Conflict is an imminent facet of daily life. Regardless of where you are or what you do it is encountered; be it a seemingly petty argument with another person or an intrapersonal struggle between personal beliefs or convictions and society’s norms/laws. Conflict serves to color the world and paint a scheme of more than just black and white. In the same way it is a double edged sword. It is a force that serves to help the world move toward a progressive route in evolution and can also hamper the development of individuals, families, organizations and entire societies.
Hence the challenge for us is to identify its effects and determine whether it is detrimental or not. Moreover, should it be detrimental to a particular unit, for this instance, say the criminal justice organizations we have then the greater issue to address would be how to curb, control and manage such conflicts. Criminal Justice System Definition To better understand the nature of established criminal justice organizations it would be best to tackle such with regard to the very core of the system itself.
That is to say, we must deal with the criminal justice system itself. Broadly defined, Criminal justice is the system of legislation, practices, and organizations, used by government or the state, which are all directed to maintain social control, deter and control crime, and sanctioning those who violate laws. The Federal (USA) Crime Control Act of 1973 defines this term as part of a longer phrase.
“‘Law enforcement and criminal justice’ means any activity pertaining to crime prevention, control, or reduction or the enforcement of criminal law, including, but not limited to, police efforts to prevent, control, or reduce crime or to apprehend criminals, activities of courts having criminal jurisdiction and related agencies (including prosecutorial and defender service), activities of correc¬tions, probation, or parole officers, and programs relating to the prevention, control or reduction of juvenile delinquency or narcotic addiction.
” Shortly put, we can see that criminal justice has three simple goals, which are (1) doing justice, (2) controlling crime, and (3) preventing crime. Hence, based on the definition and simple goals we can say that “the purpose of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is to deliver justice for all, by convicting and punishing the guilty and helping them to stop offending, while protecting the innocent. It is responsible for detecting crime and bringing it to justice; and carrying out the orders of court, such as collecting fines, and supervising community and custodial punishment.
” Criminal Justice System Components Like any other system, criminal justice has subunits which come together to form the whole. These subunits so to speak are the core elements and are categorized into three (3) types. These are policing, courts and corrections. Policing: Law Enforcement Policing is usually made synonymous by most people to law enforcement. We picture the police as being the front liners in society’s war against crime.
The notion that police are primarily concerned with enforcing criminal law was popularized in the 1930s with the rise of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the pre-eminent “law enforcement agency” in the United States; this however has only ever constituted a small portion of policing activity. The police or policing is also viewed as legitimized agencies within society that are permitted to use force or coercion in order to maintain and effect public and social order. In maintaining social stability and order they generally function in:
• “Keeping the peace. This broad and important mandate involves the protection of rights and persons in situations ranging from street-corners to domestic quarrels. • Apprehending violators and combating crime. This is the task that the public most often associates with the police work, although it accounts for only small proportion of police time and resources. • Preventing crime. By educating the public about the threat of crime and by reducing opportunities for crime occurrence, the police can lower the rate of crime.
• Providing social services. Police officers recover stolen property, direct traffic, give medical aid, help people who locked themselves out of their homes, and provide other social services (Mesko, Pagon, and Dobovsek, 2004: 4). ” Courts The second component of the Criminal Justice System would be courts and in essence the process of prosecutions. This component of the Criminal Justice System is the arena wherein disputes are settled. Courts are responsible for adjudication – determining whether or not a defendant is guilty.
With such a heavy task on this institution’s hands, it is an imperative for it to employ a fair and unbiased process that would produce just, reliable verdicts. In America and most other nations, guilt or innocence is decided through the adversarial system. In this system, two parties will both offer their version of events and argue their case before the court. Truth is decided by which party offers the argument which is more sound and compelling. Each side is heard out, after which, a final verdict, i. e. , of being guilty or innocent is issued by a third party.
This party may come in the form of a judge, a panel of judges, or a jury panel composed of disinterested citizens. Corrections Corrections, the last element in the Criminal Justice System is the component that serves to deliver the punishment for offenders of the law. Sentences given to offenders range from probation to serving time in prison, with intermediate sanctions including sentences to a halfway house or community corrections program, home confinement, and electronic monitoring. Financial penalties may include fines, forfeiture, and restitution.
