Written by Kenneth R. Fisher
University of Maryland E.S.
Education and Crime
The United States Department of Education places an enormous emphasis on educating America's children. In what Charles Darwin has described as a society of the "Survival of the Fittest." America's systems function on "what you do not know can be catastrophic." Aside from some parent's at-home schooling, the greatest input to gain an American education, for the most part, remains the schools and universities across these United States. Research findings in this paper will focus on the relationship between Education and Crime in America and Maryland, Minnesota and Ohio. Questions of concern are, will attainment that is more educational help to offset criminal activity and reduce adult recidivism? How much and what type of crimes are committed in America's schools? Are Correctional Education Programs working to reduce crime?
In a report by Mark Sherman (2003), he found that "one in 20 students was a victim of violence or theft at school in 2003 and the government said in a report that shows school crime rates about half what they were 10 years earlier" (p. 23). Nevertheless, "according to a report from the Department of Education and Justice, the school crime rate has leveled off, showing no change since 2000" (Sherman, 2003 pg. 23).
A breakdown of the statistics show that, "there were about 28 crimes of rape, sexual assault, robbery and physical assault for every 1,000 students in 2003, compared with 59 per 1,000 a decade earlier." The study looked at crimes against the 26.4 million students who were 12 years old to 18 years old in 2003," (Sherman, 2003 pg. 23). In 2002, according to Sherman (2003), "the violent crime rate per 1,000 students was 24, but government researchers said there was no statistically significant change between 2002 and 2003 because the numbers are estimates from relatively small surveys." Thomas Snyder, a report author at the Education Department says, "the level of precision isn't good enough to say whether there has been a change."
This report by Sherman does not attempt to explain the rises and falls between years, nor does it reflect statistics for all school age children. However, the report shows that, "students were twice as likely to be victims of serious violent crimes away from school as at school, but more likely to have things stolen from them at school than elsewhere" (Sherman, 2003 pg. 23). A prevailing theme that arises early in this research data collection process is that the relationship between Education and Crime hinges more on the degree of positive role modeling and supervision in the educational process verses the level of educational attainment.
Historically, Social Security insurance evolved as a supplemental retirement income mainly for men. Today, attention must be given to ensure that America's strongest minority (women) will experience the same quality of living that most men share during retirement. This literature review is focused on America's Social Security system and policies between 2000 and 2007, and its effect on minority women. The findings from this review will be drawn from studies in which the researcher's used primary and secondary data collection and information on gender gap issues.
Historical and Theoretical Perspectives
Early Childhood Education
Prior research by many non-Black African descendants has influenced, "observations that delinquents often come from poor educational backgrounds, including dropping out of school before graduation. The author's (Wilson and Herrnstein, 1985, Gottfredson, 1984, Schafer and Polk, 1967 and Office of Education, 1967) state, "a delinquent's career is often marked by truancy, behavioral problems in school, poor reading and academic abilities, and other related academic problems" (p. 45). In this paper, there are two major theoretical approaches used to explain how schools and education are related to crime and delinquency. According to Jeffrey (1990), "one approach deals with delinquency as a characteristic of the individual; the other deals with delinquency as a characteristic of a social institutions" (p. 56). In retrospect, both perspectives focuses on the individual in his or her environment, much similar to social work theory and a starting point to assist those seeking professional help.
Jeffrey (1990) seems to offer a valid explanation when he says that "the social institution approach views the school as the cause of delinquency and criminal behavior." The educational system is a failure for lower-class youths who are ill prepared by their socioeconomic background to succeed in high school, (p. 316).
The author Jeffrey (1990) further states that,
"this approach is consistent with the theoretical work done by A. K. Cohen, R. Cloward and L. Ohlin in the 1955-60 eras. Schafer and Polk (1967) and Polk and Schafer (1972) put forth this argument for the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. They blame the schools for delinquency, especially when schools place lower-class students in ability tracks and identify them as no college material. Labeling theory is used to explain the link between school failures and delinquency," (pg. 316). According to Jeffrey (1990), in an article Polk (1983) again repeated the argument that schools are failures, and tracking system and labeling process are ways in which the educational system produces delinquents . . . Polk (1983 pg. 693) denied that individual biological or psychological traits of students have anything to do with the grades the students receive, with school performance, or with antisocial behaviors . . . He cites D. Gibbons to the effect that there is no relationship between the characteristics of individuals and school performance . . . Polk (1983, pg. 693) argued that low grades predict delinquency; then he argued that low grades are result of the school system, not the individual student. Jeffrey (1990) states, "that the Polk's approach is pure environmentalism, with the individual contributing nothing to his or her behavior," (pg. 316). The summation according to Polk (1983) is that there are no genetic differences, IQ differences, ability differences, personality differences or learning ability differences among students. A major issue according to Jeffrey (1990) pertains to the relationship between dropping out of school and delinquency."
