Problem statement, research questions, and hypotheses
The proposed study explores views of female offenders and parole/probation officers on their interactions. The hypotheses of this research are the following:
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- Negative attitudes of parole/probation officers and their use of punitive styles contribute to the development of anxiety and depression in female offenders.
- The development of proper relationships between parole/probation officers and women offenders helps the latter avoid reoffending.
- Parole/probation officers’ negative attitudes can result from their bias, workload, and insufficient training.
To address the first hypothesis, it is necessary to elicit female offenders’ views on the effects of their interaction with parole/probation officers focusing on negative experiences. The second hypothesis can be addressed by exploring women offenders’ positive experiences associated with their interactions with parole/probation officers. It is essential to ask females about cases when parole/probation officers’ recommendations, attitudes, and so on, helped them avoid engaging in illegal activities. The third hypothesis can be addressed through the discussion of the work experiences of parole/probation officers. These professionals can share their views on female offenders and reasons for their reentering, the officers’ workload, some organizational values, and their opinions regarding training (whether they need it or not). Two significant stakeholders are female offenders and parole/probation officers, as the interaction between these groups is the focus of the proposed study.
An evidence-based approach to the criminal justice sphere has become a norm, and researchers try to use sound analysis methods to implement their research (Donaldson, 2009). Some think that quantitative data and the use of such methods as experiments, surveys, and observations can be regarded as the necessary background for an effective study. However, there are cases when qualitative data can be more valuable for decision-making (Lewis & McNaughton Nicholls, 2013). Maxfield (2015) also stresses that different cases, areas, and interventions often require other research methods. In this case, the focus is on people’s attitudes, which makes the qualitative design preferable. The hypotheses mentioned above are associated with people’s views on specific issues, so qualitative data will help the researcher address the hypotheses.
The data collection method that can help the researcher elicit people’s ideas are surveys, questionnaires, and interviews (Maxfield, 2015). At that, interviews enable the researcher to collect more data as compared to the methods mentioned above. The semi-structured interview is the method that helps create the necessary atmosphere for sharing ideas. The participants will be willing to answer questions that seem to be a part of a conversation rather than an element of interrogation. The researcher will have the necessary flexibility to encourage the participants to share and, at the same time, elicit the most recurrent themes.
The hypotheses mentioned above are associated with people’s views on their interactions, focusing on their feelings, physiological states, and behaviors. Therefore, the researcher will address these aspects during the interviews. There will be a set of prepared questions, but they can be changed, and new questions can be added depending on the participants’ answers. For instance, women offenders will be asked about their feelings after their parole/probation officers’ interactions. The participants may be unable to see the ties between their feelings and behavior and their interactions with parole/probation officers. The researcher may trace these ties when listening to the participants’ answers and asking for clarifications.
Donaldson, S. I. (2009). In search of the blueprint for an evidence-based global society In S. I. Donaldson, C. A. Christie, & M. M. Mark (Eds.), What counts as credible evidence in applied research and evaluation practice (pp. 2-19). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Lewis, J., & McNaughton Nicholls, C. (2013). Design issues. In J. Ritchie, J. Lewis, & C. McNaughton Nicholls, & R. Omston (Eds.), Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers (pp. 47-77). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Maxfield, M. G. (2015). Basics of research methods for criminal justice and criminology. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.