The study of crime and criminal justice often presents special challenges with regard to ethics. In this chapter, the discussion focuses on how most ethical questions are rooted in two fundamental principles: (1) research subjects should not be harmed, and (2) their participation must be voluntary.
Body-worn cameras are fast becoming standard kit for frontline law enforcers, trumpeted by senior officers and even the US President as a technological ‘fix’ for what some see as a crisis of police legitimacy. Evidence of effectiveness has, however, been limited in its scope. Now, new results from one of the largest randomized-controlled experiments in the history of criminal justice research, led by the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology, show that the use by officers of body-worn cameras is associated with a startling 93% reduction in citizen complaints against police.
Withholding Desirable Treatments
Interrupt project if preliminary analysis shows change
Justice – The benefits and burdens of participating in research should be distributed
Federal regulations on human subjects include special provisions for certain types of subjects:
Juveniles – treated differently under most aspects of the law. Consent must be obtained both from parents or guardians and from the juvenile subjects themselves
Prisoners – may not be exposed to risks that would be considered excessive for nonprison subjects. Undue influence or coercion cannot be used in recruiting prisoner subjects. Informed consent statements to prospective subjects must indicate that a decision not to participate will have no influence on work assignments, privileges, or parole decisions. If an IRB reviews a project involving prisoners, at least one member of the IRB must be either a prisoner or someone specifically designated to represent the interests of prisoners
Laud Humphreys (1975) – Studied homosexual acts between strangers who meet in public restrooms in parks (“tearooms”)
Served as “watchqueen”
Noted plate numbers of participants, tracked down names and addresses through police, conducted a survey to obtain personal info at their homes