Group Project Phase 4
CCJS 495: Issues in Criminal Justice
Group Project Phase 4
Faced with an onslaught of criminal activity at the hands of a very bad biker gang, aptly named the Very Bad Bike Club (VBBC), the Chief of the Virtual Police Department (VPD) reached out to his criminal justice allies to seek a permanent solution to VBBC’s decades-long criminal reign. The VBBC operates a vast criminal network, primarily focused on the manufacture, distribution, and sale of illegal drugs, but like many criminal organizations, the operation extends into any nefarious activity that may yield a profit. The activities of the VBBC have increasingly plagued the city of Virtual and despite many arrests and prosecutions over the years of VBBC members, the criminal activity has only proliferated and now extends behind the prison walls.
The VBBC is a menace to the residents, the commercial interests, and the criminal justice entities of the city of Virtual. In order to permanently defeat the VBBC, the Chief of the VPD formed the Virtual Criminal Justice Alliance (VCJA). The VCJA consists of the five major criminal justice stakeholders in the city of Virtual to include: 1. VPD; 2. District Attorney’s Office; 3. Virtual Detention Center (VDC); 4. Parole and Probation; 5. Virtual Security Force (VSF). The intended goal of the VCJA is to continue investigations and prosecutions and to work collaboratively to form a comprehensive strategy to permanently dismantle the VBBC. Some of the challenges the VCJA will have to consider is the continued proliferation of criminal activity into other aspects of the Virtual community, shortcomings with past investigations, and, significantly, the specific interests and challenges of each member of the VCJA.
A few of the concerns faced by the VCJA members are typical of criminal justice stakeholders. The VPD has made a lot of arrests of VBBC members as part of a get tough on crime initiative, but only a fraction of the arrests made resulted in prosecutable cases. Due to the weak cases, the District Attorney has dismissed charges in many situations and offered extensive plea deals to avoid trying bad cases. The VDC population has been overwhelmed with criminals arrested for petty offenses, who are often re-arrested and sentenced upon release. The revolving door has also served as a catalyst for the criminal activity inside the prisons. With the high turnover, parole and probation, have few resources to spread across a large population and are increasingly unsuccessful in aiding rehabilitation and re-entrance to society for offenders. Of the VCJA allies, the VSF is one entity that is eager to do more. The VSF has eagerly offered significantly expanding security services it provides, but is also a for-profit private security business, so the other VCJA members are understandably skeptical of VSF’s pervasive manifest destiny solution to every issue. Despite the concerns and challenges faced by the VCJA, the members are committed to the issue of the VBBC and the Chief of the VPD is convinced he can unite the team to be successful in this endeavor.
Description of Traditional Roles
Virtual Police Department
Office of the District Attorney
The Virtual correction facilities in the community are to keep the suspected or convicted criminals away from society. The approach helps society to live without crime or unlawful activities. Correction facilities have a role in rehabilitating the criminals before they are released for reintegration into society. During the process of rehabilitation, it is vital to prevent any communication with the outside world to avoid the continuity of criminal activities. Virtual area and residents desire to live without illegal practices such as selling illegal products, stealing, drug abuse, and trafficking. For instance, the members of VBBC are charged with the illegal trafficking and abuse of prohibited products. The corrections are vital in separating criminals from other members of society. The objective is to promote peace and harmony in the community.
The corrections take the criminals away from the public to prevent the community in the Virtual area from taking the law into their hands. The frustration among the residents about drug trafficking may prompt mob justice. Another traditional role is to ensure the punishment of the offender is carried out to term. The criminals should not escape or avoid the punishment in probation, parole, or prison. Correction facilities look at the welfare of the criminals to ensure they can survive the jail term.
The traditional role of Virtual corrections is to support the criminal justice system in ensuring law and order in the community. The correction facilities execute the mandate of the judiciary that authorizes individuals to be confined for a specified period. The mandate is effective in restoring law and order in society. Virtual residents appreciate the correction facilities since they take the criminals away from the drug trafficking chain. Discontinuing criminal activities promotes law and order in the community.