He states that a common interpretation of the fact that delinquents are often high school dropouts is to state that the youth drops out of school is unemployed, and then he becomes delinquent, (p. 316).
At the same time, Jeffrey's point out that Elliott and Voss (1974) and Bachman et al. (1978) found a strong positive relationship between delinquency and dropping out of school, except that the temporal relationship was one of delinquency and then dropping out of school. The literature shows that this model suggests that delinquency involves biological and psychological problems that contribute too many other behavioral problems related to both delinquency and dropping out of school, according to Jeffrey (1990).
In summary, Jeffrey's (1990), states that, "education and the school system can also influence delinquency rates through the usual channels hypothesized by sociologists, such as differential association, gang membership, lack of opportunity structure, status frustration and aggression, low self-esteem, income, and employment," (p. 318). He point out that a learning theorist would note that youths drop out of school and pursue illegal activities because of lack of reinforcement for legitimate activities, (Jeffrey, 1990, p. 3191). Finally, educational institutions could devise and set up programs to identify children with behavioral problems. First, this program should concentrate on the head start and elementary school age kids.
In a society founded on the protestant work ethic, individuality and self-determinism, juvenile delinquency has been defined as a set of behaviors associated with nonconformity to these standards and norms. The theory of cultural deviance, founded on the assumptions of social learning theory, asserts that nonconformity acts of criminal behaviors are learned and internalized in interaction with other members of a personal group. Juxtaposed, strain theory suggests that delinquent antisocial conduct is a normal response to situations that are created by the social structure (Merton, 1968, p. 98). This theory proposes, according to Merton (1968), that "nonconforming behavior emerges when a youth becomes frustrated by unsuccessful pursuit of a goal through normal means . . . Conversely, social control theory assumes that delinquent conduct reflects a lack of conventional bonds with society . . . The theory holds that structural bonds of attachment, commitment, involvement and belief with society yield an ethic in behavior that is normative (Hirschi, 1969, p. 34). Another theory in the criminal justice literature, " psychological theories focus on an individual's intellectual capacity and internal behavior controls as an explanation of delinquent behavior," (Kadish, Glaser, Calhoun and Risler, 1999, p. 43). In conclusively, "much of the literature in psychology is founded on Freud's psychoanalytical theory that suggests that control of behavior is a response determined by the interaction of the id, ego and superego, all parts of the psyche," (Kadish et al., 1999, p. 67). We now focus on the educational levels of head start, elementary, middle and high school students. Again, this research paper is focused on education and crime, yet to fully understand a valid relationship between the two, it is necessary to begin with the groups most affected.
Kids need a Head-Start/3 to 4year old Toddlers
Afro-Centrism -vs.- Mainstream Stagnation
Seated on the floor beside teacher Sabina Cason, a 3-year-old preschooler breeze through flashcards. This teacher wishes that the student learned the first letters of all her classmates' names prior to completing her class at the head start center. According to Ericka Mellon (2005), Knoxville area Law Enforcement officials asked Congress not to whittle down the federally funded program for the nation's poorest children . . . Simply stated, the officials told Congress that "Head Start and other high quality preschool programs not only teach youngsters letters, they also keep them out of jail." (Mellon, 2005, p. 90).
This long-standing program initiated during the civil rights era may offer continued hope in curtailing crime in American society. However, according to Mellon (2005), "head start, which began in 1965 during former President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, has come under criticism recently following reports of financial abuse at centers across the country." (p. 87). This particular program, 7 million dollars strong is up for review and possible renewal 2006. A group of law enforcement officials, "called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a report compiling national research about the benefits of preschool," (Mellon, 2005, p. 87). The author Mellon (2005) state a High/Scope Perry Preschool Project, for example has tracked a group of preschool and non-preschool at risk students in Michigan over four decades . . . The recently released results show that at age 40 the adults who attended preschool were less likely to be arrested and more likely to earn higher salaries, (p. 1).
