Section 1: Overview of each Article
Morgan, Flora, Kroner, Mills, Varghese and Steffan (2012) in their article seek to provide a research synthesis of the effects of treatment by the healthcare providers to mentally ill offenders. According to the authors, the research entailed twenty-six empirical studies and application of meta-analytic techniques. The results of this review showed that interventions by the service providers were effective for offenders with mental illness. Morgan, et al. (2012), stated that interventions were effective in reducing symptoms of distress and improving the ability of the offender to get through their problems. Similarly, through the interventions, the offender showed improvements in behavior and institutional adjustment. Regarding the offender’s needs such as psychiatric and criminal justice, findings showed that the interventions resulted in significant reductions in recidivism (Morgan, et al., 2012). Other highlights in this review included treatment strategies and admission policies which lead to positive gains.
Additionally, the article by Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales (2011) tends to explain Habitual Offenders laws, which is discretionary in nature. The law allows state prosecutors to apply enhanced sentences to designated defendants (Caravelis, Chiricos & Bales, 2011). The authors in this research seek to determine whether the attributes of an individual and factors in the community impact the possibility of an individual to be subjected to the Habitual Offender designation. The authors performed a study by examining all adults who qualified by law for Habitual Offender designation. The data used was from Florida prison ranging from the year 2002 to 2004 (Caravelis, Chiricos & Bales, 2011). The study was guided by social threats and social control. According to (Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales (2011), minority groups in the community are perceived as a threat in manners that can enhance social control. Findings showed that the blacks and Latino defendants had a higher odd of receiving designation compared to whites. The effects due to race and ethnicity varied depending on the type of crime. The effects were strong on offenses related to drugs while violent crimes had negligible effects.
Section 2: Methods Used
Type of Analytical/Theoretical Model
The research by Morgan, Flora, Kroner, Mills, Varghese and Steffan (2012) entailed the application of meta-analytic techniques. The authors reviewed 12,154 research documents and obtained twenty-six empirical studies. With the meta-analysis, the authors summarize and review several different quantitative kinds of research and yield a single estimate of the effect (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2015). The researchers improve the quality of the estimates by using the available data. Regarding the article by Morgan, Flora, Kroner, Mills, Varghese and Steffan (2012), the authors identified content areas of interest and developed a code sheet of 13 pages that was submitted for review. The code sheet consisted of study, author, and institutional descriptors. Other areas that were of concern included research design, sample, therapist, the control group, intervention, and effect size descriptors (Morgan, et al. 2012). Psychiatric and criminal functioning measures were the review’s outcome of interest. The effect size was calculated based on how studies utilized control group. The authors used a standardized mean gain score to calculate the effect size for research that did not employ a control group.
The study by Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales (2011) used a Hierarchical modeling technique to evaluate impacts of race and ethnicity on the possibility of an individual to be subjected to the Habitual Offender designation. In this study, a theoretical issue concerns the social threat and social control. In recent years, the United States has experienced changes in the racial and ethnic landscape. The common relationship between race and minority groups is that individuals perceive minorities as a threat in a manner that they mobilize social control (Caravelis, Chiricos & Bales, 2011). Studies showed that the possibility of blacks being designated as Habitual was high at all level of crime seriousness (Caravelis, Chiricos & Bales, 2011).
Process of Population Sampling
In the article by Morgan, Flora, Kroner, Mills, Varghese and Steffan (2012), the researchers employed two procedures and retrieved published and unpublished documents. The first procedure entailed an electronic search of databases and included keywords associated with offenders and mental illness. By using databases such as MEDLINE, PsychINFO, and SocialSciAbs, the researchers were able to perform 40 separate searches (Morgan, et al. 2012). Second, the authors scrutinized table of content and references of journals and articles related to the intervention of criminals with mental illness. In total, the authors identified 12,154 documents that had literature review related to interventions with mentally ill criminals. Four trained research assistants performed a preliminary review of the documents.
According to Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales (2011), the data for the study consisted of 26, 740 adults sentenced to Florida prison. The researchers used data for the years between 2002 and 2004. The authors used information system from the Department of Corrections in Florida and circuit courts as the primary source of information. A primary source offers researcher with the firsthand information (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2015). The outcome of this study was estimated based on the traits of the defendant, crime committed and criminal records. The researchers used race and Latino ethnicity as the main variable of interest. When Identifying the Latinos, the authors checked offenders’ surnames against the list given by the US Census.
