bborg

Criminal Justice

107 posts in this topic

Along these lines, my wife recently took a position with the DOC in Alaska, and one of the books she was issued to study was "Games that Criminals Play."

She was terribly disappointed to find out that it was a psychological textbook and not instructions for "the shell game" and "3-card monte." :wacko:

That would be here (there's an even better classic video which I couldn't find right away)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[i made comments in the previous class about our texts, and the professor seemed understanding. She didn't seem the type to do anything about it, though. The authors took certain ideas for granted - such as that crime is caused by poverty and social inequalities. While they claimed to be dispelling crime myths with facts, they never did attempt to justify their own premises (what a surprise).

If you haven't read "Inside The Criminal Mind" by George Samenow, I cannot too strongly recommend you do so. He puts forward the case that people are criminals because of the way they think, not because of the external factors mentioned above.

Yes, seconded; excellent book. I recommended this to bborg privately, for the reasons you mention. Samenow's explanation of the criminal mind and how, for instance, the budding criminal's parents can be blamed for being distant or negligent or, conversely, as controlling or overzealous, when all of this is in reaction to the manipulations of the child, is eye-opening and matches my own personal observations far better than any social engineering model.

His assessment of the criminal's view of others matches well with Leonard Piekoff's lecture on the same subject: Others are just tools and the only thing he respects (well, fears, which, in the criminal mind is synonymous) is force, the superior threat of another criminal individual. All others are just suckers to be taken advantage of. And I've seen firsthand how such dishonest thinking degrades the mind. It's a wonderful life.

I applaud bborg's desire to take these dirtbags off the streets so we can live safely. And if he wants to take time off, later in his career, to write the definitive book on crime, criminals, forensics, intelligence analysis, or whatever, that would be just great, too. :wacko:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I keep trying to read Applications in Criminal Analysis in starts and stops, when I’m not busy with class reading. Inside the Criminal Mind is next on my reading list, though, especially considering I’ve now received 3 independent recommendations from Objectivists to check it out!

I applaud bborg's desire to take these dirtbags off the streets so we can live safely. And if he wants to take time off, later in his career, to write the definitive book on crime, criminals, forensics, intelligence analysis, or whatever, that would be just great, too. :wacko:

Sounds like a plan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This week we’re discussing Rodney King. Joy. I find it very frustrating that in a criminal justice program, education that many people interested in advancing a career in law enforcement and related areas pay to receive, the curriculum largely favors anti-law enforcement attitudes. There is something I’ve now come to call the “stormtrooper argument” against police. Authors often refer to a “police subculture”, for which they blame all poor relations between law enforcement and the community. Once an individual joins the force, they are “socialized” into a culture in which civilians are all regarded as potential criminals and only other officers can be trusted. The directive of this alleged culture is to exercise arbitrary authority over civilians, to the point of using force, and solidarity with one’s “brothers”.

Notice that with such a belief about police, the “system” can be called oppressive and racist even in the absence of evidence. And because everyone in law enforcement is supposedly indoctrinated with these ideas, they may be racist even if they themselves aren’t aware of it. I’m currently reading through The Myth of a Racist Criminal Justice System by William Wilbanks, and he notes that advocates of the “discrimination theory” have replaced overt racism with “institutional” or “subtle” racism. Institutional racism is usually the charge when there is no proof that any action of an institution was racist, but the result “favored” one race over another. If more blacks than whites are arrested, this is “institutional racism”. “Subtle” racism means that someone acts in a racist way without being aware of it. So again, have no proof? That’s fine, just say that the racism was “subtle”.

So far, only one assigned article in the 8 classes I’ve taken so far has challenged the idea that the criminal justice system is shot through with racism. Every other source takes it as gospel truth.

