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Methods in Criminal Justice

Research Methods in Criminal Justice
Book: Basics of Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology
In dealing with young, male perpetrators of street crime, you develop a sense that the threat of incarceration has not been an effective deterrent to committing crime. When young men are apprehended for committing a crime, many treat the occasion as ?no big deal,? seeing it as a right-of-passage in the criminal milieu in which they operate.
Based on your experience, as well as knowledge you have gained in graduate studies on human behavior, you believe that if novice criminals in their teens can undertake short term counseling, this counseling would provide stronger deterrence to committing crime than the threat of incarceration.
The short term counseling would entail having identified subjects undergo weekly, one hour counseling sessions over a period of six weeks. The counseling sessions would be comprised of three components: 1) educate the subjects on how society views criminal activity as unacceptable; 2) educate them on the consequences of criminal activity ? for the victims, for themselves, and for their family and friends; 3) provide them with an opportunity to articulate their life concerns, i.e., engage in a light level of psychological counseling.
(no specific length requirement for your answers)
Let’s say you have received a grant to study your ?theory.?
1. Articulate your theory in one or two paragraphs. Explain the rationale underlying your theory.
2. Articulate one or more hypotheses that you can test in your studies. Feel free to express them as straightforward hypotheses, or null hypotheses.
3. How would you carry out your study? Briefly outline your research design, addressing the following points:
a. Identifying a theoretical population of the boys/men you want to address in your study (e.g., Inner city Hispanic males between the ages of 12 and 25).
b. Identifying a sample of subjects. What is your sample frame (a sample frame is the listing of people you will choose your sample from)? How will they be sampled?
c. Identifying a list of independent variables that should be included in the study that might help explain why young men engage in criminal activity (e.g., age of subject, religious background, history of parents, gang member, heroes and role models, etc.)
d. Designing a study that will allow you to compare the deterrent effects of threat-of-incarceration vs. counseling. Basically, what you should be concerned with here is to describe the methodology you will employ to test your hypothesis.
e. Identifying where the data for your study will come from (Questionnaires? Interviews? Observation of behavior? Tracking criminal records? Something else?)
4. How could you test the hypothesis you articulated in response 2 above?
5. What limitations do you anticipate encountering in your study?

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