Criminal Justice-Criminology


Questions on Mental Health, Law and Criminal Justice

Questions on Theories of Criminal Behavior

Questions on Research Methods in Criminal Justice

I would like the answered questions to be in bulleted format.  Below is an example of one.


One of the most stable facts about crime is its relationship to age. Property crime offending peaks around age 16 and violent offending peaks around 19; thereafter both types of offending decline with age. Assess the ability of each of the following explanations of criminal offending to account for this relationship between age and crime. Social Learning (DA), Control Theory, Strain Theory, General Theory.


Social Learning relates to age depending on how impressionable you are at a young age

  • Relationship between age and crime:
    • Social Learning theory states that crime is learned behavior
    • Imitate people you look up to
    • Rewards of crime are greater than rewards of not committing the crime
    • The younger you are the more impressionable you are.

Self-Control is determined in your childhood; defined by your ability to delay gratification

Social Control is strong bonds with people and commitment to activities in your environment and life

in young age can determine if you commit a crime and why

  • Relationship to age and crime:
    • Self-Control is determined in childhood
    • Defined by ability to delay gratification
    • Measured by looking at criminal activity and delinquency
    • Based on parenting
    • Self-Control is stable over time

Strain Theory is the older you are the more strain on your life (3 types of strain)

  • Lose something you value
  • Others treat you poorly
  • Failure
    • Relationship to age and crime:
    • The older you are, the more likely you are going to be stressed out and commit crimes
    • Being 16 and 19 you are in your prime “growing up” years so your strain is going to be higher as you figure out your next steps in life

Control Theory has the 4 elements of social bond

  • Attachment to family/friends
  • Commitment to conventional activities
  • Amount of time spent in conventional activities
  • Belief in moral validity of the law
  • When you are young, you form bonds/attachments to school, family, friends, and sports. If those bonds are weak, it leads to increased likelihood of crime which carries into your older years

Questions on Mental Health, Law and Criminal Justice

  1. Describe the differences and the similarities between the concepts of competence to stand trial and not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect (insanity), including when each concept is introduced into the legal system in a given case.
  1. What is the purpose and function of the legal concept of competence to stand trial? Describe the current competency to stand trial standard and what areas must be assessed to determine if a defendant is competent to stand trial. How should a judge rule if a patient who has been found incompetent to stand trial refuses to take medication for his mental illness?
  2. Describe two different standards for insanity that are currently used in the United States, and discuss the requirements for each standard.  Compare and contrast the two standards, including a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of each standard and examples of the application of each standard.  How might we be able to evaluate the impact of changing from one standard to another in a jurisdiction (e.g., if the state decides to change standards and we would like to measure the impact of the change)?
  3. The Criminal Justice System is increasingly responsible for dealing with seriously mentally ill offenders.  Discuss the various issues this raises at each stage of the criminal justice process from arrest to eventual release, providing specific examples (real-life or hypothetical) to illustrate your major points. You should include a brief overview of the fields of psychology and law and how this issue demonstrates their intersection within the criminal justice system, including any challenges this generates.
  4. The concept of risk assessment for mentally ill offenders has evolved over the past decade.  Describe the difficulties involved in predicting whether someone will be dangerous in the future and how contemporary theorists conceptualize predictions of future violence.
  5. Describe how the current standards of in-patient commitment and risk assessment for the mentally ill have affected the influx of mentally ill persons into the criminal justice system. Give specific examples where appropriate.

Questions on Theories of Criminal Behavior

  1. You have been hired as an advisor to the Mayor of “Our Town” Connecticut. The Mayor is going to create a program to reduce crime as part of the plan to revitalize “Our Town.” The mayor would like to know what we can do about crime and has asked you to prepare a report on the causes of crime and what could be done to reduce crime. Your task is to select two different theories of crime from different perspectives (e.g., Rational Choice; Psychology; Biology; Strain; Control; Critical; Social Learning) and prepare a summary for the Mayor of how each theory explains crime and how you would recommend the mayor use each theory to develop programs/initiatives to help reduce crime. The mayor will make the final program selection and also wants to know how he will be able to tell if the program is working, so briefly describe how you would evaluate the program.
  2. Routine Activity Theory is an important type of rational choice theory of crime. Describe the rational choice model of crime and describe how Routine Activity Theory differs from Deterrence and Incapacitation based models of crime control. Assume that your police department has developed a crime prevention program for predatory crime based on Routine Activity Theory and is going to target juvenile offending. Outline the steps that would need to be taken to implement the program and then to evaluate its effectiveness.
  1. Alternate version: Routine Activity Theory (RAT) is an important modem rational choice model of crime and offending. Provide an overview of the rational model of crime and RAT, and then critically evaluate how RAT is used to explain two of the following types of offending: predatory crime, illegal consumption, Illegal drug sales, and violence/fights.
  2. One of the critiques of Social Disorganization Theory as an explanation of crime is that all not persons exposed to bad neighborhoods become criminals, and that many who are not exposed to these bad neighborhoods do become criminal.  Select two alternative explanations of crime and demonstrate how they do a better job of accounting for these facts.

Questions on Research Methods in Criminal Justice

  1. The State of Connecticut has chosen to create a new pilot program that diverts troubled adolescents from Juvenile Courts into community based juvenile diversion programs. These new community diversion programs are primarily designed to reduce the expected negative impacts of labeling. However, opponents of the program are concerned that the diversion program will reduce the deterrent impact of the court system. Describe how you would design a study to determine the effectiveness of this new program. Include the specification of outcomes (and measures), the best type of research design, measurement issues associated with independent and dependent variables, and discuss major threats to the internal and external validity of the research.
  1. Alternate version: The State of Connecticut has chosen to create a new pilot program that diverts troubled adolescents from prison to structured rehabilitation-programming in a residential setting. Describe how you would design a cohort study to determine whether the program is successful, including the methodology, measurement system and the statistical tests you would employ.
  1. Ray Researcher has completed an evaluation of a cognitive skills based anger management correctional treatment program. Ray finds that inmates participating in this program report virtually no recidivism in a six-month follow-up study. Further, Ray notes that all participants in the program were volunteers and that they were selected by Ray Researcher based on his perception of the likelihood that they would benefit from the program.  You work for NIJ. What additional information would you like to see and what potential problems do you see from your reading of the summary above? What questions should NIJ ask before funding a continuation of Ray’s program and what kind of research enhancements are needed to create a more reliable and valid test of Ray’s program?
  1. Criminal Justice Research Designs need to consider four types of validity: Statistical Conclusion, Construct, Internal and External. Define each type of validity and give an example of how each type of validity might impact criminal justice research. How do each of these types of validity relate to establishing nomothetic causality?
  1. A study has been designed to assess the level of recidivism in sex offenders who have not received any treatment versus those that have successfully completed a treatment program. Discuss the general issues in using recidivism as a dependent measure in any study. Are there any specific issues in using recidivism as a dependent measure in this study?
  1. One approach to criminal justice research is to use a classical experimental design. Define and illustrate the strengths of this type of research design. Researchers sometimes enhance this classical design by including double-blind conditions or by using a Solomon Four Group enhancement to the classical experimental design. Please explain how each of these enhancements may improve the validity of research findings.

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