Non-Verbal Communication in Criminal Justice

Topics: Communication, Nonverbal communication, Sign language Pages: 6 (2466 words) Published: May 27, 2013
In the field of criminal justice it is crucial for employees to understand the importance of oral and written communication. No matter what an individual’s position happens to be, they will have to orally communicate with internal staff such as co-workers, supervisors, deputies, security, judicial officers, as well as external members like clients, defendants, victims, jurors, as well as the general public. Additionally, in today’s computerized world chances are these same positions will be expected to communicate daily in writing, too. Whether it is factually writing an incident report or verbally explaining to a juror what their responsibility is during a trial, these professionals must clearly express important information. Oral and written communication obviously have their place in this domain, but communication does not end here, that’s why this paper will elaborate on the subject of the importance of nonverbal communication and point out how this information will help criminal justice professionals to succeed. It will break down the subject into categories and elaborate on the different environments this material will support various encounters in the judicial system. According to the pioneer in the study of nonverbal communication, Ray Birdwhistell, he has approximated that only thirty percent of the communication is actually verbal. (Lytle, J. S., 1984). In this Criminal Justice Communication course, we were informed that it is believed the communication cues we rely on are as follows: fifty-five percent are facial expressions, thirty-eight percent are tone of voice, and only seven percent are actual words that are spoken. (Wallace, H., & Robertson, C., 2009). Although the method of nonverbal communication is not an exact science, it is still important to understand what body language, facial expressions, hand gestures, and personal distance are conveying; this breakdown of interpretation is also known as soft skills. As criminal justice professionals it can be particularly important for a better understanding of unspoken communication since criminal justice professionals interact with people from so many different backgrounds and may be in intense situations. They are required to assess conditions and attempt to predetermine the next move of the subject being observed and depending on the role of the individual professional it could determine the outcome of a life or death situation. On a daily basis for every criminal justice profession it is always important to understand and continually fine tune the art of body language interpretation. The variety of situations and limitless diversity definitely poses a great possibility for error; this is why it is critical for all of the factors to be taken into account when reading each subject and the entire scenario. (Nowicki, E., 2001). So how do you know the perception of what is happening is being communicated correctly? Well, accuracy can be obtained through several tactics, however, before discussing that it is important to consider the components that could alter soft skills analyses which can be unintentional and end up skewing the outcome. For example, if communication is taking place with someone that is emotionally and/or intellectually challenged, suffers from a mental illness, or is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol this will most likely interfere with the reading of the subject’s nonverbal language. When interacting with children it is important to be aware of the fact that they are still developing their social skills and tend to be awkward with their movements and gestures. (Hollerbach, D., 2006). Additionally, senior citizens are harder to read because they have less muscle tone in the face. Gender, economic, and cultural differences can also affect non-verbal communication. Studies have revealed that men tend to mask or hide their emotions more than women. Patterns of variation in male and female facial expressions, gestures, and movement...

References: Grubb, Hemby, R, K. (2003). Effective Communication for Criminal Justice Professionals. Belmont, CA 94002-: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Hollerbach, D. (2006). Improving Nonverbal Communication: A Guide for Upcoming Criminal Justice Professionals. Yahoo Voices. Retrieved from
Lytle, J.S. (1984). Nonverbal Communication of the Deaf. Association For Communication
Administration Bulletin, (50), 53-56. Retrieved from
Nowicki, E. (2001). Body Language. Law and Order v. 49, issue 8, pg. 27-28. Retrieved
from Lytle, J.S. (1984). Nonverbal Communication of the Deaf. Association for Communication Administration Bulletin, (50), 53-56. Retrieved from
Pillai, D., Sheppard, E., and Mitchell, P. (2012). Can People Guess What Happened to Others from Their Reactions? PLoS ONE, 7 (11) DOI: Retrieved from
Wallace, H., & Robertson, C. (2009). Written and Interpersonal Communication methods for Law Enforcement (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
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