Essay, Research Paper: Criminal Justice

Legal Issues

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This paper will describe my understanding of the text and of the lectures
provided in the class. Unlike most classes, where I understood only my view of
the text, this class was geared so each student would understand each other’s
view. 3 An organization is a collective that has some boundary and internal
structure that engages in activities related to some complex set of goals.
Members of organizations attempt to meet their psychological, ego and emotional
needs within the organization. Criminal justice organizations are particularly
unique compared to other public or private sector organizations because of the
governmental granted authority. Management within these organizations can be
defined as the process by which the elements of a group are integrated,
coordinated and/or utilized so as to efficiently achieve the organization’s
objectives. In Law enforcement and correctional organizations, the front line
officers manage people. This is especially true in the control of inmates. In
these organizations, we must consider the hierarchy to be inverted. The front
line officers, not limited to sergeants and lieutenants, influence the direction
of the organization. Leaders in criminal justice establish direction by
developing a vision of the future, align people through shared values and
vision, and motivate and inspire people to move them toward the shared vision.
Leaders will challenge existing processes and systems, focus on the future of
the basic assumptions, values, and beliefs and create the basis for structural
or programmatic change. 4 Conversely, leadership in corrections is often more
complex. Prison and jail overcrowding, along with the increasing number of
geriatric, mentally ill and an influx of younger and more violent inmates
requires the managers of the organization to increase the training and
motivation of line officers in order to deal with problems. In law enforcement
agencies, leaderships must recognize the need for more community policing
programs. These criminal justice organizations must look inside themselves and
adapt change in order to meet their goals and objectives. The goals of
organizations not only provide direction but also serve as constraints or
limits. An example in the criminal justice model would be for an agency to make
more arrests to meet the public outcry, but also to insure the judicial and
correctional systems handle the increase in business. Organizations have very
common structural dimensions. But some models are different, such as centralized
and decentralized. In the centralized hierarchy of organizations, the decisions
or personnel actions, planning, formulation of policies and procedures,
adjudication of conflicts and other significant issues are made from the top. In
decentralized organizations, the decision on these major issues is routinely
made throughout the organization. Whether an organization is centralized or
decentralized mostly depends on the type of agency and the beliefs of the top
managers. This decision depends on the expertise of all the managers and the
staff personnel. 5 Mission statements, if properly understood and accepted by
organized personnel, is the framework by which an organization will operate. A
mission statement can be defined as a statement or description of an
organization’s common purpose and continuing purpose for existing
responsibility of it’s client or constituents, at least by implicating it’s
ideology, values and operation’s principals. An example of a mission statement
by a business may be: (1) Quality comes first (2) Customers are the focus of
everything we do. (3) Continuous improvement is essential to everything we do.
(4) Employee involvement is our way of life. (5) Dealers and suppliers are our
partners. (6) Integrity is never compromised. An example of a criminal justice
organization may be: “ The mission of the department is to safely incarcerate
convicted felons; to keep inmates secure, safe from physical and psychological
harm and deterioration; and And to provide inmates with opportunities for a
successful, crime-free reentry into Into society, while providing a safe, secure
and stress-free work environment for Staff.” Even though, both are different
types of mission statements; both have one thing in common – “Quality.”
Mission statements can drive policy, procedures and the different structures of
organizations, whether public or private. 6 Communication can be define as glue
for organizations. It will create a coordinated effort to achieve attainment of
goals and objectives. Poor communication, however, can result in many management
problems for it. If directions are not clear and well communicated, subordinates
will inadvertently disobey the meaning of the directive. Managers must be sure
when a directive is not followed if the employee was wrong or if the directive
to the employee was poorly communicated. A directive, whether spoken or written,
is one person sending information to another. This process if referred to as
encoding and decoding. Words are our most familiar means of sending messages to
others. However, the message we intend to send and the way out message received
may differ drastically. Many communication barriers may exist which may cloud or
distort the meaning of the message. Communication barriers definitely exist
within the criminal justice system. Police officers and courts and lawyers have
differing views of offenders. Police officers arrest offenders whom they view as
probably guilty, whereas the court system assumes the offender is innocent until
proven guilty. An important move towards improving communication in criminal
justice agencies and in the criminal justice system as a whole, is for agencies
to move away from “boss-centered management and towards subordinate-centered
management.” 7 One of the most difficult issues in the criminal justice
systems, especially the corrections departments, is motivation. What really
motivates people? Some theorists define it as a state of mind. This state of
mind will cause the employee to exhibit certain behaviors. Some say it’s the
“psychological contract between the individual and the work to be performed.
One interesting portion of the text discusses the “need theory.” The need
theory states that all people have needs, both physical and psychological, which
effect their behavioral patterns. As the great psychologist, T. Maslow argued,
people have 5 basic needs: (1) physiological needs – food, water and other
“must have” things in order to survive; (2) the need for safety and
security; (3) belonging needs – the desire to be loved; (4) self actualization
needs (5) higher-order needs, which include sense of belonging and esteem. The
rank and file workers consider the lower level needs, as most important, but
most organizational managers perceive the higher level needs as the most
important. While reading the material in the text and reviewing my own
organizations mission statement, the path–goal and achievement – oriented
leadership method of motivation is practical in my agency. Senior management
attempts and most of the time succeed, to use this theory for its success. The
achievement values are as follows: (1) Seek to achieve success through one’s
own efforts and not have their success attributed to other factors. 8 (2) Work
on projects – which are challenging, but not attainable. (3) Receive
identifiable and recurring feedback about one’s work and avoid situations
where the level of achievement is in question. Individual performance is one’s
ability to complete a task along with motivation to do the task. If criminal
justice managers understand these issues, involving the employee by explaining
the expectations, understanding one’s ability, create the motivation, the end
result will be maximum performance from the employee. Another major factor in
the success of the criminal justice system is effective leadership. There are
several models mentioned in the text. Particularly in the “path-goal
theory,” there are the following: (1) the directive leadership behavior, (2)
supportive leadership behavior, (3) the achievement-oriented behavior, and (4)
the participate leaderships behavior. All great leaders all, but most have less
and some have only one. As demonstrated in my interview of a criminal justice
manager, my organization has mostly achievement-oriented leaders. Mostly became
of the external factors of our contract with the Department of Energy. Effective
leaders and command staff-level management must possess at least five leadership
traits: (1) possess traits indicative of a proactive approach to leadership; (2)
be aware of the importance of building professional relationships with
employees; (3) balance the needs of employees with concern for production; 9 (4)
Incorporate a sense of “vision” within the organization and serve as a
transformer of culture when necessary; and (5) have an array of contingent
strategies. All of management and leaders within the organization must utilize
all their skills to ensure agency goals and objectives are met, especially in
the criminal justice system. The organization culture is very complex in nature
within the criminal justice system. The law enforcement, judicial and
correctional systems, even though essentially in the same business, are
different. Each level of the justice system belongs to it’s own subculture.
Each also, has subcultures within it. They act on individual socialization
within themselves. A great example would be life within a prison institution.
The warden, of course, is in charge of the institution but when off, the ranking
correctional officer is in charge when he/she is with the inmates. The
individual group leader of the inmates (according to the “pecking order”) is
in charge when the correctional officer is not around. The examples given are of
formal and informal socialization. Before taking this course and thoroughly
reading the text, I was only exposed to law enforcement organizations. Most of
the professors were either lawyers or law professionals. It was enlightening to
read the text and to hear a different perspective from a corrections
professional.
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