How Researchers dealt with the Question of Validity and Reliability
According to (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias (2015), validity entails the successfulness of a test to achieve the intended outcome. On the other hand, according to Frankfort-Nachmias and Nachmias (2015), reliability encompasses the extent to which the measurement tool yields uniform results. In the article by Morgan, Flora, Kroner, Mills, Varghese and Steffan (2012), the researchers dealt with sampling validity by ensuring that the study covered a broad range of areas. The target for the majority of interventions was on mental health problems. For instance, the psychiatric and criminal functioning measures were the review’s outcome of interest. Regarding the article by Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales (2011), the researchers used a panel of experts to ensure that they provided adequate samples of the content area. For instance, in the article, a preliminary review of the documents was performed by four trained research assistants.
With reliability, Morgan, Flora, Kroner, Mills, Varghese and Steffan (2012) identified content areas of interest and developed a code sheet of 13 pages that was submitted for review. After developing items to measure areas of interest, the authors, submitted the code sheet to experienced external reviewers who evaluated the efficacy of interventions in prison. The researchers enhanced the reliability of the study by paying attention to coding. Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales (2011) dealt with reliability within the study by ensuring that the analysis by individual level results is consistent with prior research conducted on Habitual Offenders. The current analysis of the study indicated that the impact of Latino ethnicity had the same strength as race effects (Caravelis, Chiricos & Bales, 2011).
Section 3: Critical Evaluation of the Underlying Research
A hypothesis provides a tentative answer to a research question (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2015). According to Morgan, et al. (2012), the research hypothesis for the study was that interventions by the service providers were effective for offenders with mental illness. The interventions were effective in reducing symptoms of distress and improving the ability of the offender to get through their problems (Morgan, et al. 2012). According to this review, positive interventions can be attained with mentally ill offenders. Therefore, this hypothesis provides a clear and logical explanation of the relevant phenomena. The hypothesis used in this study is consistent with other known phenomena. For instance, according to Morgan, et al. (2012), findings showed that the literature presented consistent improvement in variables such as the behaviors of the mentally ill criminals and symptoms issues.
The hypotheses in the article by Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales (2011) stated that the black and Latino accused have higher chances of receiving designation compared to the whites. Second, the group level threat’s static measures indicated non-existence of cross-level impact on sentencing by race or Latino ethnicity. The impact of race and ethnicity depend on types of crime committed. According to Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales (2011), drug offenses produces the strongest effects while violent crimes result in negligible effects. In the case of the black and Latino defendants, the increase in the population of blacks increases chances of Habitual sentencing for both groups. Conversely, the increase in the population of Latinos increases the chances of receiving designation for Latino while those for blacks decreases.
Alternative Methods of Analysis and Research Design
Regarding the article by Morgan, et al. (2012) on the effects of treatment by the healthcare providers to mentally ill offenders, an alternative method of analysis and research design is the use of randomized controlled clinical trials. The research design is appropriate to study the effectiveness of new treatments. Psychologists and other health care providers who deal with mental health would be able to provide a more comprehensive treatment to mentally ill criminals. Besides, the study is useful in answering patient-related questions and provide approval decisions (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2015). The possible findings that might be uncovered through this research design include an explanation about therapeutic program elements that are more effective for mentally ill offenders. With randomized controlled clinical trials, researchers would be able to see the actual effects of treatments and ensure that the groups involved are not different.
An alternative research design that could have applied to the research conducted by Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales (2011) is the causal design. According to Frankfort-Nachmias and Nachmias (2015), a causal design tries to explain the impact a specific change will have on observation or existing phenomena. Regarding this study, the possible findings that the authors might have uncovered include the reasons blacks and Latinos have increasing chances of being sentenced as Habitual. The black and Latinos are perceived as a threat to the society since they are mostly involved in drug and violent crimes.
Section 4: Differences between Qualitative and Quantitative Research
The general approaches that researchers use to collect and report information are by using qualitative and quantitative methods. With a quantitative research method, researchers tend to get an approximation of the phenomena from a large population (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2015). Conversely, in qualitative research, the researcher focusses on understanding the phenomena from a closer perspective.