Another example of the effects of education on crime or vice versa is presented by Knox county District attorney General Randy Nichols. Statistics he provided show that more than 30,000 juveniles were arrested in Tennessee last year. Of this number, the majority, says Nichols, cannot read on grade level. A good point Nichols makes is that it would be interesting to keep statistics on crimes that do not occur. If this was possible says Nichols, we would see how Head Start not only helps kids but also makes our community safer. The teacher Cason ask the student, do she want to put the flash cards on top of her head or, do you want to put them in front of you. Here, the teacher is trying to teach the student prepositions. Sabina says, "we learn through play." (Mellon, 2005, p. 55).
In another study, Pittsburgh Police Chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr., Alleghany County Pa., Sheriff Peter DeFazio, Memphis Police Director James Bolden and Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas issued a call. These official said that, "research has shown graduates of good preschool programs are less likely to commit crimes later in life than children without preschool experience . . . The news were part of a unified effort to release results of a national poll of 800 hundred kindergarten teachers commissioned by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids," (Organized Crime Digest, 2004, p. 108). Another study in the state of Michigan found that at-risk 3 and 4 year olds left out of pre-kindergarten were five times more likely to become chronic law-breakers," (Organized Crime Digest, 2004, p. 89).
Crime juxtapose with education show there is a continued need for education programs to at least offer alternative choices and strategies for some students from broken homes or single parent families. The literature consistently reflects this group of persons as high at-risk. According to Cheurprakobit (2000), state and school administrator has launched several programs to reduce and prevent crime in school (p. 106). Gottfredson, Gottfredson, Czech, (1997), conducted a national study to examine the existing school-based crime prevention programs among elementary, middle/junior, and high schools (p. 112). In this study, " they found that the program features most reported by respondents were group instruction (67%), communication of norms (29%), counseling (26%), recreational activities (25%), rules and regulations (24%), individual attention (22%), family management strategies (21%), interaction between school and community (19%), referral to other agencies (9%), staff training and development (9%), changes to school management (7%) and security and surveillance (7%). Though these programs aren't law enforcement oriented, they reflect the diminutive emphasis of police involvement. Despite these existing programs, according to (Cheurprakobkit, et. al., 2000), which were implemented to respond to school crime, research has shown little positive impact. This same author says, " in some cases, the problem has become worse . . . For example, a study comparing school crime in 1995 to the level of crime in 1989 showed little change in the overall level of reported school crime (14.5% and 14.6% of victimization in 1989 and 1995, respectively; 12.2% and 11.6% of property crimes in 1989 and 19995 respectively). The same study shows that, "drug availability increased slightly (from 63.2% in 1989 to 65.5% in 1995), and reports of gangs in schools nearly doubled (15.3% in 1989 to 28.4% in 1995) (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1989).
In many communities, "a more recent approach to reduce crime in school relies upon the safety and security features of the school design," (Cheurakobkit, et. al., 2000). For example, according to Portner (1995), one of the public high schools in Dallas invested 41 million dollars on a security design that employs 37 surveillance cameras, six metal detectors, five full-time police officers, intruder-resistant gates, a mini-hospital, a 350-seat theater, and perimeter lights that illuminate the grounds . . . This new approach is quite costly, however, and effectiveness in preventing or reducing crime yet to be evaluated. The idea of desensitization theory seems relevant since "a major criticism that has already been made is that all the safety and security features make the schools look like prisons." (Cheurakobkiot, et. al., 2000).
