The effort to professionalize criminal justice work emerged hand-in-hand with the development of criminal justice research. Wilson promoted one of the earliest university based training programs for police officers; created a training academy for police cadets; helped develop a law enforcement code of ethics. Criminal Justice Research and Professionalism, 1920s-1960s, fought corruption; improved police record keeping and communications; and developed widely-used measurements of officer productivity.
To achieve professionalization, criminal justice programs advanced reforms along three critical lines. First, reformers sought to make improvements in the selection and training of criminal justice personnel. Second, criminal justice systems sought to centralize and bureaucratize their operations. Third, criminal justice embraced new technologies designed to make their work more efficient. Local police departments saw only limited practical changes. Until midcentury, corrections training was even further behind but gradually increased to where it is currently.
The University of California, Berkeley established the School of Criminology in 1950 which is one of the most recognized programs with a distinct presence for criminal justice research within the American higher learning and education system. August Vollmer created and established the Bureau of Police Organization at Berkley in 1932 with the backing and support of the Rockefeller Foundation, which ended up being the foundation of the University of California, Berkley School of Criminology. The Berkeley School of Criminology adopted the reformist but practical orientation of the prewar criminal justice surveys, deemphasizing criminological theory in favor of a curriculum that focused on the problems of criminal justice administration (Bopp, 1977, p. 75). The Berkley program was ranked very high among academics for efficiency and the practical approach toward criminal justice research. The first dean of the School of Criminology was O. W. Wilson who was given the position because of his administration skills in criminal justice and not for his expertise in the study of crime. During the time Wilson was dean he hired people such as Austin MacCormick for corrections who was a leader in his field. Wilson continued to hire professionals and top ranks in their field of criminal justice. Wilson hired based on performance and experience and did not require faculty to possess a doctorate degree to teach. Wilson believed that practical experience and expertise was essential when it came to his program in criminal justice academics and that book knowledge could not compare to real life experience.
The Berkley program began to have critics by the 1960s. There was a new breed of criminologists who questioned the integrity between the faculty at Berkley and the criminal justice institution. One of the critics called the school “trained middle management personnel in
the arts of police and correctional administration, stressing business management, Taylorism, and professionalism. (Platt & Shank, 1976, p.1-3). According to August Vollmer’s reformist brand and it had little patience even for Criminal Justice Research and Professionalism, 1920s-1960s 153 the niceties of liberal social science” (Platt & Shank, 1976, p. 1-3). Although the Berkeley program, as it had been devised by Wilson, did not outlive his departure in 1960, its ambitions for research in service to the practical problems of criminal justice administration continued on in other institutional settings, including the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences founded as the International Association of Police Professors in 1963 (Morn, 1995; Hale, 1998).
Criminal justice research developed side by side with the effort to professionalize the criminal justice profession. One must consider the fact that there are many shared opinions between the two academic structures such as, that politics should be removed from the system (recall that the authors of the Cleveland Crime Survey called political appointments “an absurd piece of inefficiency”; (Frankfurter & Pound, 1922, p. 215); that decision-making within the criminal justice system could be standardized and based on empirical research; and that expert knowledge about the criminal justice system could be used to develop sets of “best practices” that could then be used to appropriately train new police officers, probation and parole workers, and prison guards. (Frankfurter & Pound, 1922, p. 215).
Advocates of professionalization and early researchers shared the idea that current procedures were below the norm and that there was much more work to be done to bring the standards up to par. Patrick Murphy, would later go on to distinguished career as a police
administrator, recalled leaving the Navy as you man to join the New York City Police department in 1946 stated “I suddenly realized how unfair the comparison between the military and the domestic police has been to the Navy: the Catch 22s and the other instances of irrationality and insanity which I found in the Navy were but minor irritants compared to the wholesale inefficiency, inept management and sometime maddening corruption that I was to find in the New York police department and then later in the police departments everywhere.
The New York Police Department and many other police departments and criminal justice agencies suffered from a long list of corruption. There were accusations of systemic corruption from the highest levels of administration to the police officer on the street and were found in the criminal justice system across America.
A History of Modern American Criminal Justice
According to Edgerton, Organization in many cities was an oddly decentralized throwback that reflected the power of highly local ward politics. For their part, prisons in all regions of the United States remained isolated kingdoms unto their own, often administered by political appointees with no practical experience and little interest in running their institutions effectively (Edgerton, 2004). Officers in the correctional facilities, and police stations were seldom subjected to professional training programs, they learned on the job training and that was usually done through trial and error.
