Rewards vs Insight
Interviewing active offenders presents several issues to both the safety and welfare of the interviewer
and the public, as well as moral and ethical dilemmas regarding knowingly rewarding criminal behavior.
Criminologists need to study offenders so that the system and law enforcement can better understand
offenders' decision-making process and then use that information to deter future criminal behavior.
Also, paying a criminal a fee and saying it is for research, is paying a known criminal to commit a crime
against a member of society, that could turn violent, that they may not have been committed if not
offered the "research" fee.
The safety of the public as well as that of the researcher, is always a variable that cannot be
guaranteed under any circumstance.
The researchers themselves spoke of their numerous life-
threatening moments including interviewees carrying firearms, a machine gun, challenged because they
were believed to be cops, caught in the middle of a fight over $1.00 and almost witnessing a homicide in
progress (Wright, Richard, et al., 2015).
Not only is it dangerous to the researcher, but what about the
unknowing public that is being preyed upon in the name of research.
Would they agree to be the victim
of a robbery or carjacking in the name of research?
What happens when the victim is armed as a
concealed carry holder and resists?
Where do those stray bullets go?
While it is believed that for an offender and their actions to be understood, it must be free of police
stations, courts and prisons, or else the information received will not be honest or accurate (Wright,
Richard, et al., 2015). It is also noted as recent as 2020 that "Active offender research relies on the
collection of data from noninstitutionalized criminals and has made significant contributions to our
understanding of the etiology of serious crime (
Topalli, Volkan, et al., 2020)." While research in the field
does play a part, I don't believe the information gained outweighs societies right to be safe and not be
used as lab rats.
While I do believe that some information could be learned from the street criminal as opposed to the
institutionalized criminal, I do not believe that it is anything that will change the way law enforcement
already attempts to combat crime.
The criminal is constantly adapting to the individual situation at
hand, and not to research statistics. Overall, preying on and unknowing society and innocent people, in
the name of research, should never be conducted.
Field worker participation
While research methods and tactics are different for every field of study, criminology deals with real
people, put in real situations, where adrenaline, family members, fight or flight and even deadly force
come into play.
Building rapport with a subject that is recently institutionalized, using the same methods
of "research fees" paid to their commissary, or thoroughly reviewing all police reports and eyewitness
accounts, can also be productive while minimizing the risk to the public.
The researchers were aware that they may be confronted by police patrols, and they pre-negotiated
an agreement with police not to interfere with the research (Wright, Richard, et al., 2015).
While this is
beneficial to the researcher, could this not also be beneficial to the criminal?
We are aware that