Ch03 Ethics and Criminal Justice Research


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Maxfield, Michael G. & Babbie, Earl R. (2011). Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology, 6th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

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Ch03 Ethics and Criminal Justice Research

  1. 1. 1Ethics and CriminalJustice Research
  2. 2. OUTLINE Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice Research Promoting Compliance with Ethical Principles Two Ethical Controversies
  3. 3. 3•Ethical concerns – Typically associated withmorality; both deal with matters of right & wrong•Ethical - May be defined as behavior conforming tothe standards of conduct of a given group•Matter of agreement among professionals•We need to know of this general sharedconception among CJ researchers
  4. 4. 4•Dilemma – Balancing potential benefits againstpossibility of harm•Collecting info from active criminals presentspossibility of violence against them•Psychological harm via remembrance ofunpleasant/traumatic experience•Possible harm may be justified by potential benefitof study (still arbitrary)•Perrone – Drug use in N.Y. dance clubs
  5. 5. 5•CJ research often intrudes into people’s lives•Asks them to reveal what is generally unknown•Therefore, participation must be voluntary•This threatens generalizability
  6. 6. 6•Anonymity – When researcher cannot identify agiven piece of information with a given person•Confidentiality – A researcher can link informationwith a subject, but promises not to do so publicly•Techniques: Replace names/addresses with IDs,specify when survey is C rather than A, specify thatinfo will not be disclosed to 3rd parties
  7. 7. 7•Generally considered unethical•Sometimes useful and even necessary to identifyyourself as a researcher•“Don’t go undercover”•Widom (1999) – child abuse and illegal drug use•Inciardi (1993) – studying crack houses
  8. 8. 8•Researchers have ethical obligations to scientificcommunity•Make shortcomings and/or negative findingsknown•Tell the truth about pitfalls and problems you’veexperienced•It is as important to know that two things are notrelated as to know that they are
  9. 9. 9•Researchers may expose themselves to criminalliability by: •Failing to report observed criminal activity to the police •Engaging in participant observation studies where crimes are committed•Subpoenas violate confidentiality•Legal immunity (42 U.S. Code §22.28a)
  10. 10. 10•Becoming aware of staff misbehavior in agencies•Research may produce crime or influence itslocation or target •Crime may be displaced•Withholding desirable treatments from controlgroup•Mandatory Reporting: the Federal Child AbusePrevention and Treatment Act of 1974
  11. 11. 11•The National Research Act (1974): signed into lawafter a few highly publicized examples of unethicalpractices in medical and social science research•The Belmont Report (1979): a brief, butcomprehensive set of ethical principles forprotecting human subjects •Respect for Persons •Beneficence •Justice
  12. 12. •The American Psychological Association (2002)code of ethics is quite detailed, reflecting thedifferent professional roles of psychologists inresearch, clinical treatment, and educationalcontexts •Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Ethical Standards •American Society of Criminology Code of Ethics •US Department of Health & Human Services •American Bar Association Code of Professional Responsibility
  13. 13. •Gov. agencies and non-gov. organizations mustestablish Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) •Members make judgments about overall risks, and their acceptability •Whether research procedures includes safeguards to protect safety, confidentiality, and general welfare of subjects
  14. 14. 14•Informed consent – Requires that subjects bothhave the capacity to understand and dounderstand the research, risks, side effects,benefits to subjects, and procedures used •New Jersey State Troopers and Racial Profiling•Special populations – Specific regulations exist forjuveniles and prisoners
  15. 15. •Many social research study designs areregarded as exempt from IRB review underfederal guidelines•Exempt means that research proposals donot have to be subject to full IRB review
  16. 16. TWO ETHICAL CONTROVERSIES Trouble in the tearoom The Standford prison experiment