent was a drunkard are more likely to engage in crime later on in line. Similarly, lack of personal attention from both parents due to families being large is also another predisposing factor of crime (Randolph, 2005).

            Psychological characteristics of an individual also have an impact of their criminal activities due to their emotional instability. Individuals who portray antisocial behavior are at a higher risk of being criminals as they rarely get opportunities to express their emotions. Consequently, depression at any level or anyone who has ever entertained thoughts of committing suicide may engage in criminal activities to attract attention. Research has also shown that criminal behavior can be determined by the nature of diet the mother took when she was pregnant. For instance, alcohol and tobacco smoking during pregnancy are detrimental towards increasing the risks of the unborn child developing into a criminal later on in life.

            Individuals who have been observed to be overly aggressive or those who lack self-control are at a higher risk of engaging in crime solely due to the fact that they can do all they put their efforts into. These individuals are often observed to be antisocial hence the rarely share their plans with anyone hence chances of altering their line of thought becomes problematic (Kost, Landry & Darroch, 1998).   

            The socioeconomic status of the family where an individual grew up also plays a critical role towards sealing their fate as criminals or non-criminals. The socioeconomic status is affected by the level of education, amount of income earned, as well as, the standards of living which determine the neighborhood of the family. Low income earning families are likely to be breeding grounds for criminals due to lack of basic needs which tempt human beings to admire what they do not have and eventually relieve the owner of the item through robbery. Similarly, the uneducated are at a higher risk of engaging in crime mainly due to lack of understanding of the criminal justice systems in the country. Illiteracy also makes it difficult for this category of individuals to comprehend the laws in that country therefore they stray because of ignorance (Garland, 2002).

            Criminal justice as a system involves three different agencies in the government namely the law makers or legislature, the courts/judiciary and correctional institutions where criminals are referred after judgment has being passed. Criminals often get acquainted with the law enforcement officer also called police officers first as the law enforcers are responsible for arrests made on criminals. Consequently, forensic investigators, as well as, criminal justice specialists are called upon to seek evidence through investigation on the scene of crime (Savelsberg, Lara & Cleveland, 2004).

The second acquaintance is made with the court of law where the criminal is presented before a judge or magistrate alongside the evidence that was gathered by members of the criminal justice team at the crime scene. The judges use the evidence presented before the court to pass judgment on the criminal.

The judicial agencies rely on the investigators for evidence that is used to deliver justice upon the committed crime. Therefore, any discrepancy in evidence obtained from the scene of crime may lead to wrong judgment being delivered. At this point, the contribution made by the law enforcement officers is felt greatly by the professionals working in the law courts. This is the point at which competence on the side of the criminal justice officers is measured based on their conduct in the course of obtaining evidence for that particular case.

            The correctional facilities are part of the criminal justice system where criminals are referred to for their reformation or punishment. Consequently, the nature of punishment or reformation awarded by the judges is based on evidence produced in court by the criminal justice investigators (Cohen and Marcus, 1979).

Prisons which account for the largest percentage of correctional facilities offer a variety of services to offenders. For instance criminals caught committing capital offense is most likely to spend a longer time in prison where the incarcerations provides a reliable separation form the general population hence further criminal activities are reduced. This separation of the criminal from the public reduces the emotional attachment that the criminal justice officers may have developed in the crime, as well as, providing a form of solace especially if the offender or his partners had threatened to harm the law enforcement officers.

            Despite the fact that at some point the criminal justice officers could have feared for their lives based on the nature of criminal activities they were investigating, once the offender is put behind bars, the criminal justice involvement in the crime ceases.  Hence they can either choose to forget the case or else follow up the offender’s actions without any emotional attachment (Walker, 1980).

            However, sometimes the criminal justice professionals may tamper with the evidence especially if they are directly connected with the crime. This is a major challenge as most of these law enforcement officers are equipped with skills in collection of evidence hence they may distort any form of incriminating evidence.

            When studying criminology learners are able to identify various theories that try to explain why individuals engage in criminal behaviors. These theories point towards social background, environmental impacts, as well as, increased intake of alcohol and drugs. Consequently, physical and emotional situations of the individual also play a key role towards triggering criminal behavior. Therefore, armed with these facts and knowledge, criminal justice students are able to protect themselves from criminal victimization without compromising evidence. This makes it easier for them to avoid any instance or temptation to engage in criminal activities (Garland, 2002).

            Criminal justice students also get an opportunity to study psychology, in addition to, counseling which are vital in their line of duty. For instances some crimes scenes are often ugly so that they may leave traumatizing images in the law enforcers brain. Therefore, with adequate counseling these professionals are capable of collecting evidence without being emotionally attached to the crime. The other critical area of criminal justice that makes it easier for criminal justice professionals to deliver reliable evidence is that they are all conversant with individual rights of the criminals hence very few unethical issues arise during investigations. However, cases of the criminal justice officers being victimized their colleagues in the judicial system are not uncommon as the nature of the criminal justice personnel entails plenty of contact with the criminals. Consequently, oppression or persecution may occur due to mistrust when evidence presented before a court of law contradicts with the statements recorded by witnesses or the criminals (Slattery, 2003).

