Criminal justice is the scheme of performances and organizations used by states and the local governments to maintain the stipulated laws in the country. They are generally concerned with the social control, discouraging and controlling crime in the community, approving the ones that infringe the laws with criminal punishments. In doing this, the system has to maintain the framework of the laws that protects human rights in the country.
This has been possible by dividing the system into three categories that comprises of the law enforcement; who are the police in the states, the adjudication; that deals with the courts in the state and the correction system; that comprises of the jails, probation and the prisons in a given country. With these three parts of the system, they are supposed to ensure that they all operate within the rules of laws of the state. Program design and evaluation Evaluation refers to the systematic assessment of merit or worth of some object.
However, this definition has been faulted as inadequate since a number of evaluations do not assess the merit or worth of the object under evaluation. Such evaluations include formative evaluations, implementation analyses and descriptive studies among others. This has led to more a more improved definition, emphasizing important functions of evaluation, which include processing of information and feedback. This definition has therefore referred to evaluation as systematically acquiring and assessing information aimed at providing useful feedback regarding an object (Posavac and Carey, 2003).
Evaluation has often been described as a methodological area with close relations to social science research, but can however be distinguished from it. Both evaluation and social science research use similar methodologies, although evaluation is done within an organizational or political context, thus requiring higher degrees of sensitivity to numerous stake holders, political dexterity, management ability, and group skills than any form of research in social science (Smith-Cunnien, 2004). In evaluation, object is mainly used to refer to activity, need, person, technology, policy or program.
The evaluation process involves collection of data and sifting through it, judging about the information’s validity together with conclusions derived from it. Evaluations are aimed at providing useful feedback to various audiences that include employees, administrators, client groups, donors and sponsors among others. More often than not, feed back is regarded as useful because it helps in decision making (Smith-Cunnien, 2004). Design refers to a plan dictating when measurements will be gathered and from whom, during the evaluation process.
This helps in ensuring that evaluation studies are well organized, and that the right people participate in the evaluation at the right moment. Moreover, designs are ways of collecting comparative information and placing it in proper context for judgment of their value and size (Soares, 2004). Designs in evaluation are aimed at making the evaluation more reliable and credible, especially during controversy or political heat. Design is used in the formative period of programs in order for the evaluator to check the program’s effectiveness, or that of its specific subcomponents.
Goal-based evaluation This type of criminal justice evaluation is aimed at meeting specific goals described in the original plan of the program. It evaluates the extent to which the program meets predetermined objectives or goals. In the design of goals-based criminal justice organization evaluation system, one is normally interested how far the program has progressed in meeting the set goals or objectives. The evaluators may need to know how the program’s goals and objectives were established, and if the process of establishment was effective or otherwise.
The status of the program towards achieving the set goals is another great interest of the evaluator. The evaluator also tries to establish if the goals and objectives of the given program are achievable within the set timeframes; and if not the case, the reason behind it. One of the reasons for such a situation is lack of adequate resources in terms of personnel and training, facilities, equipment and money. Such a situation calls for change of priorities in order to focus more on achieving these objectives and goals.
Before changing of timelines, the evaluator must know why particular efforts are behind schedule. Moreover, the evaluator must know why the efforts are not achieving their intended results before any change of objectives is thought of. The evaluator should also know which particular goals should be changed, and if any goals should be removed or added and why. The evaluator then proposes on how future goal establishment should be done to avoid any failures. This evaluation method has the advantage of sticking to the goal of the program regardless of what other aspects are evaluated.
It helps in modifying all the other aspects of the program to be in line with its goals and objectives. Process-based evaluation This design of criminal justice system organization evaluation is aimed at understanding the working of the program and how it produces its results. This evaluation design is very useful especially if the given program is long-standing and has undergone numerous changes over the years, the stakeholders report numerous complaints about the program, or if there is inefficiency in the delivery of the program services.