Conflict is defined as competitive or opposing action of incompatibles: antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons). In this sense we can see that conflict by definition can be extended from individuals to groups (such as states or nations), and more than two parties can be involved in the conflict. Moving to theoretical approaches to conflict it is defined and seen as the main driving force in society. This is the basic contention of conflict theorist, i. e. , conflicting interests spawned from different classes actually lead to change and that progression is not founded on consensus but rather on conflict.
Moreover, they view society as being unstable and it is from the constant conflict that we face that change in a society is instigated; as better stated by Ralf Dahrendorf in his conflict model, society is “constantly engaged in the process of change resulting from the social conflict and dissent that are pervasive in the system. Rather than equilibrium and consensus, this model focuses on disintegration and coercion, as some dominate others in the struggle. ” As we know conflict may occur between two individuals, as in the case of superior vs. subordinate, between two HODs, etc.
Groups may be drawn into conflict with each other on the basis of performance, importance to a particular group and in general the union- management rivalries. Conflict can also occur within an individual as in situations of dilemma of choice, vividly characterized by phrases such as ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea’ or ‘caught on the horns of a dilemma’. Hence, with this in mind we find that conflict is an ever present force in society. Moreover, it is found in all levels of the status quo and is carried over to the subunits of society.
It therefore follows that conflict would also exist within institutions and organizations that comprise the society. In this sense, we see that the nature of conflict in its very basic state is in fact part and parcel of the fabric of society; existing in the macro up to the micro levels and spanning from intrapersonal to intersocial relationships. With this in mind, we can at least do a simple deconstruction of the common conflicts we have in the Criminal Justice Organization and by doing so find basic, practical solutions that would manage such. Criminal Justice Organizations
Types of Conflict Perhaps one of the most common conflicts in Criminal Justice Organizations would be that which is rooted in role conflict. When we speak of role conflict in this sense, we do don’t refer to gender or personality issues. Instead we refer to the intrapersonal conflict that the individual experiences as he or she takes on a particular role in the Criminal Justice Organization. These roles are challenged and meet head on with opposing interests of the individual that lead to conflict. An example of this situation could be found in the law enforcement arm or the policing facet.
Law enforcers continuously under go conflicting interests within their roles and have a tendency to abuse the power they hold. Hence, the basic function or role they hold as law enforcers usually becomes stretched to the boundaries of power mongering. This can be seen especially when police discretion is not used appropriately. Moreover, conflicts that arise from personal gain versus the true nature to uphold the law can lead to various deviant behaviors in the policing arm of the Criminal Justice Organization. These deviant behaviors are in essence founded on corruption and its networks as pointed out by Dobovsek (2004).
With regard to police corruption it can be divided into tow (2) general categories. The first type or category is referred to as “Grass Eaters. ” These types take pay-offs or bribes from the routine police work they encounter on a day to day basis. The second type is the “Meat Eater. ” As compared to grass eaters, meat eaters are law enforcers who actively use their position and authority for personal gain. Such behaviors arising from conflicts actually spread out to more specific activities. These activities are detailed by a study done by Stoddard (1968) and are listed below.
“In a study of police corruption (Stoddard, 1968) the author noted the following patterns of blue-coat crime: Mooching: accepting free coffee, cigarettes, meals, liquor, groceries, or other items, which are thought of as compensation either for being underpaid or for future fa¬vouritism to the donor. Bribery: Receiving cash or a “gift” in exchange for past or future help in avoiding prosecution. The officer may claim to be unable to identify a criminal, may take care to be in the wrong place when a crime is to occur, or may take some other action that can be viewed as mere careless.
Chiseling: Demanding discounts or free admission to places of entertainment, whether on duty or not. Extortion: Demanding payment for an ad in a police magazine or purchase of tickets to a police function; holding a “street court” in which minor traffic tickets can be avoided by the payment of cash “bail” to the arresting police officer, with no receipt given. Shopping: Picking up small items such as candy bars, gum, and cigarettes at a store where the door has been left unlocked at the close of the business hours. Shakedown: Taking expensive items for personal use during an investigation of a break-in or burglary.
Shakedown is distinguished from shopping by the value of items taken and the ease with which former ownership of items may be determined if the officer is caught. Premeditated theft: Using tools, keys, or other devices to force entry and steal property. Premeditated theft is distinguished from shakedown by the fact that it is planned, not by the value of the items taken. Favouritism: Issuing licence tabs, window stickers, or courtesy cards that exempt users from arrest or citation for traffic offences (sometimes extended to family members and friends of recipients).
