Technology and the Criminal Justice Classroom: Using S.P.S.S. and Online Court Dockets to Demonstrate Evaluation Research

Daniel C. Dahlgren, Kent State University, Stark Campus
Jennifer Jones, Kent State University
Sara Crottinger, Kent State University

In Stark County Ohio, the Court of Common Pleas and area municipal courts have successfully posted their dockets to an online website. The names and docket numbers of all felony cases from 1999-2001 were obtained and used as the basis for evaluating disparity in sentencing patterns. Specifically, legal and extra-legal factors were used to predict sentences and consequent disparity. A course was designed around this project which included: identification of variables, setting S.P.S.S. program parameters, coding off an online source, entering data, and the presentation of results as some objectives and consequent assignments. A qualitative analysis consisting of intensive interviews of the students and classroom observation produced several concepts, patterns of interaction, and related themes within this educational context.

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Updated 05/20/2006