The push for professionalization demonstrated what historian Samuel Walker (1998) calls “a divided soul”-“divided between the social welfarist aspects of reform, in which criminal justice professionals could become agents of rehabilitation and effective social change and the quest for a more effective and efficient crime-fighting apparatus” (Samuel Walker, 1998)
Walker’s observation is insightful however, these two notions did not mix well in theory, neither did they work easily together. Although the police officer should be seen as a peace maker and a touch crime fighter it was difficult to be seen as both at the same time. Although there was time when peace maker and crime fighter could be portrayed as one in the same, eventually one or the other would emerge with more strength and power than the other through the police officers personality and dominate the event. After a period of time, in the mid-twentieth century, the crime control conquered the movement among professionalization’s advocates.
According to O. W. Wilson his career shows this divided soul as well as the ultimate emphasis on crime control. Wilson was a longtime police administrator who began his career in law enforcement as a protégé of August Vollmer, the quintessential Progressive Era police reformer and frequent advocate of the social worker role. Wilson’s career leading police forces began in Wichita, Kansas, in 1928 and would take him most famously to the head of the Chicago Police Department from 1960 to 1967. Some of Wilson’s innovations tended toward the progressive social work component of police professionalism, such as his effort in Wichita to make certain that police handling juvenile cases would first investigate the child’s home situation and coordinate their efforts with various city social services.
Wilson dedicated much of his career to the search form more efficient crime control by establishing a professional police force. Wilson published a manual in 1941 describing how police departments could effectively place their patrol officers in area according to the number and subject or the calls. Wilson published the first comprehensive textbook on police administration in 1950. One of the earliest university based training programs for police officers was developed by Wilson. Wilson developed a training academy for police cadets, assisted in
the development of law enforcement code of ethics and criminal justice research and professionalism, he fought corruption, improved police record keeping and communications and developed widely used measurement of office productivity.
Three Critical Lines
Three critical lines were established in the advanced reforms to achieve professionalization in the criminal justice programs. The first was improvements made in hiring and training of law enforcement officers. The second critical lines were the centralization and bureaucratize the operations. The third critical line was to use new technologies in the criminal justice field to create a more efficient work place. These three critical lines of advance reforms were introduced gradually into the program of reforms to increase professionalism at that time.
The most important of the three critical lines of advanced reforms was the efforts to improve the quality of law enforcement officers. The Cleveland survey, addressing police detective work, concluded that it “requires some men of scientific training-men having the educational foundation that will permit them to develop scientific methods of operation” (Frankfurter & Pound, 1922, p. 71). In that spirit, the Cleveland survey researchers conducted intelligence testing of the city’s current police officers, using the fairly new Army Alpha Intelligence Examination (which had been developed during World War One) and discovered that the officers scored somewhat below the wartime Army subjects. (Frankfurter & Pound, 1922, p. 71).
Quality of the Criminal Justice System
Improving the training of law enforcement officers increased the overall quality of the criminal justice system, and by screening for intelligence, competency and ethics in potential
new hires in the field. In 1917 Mary Richmond’s book Social Diagnosis promoted professional competency in the field of social work with an emphasis on scientific research to back her theory. It was clean that Richmond could clearly see that old habits die hard and there was a resistance to let go of the past and progress forward to the new way of professionalism. For example, casework techniques and psychological techniques and interpretations of behavior were based on out dated nonscientific material and still being used in treatment and diagnosis rather than the new more modern techniques and scientific research based on evidence. A certain intransigence developed between those who wanted proof and those who insisted their asserted facts were self-evident” (Dressler, 1959, p. 127). The same was true for criminal justice training and academics. The forward progressive movement was slow to progress. Law enforcement departments saw minor changes until 1935 when the FBI the National Police Academy was created. However, the FBI had a small influence on the police departments at a state level ad progress across America was slow but progress was being made.
A History of Modern American Criminal Justice
According to Ragsdale, if police training remained limited midcentury, corrections training was even further behind. Virtually all prison guards received basic, on-the-job training, often little more than being allowed to follow more senior personnel for a short period of time. According to documentation from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, The Federal bureau of Prisons, the New York City Department of Corrections and the New York State Department of Corrections established three of the earliest formal centralized training programs during the 1930s. These training programs did not have many critics in the beginning. However, due to the war in the 1940s the New York State Central Guard School was closed. World War II was a
negative impact on the new training programs because the seasoned law enforcement officers and prison guards were going off to fight in the war leaving the new law enforcement officers to run the criminal justice system. It wasn’t’ until the 1970s that New York State re-opened and re-
established the academy of central training academy for correctional officers. Many of the same policies and rules were being enforced during prohibition and parole supervision and were slowly making their way across America. The top leader in professionalization was California however they did not have a published parole agent manual until 1954. Designed so that each parole agent could readily understand the administrative expectations for his or her work performance, the manual was an important effort to see to it that criminal justice workers operated upon a common set of work standards (Simon, 1993).
