This paper evaluates two cases and the corrective measures that were taken in each of the case. During the evaluation of the measures, critical analyses of the juries’ verdict is made in a view to air what are believed to have been the most appropriate verdicts. During the analyses, the two situations are compared so as to facilitate the comparison of the two verdicts that were passed.
Case A: Thomas User, the Substance Abuser
Thomas User, age 18, has been placed on probation for possession of methamphetamine and ecstasy. There were no known victims in the current offense. Police reports indicate that User was stopped by a police cruiser because he had been standing on the same corner for hours. An outer pat search revealed that he had eight tablets that were confirmed by drug testing to be ecstasy, and he had enough methamphetamine for up to 12 hits. Mr. User has two previous misdemeanor convictions as a juvenile, one for possession of paint huffing material and one for minor in possession of alcoholic beverages. He has one misdemeanor conviction as an adult for menacing in the second degree (Tonry, 1999).
Case B: Sue Steel, the Forger
Sue Steel was convicted of two charges, criminal possession of a weapon and passing bad checks. Ms. Steel stole a box of checks from the mailbox belonging to Janine Smith. Posing as Ms. Smith, Client Steel wrote a total of four checks to retail stores that totaled $ 975 over a period of three days. A JC Penney clerk notified the mall security when Steel became agitated and irate because the clerk refused to accept a check without proper identification. As Ms. Steel tried to leave the mall, she was approached for questioning by the security. One of the private security officers happened to notice a shiny metal object in her waistband that appeared to be a weapon of some sort. Private security detained Steel at the mall until police arrived to conduct a frisk. She was found to be in possession of a 38 caliber weapon and a book of checks that belonged to Janine Smith. She is 25 years of age and has a history of criminal conduct; her prior convictions began at age 15, with one juvenile conviction for a simple robbery and two adult convictions involving fraud. Her simple robbery conviction involved one victim who was injured, reportedly by Steel’s codefendant. Records indicate she successfully completed juvenile probation by age 17 (Tonry, 1999).
Static risk factors are those historical factors in an individual which do not fluctuate frequently. They are associated with the long term risk. Examples of these factors include previous convictions, type of offence and the mode of operation, age at the initial conviction, working history, and marital status. For example, Thomas User has a criminal history. He had been convicted two times for misdemeanor as a juvenile. In both convictions, he had been found in possession of outlawed substances for a person of his age. Furthermore, he had been convicted of misdemeanor for menacing in the second degree. Thomas User is also unmarried, a situation which makes him a high risk. He has unstable employment history which means he has a lot of idle time which may act as crime trigger. Sue Steel’s criminality is a bit different. She had been convicted at the age of 15 for simple robbery, and at 19 for engaging in fraudulent dealings.
Sue is now 25, and she has not given-up her criminal behavior. She is unmarried, but she has a child. Detaining these offenders based on static risk factors could be unfair because they have no capacity to change their past (Carmen, 2010). This is because passage of time has little effect on static risk factors. It is only a small number of factors that changes, for example when Sue or Thomas marries. Being in a marriage is associated with a lower risk. However, the assessment of static risk factors are helpful in placing individuals in low and high risk categories when they re-offend, especially when the crimes are violent or sexual in nature. For example, Sue Steel may be regarded to be a higher risk as compared to Thomas User. This is because User is relatively young, 18, and there is no evidence that he had ever been armed as he engaged in criminality.
Dynamic risk factors have the likelihood of fluctuating over a relatively shorter period of time. They include smoking behavior, stress, and fitness. For example, Thomas User’s condition of being underweight can change within a relatively short time. Other dynamic risk factors that Thomas has include drug and alcohol abuse, and negligence. Sue Steel on the other hand is high tempered and deceptive. She also has a habit of stealing which although she acquired it as a child, she can easily drop it. There are challenges involved in the study of dynamic risk factors. Firstly, they frequently fluctuate, and this makes them challenging to research on. For example, Thomas Steel may quit abusing drugs after he gets into a meaningful employment. Again, good research necessitates frequent contact between the researcher and the offender, followed by frequent assessments (Chandy, 2011). This would be difficult, possibly unethical, and costly; and the monitoring may as well influence the behavior of the offender. Secondly, these risk factors are varied, complex, and numerous. This makes their impact on criminality difficult to identify. Again, when deceptive individuals realize that they are being monitored, they may decide to behave nicely as a cover-up for their criminality (Chandy, 2011).
Criminogenic needs are those attribute of an offender that link directly to the criminal behavior. They are the attributes that are targeted during correctional treatment. Thomas User’s criminogenic needs include drug use, lack of a stable employment, and having an impaired mental development. Sue Steel on the other hand is easily irritated and is used to engaging in unethical practices like stealing and impersonation. Any treatment that does not target criminogenic needs may be counter-productive to effectiveness and efficiency (Thomas, 2012).
Thomas User needs to be taken to a rehabilitation center so that he is assisted to quit his drug use. This is because he has a habit of abusing drugs which seems difficult for him to quit. Furthermore, this is a place where he will not be influenced by his peers into abusing drugs. Alternatively, he may be required to attend treatment during the probation period, and also ordered to inform a parole officer of his whereabouts and engagements all the time. Although he is an adult now, he should be allocated a guardian to assist him in getting a meaningful job and in settling down (Hanser, 2009). This is necessary because his IQ indicates that he might be mentally impaired. Although Sue Steel claims to be medically sound, she needs to be evaluated to establish her condition. Sue should also be required to participate in community service, and be ordered to stay away from known criminals and criminal activities. She should be assisted to get a full time job which in effect would reduce the idle time at her disposal. Additionally, Sue should be ordered to regularly report her whereabouts at the probation office. This would ease her monitoring, and also ensure that she does not abscond (Hanser, 2009).