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Research Methods in Criminal Justice

  1. The State of Connecticut has chosen to create a new pilot program that diverts troubled adolescents from Juvenile Courts into community based juvenile diversion programs. These new community diversion programs are primarily designed to reduce the expected negative impacts of labeling. However, opponents of the program are concerned that the diversion program will reduce the deterrent impact of the court system. Describe how you would design a study to determine the effectiveness of this new program. Include the specification of outcomes (and measures), the best type of research design, measurement issues associated with independent and dependent variables, and discuss major threats to the internal and external validity of the research.
  1. Alternate version: The State of Connecticut has chosen to create a new pilot program that diverts troubled adolescents from prison to structured rehabilitation-programming in a residential setting. Describe how you would design a cohort study to determine whether the program is successful, including the methodology, measurement system and the statistical tests you would employ.
  1. Ray Researcher has completed an evaluation of a cognitive skills based anger management correctional treatment program. Ray finds that inmates participating in this program report virtually no recidivism in a six-month follow-up study. Further, Ray notes that all participants in the program were volunteers and that they were selected by Ray Researcher based on his perception of the likelihood that they would benefit from the program.  You work for NIJ. What additional information would you like to see and what potential problems do you see from your reading of the summary above? What questions should NIJ ask before funding a continuation of Ray’s program and what kind of research enhancements are needed to create a more reliable and valid test of Ray’s program?
  1. Criminal Justice Research Designs need to consider four types of validity: Statistical Conclusion, Construct, Internal and External. Define each type of validity and give an example of how each type of validity might impact criminal justice research. How do each of these types of validity relate to establishing nomothetic causality?
  1. A study has been designed to assess the level of recidivism in sex offenders who have not received any treatment versus those that have successfully completed a treatment program. Discuss the general issues in using recidivism as a dependent measure in any study. Are there any specific issues in using recidivism as a dependent measure in this study?
  1. One approach to criminal justice research is to use a classical experimental design. Define and illustrate the strengths of this type of research design. Researchers sometimes enhance this classical design by including double-blind conditions or by using a Solomon Four Group enhancement to the classical experimental design. Please explain how each of these enhancements may improve the validity of research findings.

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