Perjury: Lying to provide an alibi for fellow officers in unlawful activity or otherwise failing to tell the truth so as to avoid sanctions. Prejudice: Treating members of minority groups in a biased fashion, especially members of groups that lack political influence to respond on maltreatment of this kind (Mesko, Pagon, and Dobovesk, 2004: 9). ” Other sets of conflict within the Criminal Justice Organization can be drawn from clashing interests between agencies. Take into consideration the corrections system and the policing arm.
As officers of the policing arm, a desire to put law offenders behind bars so to speak clashes with the desire of prison officials to release prisoners due to their concern for overcrowding facilities and the like. Drawing from this, the policing arm can also come into clash with the courts when an offender is let of the hook due to a weak presentation by the prosecutions side; while the court seeks to deliver justice based on the laws that we establish it may not always be the same type of justice that the policing arm seeks to uphold.
Following through with the discourse, we have tackled conflicts that arise from intrapersonal to interagency clashes of ideals and agendas. We have also touched briefly on conflict and how its existence is a given in our world. Moreover, it is viewed as a means by which change is achieved and that it arises too arises from conflicts within classes. With this in mind, we move on to conflicts that are bred from the imperatively coordinated associations within society. As we know there always exists a ruling and a ruled class.
In this case, the Criminal Justice Organizations are tools utilized by the ruling class to exert dominance over others. While this power relation is acceptable in society it exists on a premise that the authority is accepted and that the use of the power given is legitimate. This is where the conflict begins since power shifts regularly occur and a different group will be at power at different times. Hence, decisions and verdicts of Criminal Justice Organizations are often put into doubt or questioned by those directly affected by it. Such is the case for differences in sentencing when it comes to race differences in court.
Reflecting upon this we can take into account the Jena Six incident and the vast controversy it caused. In addition, a study made by Unnever, Frazier, and Henretta (1980) retackled the issue of race differences in criminal sentencing. Their study reanalyzed the issues surrounding biases when it comes to sentencing of crimes with regard to racial differences. Lastly, when taking this into mind we have to realize that conflicts such as this may arise among officers and the like as interracial differences may also be a stressor in interpersonal relationships.
Controlling and Managing Conflict As discussed in the earlier part of the paper, we see that there are numerous conflicts that exist and may arise in the Criminal Justice Organization. In the same way, we have established that conflict will always arise in society. The challenge is thus finding a way to control and manage the existing conflicts and find a suitable level of conflict that will serve to benefit and increase the efficiency of these organizations. In the 1920s, Mary Parker Follett was considered “a pioneer of the view that conflict had a positive place in organisations.
” She believed that conflicts resulted from limited thinking, and that the only way to manage them was by compromise. Moreover, recent trends have pointed and argued in line with this contention and have actually found that conflict does have positive impacts on an organization. “It can also be argued that conflicts are not necessarily bad. The progress we have made so far in our civilization is due to the conflict between nature & man. Conflict releases energy at every level of human activity- energy that can produce positive, constructive results.
Conflicts tend to have a motivational value; they drive or energize an individual to tackle a situation. To resolve a conflict one might explore different avenues or alternatives of action, which make him/her more knowledgeable. Conflicts also provide opportunities to test one’s own abilities (Bhushan Dhiraj, 2007). ” Based on Bhushan Dhiraj’s article, we see that conflict can in fact be a source of positive developments within an organization. In fact, containing conflict so to speak at an appropriate level can actually lead individuals to a number of beneficial consequences.
Chief among these is the motivation of individuals to work harder and more efficiently. In addition, certain psychological needs such as aggression and the need to dominate are being addressed. Another note worthy point is that it “facilitates an understanding of the problem, people and interrelationships between people, better coordination among individuals & departments, in addition to strengthening intra-group relationships, etc. ” Controlling and Managing Conflict Police Conflict and Deviance Keeping this in mind, we can implore various means to control and manage the existing conflict.
Looking into the issue of policing and the conflicts that give rise to various deviant behaviors and the way by which we can control it calls for us to dig deeper into the cause of the problem. According to Dobovsek, Mesko and Pagon stress, lack of knowledge, prejudice, uncertainty and other factors can lead to the misuse of police powers and consequently to the deviant behaviors cited earlier. In light of this, dealing with primary and aggravating factors as mentioned above can decrease the amount of conflict.
