Sunday, September 22, 2019

Criminal Justice Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1000 words

Criminal Justice - Essay Example The term 'punishment' within the realm of psychology has been defined and described by B.F. Skinner, a popular psychologist, as a type of reinforcement - the consequences of which makes a behavior less likely. It includes both positive as well as negative reinforcement. It is also defined as "affecting behavior by using unpleasant consequences" (Weseley and McEntarffer, 2010: 137). Psychologists over the years have identified three fundamental types of learning among individuals. These include classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning. Among these, the operant conditioning method of learning or reinforcing desirable behavior has been widely applied by the criminal justice systems across the world. Operant conditioning is different as compared to negative reinforcements since unlike the latter, operant conditioning targets the undesirable behavior (such as lying, stealing etc) and eliminates it by punishment (Levinson, 2002). Figure 1: The Operant condit ioning process Source: Vito and Maahs, 2011: 116 Within the field of criminal psychology, the consistency of punishment is given much more significance as compared to the severity of punishment, as it is regarded as highly effective in deterring criminal behavior among individuals (Vito and Maahs, 2011). Relationship to corrections: Punishments are known to be highly effective in drawing favorable responses from the criminals. Historically various forms of punishments such as fines, spankings, imprisonment, and other corporal punishments have been commonly implemented by criminal justice systems as a means to control behavior. According to psychologists punishments have the ability of significantly lowering the possibility of a response to occur again and hence are one of the widely accepted measures of corrections (Coon and Mitterer, 2008). Psychologists have observed through a series of experiments that criminals / individuals in general, tend to teach themselves to obey their con sciences through operant conditioning. It has been observed that criminals displayed weaker responses and higher likelihood to return to normal / acceptable behavior after receiving adverse punishments such as injections or shocks (Levinson, 2002). The psychology of criminal behavior is rooted in the fundamental principles of human behavior such as behavioral, social learning and cognitive psychology. Hence any form of punishment which targets individual behavior or aims to alter their behavioral patterns are known to generate favorable results. According to Spiegler and Gueveremont (1998) "behavior therapy arguably has the broadest and strongest empirical base of any form of psychotherapy". (qtd. in Tonry, 2011: 168) However despite the growing evidence regarding the effectiveness of punishments in deterring crime there is no significant relationship between the severity of punishment and seriousness of the crime committed. It has been observed that criminals charged with relativel y lower offences have been confined to longer terms of imprisonment (Clear, Reisig and Cole, 2012). Critical evaluation: The corrections policy and criminal justice system in general have significantly changed over the years. The highly severe forms of punishme

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