After reading this chapter, the students will have achieved the following objectives:

· ■ Understand the difficulty in arriving at goal consensus within criminal justice organizations.

· ■ Comprehend the importance of organizational structure to employee supervision.

· ■ Know the differences between the human service approach to employee supervision and the traditional model of employee supervision.

· ■ Understand the difficulty in implementing a human service model of employee supervision within criminal justice organizations.

· ■ Explain the guidelines for performance evaluation and supervision.


No type of offender raises the fears of citizens more than the sex offender. How do you effectively supervise such an offender? Driven by a desire to protect society against predatory sex offenders, many states have created sexually dangerous or sexually violent offender statutes providing for the long-term care and supervision of offenders in institutional settings as well as community settings. This raises a question on how to best supervise such a group of offenders.

In addition, the courts have weighed in on state statutes that are directed toward sexually violent persons and their re-institutionalization subsequent to the completion of criminal sentences. Court decisions have supported the notion that communities have the right to civilly commit sexually violent offenders after their criminal sentences have been completed, but they have also reinforced the idea that civil commitment must include some type of treatment as a justification for the re-institutionalization, and, in some cases, the courts have held that a least restrictive environment must exist, as well as a plan for how offenders will transition to community living. For both mental health and correctional officials, this expectation raises many questions of supervision.

As more states grapple with the management of sex offenders in their communities, how important will effective models of supervision be in making sure the community is protected, while simultaneously ensuring a treatment program for offenders? These important questions raise other questions and concerns regarding the effective supervision of the most problematical population under the authority of both mental health officials and correctional authorities.

This chapter examines the topic of supervision and evaluation as it relates to individual performance. As an organizational issue, employee supervision and evaluation has gained heightened importance among criminal justice administrators. In fact, scholars have called into question the basic tenets of personnel supervision and evaluation that have dominated criminal justice organizations for many years ( Goldstein, 1990 ). Most of these traditional efforts focused on “hard measures” of performance (e.g., arrests for police organizations) with very little concern over how these measures in any way related to larger organizational and societal objectives and goals ( Bayley, 1994 ). Current attempts at restructuring police organizations, court systems, and correctional organizations have centered on questions of how employees will be supervised and evaluated, as well as questions about the efficacy of newer methods to maintain control in these organizations ( Skolnick and Bayley, 1986 ). Among criminal justice administrators, the question has become more direct and practical: How do supervisors maintain control of employees so that their behaviors are consistent with organizational goals? A corollary question is the following: What specific changes need to be implemented to enhance the supervision and evaluation of employees? Answering these questions is the focus of this chapter.

In addition, this chapter examines contemporary methods and models of employee supervision and evaluation. The discussion presented will be guided by the goals and expectations we have for criminal justice organizations. Any examination of personnel supervision and evaluation must include an analysis of the goals we are seeking to achieve. We begin the discussion with the idea of multiple goals, goal consensus, and criminal justice administration; move to an examination of structural aspects of criminal justice organizations; explore models of employee supervision and evaluation; and conclude with a discussion on issues pertaining to employee performance evaluation and supervision within criminal justice organizations.


It is a common and widely held belief that criminal justice organizations are expected to provide multiple services to the community. All components of the criminal justice system have multiple goals and functions. Criminal justice organizations seek  goal consensus —an agreement regarding purposes. In some cases, these goals contradict one another, and it is difficult to discern the primary direction of the organization. Within police organizations, for example, we not only expect the police to provide community protection but also to maintain community order and respond to multiple calls for service ( Goldstein, 1990 :11). These calls for service have very little to do with the traditional notion of being a crime fighter.

Goal consensus: Agreement on the purposes of an organization.

Egon  Bittner (1970)  posed the central dilemma faced by police administrators in enforcing the law: How should nonnegotiable, coercive force be exercised in a society that stresses freedom, democracy, and peace? According to Bittner, this is typically accomplished through the development of myths, symbols, and various images that legitimize and, in some cases, conceal the very assumptions upon which police organizations function. Similar views have been offered by critics of the modern community policing ideal. To these critics, community policing represents another attempt to justify and legitimize the central function of police, which is to exercise coercive force ( Klockars, 1991 ).

Others have also suggested that correctional organizations and the courts have operated under similar premises.  Stojkovic and Lovell (1997)  have argued that myths, symbols, and image maintenance cover fundamental ways in which correctional administrators make decisions. Many of these decisions support the idea that the primary purpose of prison is actually punitive control over large segments of the offender population, with very little concern about rehabilitation or change among prisoners. Given the growth in prison populations, it is uncertain how prisons can do more than simply warehouse offenders ( Irwin and Austin, 1997 ).

