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Ethics: Muslim Prisoners Essay

1714 words - 7 pages

Life in prison can be a difficult experience to properly comprehend as an individual who has never been behind bars or somebody who has not been subjected under criminal law and incarcerated. Researcher Muzammil Quraishi, a British Muslim has undergone a year of research from July 2001 to July 2002 investigating Muslim prisoners in the United Kingdom. Muzammil goes through numerous challenged in his year worth of research investigating a sum of three anonymous prisons. Doing such Muzammil had gone through numerous obstacles, generic research validity, to the side effects of the field research. This paper will separate three columns of obstacles Muzammil had to go through, Technical issues, ...view middle of the document...

Then some prisons required a Chaplain to escort the researcher. These little differences causes a variation upon how data is collected because it may provide a different reaction from the respondent at the time. For example, if you were sitting at a table, with a recording device on the table it is likely that you will be careful of what you say because everything you say is on record. A common problem all researchers face, the Hawthorne effect.
Another challenge Muzammil faced is how to stop the respondent from perceiving that he or she can gain or achieve something from agreeing to be interviewed. Muzammil suggests "this could take the form of putting a good word in with managers or prison officers (456)." However, Muzammil had encouraged the prisoner population to participate primarily on altruistic grounds. Regardless of the warning, I am not entirely convinced that this is how all of the respondents approached the researcher. The reason is that on several occasions Muzammil was pursued by inmates due to a slipup of an Imam (Muslim Religious Leader) identifying him as a lawyer (458). Thus, inmates thought he could assist their needs. This leads me to believe that the prisoners are not all selfless respondents. In most cases, one could imagine that they desire something, be it a change from monotony prison life or in light terms a possible 'get out of jail card.'
Prisoners were not the only ones that Muzammil had trouble with regarding interviews. The correctional officers had also shown to be a potential issue because the senior officer would prompt for certain uniformed staff to step up and take the interview. Muzammil suggests, that this may potentially skew the results because it will primarily be positive feedback in order to keep the senior officer from being disappointed (457). All in all both the prisoners and correctional officers are potentially under the Hawthorne effect, which may skew results. It is good to note however, that Muzammil has identified this issue within his document (457)
Prisoners are listed as vulnerable people to interview, most likely due to their lack of civil rights within prison. It becomes an ethical issue when they are abused. An unclear point was that according to the document a Chaplain gave a Pakistani prisoner permission to use the phone provided that Muzammil was listening in. It is unclear if Muzammil was eavesdropping or simply standing beside the prisoner, however if it were an eaves dropping situation it is highly unethical due to the fact that it was absent any consent and the prisoner had no knowledge of it. Previously it was mentioned that Muzammil had to confront the possibility of the Hawthorne Effect. However, further in the document it states that, "not all who contribute to the research data will necessarily be aware of the researcher's presence or the research objectives (457)." Therefore, it becomes unclear what Muzammil is searching for, however the people in the prison are aware of...

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