Now can you imagine the self-doubt this creates in criminal justice professionals? One can be trained to use force appropriately, but one cannot protect against unconscious prejudice. That makes you guilty by default, and you can never be certain of your own innocence. And even the use of force training won’t cure that. One of the authors for the class reading argues that law enforcement defines “racial profiling” as police action based solely on race, but what about legitimate actions partially motivated by race? So an officer may be able to justify pulling someone over or forcing them to the ground, but they will be plagued by the thought that maybe some part of them wanted to do it for racist reasons. Wilbanks actually mentions that some white officers admit to treating blacks better than whites in an attempt to prove that they aren’t racist. But of course, one can never really do that.

My initial impression of these classes last year was that criminal justice was a pretty healthy field. Between this garbage and criminology I’m starting to rethink that evaluation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[...] There is something I’ve now come to call the “stormtrooper argument” against police. Authors often refer to a “police subculture”, for which they blame all poor relations between law enforcement and the community. Once an individual joins the force, they are “socialized” into a culture in which civilians are all regarded as potential criminals and only other officers can be trusted. The directive of this alleged culture is to exercise arbitrary authority over civilians, to the point of using force, and solidarity with one’s “brothers”.

Notice that with such a belief about police, [...]

It isn't just a belief, it's actual reality, but ironically one that comes out of the same philosophic culture as your classes, which promoted a socialistic the-individual-is-nothing-the-state-is-all, as well as mass enforcement of non-objective laws, especially the big areas of traffic, tax, and drug laws. Do you think that the "average American" would bash down the doors of 90's year old women, shoot her, then to a man lie about the circumstances and only confess the truth when lying became impossible? That in full literal stormtrooper gear bash down the doors of known non-violent individuals to retrieve Elian Gonzales to ship him back to Cuba? It is hard reality that those events happened. Do you really think those were exceptions?

Government needs better-thinking people, though I suspect that it's almost a guarantee of a self-sacrificial situation today. Certainly one should not approach working with any facet of modern government with any expectation of encountering rationality - every area at every level is shot through with massive irrationality and power-lust. Finding men with integrity will be a rare exception.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It isn't just a belief, it's actual reality, but ironically one that comes out of the same philosophic culture as your classes, which promoted a socialistic the-individual-is-nothing-the-state-is-all, as well as mass enforcement of non-objective laws, especially the big areas of traffic, tax, and drug laws. Do you think that the "average American" would bash down the doors of 90's year old women, shoot her, then to a man lie about the circumstances and only confess the truth when lying became impossible? That in full literal stormtrooper gear bash down the doors of known non-violent individuals to retrieve Elian Gonzales to ship him back to Cuba? It is hard reality that those events happened. Do you really think those were exceptions?

Government needs better-thinking people, though I suspect that it's almost a guarantee of a self-sacrificial situation today. Certainly one should not approach working with any facet of modern government with any expectation of encountering rationality - every area at every level is shot through with massive irrationality and power-lust. Finding men with integrity will be a rare exception.

I think law enforcement attracts all kinds, including some criminals acting under the color of law. And many Americans, not just police, are morally bankrupt drones. I think the police also attract good people who want justice for the world they live in. The LA rioting in '92, killing 50, was not some rational uprising against an oppressive state. A lot of people lash out at police, not because of any real injustice, but as a scapegoat to evade their own irrationality. The idea of a "police subculture" is a convenient excuse for urban crime; by keeping the police guilty they keep themselves victims. That's the mentality I see promoted by my reading, which certainly does honest policemen neither justice nor any good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This week we’re discussing Rodney King. Joy. I find it very frustrating that in a criminal justice program, education that many people interested in advancing a career in law enforcement and related areas pay to receive, the curriculum largely favors anti-law enforcement attitudes. [...]

I find decision-making in criminal courts and sentencing grids and reasoning to be horrible for promoting non-objective law enforcement, but I don’t have any view about the detention and arrest components.

My initial impression of these classes last year was that criminal justice was a pretty healthy field. Between this garbage and criminology I’m starting to rethink that evaluation.