Thus, in discussing prison goals, the only consensus to be reached is that there are too many inmates and too few resources to manage them. Lofty assertions about deterrence, selective incapacitation, rehabilitation, and societal protection may be far removed from the operational realities of prisons that are trying to maintain prisoner control under conditions of severe resource shortages. Nevertheless, some research has suggested that the orientations of correctional workers may be more diverse than originally thought.  Tewksbury and Mustain (2008)  show that the correctional orientations of staff vary by role (position) and gender, yet rehabilitation is viewed by all persons in prisons as being more valuable than deterrence, retribution, and incapacitation.

Such a view is also supported by recent research examining the work of probation and parole officers. To some, given the large number of offenders supervised by probation and parole agents, it is difficult to expect that anything beyond simple surveillance is the primary goal of these organizations. In fact, traditional practices such as presentence reports have come under fire by researchers, who claim that such reports are superfluous because most probationers are “typed” by the officer into specific categories based on offense and criminal history ( Rosecrance, 1986 ). A particular emphasis is placed on the potential threat the probationer or parolee presents to the community. Even so, other research conducted in England suggests that despite the move toward more bureaucratization and efficiencies in probation work, the number one reason people enter the workforce is to assist others; they also cite the importance of relationships to effective change ( Matthews, 2009 ). In fact, for most probation officers, working with people is central to deriving maximum satisfaction from the work.

Horror stories have highlighted the plight that many probation and parole agents face when one of their offenders is caught committing a heinous offense. The reality, however, is that because of limited resources and an unlimited demand for service, probation and parole organizations, like other social service agencies, will always operate under conditions of scarcity ( Lipsky, 1980 ) and will adapt to their situations as best they can. Moreover, the dual tasks of providing supervision and support will always be present and both will have to be addressed by probation and parole workers seeking a balance in work effort that recognizes both as critical to the mission of probation and parole departments.

Similarly, court systems face large numbers of cases with too few resources to process all defendants adequately. Critics of the court system point to the fact that many offenders plea bargain and escape justice, while supporters argue that the mandate of due process requires full constitutional protections for all criminal defendants. Represented as the concerns for crime control and due process, the courts face the dilemma of how to control crime while remaining sensitive to the legal requirements of due process for those suspected of criminal activity.

According to  Walker (1994) , the criminal courts for the most part process lower-level cases; the sheer volume of these cases is what overwhelms the system. Accordingly, the idea that the courts process cases in an assembly-line fashion makes sense. The real goal is the quick processing and efficient handling of cases. Research has shown that this is true and, in addition, that the process is the punishment ( Feeley, 1979 ).

Because many of the costs of going to court are too high for typical misdemeanant defendants, many will “cop” pleas to lower charges and accept a minimal penalty. To ask for rights, in many cases, would really cost the defendant more money than the penalty of pleading guilty—though the consistency of this finding is questioned by some researchers ( Schulhofer, 1985 , cited in  Walker, 1994 :36). Thus, pleading guilty is in the best interests of most defendants.

It is the conflict between assembly-line justice, on the one hand, and concerns of due process on the other hand that poses difficulties for the court administrator ( Mays and Taggart, 1986 ). Like the other components of the criminal justice system, the courts have to function within the context of limited resources. It is simply impossible to guarantee that most defendants will receive due process when finite resources dictate to a large degree how due process concerns can be addressed.

Moreover, larger normative issues of goal consensus overshadow the resource problem in criminal justice organizations. These concerns include how a criminal justice system should look, the degree of fragmentation among system components, and the role diversity plays in its operation. There has been a growing awareness that the criminal justice system as it has been portrayed over the past fifty years ( President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, 1967 ) is not reflective of most local systems of justice across this country. The documented variety and differences across the organizations of criminal justice within the states and the federal government start to raise a question of whether or not goal consensus is a reality or even a desirable state.

Wright (2004)  has argued that the construction of a monolithic system of criminal justice tied together by the activities of its various components does not make sense either organizationally or politically. Attempting to construct a single “system” of criminal justice contradicts commonly held beliefs about the relationship between the people and their government. Fragmentation, or a lack of unification across the components of the criminal justice system, is often viewed negatively by proponents of a systems approach to criminal justice, yet such a view denies the importance of fragmentation to the democratic principles we cherish about diversity of viewpoints as expressed through the criminal justice system. Without fragmentation and diversity across the criminal justice system, it would be difficult for those organizations to deal with their different and varied communities.

In this sense, a lack of coordination and unification within the criminal justice system is desirable because diverse points of interest can be expressed and reflected in local systems of justice. To achieve goal consensus within a criminal justice system could be construed as undemocratic and dangerous. In addition, searching for a singular goal may simply be pointless, given the multiple expectations of communities concerning the operations of their local systems of criminal justice.

