Apr 9, 2019 in Law

Role of Research in Criminal Justice System

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Introduction

The control of crime rates is a process that the criminal justice system of a country is mandated to do. A fully functional criminal justice system provides a society with order and control over different issues involving crime. In addition, it ensures that the correct penalties are imposed on people who committed various crimes. Criminal justice system, therefore, refers to a particular structure of procedures and practices that enhance the manner in which countries uphold justice and mitigate crimes (Mears, 2010). The justice system, in general, is also efficient in ensuring that specific limits are set within the society to encourage correctional behavior. The primary concern in different regions of the country, however, has been lack of criminal justice practices to reduce crime rates. It is a problem that has been attributed to different governmental issues including weak enforcement and lack of skilled personnel. However, the primary cause of this lag in the criminal justice system is due to inefficient research processes (Hagan, 1994). In this regard, this paper will evaluate the role of research in criminal justice and define appropriate means of using research to make changes in the criminal justice system in the country.

Policy Making

According to Mears (2010) one of the primary roles of research in criminal justice is to facilitate effective policy making. Policy making is crucial in criminal justice as it enables the professionals involved in this sector to come up with strategies that form the foundation of this discipline. For example, policy making enables professionals in criminal justice to determine social controls that are required to mitigate crimes and facilitate corrective measures. For this reason, research plays a big role in ensuring the formulation of effective policies in the criminal justice system.

Using different research methods and principles, professionals in the criminal justice system can collect data that is important for formulation of these policies. In addition, they also analyze the data collected and interpret it further to understand the demographics related to crime-related issues in the country. Such a research has been influential in police departments. In these departments, research plays the role of policing. In this regard, research is used as a tool to determine the effectiveness of police activities such as prevention of crime rates and response time rates. In studying these police activities, research can determine whether police activities are directly proportional to certain crime rates. In the long run, it enables policy makers to come up with strategies that will improve police departments in order to facilitate criminal justice in the country.

Moreover, research is also efficient in the provision of data to enable the evaluation of policy plans being currently used. This assessment is necessary as it provides adequate data to prepare forecasts and establish other schemes to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system.

Policies regarding bail decisions are also provided through extensive research. When research is applied to the criminal justice system, it provides information about different characteristics of offenders involved in the reported crimes. Information about the characteristics of these offenders is made available in order to enhance effective decision-making especially regarding bail. For this reason, bail decisions are dependent on the policy making, which is based on different research methods and principles.

Critical Analysis and Prosecution

Successful prosecution depends on the type of research conducted into victims and criminals accused of a particular crime. For justice to be effective there needs to be a robust prosecution claim brought about by the prosecutor. The solid prosecution claim is brought about by effective research methods into the case at hand. For example, through qualitative research methods, the prosecution can carry out intensive interviews of the victims, witnesses, and accused criminals in order to determine the criminal justice reality of that case. In addition, using quantitative research methods, variables that make up the case are obtained to enable the prosecution to determine the cause and effect issues and patterns of relation. In this case, quantitative research methods include scientific methods that use raw statistics to test different variables in cases (Hagan, 1994).

Research also plays a significant role in studying career criminals and habitual offenders. Information about these criminals is important to prosecutors because it derives a pattern of crime activities that enables professionals to establish efficient crime mapping. Through critical thinking and analysis, research about career criminals produces information about the contribution of these criminals to the crime rates in the country. Furthermore, extensive quantitative research on habitual offenders enables judges and law enforcement officers to have adequate information regarding these offenders, distinguishing them from other offenders in the system.

Crime Evaluation and Sentencing

Sentencing is one of the most important activities in the criminal justice system. Its importance is attributed to the main goals of criminal justice, which are to enhance social control, mitigate crime and facilitate rehabilitation policies (Weisburd, 1993). Research, therefore, provides means of facilitating crime evaluation to determine the nature and magnitude of an offense committed. This assessment, therefore, forms the basis for sentencing. Furthermore, research also plays an important part in sentencing by giving critical information that is important for evaluation of the best sentence policy for different crimes committed. Through extensive research, professionals in the criminal justice system can establish how different sentencing policies affect rehabilitation and incapacitation of criminals.

In this regard, qualitative and quantitative research methods provide data that enables sentencing to meet the objectives of the criminal justice system. It, therefore, means that through extensive and intensive research, the right sentences are provided to the offenders. These sentences are dependent on the type of crime committed as well as an offender’s criminal record (Mears, 2010).

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Assessment and Correctional Services

Research is a valuable tool in the evaluation of criminals after sentencing. It is also crucial in provision of the right correctional services to offenders depending on the nature and magnitude of the crime committed. Research provides information about demography and community programs that are important in determining effective correctional services for offenders. For instance, it is through research that assessment is made in order to determine different probation and parole practice systems. By applying effective assessment techniques into the criminal justice system, offender profiling is produced (Weisburd, 1993).

Research also plays a significant role in correctional services by determining the location where these criminals will serve their sentence. Criminal justice researchers provide vital information that assesses the risk involved in different prison centers. This type of research also enables effective planning in the prison systems to reduce cases of overcrowding and violence in these detention centers.

Monitoring and Evaluation

As mentioned earlier, one of the primary goals of any criminal justice system in the world is to enhance rehabilitation and correctional services. This goal is crucial in ensuring reduction of second-time offenses and preventing recurrence of crimes in the society. For this reason, research plays an important role in monitoring and evaluating offenders after sentencing. As Hagan (1994) explains, quantitative research provides statistical data that enables criminal justice officers to determine the progress that different offenders make. In addition, this research provides them with vital information while liaising with probation officers in evaluating the actions of offenders after serving their sentence. Qualitative research, on the other hand, provides criminal justice personnel with information about character of these offenders. Such information is vital especially when it comes to second-time offenders. Research, in this regard, provides important information about offenders that may be useful in future.

Furthermore, research also plays an important role in monitoring and evaluation of performance of different criminal justice officers, including judges, jurors and law enforcement officers. Research provides information on the efficiency of these officers. It, therefore, enables monitoring and evaluation to be done in order to determine means of improving their performance for future criminal justice processes and practices.

Conclusion

As a component of criminal justice, social control and crime mitigation are vital in analyzing the performance of the justice system of a country. Application of research methods and principles into the criminal justice system is proving to be an important revelation especially in the general governance of social aspects of a country. The role of research has been undermined in many countries and as such citizens of the country have lost faith in the criminal justice system. For this reason, the primary roles of research in criminal justice include policy making, critical analysis and prosecution, crime evaluation and sentencing, assessment and correctional services, and monitoring and evaluation. The manner in which research is applied in the criminal justice system determines the efficiency of the justice system in enhancing social control, mitigating crimes and improving rehabilitation services. Furthermore, research enables current programs and procedures to be evaluated in order to come up with better plans for the future. By applying different research methods and principles into the criminal justice system, the government ensures that offenders are accorded a fair trial system to prove their innocence or guilt. Research also gives the victims involved in these cases voice to let them be heard. By doing this, the criminal justice system ensures that their rights are considered and upheld.

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