I would have to review the trend of decisions on qualified immunity and reasonable and probable grounds for arrest/other alleged Fourth Amendment violations over the decades to find out if police misconduct is determined to be 1. increasing over time as a proportion of all arrests, 2. increasing due to racial profiling or 3. whether courts or disciplinary tribunals are fair in their assessment of allegations of police misconduct. Just as one does not rely on prevalence in broadcasted news to say that man-made climate change is a fact, one should also not rely on the media exposure and spin on certain cases to determine the state of all peace officers' minds in all jurisdictions.

In the stages of crim justice after charges have been laid, many defense counsel have admitted to treating cases where accused who are clearly guilty with greater effort and attention than cases where the accused is innocent or intent ambiguous, the reason being that they are trying to do their best in the ‘clearly guilty’ cases because their personal morality disenfranchises them from the outcome they personally think the accused should obtain. The majority who act this way do so to uphold the pillar of defense irrespective of the defendant’s guilt or innocence, because that must exist for us to have a fair judicial system. That, at least, is a pretty healthy component (overall health of this component; there are many public defenders and attorneys who are not desirable components).

Any field that has modern sociology and psychology as requirements for graduation will be rife with smaller versions of the struggle for rational thought penetration in the world generally. It takes years of dedication to advancing one's ideas where deaf ears will be the majority of cases, and seeking valuable partners in one's tasks. One of the fields that I find interesting is the work of forensic artists. The software available has gotten dramatically better with time, but the questioning methods of the observer or victim are suffering the epistemological problems decades before we oughta've known better. Unfortunately, this problem still leads to few suspects being apprehended as a result of suspect or POI renderings despite the technological advances. So law enforcement does require many people who are dedicated to their work who can bring rational thinking into the picture and make it stick. To some extent, every field needs rational improvements, but with the criminal justice emphasis on humanities it can be especially bad, depending on your specialization. The more technical the specialization, the better, in my view.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I find decision-making in criminal courts and sentencing grids and reasoning to be horrible for promoting non-objective law enforcement, but I don’t have any view about the detention and arrest components.

Could you elaborate on this comment about sentencing?

I would have to review the trend of decisions on qualified immunity and reasonable and probable grounds for arrest/other alleged Fourth Amendment violations over the decades to find out if police misconduct is determined to be 1. increasing over time as a proportion of all arrests, 2. increasing due to racial profiling or 3. whether courts or disciplinary tribunals are fair in their assessment of allegations of police misconduct. Just as one does not rely on prevalence in broadcasted news to say that man-made climate change is a fact, one should also not rely on the media exposure and spin on certain cases to determine the state of all peace officers' minds in all jurisdictions.

I've read that litigation has increased, but that may have more to do with the rise in public scrutiny of police ever since the mid to late 60s, rather than an indicator of a change in police behavior. Also the number of recorded incidents is likely higher today with the creation of civilian review boards. I hope nobody takes my comments here to mean that I believe corruption does not exist in police departments. There's a group at PoliceAbuse.com that investigates claims of police abuse and it's clear from their stories that some departments are either nonresponsive to complaints or negligent in following up with them. There has been legitimate pressure on police organizations to improve the review process, so that would also make the trend difficult to discern.

In the stages of crim justice after charges have been laid, many defense counsel have admitted to treating cases where accused who are clearly guilty with greater effort and attention than cases where the accused is innocent or intent ambiguous, the reason being that they are trying to do their best in the ‘clearly guilty’ cases because their personal morality disenfranchises them from the outcome they personally think the accused should obtain. The majority who act this way do so to uphold the pillar of defense irrespective of the defendant’s guilt or innocence, because that must exist for us to have a fair judicial system. That, at least, is a pretty healthy component (overall health of this component; there are many public defenders and attorneys who are not desirable components).

I agree that it's good that these defenders are upholding due process rights, although I'm not sure what I think about them putting forth less effort with innocent clients.