According to Cheurakobkit (2000), it is arguable that if school crime can be learned, crime deterrence and crime prevention can also be taught. This statement appears paradoxical since everyone doesn't necessarily learn things taught. Points of comprehension seem to be non-static. Nevertheless, Cheurakobkit, (2000) states that knowing the nature and extent of crime and the subsequent consequences of criminal acts, then, can be a deterrent. It seems appropriate to conclude that this author feels as though criminal law should be a part of all school's curriculums and taught at an early age. Since knowledge is power and ignorance is 9/10ths the law, education appears to increase all citizens' opportunity not to ascertain the mainstream label "criminal." Ceasare Beccaria (1763/1995) stated,
"The surest but hardest way to prevent crime is to improve education . . . A great man, who enlightens mankind even as it persecutes him, has shown in detail the principal precepts of an education which is truly useful to men . . . It consists less in a sterile mass of subjects than in the precise and informed choice of topics; it replaces copies with originals in the study of both the physical and moral phenomena which either chance or effort presents to fresh young minds." (p. 110).
According to Cheurakokbit, (2000), since 1991, under the "Trade and Industrial Education" section of the Texas Education agency Curriculum Guide, all high schools in the state of Texas have been allowed to offer experimental courses in law enforcement training . . . Although the main purpose of the curriculums career-oriented by familiarizing students with law enforcement agencies and the legal system, no specific courses were given. And too, "effective in September 1998 under the Texas Education Curriculum Agency Guide, the protective services provision was established to include the knowledge and application of the laws, rules, regulations and other influences that govern the operation of the components of the criminal justice system and related protective services." (Cheurakokbit, 2000).
In conclusion, "the data of this study show that carrier-oriented criminal justice courses are perceived to have less impact on school crime compared to some other topic such ass victimization and conflict resolution," (Cheurakokbit, 2000). This same author states that, "although the carrier-oriented criminal justice courses are beneficial to students for their choice of career in the future, courses on victimization and conflict resolution should be incorporated if school problems are to be lessened," (Cheurakokbit, 2000). There is a need for criminal justice courses in schools, just as there is a need for other service sector job educational preparedness. Thus far, the literature seems to show that the disparities in educational opportunities are more relevant than educational curricula alone.
Locally and nationally, the juvenile justice system provides a vast number of programs as intervention strategies, yet 98% of these programs aren't culturally based. They aren't geared to deal with high at-risk African American males. Thus, the disparities in the criminal justice systems are a result of these extremely high statistics.
According to Harvey and Coleman (1997), with the increase in juvenile offenses among African American adolescent males, there is a growing impetus to use culturally innovative approaches to service delivery for these youths and their families. Interesting, the ideology and statistical evidence that show law enforcement official choose whom to investigate, arrest and prosecute is an ever prevalent theme which cannot go unnoticed. Yet, " a number of authors have noted the importance of incorporating cultural strengths of African American families and communities into programs serving African American adolescents," (Everett et al 1991; Daly et al 1995, Assante, 1998; Akbar, 1984). Many of these exploitive programs are operated by white females receiving high salaries with little cultural knowledge or black male sensitivity, and are located in black communities. Therefore, the black male juvenile has little in the way of black adult male positive role models to identify and bond with. Point in fact, the author Daly et al (1995) contend that the reinforcement of one's group identity has a critical importance for African Americans, particularly adolescent males, in their efforts to attain positive ego strengths and self-esteem to cope effectively in society. This author state that, " most services in the juvenile justice system have no culturally relevant interventions directed toward changing negative behaviors among these at-risk youth" In addition "the literature is also largely devoid of culturally relevant programs for curbing negative behaviors among African American adolescent males as they move towards manhood," (Hill, 1992 and Isaac, 1992). Much like other service professions, literature exists that suggests that spirituality and collectivity are critical principles in the provision of services that promote the growth and development of African American youths," (Oliver, 1989; Perkins, 1986; Pinkett, 1993; Schiele, 1994 and Harvey, 1994).
In conclusion, according to Harvey and Coleman (1997), while no one approach is the answer to the myriad social problems facing African American adolescent males, an Afro-centric approach is a vehicle for helping to reestablish a sense of self-dignity, self-worth, spirituality and community among this youth population. These writers state, "it is imperative that individuals working with African American adolescent males provide culturally relevant programs and services on a consistent basis to these youths." (Harvey and Coleman, 1997). To be sure, Harvey and Coleman (1997) say that it is also incumbent upon agencies to employ an array of African American professionals and non-professionals to act as role models in the delivery of services to African American adolescent males in the juvenile system . . . Finally, policymakers must be continually made aware of the needs of this group and the necessity to fund programs that use an Afro-centric approach, (p. 8).