Criminal justice victimization

            Victimization refers to a situation whereby the law enforcement officers are persecuted or linked to a crime that they were investigating. It also refers to the aspect of discrimination or ill treatment extended to the criminal justice professionals by their colleagues in the correctional or judicial sectors. Crime victimization on the other hand is a situation where criminal justice personnel suffer emotionally as a result of being affected by the criminal activities of a crime they could be investigating (Schneider, 2001).

            The victimization of the criminal justice officers is dependent on the nature of crime, as well as, the number of participants undertaking investigations for that particular crime. Consequently, violation of individual rights by criminals or other professionals involved in the criminal justice system presents a major challenge as lack of understanding of these rights may expose the law enforcement officers to subsequent victimization. Similarly, lack of alternative sources of information about the offenders makes the criminal justice experts more susceptible to being in the vicinity of crime hence subsequent crimes in the area may directly have an immense impact on them (Neocleous, 2004).

            The degree of victimization often varies dependent on the nature of relationship between the offender and the law enforcement officers. For instance, if a friend or relative of the investigator is part of the crew that has committed crime; the law enforcement officer will be directly inked to the crime. Alternatively, the law enforcer may become a victim of crime when the friends or relatives turn against them so that they actions are not revealed. This may involve incriminating the criminal justice officers so that the already obtained evidence is tampered with so as not to expose the offenders. At times the criminal justice investigator may receive threats or become a victim of crime so that they may abandon any further plans to investigate the criminals (Abrams, et. al, 2003). 

            Law enforcement officers are also adversely affected emotionally when conducting law enforcing activities, as well as, when undertaking investigations. This is attributed to the fact that the criminal justice officers often blame themselves for the committed crimes. This occurs as most of them blame themselves for not having undertaken adequate measures to prevent the crime from occurring in the first place (Savelsberg, 2004).

            Other criminal justice officers tend to develop self-inflicted anger or anxiety as they may look upon themselves as inadequate in handling crime. Such feelings of inadequacy often pose a negative impact of the general capability of the criminal justice officers in delivering their services. The emotional attachment to the crime is detrimental as it exposes the vulnerability of the criminal justice officers to crime. This is because they could fall victims of similar criminal activities just like the victims who could be affected at present (Schneider, 2001).

            The repercussions may have a toll in the course of investigations as the criminal justice officer is likely to develop unfathomable fear which is bound to cause disparities in data collection. Investigations in criminal justice are equated to data collection in research such that the quantitative methods used to gather evidence may be compromised due to the developing fear. The fear could be the damage caused by the criminal or else the nature of argument that would arise if the criminal emerged and found the law enforcer sweeping the crime scene for evidence. The fear may also emanate from uncertainties such as the sudden appearance of the criminal’s accomplices who may pose physical threats to the criminal justice officer investigating the crime (Hillyard, et. al. 2004).

            These threats may hamper the criminal justice officer’s capability to undertake their responsibilities adequately as they could fear for their lives. Consequently, the fear or danger of being attacked by the criminal’s accomplices may alter the concentration abilities of the law enforcement officer such that other than heading the investigations as priority, their safety becomes the most crucial aspect at that particular time. This could result in some vital elements of evidence being left out due to the divided attention as fear often makes one unable to make sound decisions (Randolph, 2005).

            Generally there are rights that are enjoyed by the offenders, as well as, victims of the criminal activities so that the law enforcement officers are protected under these rights. The victim/offenders rights vary from country to country but the most common is that the suspect of any crime is always innocent unless proven guilty based on the evidence that is presented by the investigators to the court of law. Similarly, the law enforcement officer investigating criminal activities is also covered as the state has a role to play in safeguarding their subjects. Therefore, armed with this vital knowledge, the criminal justice professional will be freed from any fears of being victimized by the offender hence will not be likely to commit crime (Hayward & Yar, 2006).

Research has shown that individuals who have at some point being victims of crime are more likely to engage in criminal activities than those who have never encountered crime in their lives. This revelation does not exclude law enforcement officers or any other professional in the field of criminology. However, these findings do not seek clarification as to what triggers criminal behavior. Similarly, criminal justice students undergo thorough training which is aimed at arming them with skills to identify emerging criminal behavior and work on it to prevent reappearance in future. Consequently, these professionals understand the nature of punishment that is accorded to criminal and they would strive as much as possible to avoid getting in situations that would cost them that much in terms of punishment (Ferrell, et. al, 2004).  