Any field that has modern sociology and psychology as requirements for graduation will be rife with smaller versions of the struggle for rational thought penetration in the world generally. It takes years of dedication to advancing one's ideas where deaf ears will be the majority of cases, and seeking valuable partners in one's tasks. One of the fields that I find interesting is the work of forensic artists. The software available has gotten dramatically better with time, but the questioning methods of the observer or victim are suffering the epistemological problems decades before we oughta've known better. Unfortunately, this problem still leads to few suspects being apprehended as a result of suspect or POI renderings despite the technological advances. So law enforcement does require many people who are dedicated to their work who can bring rational thinking into the picture and make it stick. To some extent, every field needs rational improvements, but with the criminal justice emphasis on humanities it can be especially bad, depending on your specialization. The more technical the specialization, the better, in my view.

I see the war on drugs as a parallel to your example of the forensic artist. Without rational moral principles the scientific advancements of law enforcement are completely wasted. And while it does seem to be the case that the science is doing better, it's the humanities that drive policies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Could you elaborate on this comment about sentencing?
The federal sentencing ranges judges are required to use with rare exception are more than just minimum guidelines; for many judges they replace actual fair decision-making and should not exist. Judges should rely only on clear thought, a moral desire for a fair sentence, reliance on a deep knowledge of caselaw and experience when providing reasons for their sentences. The sentencing of an individual in the context of his crime cannot be focused as it is now on calculations according to guidelines, PSRs (pre-sentence reports = extra-verdict hearsay and 'please pity me.'), and "agreed" statements of fact if the desired result is a fair application of justice. Fair and justice are supposed to be redundant but we have today's situations instead. The imposing of sentencing grids/ranges and compliance ratings across different circuits speak to the poor quality of appointed judiciary that require a committee and AGs, none of whom was the presiding trial judge, to decide an appropriate sentence based on the face of the charge. Guilty pleas to reduced charges, which frequently have nothing to do with the crimes committed, should not be a method of whittling down penalization on the sentencing grid for any of the accused, DoJ and especially not the judiciary, but that happens every day. Appellate courts are overburdened with "erred in law" claims based entirely on these compounded lacks of sentencing propriety.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve finally chosen not to pursue the foreign intelligence track. I still think it’s fascinating, but what I really want to do is focus on criminology. I’m seriously considering applying to a doctoral program and looking for opportunities as a researcher. I need to see how the system works first-hand. Originally I had imagined working for the FBI or something as an analyst, which still holds some of my interest, but the idea feels…cramped. I don’t want to be so narrowly focused. Also, a PhD would be a great path to take if I want to write a book on crime correcting all these errors I’m seeing. :) And it may not be wise to wait to start…I have the energy for school now, and it will be more and more difficult to do later. There's a doctoral program at University of Maryland at College Park, just next-door to me. I've been looking at the information on their website.

Actually what brought my attention to pursuing a doctorate was my current professor. She’s remarked on my critical thinking and analytical skills, and suggested I consider it. There was a professor I had a few times who was involved in research, so maybe I can get advice between the two of them on how to proceed.

As exciting as the past year has been, it has also been very frustrating not having a precise idea of what I want to do. I think I’m getting there…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I’ve finally chosen not to pursue the foreign intelligence track. I still think it’s fascinating, but what I really want to do is focus on criminology. I’m seriously considering applying to a doctoral program and looking for opportunities as a researcher. I need to see how the system works first-hand. Originally I had imagined working for the FBI or something as an analyst, which still holds some of my interest, but the idea feels…cramped. I don’t want to be so narrowly focused. Also, a PhD would be a great path to take if I want to write a book on crime correcting all these errors I’m seeing. :) And it may not be wise to wait to start…I have the energy for school now, and it will be more and more difficult to do later. There's a doctoral program at University of Maryland at College Park, just next-door to me. I've been looking at the information on their website.

Actually what brought my attention to pursuing a doctorate was my current professor. She’s remarked on my critical thinking and analytical skills, and suggested I consider it. There was a professor I had a few times who was involved in research, so maybe I can get advice between the two of them on how to proceed.

