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Motivation for Criminal Justice Professionals

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Criminal justice system is part of the government law enforcement agency that is engaged in apprehending, defending, prosecuting, sentencing and punishing of those who violated laws and committed offences. Personnel who perform the aforementioned activities are called criminal justice professionals. These professionals are public servants, or government employees. Thus, instead of looking at these personnel as a patrol officer, an investigator, a forensic specialist, a prosecutor, a probation officer and a correctional officer, we need to consider them as another employee at work, who is performing the job. Out of many factors that influence an employee’s performance, management fairness and rewards play significant role. This narrative essay is based on existing theories of motivation and it explains how criminal justice professionals can be motivated at their work.

What is motivation and how it may serve as a catalyst for an employee’s performance? One of the basic human instincts is to derive pleasure from individual activities. Work consists of serious and vital parts of human activities. Motivation is a psychological phenomenon that arouses a human to move towards a desired goal (The meaning of motivation). This psychological phenomenon is the catalyst, which explains the purpose of human acts. Motivation initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors (Cherry, n.d.) of an employee, including the criminal justice professionals. Recognition, rewards and indulgence are just a few ways to motivate an employee. In general, there are two types (Cherry, n.d.) of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivations involve money, social recognition, etc. and are usually applied to the private sector employees. Criminal justice professionals are public sector employees, and they need to attain job satisfaction typically through intrinsic rewards.

There are several theories of motivation: Instinct theory, Incentive theory, Drive theory, Arousal theory and Humanistic theory. This essay will adopt humanistic theory of motivation to understand how criminal justice professionals can be motivated. Abraham Maslow is the founder of Humanistic theory of motivation (Maslow, 2000). In 1943, he published the outstanding work, “A Theory of Motivation”. This theory describes the framework of needs in the form of hierarchy that at the same time serves as motivation. Needs are deficiencies that govern behavior to satisfy them. Maslow describes the needs in the form of pyramid and starting from the base of the pyramid (Maslow, 2000), they are classified as physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs. Using Maslow model, the following paragraph will describe satisfaction of the needs that may serve as inspiration for the criminal justice personnel.

One has to accept that all criminal justice professionals have satisfied physiological needs, safety needs and social needs. The next level of needs, according to the Maslow’s theory of motivation, is esteem needs. Esteem needs’ attributes (Maslow, 2000) are self-respect, autonomy, achievement, status and recognition. Satisfaction of these attributes develops self-esteem of a human being, and that can motivate any employee, including criminal justice personnel at their work. If personnel recognize that they are respected and recognized, the work enjoyment and performance would go hand in hand. Criminal justice personnel at various times conduct their activities in aggressive and hostile atmosphere. Many employees every day go through painstaking activities in conducting forensic investigations. All of their acts are devoted to other members of the community, so they can live in safety. Both supervisors at work and the community need to do everything to satisfy criminal justice professionals’ esteem needs. Satisfaction of esteem need parameters will raise personal value and self-worth of criminal justice personnel, which will prevail the extrinsic motivation parameters used in private sectors.

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