Parole & Probation
Community-based corrections is capable of supporting and enforcing the sentences that are handed to the VBBC in terms of parole and probation. The traditional roles of parole and probation sentences involves supervising offenders to serve their sentences outside a prison facility through means of community service, halfway housing, work-release programs, and other means of supervision to offenders. There is also unsupervised probation where offenders are issued a fine and suspended jail sentence in agreement, they will not commit any lawful violations for a certain period, if not their sentence will be re-instated. Additionally, Michael Scott discusses the shock probation where offenders are sentenced to the maximum jail sentence allowable under law and unknowingly, the judge pulls the offender and releases them to a supervised probation (2018). The traditional methods that Virtual City is applying is not working by just assigning members to a supervised probation as offenders are violating their probation sentence. Also, probation officers are not enforcing the probation sentences by allowing members of the VBBC to communicate with other criminal organizations. Community-based corrections will adjust their traditional methods in order to address the crimes in Virtual City through collaboration with the other agencies and proper enforcement of sentences.
Virtual Security Force
As a private security business, the VSF believes it is uniquely positioned to support the VCJA endeavor. Although private security companies do not retain specific statutory authority or qualified immunity like their public law enforcement counterparts, the VSF recognizes that they are also not bound by individual lanes of responsibility. The Constitution, Federal, and State law, provide the enabling authority for public law enforcement; the VSF is not legislatively bound. Accordingly, many of the VSF’s traditional approaches to the VBBC crime problem can be applied across the operational boundaries of the VCJA members. Focusing on the commercial district where the VSF currently operates and which is a highly attractive location for the VBBC criminal enterprise, the VSF proposes increased application of traditional security measures. The VSF excels at providing watchman services, a known deterrent to crime. In order to increase the effectiveness of watchman services, the VSF recommends adding enhanced perimeter security and access controls. Improved security lighting, access controls, and security cameras would aid in identifying the illicit activity or steer it to locations where it cannot as easily blend in with legitimate business. Critical infrastructure inside the commercial district should be protected under multiple layers of access control. The VSF recommends the installation of more effective fencing, barriers, and electronic access control to the high value areas inside the commercial district. In order to implement these traditional security approaches, the VSF does require more funding and resources. Installing additional security equipment is expensive. It will also require additional manpower to monitor and respond to activity detected with the application of the additional security measures. However, the services the VSF can provide in this area can also result in some significant cost avoidances. Significantly, the VPD will not have to dedicate patrol resources to the commercial district. The VSF can essentially serve as a force multiplier for patrol in the commercial district and enable the VPD to invest its resources in more sensitive areas of the investigation better suited to a public law enforcement agency.
Collaboration and Consensus on Solution
The Chief of the VPD understood the unique interests of each member of the VCJA, but he also understood the value that each member added to the overall initiative. In order to be successful, it was absolutely critical for each member to understand the overarching goal of the alliance and to recognize that each entity had an integral role in meeting the primary goal. The group understood that comprehensive problems require comprehensive solutions and that one methodology for managing a multi-faceted organization’s process of meeting a common goal is by formalizing a strategic plan. The group recognized that a management by objective process would be an effective tool for the VCJA to delineate the primary goal and identify how each member could contribute to achieving the goal. The members of the VCJA concurred on the central goal of the alliance –to successfully investigate and prosecute the VBBC and to enhance the collaboration between the members of the VCJA. The group identified this as the high-level goal for the strategic plan and by following the management by objective approach, sought to identify objectives for each entity that cascaded from the high-level goal. The individual objectives enabled each member to focus on their primary area of expertise, but each member also had to be able to demonstrate how meeting the individual objective would contribute to the overarching goal. This process facilitated efficiency in the fight against the VBBC by not only focusing on the strengths of each member, but to also ensure that members were not conducting redundant operations. The group felt satisfied with this approach because as representatives for their respective agencies, it allowed for the individual advocacy of each organization, but with a continued eye toward serving the higher-level need.
