Crime and Criminologists

Topics: Crime, Criminology, Sociology Pages: 2 (492 words) Published: October 11, 2013
Describe the criminological enterprise. What are the ethical issues of researching crime? A critical issue facing criminologists involves recognizing political and social consequences. Often, criminologists forget the social responsibility they have as experts in areas such as crime and justice. The lives of millions of people can be influenced by criminological research data. Debates over gun control, capital punishment, mandatory sentences, gang activity, are ongoing and often contentious. Some criminologists argue for social services and rehabilitation programs for the reduction of crime while others suggest massive prison programs and tough criminal sentences lower the crime rate. Once they accept the role as an expert on law-violating behaviors, criminologists put themselves into a position of power; the consequences of their actions are enormous. Under ideal circumstances, criminologists would choose a subject for study which is guided by their own scholarly interest, pressing social needs, the availability of accurate data, and other similar concerns. However, in recent years, a large influx of institutional and government funding has influenced criminal inquiry. This has also influenced the direction in which research has gone. Because state and local governments provide a significant percentage of available research funds, they may also dictate the areas that can be studied. For example, in recent years, the federal government has spent millions of dollars funding long-term cohort studies of criminal careers. Some areas of inquiry may be ignored due to the fact that funding or sponsorship is not available. When the institution funding the research is itself a principle subject of research a potential conflict of interest may also arise. Governments may be reluctant to fund research on fraud and abuse of power committed by government officials, or they may place influence on criminologists seeking research funding, if criminologists are too critical of...
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