Thus, many efforts to integrate local systems of criminal justice into one system are doomed to failure because all of these systems have to respond to local constituencies and environments. This is most true of federal initiatives that mandate specific policies and goals for state and local criminal justice systems. The passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, for example, was an attempt by the federal government to mandate the direction of crime policies in the states; however, critics argue that most crime is local in nature and that these communities should be allowed to dictate how their criminal justice systems will respond to it. Forcing some type of consensus onto the direction and purpose of local systems of criminal justice has always been problematic for legislatures and politicians. The results of such efforts have been questioned by many who have been critical of federal attempts to confront crime ( Conley, 1994 ). Criminal justice administrators have had many organizational difficulties trying to operationally implement plans that are ill conceived and poorly thought out.

The central objective of criminal justice administrators is to determine the goals of their communities and the most efficient ways to meet those goals. For some communities, attaining specific goals may be less cumbersome than for others. In communities with large, diverse populations, arriving at goal consensus on what the local system of criminal justice should be accomplishing is no small task. Equally important are the methods or strategies employed by criminal justice personnel to achieve community goals. It is at the street level that the reality of criminal justice is presented to the community, and this is why the rankand-file worker, whether that is a police officer on the beat or a correctional officer in a prison, is the most important part of the administration and management of criminal justice organizations. These “street-level bureaucrats” ( Lipsky, 1980 :5) are the essence of the criminal justice system, and how these employees are supervised and evaluated is one of the most pressing issues facing criminal justice administration in this century.


Organizational structure influences employee evaluation and supervision. Organizational structure is defined by size, degree of formality, complexity, and purpose. It is clear, for example, that the size of a criminal justice organization affects how employees are evaluated and supervised. Criminal justice organizations with a large number of employees are more complex, and employee evaluation and supervision methods are constrained and limited in comparison to smaller criminal justice agencies. No one would disagree that the mechanisms used to evaluate and supervise employees in the New York City police department, with close to 40,000 police officers, need to be different from those evaluation and supervision strategies found in a police department of fifty officers.

Organizational structure: The way in which an organization is set up to accomplish its goals, objectives, and tasks. Organizational structure is defined by size, degree of formality, complexity, and purpose.

Due to the variations found among criminal justice organizations on various dimensions, criminal justice administrators have to be creative in how they devise evaluation and supervision methods. Other issues besides size that can affect the evaluation and supervision approaches employed by criminal justice administrators are budget, differing goals, and the degree to which the organization is centralized or decentralized in its decision-making processes. We offer some general guidelines on evaluation and supervision of criminal justice employees at the end of the chapter.


I have been a Federal Investigator with the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for almost twelve years. The mission of the agency is to enforce the federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace and to promote equal opportunity in the workplace. In fiscal year 2010, EEOC had 99,922 complaints filed nationwide, the highest level since its inception in 1965. We also saw a record high of $294 million in relief collected through administrative enforcement and mediation.

As agents of the employer, supervisors and managers are held to a higher standard under the law and their actions have significant liability implications to the employer. Any missteps by a supervisor and/or manager can lead to costly litigation. As an investigator, I have seen the full spectrum of issues that can arise in the workplace. Some of the issues can be attributed to personality conflicts between front-line supervisors and managers. However, many EEO complaints arise due to the employee’s perception of unfair treatment in the workplace. Employers could minimize complaints of unfair treatment and discrimination with effective supervision and constructive evaluation of employees. The following are ways that poor supervision and undirected evaluation can lead to employee complaints of unlawful treatment in the workplace.

· 1. Lack of clearly communicated rules, policies and procedures. It is of the utmost importance to get subordinates, middle management, and upper management all on the same page. Failing to clearly communicate rules, policies, and procedures leads to confusion about what the expectations are. Well-written policies ensure consistency and will help guide both subordinates and management. For instance, the procedure for an employee to file an internal complaint of harassment should be clearly defined in an employee handbook. In addition, if the employer has a progressive discipline policy, the policy should be clearly defined and easily accessible for both employees and management.

· 2. Inconsistent application of policies and procedures. In theory, being consistent sounds like an easy practice to follow. However, as I see on a daily basis, inconsistencies in the application of policies and procedures can lead to unlawful treatment of employees. Supervisors and managers need to apply policies and procedures the same way to all employees across the board. While unfair treatment and favoritism are not necessarily unlawful, inconsistent enforcement of policies and procedures oftentimes results in low morale among staff. It also can lead to a lack of respect toward management among front-line staff and lower employee production.

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