Proposed Solution and Agency Roles
In order to address the issue of the VBBC, the group considered a variety of policing models to mitigate the problem. Referring to the various resources on criminal justice approaches, many tactics appeared to offer potential solutions. Based on unique issue of the VBBC impacting the overall Virtual community and the high-activity areas of VBBC criminal activity, the VCJA concurred on implementing a hybrid solution to the crime problem using two commonly applied policing strategies. These strategies would be enhanced by each member’s contribution to the alliance. The strategy adopts a traditional community policing model coupled with a hot spots policing tactic. The concept is to incorporate the assets in the community of Virtual into the crime solution, principally the residents and business owners who are largely affected by the VBBC activity. In practice, members of the VCJA will actively engage with community heads to facilitate open lines of communication and to enhance the reporting of illicit activities. The alliance will also look to increase enforcement efforts in the areas of high VBBC activity. This will have multiple effects; importantly, it will send a message to the community that the VCJA is serious about addressing the issue, therefore enhancing trust and credibility with the criminal justice partners, but it will also directly target VBBC activity by directly detecting and deterring crime in the target locations. This hybrid approach facilitates each member of the alliance contributing their unique expertise to focus on the crime problem.
Virtual Police Department
Office of the District Attorney
Parole and Probation
Previously discussed, traditional methods of parole and probation sentences are not impacting the issues of the Virtual criminal justice system and the members of VBBC. The first step is addressing the issues of probation officers and how they enforce the sentence of the offenders. Training needs to occur for all parole officers and ensure that there is an understanding that they are to enforce and report any violations to other agencies of the criminal justice system. Failure on parole officer’s enforcement can lead to an increase of crime from the VBBC and let them get away with it. Next, the severity of the offenses that are committed by the VBBC should be taken into consideration and whether they are a low-level risk to the community and repeat offenders. Methods that can be taken is to separate offenders who share similarities such as organizations or similar offenses, across the city so they are not serving time together. Predicting recidivism is a hard task to predict but a criminal’s history can help with the decision making. Dr. Abby Vandenberg discusses that higher number of offenses occurred will increase the rate of recidivism in parolees, while the amount of time served has little to no effect (pg. 40, 2013). The community corrections agency can advise the other agencies to suggest that other low-risk inmates be assigned to parole and probation. This will open availability for members of the VBBC to serve their time in jail and not be involved with the community.
Virtual Security Force
The VSF, through an expansion of its traditional role and increased collaboration with the other VCJA members will facilitate application of the new strategy. As a private organization, the formal standup of the VCJA and implementation of the strategic plan aids in delineating the VSF’s official place in the alliance and larger role in the crime control initiative. The traditional observe and report function played by the VSF as a security business provides significant value to the collaboration. Although the VSF did have limited arrest authority conferred by the VPD, the ability to turn those arrests into actual prosecutable cases was limited, it was essentially a limited detention authority. The VSF will maintain its traditional role of observe and report in the commercial district, but through the integration of the hot spots policing tactic alongside the VPD, a patrol officer will be regularly assigned to engage with the VSF to take reports or assume custody of detentions made by the VSF. This will mitigate the common concerns with potential probable cause issues or unlawful detentions the VSF encounters as a private entity. Additionally, the VSF will potentially be able to enhance the alliance’s funding stream in its observe and report role by identifying commodities in the commercial district tied to VBBC criminal activity. The other members of the VCJA could look to increase use of criminal and civil asset forfeiture based on information relayed by the VSF and enhanced investigations.
Through the application of a formalized strategy and innovative, yet proven approach to a crime control problem, the VCJA will enhance the fight against the VBBC. This strategy will enable each member of the VCJA to contribute their unique expertise to a comprehensive and united common goal. Through the collaboration, this plan will not only focus on the contribution of expertise but will also result in efficiencies by eliminating duplication of effort across the criminal justice partners. In the end, the citizens of Virtual will be freed of the scourge of the VBBC.
Scott, M. (2018, December 20). What Are the Different Types of Probation? Legal Beagle. https://legalbeagle.com/6325536-formal-vs-informal-probation.html.
Vandenberg, A. L. (2013, December). Does parole make a difference?: the effect of community supervision on post-discharge recidivism (dissertation). Does Parole Make a Difference? The Effect of Community Supervision on Post-Discharge Recidivism. Retrieved from https://corrections.nebraska.gov/sites/default/files/files/46/vandenberg_dissertation_pdf_1.pdf