Vol 4 | Issue 2 | Summer 2009

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Abstracts

Three-Strikes Laws and Police Officer Murders: Do the Data Indicate a Correlation?1

James E. Guffey, James G. Larson, Chandrika Kelso

Twenty-four states passed three-strikes laws between December 1993 and January 1996. The intent of these laws is to ensure that felons who are convicted of second or third felonies or violent felonies serve long or even life-in-prison terms. These laws fall under mandatory sentencing guidelines, which do not give judges discretion to modify the sentences as they may with non-mandatory sentencing. One untoward result of three-strikes laws is the possibility that police officer murders will increase because felons facing a third strike might decide to use deadly force rather than possibly return to prison for life. This study analyzes the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) Law Enforcement Officers Killed or Assaulted data for the period 1987 through 2007 to determine whether a correlation exists.

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Community Oriented Policing and Community-Based Crime Reduction Programs: An Evaluation in New York City1

Anthony L. Sciarabba

This article presents findings from a yearlong evaluation of a Department of Justice, Community Capacity Development Office, community-based “Weed and Seed” program operating in an urban, mostly minority community in New York City. The program operates on the central premise of first using law enforcement and prosecutorial resources to “weed” out the criminal elements in the neighborhood and, second, establishing positive community-based programs in the specified target areas by way of “seeding” activities. Findings following the yearlong evaluation, which used community survey data in addition to official crime statistics, indicate substantial levels of community dissatisfaction with the crime situation in the neighborhood. Additionally, findings indicate overall dissatisfaction with the official agencies operating in the neighborhood. The author attributes these findings to the current community oriented policing policies in New York City and, in his discussion of the findings’ implications, asserts the need for integrating theory with criminal justice community-based policy.

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Understanding Staff Perceptions of Turnover in Corrections

Kevin I. Minor, Cherie Dawson-Edwards, James B. Wells, Carl Griffith, and Earl Angel

Correctional staff turnover is a critically important but under-researched topic, and studies are lacking of how staff perceive the problem. By using a descriptive survey method, this study examined such perceptions of turnover among a sample of correctional officers. Staff attributed turnover to insufficient pay and benefits as well as to key areas of the work environment, including interpersonal conflicts, stress, unfavorable treatment and lack of recognition from superiors, and perceived lack of input. A third of respondents indicated they are likely to leave their jobs in the next three years. We conclude that correctional staff may consider alternative employment prospects and contemplate turnover when they experience a sense of devaluation, especially where devaluation is accompanied by perceptions of low efficacy on the job.

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Trust in Police Officer-Sergeant Relationships1

T. Jacob Stull

Trust ranks as the most important characteristic of effective supervisor-subordinate relationships. This is said to be even more important in military and paramilitary organizations, specifically police departments. This study measures the perceived trust between police officers and sergeants in a western police department. Sergeants (n = 19) and officers (n = 50) completed 25-item surveys by using a seven-point Likert scale, rating how prevalent each item is in their current situation, how much they would like it to exist, and how important it is to them. The study measured five components of trust: integrity, competence, consistency, loyalty, and openness. Three hypotheses were not supported by the data, suggesting that officers and sergeants perceive mutual levels of overall trust, integrity, and competence in each other. Three hypotheses were supported by the data, suggesting that officers and sergeants perceive differences in consistency, loyalty, and openness. Recommendations include further analysis of the data and incorporation of the supported hypotheses into continuing education of police department personnel.

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A Jail Guru Reminisces, Part 2

Ken Kerle

Odysseys bring fun and enlightenment and, at times, challenges that one would normally avoid. My friend, Dick Ford, then sheriff of Washington County, Maryland, suggested that as I had traveled the world examining penal institutions, I should now focus on American jails. First, some background. Dick previously had provided me the opportunity to work in the Washington County Detention Center in Hagerstown as a jail officer. The jail was a fire trap—the building was an 1857 institution where some of the jail cells were padlocked because the locking mechanisms were in a state of dysfunction. The sheriff asked for money to make the repairs from the five-member board of county commissioners. He was turned down. A fire hazard issue where lives could be lost in the event of a conflagration cannot be ignored, so the sheriff contacted the state fire marshal. The marshal made it crystal clear to the county board that jail repairs had to be made or the county would suffer the consequences. The repairs were made.

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This journal is dedicated to the men and women serving and those who have served in our criminal justice agencies. America is fortunate to have such fine and devoted professionals serving on our behalf. Thank you.

Professional Issues in Criminal Justice (PICJ), which started in 2005, has evolved from a newly established journalin criminal justice to an established peer-reviewed journal in the field.
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