As exciting as the past year has been, it has also been very frustrating not having a precise idea of what I want to do. I think I’m getting there…

Good for you, Bryson. Keep "getting there".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent, Bryson!

Sounds like a plan. You've got a lot to add to the science of Criminology.

It can still go in lots of directions, even from there. It should be fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is great to hear, Bryson! I have no doubt you will do outstanding work, and I personally look forward to watching it unfold over time!

And it may not be wise to wait to start…I have the energy for school now, and it will be more and more difficult to do later.

That's an important point. Do it while you have the interest and energy.

As alann said, you will probably have all kinds of different directions in which to go once you get into it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks! I’m now in information-gathering mode to get a clearer idea of what my options are if I decide to go for the degree. The one thing I want to avoid is studying and teaching. I want to be studying and working in the field. Although it’s a very exciting idea, I am way too fuzzy on the details right now to make a final decision.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks! I'm now in information-gathering mode to get a clearer idea of what my options are if I decide to go for the degree. The one thing I want to avoid is studying and teaching. I want to be studying and working in the field. Although it's a very exciting idea, I am way too fuzzy on the details right now to make a final decision.
Excellent idea. I've always preferred them that can do as teachers. Given the epistemological issues you (and Cometmaker) have brought up, you need first-hand observational and participitory experience to interpret the validity of what you read. I've also met some excellent people in law enforcement and some who, as a friend who developed computer systems for the sheriff's department said, differed from the criminals they apprehended by their uniform and which side of the bars they were on. Some are attracted by a desire for justice and a safer world, some by a desire for power over others and probably a thousand things in between.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Excellent idea. I've always preferred them that can do as teachers. Given the epistemological issues you (and Cometmaker) have brought up, you need first-hand observational and participitory experience to interpret the validity of what you read. I've also met some excellent people in law enforcement and some who, as a friend who developed computer systems for the sheriff's department said, differed from the criminals they apprehended by their uniform and which side of the bars they were on. Some are attracted by a desire for justice and a safer world, some by a desire for power over others and probably a thousand things in between.

I think I would get some value out of teaching, but it wasn't my intention to become an Ivory Tower professor.

By the way, one interesting thing they've added on the FBI website is an Honors Intern summer program. Basically you get the Dean or Department Head to tell them how great you are, you go in for an interview they do a background check and then you go to work there from June to August. For undergraduates you need to be in school full-time, but it doesn't say for graduate level. I'm actually wondering if I can apply this year for next summer. Something else I'll be looking into. :) Hey just imagine if next year I was working toward my doctorate, working with the FBI and then after that interning in some local agency!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's very exciting, Bryson. The future holds such possiblities...I love it! While I'm very excited for you personally, it's also very exciting from the standpoint of affecting a positive change in the culture I love it when smart people with a rational philosophy are able to go into a field they love and are able to make an impact on the rationality of the field.

As an aside, and I'm sure you are aware of this, make sure you start the process for whatever it is you're applying to - the FBI internship or grad school - early. I've seen friends miss out on opportunities, and even missed some myself, because they didn't figure out exactly what was needed (prerequisites, letters of recommendation, etc) until too late. Just a friendly heads up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually what brought my attention to pursuing a doctorate was my current professor. She’s remarked on my critical thinking and analytical skills, and suggested I consider it. There was a professor I had a few times who was involved in research, so maybe I can get advice between the two of them on how to proceed.

We could've told you that! :)

As exciting as the past year has been, it has also been very frustrating not having a precise idea of what I want to do. I think I’m getting there…

Congratulations again, Bryson. Your career-change has been a personal inspiration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That's very exciting, Bryson. The future holds such possiblities...I love it! While I'm very excited for you personally, it's also very exciting from the standpoint of affecting a positive change in the culture I love it when smart people with a rational philosophy are able to go into a field they love and are able to make an impact on the rationality of the field.

I understand. :D So far I have seen no significant opposition in the field. People desperately need rational ideas and I've got them!

