Thursday, 14 May 2015

AFTER A GUILTY VERDICT - Alternatives to imprisonment: Are alternatives to imprisonment effective in reducing re-offending? What issues are there with the death penalty?

Mair and May: Investigation of the experience of offenders on probation 



Method: A list of questions were piloted initially, and then improved.

Sample: 3299 offenders on probation across probation offices in England and Wales. 40% failed to turn up for the study.

Procedure: Interviews were conducted by employed researchers who visited the select offices and covered a vast range of questions about the offenders life and likelihood of re-offending. Many questions had likert-scale responses and closed.

Results:

88% felt that probation was extremely or very useful.
60 % felt that the probation officer would help them sort out their problems.
Only 37% thought that probation would stop them from re-offending.
However, not 1 offender believed that probation was there to stop them from re-offending.
In addition nearly 1/3 of offenders re-offended.

Having someone independent to talk to seemed to be the most useful function of a probation officer, and topics discussed included: problems with accommodation, money, employment, family, drugs and health.

Conclusions: Probation is seen in a positive light by offenders. However, the offenders who failed to take part in the study may have had more negative views. In addition, probation can serve as an alternative to imprisonment by providing a supportive sentence that are agreed, and an offender must obey. It is an alternative as it can help offenders sort out problems that may be leading them to turn to crime. The problems discussed during probation could potentially be key reasons why people turn to crime. Therefore, if probation can work to support and solve some of these issues, probation can work to deter crime by providing individualist help rather than prison which works as a one fits all punishment.


Sherman and Strang: A review of restorative justice and its effectiveness in preventing re-offending


Historically crime was “against the state”, however victims and their families often feel their needs and wishes are ignored. Restorative justice aims to redress this balance as victims are allowed to have a say on what happens to the offender. It provides victim with control and choice, a chance to ask questions and explain the impact of their crime to discourage re-offending. However, it can be a very distressing process for both the victim and the offender, and as details of the crime are brought up, it may be more traumatizing than beneficial for the victim.


Sample: Internet search for studies on restorative justice - finding 424 hits

Method: Content analysis of 36 papers which compared re-offending rates of those who'd undergone restorative justice to those who had not.

Results: Restorative Justice (RJ) was found to be more effective with a personal victim rather than a business. RJ was especially effective with reducing re-offending in violent crimes and property crime such as burglary. 

It was not found to be effective in all cases/crimes, and appeared to be more effective in providing peace of mind or reducing post-traumatic stress for the victim than preventing re-offending.

Conclusion: It was concluded that there was some support for the increased use of restorative justice, particularly with young or first time offenders.



Eberhardt - Investigating the relation between stereotypically black features in offenders and the likelihood of receiving the death penalty. 

Capital punishment is a highly controversial issue which divides nations; some think it's highly immoral and that offenders should be made to face what they've done in prison or be rehabilitated, whilst others think that death is the only punishment, and that some simply do not deserve to live.

In the United States, it's legal in some states to issue the death penalty. A decent amount of states which issue death penalties are in the Southern states, which have typically or historically been more racist and prejudiced, particularly against black people.

Aim:
Eberhardt suggested that the more "stereotypically black" your features, the more likely it is you'll receive the death penalty in death eligible cases. Though this theory is fairly extreme and isn't something most of us consider or might think, there's a heavy racial bias in prison populations, and it's true that the criminal justice system in the US is heavily dominated by white people and that in some areas of the US as well as in many other cultures, racial discrimination is still around.

Method:
Eberhardt conducted an analysis of a database of "death-eligible" cases in Philadelphia between 1979 and 1999. In 44 of these cases, a black man had killed a white victim. Photographs of these men were shown to individuals, who were asked to rate the men on the extent to which they had stereotypically "black" features.



This photo would have been classed as higher in stereotypical black features



This photo would have been classed as having less stereotypically black features.

Results:
The men with the most stereotypically black features were given the death penalty 57.5% of the time, which was considerably more than those with the less stereotypically black features, who received the death penalty 24.4% of the time.

There was no difference when the victim was black and the defendant was black, suggesting that stereotypically black men were considered more death-worthy and also that black victims were perceived as less important.

Conclusions: This study brings to light the issues of ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the idea that someones culture or race is assumed to apply to all. This means that cultures are often discriminated or misunderstood. In this study it is suggested that an individuals race can make them seem more blameworthy. Black physical traits are stereotypically associated with criminality, and in this case, this association plays a considerable role in influencing sentencing decisions.





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