The criminal justice agencies were the second target of the reformers. Highly decentralized operations in the beginning were policing and corrections. According to researchers urban police officers usually passed authority to the local precinct while individual prisons and reformatories operated with little supervision from state departments. Criminal justice systems were highly vulnerable to political influence due to organizational weakness. For example: In the 1920s and 1930s police departments served a political function by aiding in the repression of labor activism. Acting at the behest of powerful business and economic interests, the police in many American communities acted as the strike breaking “shock forces” of the business community (Monkkonen, 1992; Fogelson, 1977; Johnson, 2003).
The growing push for a professional, crime-control focus meant removing departments from this political vulnerability, by creating stronger and more centralized bureaucracies. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) under William Parker, chief between 1950 and 1966,
serves as a good example. Historian Edward Escobar (1999) points out that the department began to separate itself from the interests of the city’s business community after 1938, gaining statutory control over all internal Chapter 6 Criminal Justice Research and Professionalism, 1920s-1960s 157 disciplinary decisions, disbanding its anti-labor Red Squad, and seeking to eliminate corrupt officers. Even as a young man joining the LAPD in the late 1920s, Parker reportedly refused to tolerate the corruption of his fellow cops or to look the other way when he became aware of a crime. Stories in national magazines the Saturday Evening Post and the Reader’s Digest claimed that, as police chief, Parker cleaned up a corrupt and vice-ridden city, driving organized crime out of town and leaving the remaining con artists and prostitutes confused and alone (Detzer, 1960; Jennings, 1960).
According to the Reader’s Digest portrait, “he has set an example of stiff necked integrity, of refusal to compromise, that now reaches down through the ranks to the newest recruit on the beat. This has earned him the respect of most good citizens of Los Angeles, and the undying hatred of the underworld” (Detzer, 1960, p. 240). The key to Parker’s strategy was applying modern business management techniques to police administration. Under his leadership, the LAPD established a Research and Planning division to improve operations by analyzing crime patterns, streamlining processes, and deploying officers more efficiently. Parker also consolidated his command structure by merging divisions and implemented much more extensive training programs intended to make his officers more professional. These changes were intended to support a more authoritative style of law enforcement. In contrast to an earlier goal of maintaining public order, Parker’s LAPD focused on fighting crime, still a relatively new objective for police following World War Two. Under Parker, the LAPD embraced tactics such
as conducting intensive patrol of high-crime neighborhoods and stopping and frisking suspicious persons (Domanick, 1994). That a highly centralized interventionist organization would promote better police work was a matter of faith. As one biographer observed of the similarly minded O. W. Wilson: “In his view, law enforcement should be organized along semi military lines. It was a philosophy that assumed a major structural reform of police agencies would ensure a change in institutional values. Thus, pride would be developed in the ranks, honesty and integrity would naturally follow, and the quality of police service would ultimately be improved” (Bopp, 1977, p. 72).
The push for centralization is equally obvious in the correctional field, since prison and reformatory systems were nominally state-directed enterprises to begin with. The creation of state-level correctional systems began in New York, where one was established in 1926; in California, the critical reforms took place a decade later, and most other states embraced the department of corrections model during the 1940s and 1950s. Even more striking were efforts by correctional bureaucracies to gain some centralized control over decisions relating to the commitment of inmates in particular. The American Law Institute developed a model Youth Authority Act, which spurred the creation of the California Youth Authority in 1941; in New York, the Elmira Reception Center was given statutory authority in 1945 to receive, evaluate, and assign all sentenced felons between 16 and 21 years of age.
Technology formed the third thread of the professionalization movement. Historians of policing have long acknowledged the central role of the “big three” advances in technology-the patrol car, the two-way radio, and the telephone. The embrace of new technologies worked
side-by-side with other changes. Consider, for example, the extent to which the use of patrol cars equipped with two-way radios could allow for a consolidation and centralization of police stations and make police departments less reliant in smaller precinct stations (Monkkonen, 1992). Federal Bureau of Prisons chief Sanford Bates hailed “science to the rescue” in corrections. He claimed, for example, that the lie detector could take the place of the crude and unprofessional use of the third degree. Even more important, technology would be the servant of professional and enlightened administration. (Bates, 1936) observed that “in our Federal penal institutions we have installed high-powered electric floodlights, automatic telephones with special cut-in emergency devices, radio communicators, automatic annunciators; tool proof or unsalable steel bars; harmless tear gas” all of which could work with the tools of psychology and the social sciences to “rescue the prisons of the country from the slough of despond of hit or-miss, politically controlled, unintelligent stagnation in which they have been immersed and raise them to the level of intelligently conducted business enterprises of current times” (Zunz,. 2000).
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