Addressing issues such as lack of knowledge by allowing for greater time and education on the use of power and authority say in the policing facet would be helpful. This is actually the current trend in our day and age. Comparison of today’s police officers with police officers in the beginning of the last century shows that today’s police officers are mainly trained as professionals in law enforcement who know the rules and understand the need for proper conduct. Controlling and Managing Conflict Inter-organizational Conflict
On the other hand when we tackle the issue of conflict arising from the different arms of the Criminal Justice System and its organization we can control and manage the conflict by applying an approach that assimilates the different elements into one cohesive system. In this sense, we are dealing with moving the different elements of the Criminal Justice Organizations into a joint effort, i. e. , we reduce the competition among the different arms and direct them to a common goal. This would be the collaborative approach to conflict resolution/containment.
The collaborative approach to conflict resolution, also called mutual gains or integrative bargaining, argues for the possibility of solutions that all sides find acceptable. It embodies the notion of “win-win,” a core component of our principle of mutual gain. By making various agencies within the organization openly collaborate, competition and self-interests of each agency (ex. Policing and corrections) is minimized; note that conflict is not totally removed but kept at a minimal level.
In turn, it would allow for the Criminal Justice System to run smoother and deliver justice. In using the collaborative approach we can use tow (2) key elements so that mutual gain can be explored. First element as pointed out in Bhushan Dhiraj is making use of the no fixed agenda element. As we know an agenda creates a positional interaction that is based on satisfying the needs of one party without understanding how the interests of both are related. Having an agenda sends the message that you are not interested in the other party’s issues and needs issues and needs.
The only agenda should be to follow the steps of collaboration and work toward mutual gain. The second element would be the use of cooperative tasks. In this sense, the cooperative task would involve the joint efforts of each aspect of the Criminal Justice System to deliver justice and maintain law and order. Controlling and Managing Conflict Racial Conflict With regard to this issue, the best bet to control and manage this type of conflict is by introducing cultural diversity.
In Barlow and Barlow’s article entitled “Cultural diversity training in criminal justice: a progressive or conservative reform,” it was mentioned that the U. S. law enforcement has a racist nature and that a cultural reform was needed. In their words “…describe the cultural diversity training movement as arising out of a growing sense of urgency regarding the tensions in police-minority relations…” By introducing and reinforcing cultural diversity in the Criminal Justice System we can improve interpersonal relationships.
This is since one of the major stressors experienced by police officers as cited by Cullen (1985) would be rooted in racial and gender status differences (personal stress). By educating various personnel within the Criminal Justice Organization, we allow empowerment toward change and the containment of racial conflict. As Eskridge (1999) stated a sizeable body of literature has proved the need for criminal justice education of the police, among which the most significant are the following findings about the differences between properly educated and trained police officers.
All findings are in favor of criminal-justice-trained police officers who seem to be more attuned to social and ethnic problems (Weiner, 1976), have higher citizen satisfaction ratings and fewer complaints filed against them (Cohen and Chaiken 1972; Trojanowicz and Nicholson, 1976; Cascio, 1977), are less authoritarian (Smith, Locke and Fenster, 1970; Dalley, 1975), have higher levels of morale and better work attitudes (Guller, 1972), and are more likely to be promoted (Cohen and Chaiken, 1972). However, this method is not new to us.
Cultural diversity has long since been a topic of reform in this country. In fact, the current trend toward developing cultural diversity awareness training for police officers is not truly an innovation; rather, it represents a renewal of interest in this particular approach to making police more sensitive to diverse cultures and lifestyles. Conclusion In the end, by recognizing that conflict is a vital element in life we can continue to move toward progressive development in Criminal Justice Organizations.
All we need to do is make use of ways to control and manage the conflict so that it can be used to produce positive results instead of being detrimental to the institution. It is all about finding balance and harnessing the raw powers within conflict that we can facilitate change in the systems that we use to govern our society. References Bhushan Dhiraj, Amarendra (2007). Conflict Behavior In An Organization. Retrieved September 28, 2007, from < http://conflict911. com/guestconflict/conflictinorgs. htm> ‘Conflict. ’ Merriam – Webster Online Dictionary. 2007.
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