It is also very useful if there is need to portray the true working of the program to the parties, especially when replication of the program is needed elsewhere. In this type of evaluation, the evaluator needs to know the basis on which the stakeholders need the justice services. The evaluator also tries to established what the staff need for them to deliver the services. How the staff is trained about service delivery and how other stake holders come into the program is also very essential in this type of evaluation.
The evaluator is also interested in what is required of the general public and how the organization’s staff selects the services to give the public. The public’s perception of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses is also evaluated. The evaluator also looks into the typical complaints raised by both the general public and the organization’s staff about the services offered. The evaluator also takes heed of any recommendations on improvement of the services and the basis upon which all the stakeholders decide that they do not need particular services any more.
This type of evaluation has the advantage of enlightening the stakeholders on the real operation of the program. The process-based evaluation is therefore able to show both the program’s goal and objectives and a comprehensive process, as opposed to the goals alone that the goals-based evaluation shows (Fitz-Gibbon and Morris, 1987). Outcomes-based evaluation This type of evaluation is common and important among non-profit making organizations, the criminal justice system organization included.
It facilitates the stake holders asking if the given organization is really engaged in the right activities to help in achieving the desired outcomes, as opposed to engaging in activities that seem reasonable at that particular time. During this type of evaluation, the evaluator first carries out a pilot test of the approach on one program, or two at most before doing all the other programs. The evaluator identifies the key outcomes he or she wants to verify or examine for the given program being evaluated.
He or she reflects on his or her mission; the general purpose of the criminal justice system organization, considering the impact on the stakeholders as he or she moves closer to his or her mission (Esbensen et al, 2001). The evaluator then chooses the outcome of what he or she wants to examine, prioritizes these outcomes, and picks the top four important ones that need urgent examination if time and resources are limited. The evaluator then specifies the observable indicators for each item that will suggest achievement of the key outcomes with the stakeholders.
This is the most enlightening and important step in this type of evaluation, and the most challenging and confusing. The next step involves specification of a target goal of stakeholders; the portion of stakeholders the evaluator commits to achieving particular results with, such as children, women or senior citizens. The evaluator then identifies the information in showing these achievement indicators. Then he or she decides how the information can be realistically and efficiently gathered, such as use of interviews, questionnaires, observation, case studies, and program documentation.
The estimator finally carries out an analysis of the data and reports its findings to the relevant bodies (Savelsberg et al, 2004). The best aspect of this evaluation design is that it focuses on the outcome of the program, which is the most important of all aspects. This is unlike the others which are only interested in the goals and the process, neglecting the outcomes (Bazemore, 2005). Conclusion There are various evaluation designs and methodologies of criminal justice system organizations.
The most commonly used are the goals-based evaluation, process-based evaluation and outcomes-based evaluation. All these designs are applied in different aspects of evaluation, to ensure efficiency of these organizations. Reference list Bazemore, G (2005, February) Whom and how do we reintegrate? Finding community in restorative justice, Criminology & Public Policy, 4(1), 131 Engel, R S and Worden, R E (2003, February) Police officers attitudes, behavior, and supervisory influences-An analysis of problem solving Criminology, 41(1), 131
Esbensen, F A et al (2001, November) How great is GREAT? Results from a longitudinal quasi-experimental design, Criminology & Public Policy, 1(1), 87 Fitz-Gibbon, C and Morris, L (1987) How to design a program evaluation, Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications Posavac, E and Carey, R (2003) Program evaluation: methods and case studies (6th ed) Upper Saddle River, NJ-Pearson/Prentice Hall Prothrow-Stith, D (2004, Spring) Strengthening the collaboration between public health and criminal justice to prevent violence, The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 32(1), 82
Savelsberg, J et al (2004, June) Institutional environments and scholarly work- American criminology, 1951-1993 Social Forces, 82(4), 1275 Smith-Cunnien, S (2004, July) Criminological theories: Introduction, evaluation, and application/criminological theory- Past to present, essential readings, Teaching Sociology, 32(3), 342 Soares, R (2004, July) Crime reporting as a measure of institutional development Economic Development and Cultural Change, 52(4), 851