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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 66007 Find in a Library
Title: RANDOM ASSIGNMENT IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH - SOME ETHICAL AND LEGAL ISSUES
Journal: CRIMINOLOGY  Volume:17  Issue:4  Dated:(FEBRUARY 1980)  Pages:435-444
Author(s): P J BAUNACH
Corporate Author: American Soc of Criminology
Criminology
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: American Soc of Criminology
Columbus, OH 43212
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: SOME WAYS OF ADDRESSING ETHICAL AND LEGAL ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH THE USE OF RANDOM ASSIGNMENT IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH ARE DISCUSSED.
Abstract: CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCHERS ARE FACED WITH THE DUAL PROBLEM OF MAXIMIZING THE RIGOR OF RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY WHILE MAINTAINING THE RIGHTS, WELFARE, AND DIGNITY OF THE OFFENDERS WHO PARTICIPATE IN THE RESEARCH. THE RANDOMIZATION PROCESS (EVERY MEMBER OF A GIVEN POPULATION BEING GIVEN AN EQUAL CHANCE OF SELECTION) IS ONE MEANS OF ENSURING METHODOLOGICAL SOUNDNESS. THE CRITERIA USED TO SELECT THE POOL OF ELIGIBLES ARE DETERMINED PRIOR TO THE RANDOMIZATION PROCESS. USING A RANDOM NUMBERS TABLE AND A SPECIFIED DECISION RULE, EACH OFFENDER IS ASSIGNED TO ONE OF TWO GROUPS--AN EXPERIMENTAL GROUP WHICH PARTICIPATES IN THE PROGRAM BEING TESTED AND A CONTROL GROUP WHICH DOES NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE NEW PROGRAM. THE USE OF A CONTROL GROUP IN RESEARCH IMPLIES THAT SOME OFFENDERS WILL BE DEPRIVED OF THE HYPOTHESIZED BENEFITS OF THE PROGRAM. SINCE THE EXISTENCE OF PROGRAM BENEFITS IS AN UNKNOWN FACTOR TO BE DETERMINED BY THE EXPERIMENT, HOWEVER, THE CONTROL SUBJECTS ARE NOT BEING DENIED PROVEN BENEFITS. SHOULD STUDY RESULTS SHOW THE LIKELIHOOD OF PROGRAM BENEFITS, THE CONTROLS CAN BE SCHEDULED FOR THE PROGRAM AT A FUTURE DATE. ANOTHER APPROACH WOULD BE TO ASSIGN CONTROLS TO A VARIATION OF THE EXPERIMENTAL PROGRAM. THIS APPROACH SUGGESTS USEFUL COMPARISONS AMONG VARIOUS TYPES OF PROGRAMS. THE PRIMARY LEGAL ISSUE IN RANDOM ASSIGNMENT ARE THE POSSIBLE VIOLATIONS OF THE EQUAL PROTECTION OR DUE PROCESS CLAUSES OF THE CONSTITUTION. ONE WAY OF AVOIDING POSSIBLE LEGAL VIOLATIONS IS TO FILL THE EXPERIMENTAL PROGRAM WITH THE FIRST 'N' OFFENDERS WHO MEET THE SELECTION CRITERIA. THE NEXT 'N' OFFENDERS ARE THEN ASSIGNED TO THE CONTROL GROUP. THIS AVOIDS THE CHARGE OF ARBITRARY ASSIGNMENT. ALTHOUGH NOT STRICTLY A LEGAL ISSUE, THE PRESERVATION OF THE JUDGE'S AUTHORITY IN OFFENDER DISPOSITION IS ALSO AN ISSUE IN RANDOMIZATION. WAYS OF DEALING WITH THIS ARE ALSO DISCUSSED. NOTES AND REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (RCB)
Index Term(s): Equal Protection; Inmates as research subjects; Right to Due Process; Sampling
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=66007

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