After Sentencing; Education and Crime
The Study; Education and Crime
Researcher Linda G. Smith PhD's, states that,
"Correctional educators have worked for years in the belief that education not only provides hope for their students and avenue for change, but that it also reduces the likelihood of future crime . . . Correctional educators have continued to teach while facing constant scrutiny and pessimism from the public and from certain legislators about the value of their work among those who have committed serious crimes . . . Congress go much tougher on crime in the 1990's . . . Inmate eligibility for Pell grants for post secondary education was entirely eliminated in 1994 . . . Federal adult and vocational education set asides for correctional agencies were dropped a few years later . . . There were even limitations put on the right to special education services for the incarcerated . . . Many states also cut back or eliminated the funds for programs . . . One state even fired all full-time teachers in the state prisons." (P. 3).
Since the research show that across the board our congressional leaders devalue educating the convicted person, there appears to be a generational issue that will continue to permeate American society. However "in an attempt to counter the efforts at cutting back or eliminating correctional education, there were a number of studies conducted in the early 1990's to measure the value of past correctional education including GED participation, vocational training, cognitive/life skills programs, and post-secondary/college participation." (Adams et al., 1994). This mainstream contradiction translates into the following scenario. For example, if incarcerated persons enter prison with no job or profession skills, can't acquire them while incarcerated, they revert back to what they know best to survive, crime. Incarcerated children see this and are a part of this cycle. Thus, we have recidivism. It appears the political and capitalistic system's produce crime. A continued contradiction is that "limited research has been conducted examining the impact of correctional education on post-release behaviors such as recidivism and employment during the last five years (1997-2002) mostly due to budget," (Smith, 2003).
In order to increase understanding of the relationship between Education and Crime, research will now focus on a "Three-State Recidivism Study conducted by Smith. Since other research hypothesize that employed and educated persons are less likely to commit crime, this section of the paper may add to that body of knowledge.
Purpose of the Study
Smith's purpose of the study "was to compare correctional education participants and non-participants in three states - Maryland, Minnesota, and Ohio on a number of key socio-demographic and outcome variables." (Smith, 2003). In particular, this researcher's study "was designed to assess the impact of correctional education on recidivism and pot-release employment." (Smith, 2003). The researcher used a quasi-experimental design with a release cohort.
Smith (2003) states that,
"A cohort study is a design used for non-equivalent groups where there is a belief that the treatment group does not systematically differ from the comparison group on important variables . . . a quasi-experimental design such as this does not sacrifice the ability of the study to examine the impact of a treatment as long as an assumption of comparability can be met . . . Three dichotomous measures of recidivism was utilized - re-arrest, re- conviction, and re-imprisonment . . . Employment data used a dichotomous measure of participation in the work force (yes or no) and wages earned yearly . . . Both study groups were followed for three years after release from incarceration . . . both bivariate and multivariate analysis were conducted . . . In addition, non-traditional analyses were utilized to address issues related to selection bias." (p. 9).
There were "eight hypotheses developed for Smith's research, 1-3, participation in correctional education programs would result in reduced rates of re-arrest, re-conviction, and re-incarceration compared to non-participants." (p. 9). The next, number 4, states, "for participants who did recidivate, they would commit less serious offenses when compared to non-participants," (Smith, 2003 p.). Hypotheses 5 and 6 read, "post-release behavioral compliance with parole/release conditions and participation in pro-social activities would be higher for correctional education participants compared to non-participants," (Smith, 2003). The final two hypotheses (7 and 8), Smith (2003) postulates is that, "participation in correctional education programs would result in higher rates of employment for participants, as well as higher wages than those of non-participants," (p. 9).
Groups that were Studied
Smith's study groups consisted of "a release cohort of offenders from Maryland, Minnesota, and Ohio who has participated in correctional education during incarceration (N=1373, 43.3%) and those who had not participated while incarcerated (N=1797, 56.7%) . . . The overall population for the study was 3,170 inmates and the research sample was 3,099 of whom criminal history records were examined . . . Socio-demographics that were examined in the study included;
The researcher Smith (2003) writes that "these data tell us that much more attention need to be directed towards assisting offenders in overcoming these barriers through basic education, job readiness and job placement programs, life skills, parenting classes, and post-secondary programs including vocational training," (p. 11). Maybe not so ironic is the fact that these are the same areas most students are introduced to and encouraged to complete, starting in kindergarten, elementary, middle/junior/senior high school.
