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Review the different collection methods identified in this module. Select one collection method addressed in this course and discuss how it can inform and impact your decision-making process.
While responding to at least two of your peers, try to respond to posts that have used a different collection method and compare theirs to your own. What are some of the pros and cons of the two methods?
In Module Five, the importance of understanding some of the major theories explaining why people commit crime was discussed. Module Six covers collecting evidence and statistics after crime has been committed.
Criminological theory often focuses on the offenses for which you can be arrested. However there are offenses, such as traffic violations, that are still against the law even though people are not arrested for them. Data collection is an important aspect in reducing both types of offenses, as well as community complaints. There are several methods that can be used to collect data:
- Surveys: Oftentimes, a public service organization will send out surveys on a particular issue to collect information from the surrounding community. This is a great way to gather an unbiased opinion based on random polling methods.
- Audits on Organizational Reports: Audits can be performed on a search to see how many traffic citations were written during a specific time period.
- Sampling: With any data collection method, it is important to verify that the sample is an accurate representation of the larger population. Sampling occurs when data is collected from a small portion of the general population. Verifying that the sample reflects unbiased results ensures valid findings.
The relationship between data compilation and decision making is very important because our decisions are informed by the data collected. When a criminal justice professional is faced with a problem or challenge, data is usually the first step in a decision-making process that ultimately leads to a solution.
In Module Four, you learned about crime trends and how to establish patterns to predict future behavior. In Module Five, you will take a look at some of the major criminological theories that explain why people commit crime. These theories are an important aspect of the research process, and they will ultimately guide you in your decision-making process.
There are many published assumptions that offer an explanation behind a person’s motivation to commit crime. A few of the most prevalent criminological theories used by criminal justice professionals today are listed below.
- Rational choice theory offers the explanation that people commit crime rationally after weighing their options. For example, after their options are weighed, they make the choice that the reward of the criminal act is worth the risk of punishment.
- Labeling theory takes a different approach by explaining that people are more likely to be influenced by the classifications of society. For example, someone convicted for breaking into cars would be labeled a criminal and thus would be predisposed to commit the same offense again. Whereas if an offender is arrested but not convicted of the crime, they may be less likely to commit the same type of crime.
- Deterrence theory assumes that people in society have some semblance of rationality and are actively aware of the consequences of their actions. For example, when an offender commits a crime, he or she expects certain rewards from the incident. If crime is to be reduced, the punishment must be more significant than the potential reward for committing the crime.
Deductive and inductive reasoning are also important to the field of criminal justice, as they go hand in hand with qualitative and quantitative research methods. Deductive reasoning starts with a premise which you believe to be the truth. You then figure out other principles that would have to be true based on your foundational premise. Inductive reasoning is quite the opposite, in that you are presented with some data first. After the data is presented, you begin to draw general conclusions on facts that can be taken from that data. You figure out which criminological theory or theories you could apply to the data.
In deductive reasoning, you will frequently see quantitative research design, whereas with inductive reasoning you will see qualitative research design.