            Victimization leads to false evidence being collected, as well as, poor judgment being delivered when cases are being heard in a court of law. This is because a criminal justice officer who is gathering evidence at the scene of crime may utilize the already preconceived personality of the criminal to implicate their activities. This is refereed to as the fundamental attribution error where the information or conclusions drawn from any investigation at the scene of crime are built around the already known behaviors of the criminal. Therefore, the criminal justice officer victimizes suspects who could have been accidentally present at the scene of crime (Savelsberg, 2004).

            False or contradicting evidence produced before judges in a court of law will expose the criminal justice officer to endless admonition from seniors. This results in victimization based on the remarks that are passed on to the criminal justice officer. Despite the fact that human error is often present in majority of the research activities or investigations conducted by professionals, the degree of ridicule varies greatly hence making an individual vulnerable to endless victimization (Walker, 1980).

            Criminal justice students are also prone to victim facilitation where their presence in a crime scene makes them more susceptible to becoming victims of crime. For instance, a law enforcement officer investigating a serial murder is more likely to fall victim of serial murder as they will most probably trail the murderer hence become ensnared in his/her traps. Victim facilitation places the criminal justice officer’s life at risk as they may be harmed or else they may be forced to collect false evidence by the offender so that no information may link the criminal to their activities (Garland, 2002).

            Consequently, the incidence of being a victim of a criminal makes it hard for the criminal justice officer to pay maximum attention to the investigations but rather more effort will be made towards self-protection. Similarly, the law enforcement officers will place the blame on themselves just because they were present in the criminal’s path as he conducted his criminal activities. Victim blame is critical as it increases chances of self-pity and self-inflicted anger that may interfere with the officer’s ability to undertake their investigative duties successfully (Sebba, 1996).

Role of criminological theories in emerging criminal behavior

            According to the cultural theory on emergence of criminal behavior, some cultures possess certain traits that favor criminal behavior. For instance, cultures that cultivate and consume marijuana are more likely to give rise to criminals than those that ever get into contact with the drugs. This is attributed to the fact that abuse of drugs makes an individual delusional hence they think they can engage in any form of aggressive or harmful behavior. Therefore, based on this criminology theory an individual in this case the criminal justice officer is less likely to engage in crime if their cultural background prohibits marijuana consumption or criminal behaviors. This makes it difficult for criminal justice professionals to commit crime as they are not accustomed to such deeds (Slattery, 2003).

            However, incase relatives or close friends of the criminal justice office engage in crime related activities due to the influence of marijuana or any other addictive drugs, they may force the law enforcement officer to present wrong findings so that they are not convicted. In this respect, the law enforcement officer is often bullied or blackmailed by offenders so that they escape any connection with the crime while the criminal justice officer grapples with the scraps of evidence left behind (Randolph, 2005).

This shows that culture may have a negative impact on the safety of the law enforcers especially if family and close friends are engaged in crime. Hence the question of safety plays a critical part in the criminal justice officer’s schedule so that other than being attentive to their career tasks, they focus their energy onto other issues unrelated to their profession. Sometimes the offenders may be in possession of vital information or tools which may compromise the health as well as the career of any professional in criminology but most harm the criminal justice officers then precede on their way to safety (Deflem, 2006).

            The other criminology theory that may force criminal justice officers to be overcautious of their safety at the expense of their careers is the social ecological theory. This theory explains the fact that the nature of neighborhood where one lives or works can trigger criminal behavior. For instance, localities with increased urban-rural migration are likely to possess more unoccupied buildings which are often dilapidated or neglected hence acting as a hideout for criminals. Therefore, a criminal justice officer working/investigating a case in such a locality which could be their home area is more likely to be kidnapped and threatened against proceeding with the investigations (Slattery, 2003).

            Similarly, other forms of crime victimization that may occur include ridicule by seniors or colleagues at the workstation based on the home area being a hoarding place for criminals. Such accusations whether solid or baseless will affect the emotional component of the professional, in addition to, demoralizing their productivity. Hence the victimization is felt by the law enforcement officer in two diverse scenarios both of which have a significant impact on the future of their careers.

The impact of abandoned houses in the towns or cities also makes it easier for criminals to isolate neighborhoods from mainstream societies hence it becomes easier for them to strike. This is evident in the fact that criminal justice officers investigating crimes in localities with numerous abandoned houses are more likely to meet the criminals in the course of their activities. Consequently, such encounters may be followed by the criminal justice officers either becoming crime victims or they are tortured in a way that they release any evidence they may have obtained against the criminals.

The other theory that may be emerging in the present day is the social class theory where social strains lead one to becoming a victim of crime. The current national employment status is not sufficient to present job opportunities to all graduates who often present high expectations of landing in their dream jobs immediately after graduation. However, this is not the case as most graduates are left out as there are fewer job opportunities available for all who qualify. Consequently, armed with the knowledge learnt in class regarding criminology, most of the criminal justice graduates seek employment in other organizations where their knowledge is needed (Walker, 1980).