- Mean age; over 30 years old
- Most lived in a city prior to incarceration
- The majority of the study participants were single
- Close to two-thirds of the participants had children under 18 yrs. Old
- Over half had family history of incarceration
- At least five prior felony arrests
- Prior incarceration; at least six
- 62% of correctional education participants did not complete high school
- Literacy competency; less than 9th grade
- Less than half of study participants report of having a job waiting. (p. 12).
The Data Collection Sources/Instruments Used
The data Smith (2003) collected "were from five sources;
Findings on Recidivism - Hypotheses 1-4
- Inmate self-report pre-release survey
- Institutional/Educational records
- Parole Officer surveys
- Criminal history data
- Employment and wage data
Smith (2003) "presents findings for the following hypotheses . . .
Key Findings from Parole Outcomes
- For re-arrest, correctional education participants had statistically significant (at the .01 level) lower rates of re-arrests (48%) when compared to the comparison group of non-participants (57%).
- For re-conviction, correctional education participants had statistically significant (at the .01 level) lower rates of re-conviction (27% when compared to the control group of non-participants (35%).
- For re-incarceration, correctional education participants had statistically significant (at the .01 level) lower rates of re-incarceration (21%) when compared to the control group of non-participants (31%).
- Overall, there were no significant differences between the participants and non-participants in the types of new offenses committed. Both groups had less serious re-arrest offenses compared to their original offense for which they had been in prison." (p. 11).
Listed below are the key findings Smith (2003) "found for hypotheses 5 and 6;
Though this study never alludes to cultural biases, it seems appropriate to surmise that since African American males represent well over half of incarcerated and paroled inmates, mainstream discrimination may play a role in findings number two. One, these are the program areas congress have cut funding towards and two, these are programs in which there is a lack of African American representation.
- The findings indicated overall that both groups of study participants were in compliance with supervision requirements although over half of both study groups were un-employed at the time the Parole Survey was administered.
- Only about one-fourth of the participants in either group were engaged in any post-release program activity including education, substance abuse, counseling, or other assistance.
Key findings from Employment Outcomes-Hypotheses 7 and 8
Smith (2003) found that;
Not only are these findings interesting but also they help to explain discrimination after higher educational attainment. Due to middle and upper-middle class dominance of jobs requiring advanced education/ licensed vocations, employer in these areas are very discriminate in hiring practices. They not only look out for their own group but they preserve future positions for their children and grandchildren.
- Both correctional education participants and non-participants had surprisingly high rates of employment with non-participants showing slightly higher rates (81.4%) of employment compared to the participants (77.3%).
- For each of the three years wage earnings were reported, data showed that correctional education participants had higher earnings than non-participants.
According to Smith (2003), "the research reported here shows strong support for educating incarcerated offenders . . . all of the analyses described lead to several compelling conclusions . . . First, the effect of correctional education on recidivism varied across states with all states showing a reduction in recidivism in the analyses . . . second, the magnitude of correctional education's effect on recidivism was highly dependent on the type of analytic technique utilized." (p. 17).
In conclusion, the one prevailing significant in the research review of the literature seems to be that there is cultural bias. I'm not sure that findings in the very few of these studies are generalizable to minorities, African American males in particular. Therefore, until the major institutions (Education, Criminal Justice, Social Services, Parole and Probation, Churches, Research Institutes) in society increase cultural sensitivity and better understand minority value system; there will continue to be bias in research findings. Since research is primarily geared towards mainstream value systems, and capitalistic enterprise, even African American males that assimilate to mainstream ideology will be served a social injustice.
Finally, education alone doesn't reduce crime. The village that it takes to raise a child starts at home and in the community. If there is a fair and level playing field in the beginning, the value gained from Education for the Black Male will nearly exceed or double that of his counterpart, simply because he has always learned to prosper with less and still be happy. Education has its place; it works for some groups as part of the "American Dream." For other groups, it very well works to the detriment of staying in their place. In the end, Mainstream Americans choose whom to label criminal and who to label an unfortunate hero. The types of crimes committed in schools and universities are none-the-less the same types committed inside jails and prisons.
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