What portions of human relations theory apply to the operations of the police and corrections?

Expert Answers
wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Central approaches to human relations theory are of two kinds:  Taylorism, which treats human management as part of a factory, and Hawthorneism, dealing with the “human” characteristics of behavior that cannot be treated mechanistically.  In law enforcement, the traditional hierarchic structures of management are just fine, until the human elements of criminality are examined.  In other words, if law enforcement is treated purely as a mechanical process, fairly rigid rules of rewarding and promoting certain behaviors can be put into effect, but as soon as human relationships are included in the formal evaluation of effectiveness, the line between acceptable treatment and outstanding treatment is blurred.  Does an officer of the law follow the “protocols” precisely, or is each officer expected to bring his human judgment into play?  Does the law enforcement structure allow for discriminating officers making judgments, and how are those judgments evaluated? 

The area of human relations theory where law enforcement is affected, then, is the area where the “soft” science of sociology is at odds with the “hard” science of taxonomic consistency.  Are criminals defined as “those who have broken a law” (the “dictionary" definition), or is a criminal a human being whose behavior violates society’s “rules” and guidelines, and who needs guidance, including behavior-altering actions?  An available example of the difference can be seen in the minimum-security and medium-security prison systems, where “correction” and programs to prevent recidivism are stressed, versus the hard-time institutions, where the possibilities of altering behavior are ignored.