Vol 2 | Issue 2

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Evaluation for Program Improvement: Sharing a Model Used for Youth Services

Trish Oberweis and Matthew Petrocelli

Program evaluation has become part and parcel to how city departments do business. There is great potential for evaluators to be innovative in designing the research, and attentive to the needs of city decision-makers. One innovative model is represented by the IDEAL Project in the American Northwest, modeled after the ProDES Project in the East. The project design builds in a means to use outcomes information to improve program performance, creating a learning environment in which those providing services for youth could be able to achieve ever-greater results with their clients. The evaluation system is understood as a learning tool to increase program effectiveness in two ways: by relying on data to assess strengths and weaknesses and by collaboration between program planners and the evaluation staff to use the data to enhance performance. The paper concludes with some comments about the distance between design and accomplishments.

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The Grand Jury: Historical Roots, Contemporary Operation and Calls for Reform

Gerald D. Robin

A primary criticism often leveled at the grand jury system lies in the notion that “prosecutorial control” is exercised over various jury members as well as the screening process that occurs within the grand jury process. Critics of this system contend that grand juries acquiesce to the prosecuting attorney’s wishes by essentially “rubber stamping” indictments that are sought by prosecutors. The accusation that grand juries simply do the bidding of prosecutors by rubber stamping indictments - thus failing to exercise independent judgment in their deliberations - is strikingly tautological: evidence of “prosecutorial dominance” is found in exceptionally high indictment rates, and high indictment rates are taken as evidence that grand juries rubber stamp requests for indictments. This article demonstrates why such claims do not realistically appraise the current grand jury system, providing instead a misleading and pessimistic view of a system that, in fact, fulfills its function in an efficient and ethical manner, regardless of claims to the contrary.

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The Mentally Ill in the Criminal Justice System: An Overview of Historical Causes and Suggested Remedies

Arthur J. Lurigio and Andrew Harris

This article examines the historical and contextual factors that are related to the growing numbers of persons with mental illness who are processed through the criminal justice system. The paper discuss five major mental health and criminal justice policies that frame the challenges associated with the mentally ill in the criminal justice system: deinstitutionalization (a shift in the locus of care from the state hospital to community-based treatment agencies); mental health law reform (notably more stringent criteria for involuntary admission to a psychiatric facility); fragmented care (little coordination between mental health and other treatment providers); drug enforcement (the war on drugs that resulted in the arrests of the mentally ill who use illicit substances); and public-order policing (the enforcement of arrest policies that target nuisance crimes). The article also presents recommendations for responding more effectively to the problems of the mentally ill in the criminal justice system.

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Juvenile Court Judges’ Attitudes Toward Waiver Decisions in Indiana

Jill M. D’Angelo

There has been an increase in the number of state laws subjecting juvenile offenders to tougher penalties and reducing the age at which an offender may be waived to criminal court. Indiana is one of the 46 states in which the juvenile court judge maintains the discretion to waive juvenile offenders to criminal court. An instrument was developed to measure judges’ perceptions of what factors affect their waiver decisions. A self-administered questionnaire was sent to approximately 200 juvenile court judges, magistrates, and referees. Primary analysis used frequencies, cross-tabulations, and measures of association. No relationships were deemed statistically significant between the gender of the judges and the factors they perceive to be important in determining which offender should be waived to criminal court. Judges’ age also was found not to be statistically significant. However, statistically significant relationships were observed between the location of judges’ court and their perceptions of factors they consider in their waiver decisions.

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The Examination of Correctional Officers’ Organizational Commitment

Michael S. Gordon

The present study assessed the organizational commitment of 189 correctional officers at four Maryland State prisons representing multiple security levels (pre-release, minimum, medium, and maximum) using the Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ) (Mowday, Steers, & Porter, 1979). Results indicated that officers with greater years of military service and those that chose corrections as a career reported higher OCQ scores while those with a college degree or graduate school education reported lower OCQ scores. However, in the multivariate analysis, having more years of military service was the only predictor of OCQ. These findings indicate that a more thorough and comprehensive understanding of correctional officers may contribute to greater knowledge of the systemic dynamics of inmate confining organizations.

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Sleep and Job Performance in Law Enforcement: Measuring Differences Between Highway Patrol, Sheriff, and Municipal Police Officers

Scott R. Senjo and Michelle E. Heward

Prior research on the correlation between sleep and accidents on-the-job leaves little doubt about the potential for injury and death. The fatigue literature aptly includes the study of justice administration within the socially and legally relevant contexts of fatigue-impaired police discretion. In this study, the correlation between sleep measurements, fatigue, and police work are examined among three types of law enforcement agencies in a single western jurisdiction. Independent samples of municipal police (N=25), sheriff's deputies (N=25), and highway patrol (N=25) officers are selected to identify mean differences for sleep, age and sleep, law enforcement experience and sleep, second jobs, hours worked, police accidents and other variables. The findings unequivocally support the notion that law enforcement officers do not get enough recommended sleep, according to the PSQ Index and officer self reports. Other findings indicate that municipal police, compared to sheriff deputies or highway patrol officers are more careful about excessive work hours, work fewer second jobs, and get more sleep. Highway patrol officers consistently placed second to municipal police among these variables while the sample of county sheriff's was the most overworked as well as the most under slept. Conclusions and recommendations follow.

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About Us

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.