Morgan, et al. (2012) used qualitative research method to gather and report information. In qualitative research, the research may have little knowledge in advance of what the research entails; however, with a quantitative approach, the researcher has a well-defined knowledge of what he/she wants to achieve. In the article by Morgan, et al. (2012), quantitative research is high recommended for a later phase of research because it offers the researcher a definite picture of what to expect. For instance, one of the limitations of this approach was that the investigation involved the use of a limited range of documents thus less significant findings were obtained. With the quantitative approach, the researcher can obtain a more breadth of information by using a large number of publications or cases (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2015). Morgan, et al. (2012) used meta-analyses in their study thus the quality of results was limited to what had been achieved in the field. With a quantitative research, the researchers would have quantified the problem by creating numerical data. Moreover, the researcher would have used a larger sample of the population to generalize the results. On the same note, with quantitative research, the authors would have employed the measurable data to formulate and uncover patterns in the study.
The type of research method used by Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales (2011), in their article was a quantitative approach. With quantitative research method, the researchers are more objective. They use survey, questionnaires to obtain precise measurement and analysis of the population (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2015). Besides, with this approach, researchers are objectively separated from the element under investigation. Therefore, with quantitative research method, researchers find it hard to recognize new and untouched phenomena. In this article, a qualitative research method would have been ideal compared to a quantitative method. This is because a researcher is more subjective when using this approach. A researcher would have obtained more detailed information since they describe the problem by examining the population experiencing it. Researchers would have used in-depth interviews or participant observation to interpret the event. Lastly, data collected through quantitative research method are more efficient; however, the researcher may miss obtaining contextual details (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2015). In this situation, the findings from the research would be insufficient. A qualitative research method is appropriate because it is richer with data. With this approach, a researcher would be able to uncover trends in opinion and dig deeper into obtaining information about the problem.
Section 5: Critique of each Article
Morgan, et al. (2012), in their article focused on providing a research synthesis on the efficacy of treatment by the healthcare providers for mentally ill offenders. According to the authors, interventions by the service providers were effective for offenders with mental illness. In this article, clinicians anticipated that the findings from this review would be significant in providing them with empirical guidance that they would use to develop their services. From the results, it is vivid that the review provided a reinforcement to the inference that the outcome of intervention on offenders with mental illness is almost non-existent. Moreover, researchers are developing and testing few programs; therefore, it would be difficult to provide proof to label the programs as evidence based.
Additionally, given the pervasiveness of offenders with mental illness in prisons, it is disappointing that researchers have conducted few studies that conform to the scientific inclusion criteria. For instance, in the article, out of the 12,154 documents used, only 26 studies complied with the inclusion criteria. This indicates that scientists are saying much, but they study little. It is surprising that there are limited or inadequate use of randomized controlled trials. Physicians providing interventions for mentally ill criminals find it difficult to obtain efficacy data to establish their services.
Conversely, Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales (2011) in their article focused on explaining the discretionary Habitual Offenders laws. An increase in the population of Latino increases the chance of receiving designation for Latino but decreases for blacks (Caravelis, Chiricos, and Bales, 2011). However, these findings are not uniform with a multi-level study that indicated a larger population of Latino were linked with longer verdicts. Another critique of this article concerns an unavailability of information on the type of drugs included in drug crimes. The article associates race and Latino ethnicity to drug crimes; therefore, availability of information about the kind of drugs would be useful in explaining why blacks and Latino are disadvantaged for drug trafficking. Moreover, the article did not provide details on victims due to the ethnicity of violent crimes. With such information, it would have been easier to understand the reason ethnicity matters much for offenses such as rape and not robbery. Similarly, the information would have clarified why race is insignificant for rape and consequential for robbery.
Caravelis, C., Chiricos, T., & Bales, W. (2011). Static and dynamic indicators of minority threat in sentencing outcomes: A multi-level analysis. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 27(4), 405-425.
Frankfort-Nachmias, C., & Nachmias, D. (2015). Research methods in the social sciences (8th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers, a Macmillan Education Company.
Morgan, R. D., Flora, D. B., Kroner, D. G., Mills, J. F., Varghese, F., & Steffan, J. S. (2012). Treating offenders with mental illness: a research synthesis. Law and human behavior, 36(1), 37-50.
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