The Public Humanist

The Public Humanist contributor: Rebecca Paynich

Rebecca PaynichRebecca Paynich earned her MA in Criminal Justice (2000) and Ph.D. in Political Science (2003) from Washington State University, and currently teaches at Curry College, in Milton, MA. Rebecca has been involved in several research projects throughout her academic career including Project Safe Neighborhood. Currently, Rebecca is doing research on the work experiences of women in law enforcement and is examining key concerns women face in this male-dominated profession including balancing family and work, dealing with the stresses of the job and issues of sexual harassment. While her research interests revolve around law enforcement, she also does work in the areas of criminal justice theory and policy, and crime mapping. She holds classes in statistics, crime mapping corrections, police ethics, criminology, policing, and many others.

Conscience and Convenience in Liberal Arts Education

David Rothman’s book Conscience and Convenience provides a history of corrections in America and argues that the good intentions of reformers (conscience) are often thwarted by individuals and organizations (convenience)during the implementation and evaluation stages of the policy making process. There are multiple ways in which this occurs. For example, potential policy benefits could be reduced by inadequately funding the organizations that are tasked with their implementation.

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Higher Education and the Criminal Justice System

Let’s begin with two basic assertions: first, at least at the macro level, crime and the economy are related and second, at least at the micro level, higher education has a positive impact in reducing criminal behavior. A plethora of research exists that suggests that in general, when times are tough, crime usually increases. This is not true for all communities nor is it true for all crime types, but in general, this assertion remains true historically.

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In Consideration of Exceptions to Freedom of Speech

I still remember to this day the feeling I had in class when Professor Jacobs returned the graded midterm exams. This take home exam consisted of only one question. It asked students to evaluate the first amendment rights of a described hypothetical "terrorist" group (this class was pre-9/11 by several years) who had distributed newsletters that contained instructions for bomb making and several passages that could, together, be easily interpreted as a "clear and present danger."

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Maintaining Optimism in the Criminal Justice Classroom

My esteemed colleague John Hill suggested in an earlier post that capitalism, as envisioned by Adam Smith, should be restored to its roots. Smith envisioned a system of natural liberty allied with justicewhere both the ends and the means were important to the overall wealth of a nation. If Adam Smith’s vision of capitalism was realized, the gap between the rich and the poor would not be as severe and socio-economic justice would be achieved.

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Educating Us and Them: Breaking Stereotypes and Moving Towards a More Effective Correctional System

I wholeheartedly agree with my colleague, Kristen Bumiller, who argues that increasing access to higher education for people caught up in the criminal justice system could make a world of difference for individuals, their families, and the communities they reside in. Multiple studies have concluded that education is instrumental in reducing recidivism rates by increasing earning potential, and improving self-esteem and decision-making skills.

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