            However, not all organizations are capable of availing protection facilities like the departments in the criminal justice system. This is attributed to the fact that private organizations may not possess sufficient funds to purchase sophisticated tracking devices like their counterparts in the judicial system. The circumstances under which the criminal justice officer will be working in expose them to more harm than good so that they safety is compromised as they could easily become victimized by offenders. The inadequate working conditions make it difficult for criminal justice officers to deliver up to the expectations of their employers hence they face further ridicule due to poor performance records (Slattery, 2003).

            The other relevant aspect of working under such circumstances is that the offenders are more likely to get a clear view of the scenario posed at the criminal justice officer’s workstation hence use it to their advantage. This entails getting contacts from the organization that provide adequate details that compromise any investigations which the criminal justice officer could be handling. Similarly, the organization may be medium sized whereby the outside community may be knowledgeable of every employee in the organization hence posing a major threat to the lives of those who may be interfering with their daily lives. Therefore, dependent on the workplace conditions in which the criminal justice officer is placed, they may become victims of crime or else their colleagues may victimize them regarding their performance. This is the opposite of what happens in government owned organizations or institutions which deal with investigations regarding criminal activities where criminal justice officers are accorded security accordingly (Chambliss, 2001).

            The other implication of criminological theories on victimization of criminal justice officers involves undertaking investigations that concern terrorists. Terrorists are by nature aggressive so that they will not allow anyone to investigate their deals. Therefore, first time or fresh criminal justice officers with no prior experience with terrorists may land in trouble if their investigations make them unveil a lot regarding the terrorists. Consequently, it poses danger to the criminal justice officer who may be forced to forfeit the investigations or else face harm from the offenders (Walker, 1980).

Criminal justice officers are also prone to suffering from victimization from social groups which they maybe affiliated to for instance friends and other acquaintances. This is attributed to the fact that at times, friends or relatives may always be wary of the law enforcement officer in their midst hence they may be obliged to act according to the law or else face reprimanding. Therefore, as a defense mechanism, these acquaintances may develop a habit of victimizing their friend at any given opportunity (Slattery, 2003).

Such forms of victimization include discrimination especially whenever they are making plans of activities which may go awry. Similarly, sneering may be the order of the day especially when the friends realize that their colleague is making tremendous progress in their investigations. Research has shown that friends and close family members are more eager to give away details of a case being investigated hence placing the criminal justice officer at risk of being physically harmed. Alternatively such deeds may jeopardize investigations which could be running smoothly (Chambliss, 2001).

            Discrimination can be extreme to an extent where acquaintances tamper with evidence in a bid to protect their friends who could be implicated by the crime. Consequently, society is also discriminative in relation to law enforcement as at times members of any given community may withhold vital information that would lead to arrest of criminals who could be terrorizing citizens. However, due to prejudice against the criminal justice system, they may fail to cooperate with the criminal justice officers who could be investigating cases in their vicinity.

            Some social or religious movements may not only conceal evidence that could be used against the offenders but they could also threaten the criminal justice officer investigating criminal activities by one of their members. This is equal to victimization as the law enforcement officer as their duties will be interfered with, as well as, the freedom to undertake thorough investigations (Walker, 1980).

Timeline

 

Oct17-21

Oct24-30

Nov 1st-15

Nov17-25

Nov26-30

Nov,30th,2011

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Proposal writing

 

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Data collection

 

 

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Data analysis and interpretation

 

 

 

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Preparing the rough draft

 

 

 

 

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Presentation of the project

 

 

 

 

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Conclusion

            Criminal justice officers are exposed to numerous challenges in the course of their duties especially duties which involve investigations on criminal activities. Consequently, most of them are faced with life threatening situations where their lives are put in danger due to the nature of crime they may be investigating, as well as, being faced with safety issues when they are threatened by the offenders. When such scenarios emerge, the criminal justice officer has no alternative but lay precautions to protect themselves from any harm a situation which could interrupt their investigations, in addition to, giving the offenders an opportunity to victimize the officer.

            The issue on safety also plays a key role making the criminal justice officer vulnerable to other forms of victimization namely discrimination and oppression by seniors. Similarly, failure to deliver expected results leads to subsequent victimization such that the law enforcement officers who have specialized in that area are expected to post above average performances despite the safety issues they could be faced with in the course of their duties. 

            In conclusion, criminal justice officers are equally likely to become victims of crime victimization as a result of the many contacts they make with criminals, the criminal justice system and community members. Therefore, the issue of safety is crucial as most of the criminal justice officers tend to apply extra caution during investigations so as to maintain their lives. However, these precautionary measures do not compromise the investigations or any other duty they could be undertaking.

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