As an aside, and I'm sure you are aware of this, make sure you start the process for whatever it is you're applying to - the FBI internship or grad school - early. I've seen friends miss out on opportunities, and even missed some myself, because they didn't figure out exactly what was needed (prerequisites, letters of recommendation, etc) until too late. Just a friendly heads up.

I'm a notorious procrastinator of paperwork. :) But I'm trying to be mindful of deadlines while also not rushing decisions.

We could've told you that! :D

:D I only meant that the idea hadn't come up before. I had always planned to stop at the masters, at least for now. But once I started to seriously think about it I realized there were advantages I hadn't seen.

Congratulations again, Bryson. Your career-change has been a personal inspiration.

Glad to hear it. I'm not there yet, though. Not until I'm making money doing what I love.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking for Objectivist message boards, I read BBorg's story and applied to join here. His posts raised many questions with me because like him, I just finished a bachelor's in criminology (associates' in criminal justice) and am now in graduate school in social science. Also like him, I came to this from another discipline -- in my case, computers. I always engaged lifelong education, and even taught in a community college, but never completed a four-year degree until now. (I transfered in about 160 credits, which meant that I got an immediate nasty-gram from the registrar demanding to know what my plans were for graduation as was over their limits for credit hours. Bureaucracy: you gotta love it.)

Anyway, much of what he said resonated with my own experiences and yet, it left me wondering. For one thing, he was congratulated on now being able to put the bad guys away and clean up the streets and all at. He never contradictted those sentiments. The police do not do that. You would not want to live in the kind of society where they do. The police serve many functions, among them, being the gatekeepers of the criminal justice system. They must make their case, first of all to a prosecutor. Among his jobs is reviewing the work of the police. It's all more complicated than most people know because most people only know what they see on television: high speed chases, shoot-outs, and a very narrow class of criminals.

Anyway, I'm interested to see how this all pans out because I, too, am looking for a doctoral program, likely in criminal justice, but perhaps something else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Looking for Objectivist message boards, I read BBorg's story and applied to join here.

Welcome.

The police quite literally take the bad guys off the street, even if they are not responsible for throwing them in prison. In any case, I’m sure the comment you refer to was not intended to imply that I personally would be doing this, as I never expressed an interest in becoming a police officer. But all practitioners in criminal justice, if they do their job well, help to improve the targeting and punishment of criminal behavior. This is why I did not contradict the statement.

As to police duties, television does of course “cut to the chase”, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that people are fooled by this into believing that this is the norm. Even a show like COPS (as much as I dislike it) shows you that much of the work officers (patrol officers in particular) do is not apprehension of criminals but mediating disputes in their community. Even that may be a rare occurrence depending on the neighborhood. We've all seen officers in a parked vehicle just observing traffic and the passersby. Some officers work in schools now, what with problems with juvenile crime and the mandates that prevent administrators from ejecting troublesome students. And police host a variety of social programs like DARE and Police Athletic Leagues. But of course none of that was my interest in entering the field, so everyone here has focused on the crime element, which they know was.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FYI I received confirmation today that I passed my "comprehensive exam", and should receive the official letter soon. So the suspense is over: I've graduated!! :D I'm pursuing some opportunities that look good, and hope it won't be too long before I'm doing work in the field. I decided to put off the PhD. Not long after I wrote about that, the exhaustion from school work started to set in. It's still a goal, but I need to wait until I have my energy back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
FYI I received confirmation today that I passed my "comprehensive exam", and should receive the official letter soon. So the suspense is over: I've graduated!

Congratulations, Bryson! Good for you & good for the field. All the best in finding a great position soon!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
FYI I received confirmation today that I passed my "comprehensive exam", and should receive the official letter soon. So the suspense is over: I've graduated!! :D I'm pursuing some opportunities that look good, and hope it won't be too long before I'm doing work in the field.

Congratulations Bryson! Have a wonderful celebration :D And I hope you get that position!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites