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Volume 4 Issue 1

On the context of police cynicism and problem behavior

Hickman, M. J.

This study presents an extension of Niederhoffer's (1967) work on police cynicism, arguing that the effect of officer cynicism on problem behavior should vary by work environment (i.e., police districts, precincts, or similar organizational entities) in concert with differences in the "reality" of police work across those entities. It is argued that officers working in particular environments may experience greater difficulty returning to professional commitment, increasing the likelihood of cynicism taking hold and evolving toward an anomic condition. Furthermore, some environments may tend to "breed" cynicism. Using survey data collected from a sample of Philadelphia police officers, as well as official departmental records, this study examines the effects of officer cynicism and ecological characteristics of police districts on police problem behavior (PPB). Results indicate that although there is significant district-level variation in PPB, and cynicism predicts PPB while controlling for other officer characteristics, the effect of cynicism on PPB does not confirm ecological variation. Implications for theory, policy, and practice are discussed.

Childhood emotional and behavioral problems and prediction of delinquency: A longitudinal assessment of an empirically-identified latent profile

Sullivan, C. J.

The relationship between various emotional and behavioral problems and delinquency has taken on increased importance in recent years. Some posit that early identification of these problems can be effectively used to predict delinquent behavior and inform treatment strategy. This study presents a latent profile model of emotional and behavioral problems in childhood with a general population sample of youth (N=1389). This empirically-developed classification scheme is then assessed relative to early onset delinquency (violent, property, drug, and status offenses). The latent profile dummy variables are significant predictors in the overall delinquency and property offense models. Implications for policy and program development are discussed.

False confessions and influenced witness statements

Newring, K. A. B., & O'Donohue, W.

The American system of jurisprudence provides safeguards to ensure a fair trial, not a fair outcome. The system can be perverted, intentionally or otherwise, via perjury, witness errors, negligence, police tactics and trickery, and false confessions. Previous researchers have demonstrated the fallibility of human memory, eyewitnesses, and interrogative suggestibility when faced with common police interview and interrogation tactics. Using a computer crash analog study with undergraduate students, the present study evaluated the influence of a specific interview and interrogation tactic on the production of false confessions, as well as on the production of false witness statements. Twelve of 26 participants in the computer crash "suspect" condition were rated as having confessed to causing the computer crash during the interview process. Likewise, 12 of 26 participants in the witness condition were rated as having falsely implicated their peer during the interview process. Both of these findings were statistically significant in comparison to a control question. Implications are discussed.

Self-control and perceived behavioral control: An examination of college student drinking

Wolfe, S. E., & Higgins, G. E.

Gottfredson and Hirschi's self-control theory (1990) has been demonstrated to be a valid predictor of behaviors analogous to crime, such as alcohol use. However, research has also supported the contention that an individual's level of self-control is difficult to change due to its relative stability over time. For this reason, the present study examines the research question: does perceived behavioral control moderate the link that self-control has with alcohol consumption, or is the link additive PBC can be changed and can be the focus of policy. Using a nonrandom prospective sample of college students, this study found evidence that there is an additive effect rather than a moderating effect between self-control and perceived behavioral control on alcohol use. Policy implications are discussed.

Identification of circumstances under which religion affects each stage of the trial process

Miller, M. K., Singer, J. A., & Jehle, A.

Religion is a major facet of society and an integral component of many people's lives. Not surprisingly, religion affects jurors and judges throughout the trial process. This article reviews the use of religion in each stage of trial (e.g., jury selection, testimony, deliberations), discusses relevant social science research, and offers theoretical analyses to explain how religion impacts jury and judicial decision-making. These effects are important because the jury acts as the voice of society and the judicial system communicates societal norms. Thus, the use of religion by legal actors affects verdicts and sends messages about the religious beliefs and behaviors that are valued within society. For instance, a defendant who conforms to Christianity may be shown mercy, whereas a defendant who belongs to a deviant religion will not. The ultimate question to be answered by this article is whether (and under what specific conditions) religion affects each stage of the trial process. We ultimately conclude that religion is so ingrained in our society and way of life that it would be impossible to fully expunge it from the judicial system.