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Thursday, February 21, 2013

On the run

 

Does Imprisonment Alter the Life Course? Evidence on Crime and Employment from a Natural Experiment

Charles Loeffler
Criminology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Ex-prisoners consistently manifest high rates of criminal recidivism and unemployment. Existing explanations for these poor outcomes emphasize the stigmatizing effects of imprisonment on prisoners seeking postrelease employment as well as the deleterious effects of imprisonment on prisoners' attitudes and capabilities. However, these explanations must be distinguished from selection effects in the criminal sentencing process, which also could explain some or all of these poor outcomes. To distinguish between criminogenic and selection explanations for ex-prisoners' postrelease experience, I analyze data from a natural experiment in which criminal cases were assigned randomly to judges with sizable sentencing disparities. Using these exogenous sentencing disparities, I produce unbiased estimates of the causal effects of imprisonment on the life course. The results of this analysis suggest that selection effects could be sufficiently large to account for prisoners' poor postrelease outcomes because judges with large sentencing disparities in their use of imprisonment had similarly high caseload unemployment and criminal recidivism rates.

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Understanding Police and Expert Performance: When Training Attenuates (vs. Exacerbates) Stereotypic Bias in the Decision to Shoot

Jessica Sim, Joshua Correll & Melody Sadler
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 2013, Pages 291-304

Abstract:
In three studies, we examined how training may attenuate (or exacerbate) racial bias in the decision to shoot. In Experiment 1, when novices read a newspaper article about Black criminals, they showed pronounced racial bias in a first-person-shooter task (FPST); when they read about White criminals, bias was eliminated. Experts (who practiced the FPST) and police officers were unaffected by the same stereotype-accessibility manipulation. However, when training itself (base rates of armed vs. unarmed targets in the FPST, Experiment 2a; or special unit officers who routinely deal with minority gang members, Experiment 2b) reinforced the association between Blacks and danger, training did not attenuate bias. When race is unrelated to the presence/absence of a weapon, training may eliminate bias as participants learn to focus on diagnostic object information (gun vs. no gun). But when training actually promotes the utility of racial cues, it may sustain the heuristic use of stereotypes.

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Deterring domestic violence: Do criminal sanctions reduce repeat offenses?

Frank Sloan et al.
Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, February 2013, Pages 51-80

Abstract:
This study presents an empirical analysis of domestic violence case resolution in North Carolina for the years 2004 to 2010. The key hypothesis is that penalties at the level set for domestic violence crimes reduce recidivism (re-arrest on domestic violence charges or conviction in 2 years following an index arrest). We use state court data for all domestic violence-related arrests. Decisions to commit an act of domestic violence are based on a Bayesian process of updating subjective beliefs. Individuals have prior beliefs about penalties for domestic violence based on actual practice in their areas. An individual's experience with an index arrest leads to belief updating. To address endogeneity of case outcomes, we use an instrumental variables strategy based on decisions of prosecutors and judges assigned to each index arrest in our sample. Contrary to our hypothesis, we find that penalities, at least as set at the current levels, do not deter future arrests and convictions.

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Studying New York City's Crime Decline: Methodological Issues

David Greenberg
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Methodological issues that must be considered in doing research on the New York City crime drop include the choice of a spatial unit of analysis, the choice of a mathematical representation of the processes responsible for the drop, and the choice of estimators. This paper considers the strengths and weaknesses of a time series analysis of data for New York alone, a panel analysis for the city's precincts, and a panel analysis for a sample of cities, for studying the drop. The possibilities and limitations of precinct-level data are illustrated with annual precinct data for New York between 1988 and 2001. The paper considers static and dynamic fixed effects panel models estimated in various ways, including difference and systems generalized method of moments. These analyses find no evidence that misdemeanor arrests reduced levels of homicide, robbery, or aggravated assaults. Felony arrests reduced robberies, but only to a modest degree. Most of the decline in these three felonies had other causes.

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Alcohol Consumption, Deterrence and Crime in New York City

Hope Corman & Naci Mocan
NBER Working Paper, January 2013

Abstract:
This paper investigates the relationship between alcohol consumption, deterrence, and crime for New York City. We examine high-frequency time-series data from 1983 to 2001 for one specific location to examine the impacts of variations in both alcohol consumption and deterrence on seven "index" crimes. We tackle the endogeneity of arrests and the police force by exploiting the temporal independence of crime and deterrence in these high-frequency data, and we address the endogeneity of alcohol by using instrumental variables where alcohol sales are instrumented with city and state alcohol taxes and minimum drinking age. We find that alcohol consumption is positively related to assault, rape, and larceny crimes but not murder, robbery, burglary, or motor vehicle theft. We find strong deterrence for all crimes except assault and rape. Generally, deterrence effects are stronger than alcohol effects.

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Incurable Sex Offenders, Lousy Judges & The Media: Moral Panic Sustenance in the Age of New Media

Kathryn Fox
American Journal of Criminal Justice, March 2013, Pages 160-181

Abstract:
There is consensus that since the 1990s, we have experienced a spike in public concern over sexual offenders. Analyzing this concern as a moral panic, this paper argues that national television coverage, as it picks up local news, adds heat to the fire by re-naming the villain as an inadequate judicial system. This process helps to sustain a moral panic, while narrowing the available discourse about the nature of appropriate punishment. Drawing upon a well-publicized example of a media event in Vermont, this paper extends the theory of moral panics to add another stage to the process - a stage presented by the advent of cable news programming, the relationship between local and national media, and the explosion of blogs. In order for a panic to sustain over an extended time period, the rhetoric about it must transform. In particular, the claimsmaking about the nature of the problem must evolve. In particular, the panic has evolved from sex offenders as folk devils to an attack on judicial discretion. The development of the outcry over judicial discretion was due, in part, to media distortion of the case. I will thus trace the trajectory of this one case to demonstrate the role of the media in shaping and sustaining the panic.

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The Organizational Dynamics of Far-Right Hate Groups in the United States: Comparing Violent to Nonviolent Organizations

Steven Chermak, Joshua Freilich & Michael Suttmoeller
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, March 2013, Pages 193-218

Abstract:
Few studies have explored the factors that distinguish violent from nonviolent far-right hate groups. We examine four categories of factors on hate groups: (1) Organizational capacity, (2) Organizational constituency, (3) Strategic connectivity, and (4) Structural arrangements. Age and size, groups in conflict, groups led by charismatic leaders, groups that advocated for leaderless resistance tactics, and region increased a group's propensity to commit violence. Groups that published ideological literature were significantly less likely to be violent. By identifying factors that distinguish violent from nonviolent groups, this study helps us better understand characteristics of violent far-right hate groups in the United States.

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The Effect of Police on Crime: New Evidence from U.S. Cities, 1960-2010

Aaron Chalfin & Justin McCrary
NBER Working Paper, February 2013

Abstract:
We argue that the key impediment to accurate measurement of the effect of police on crime is not necessarily simultaneity bias, but bias due to mismeasurement of police. Using a new panel data set on crime in medium to large U.S. cities over 1960- 2010, we obtain measurement error corrected estimates of the police elasticity of the cost-weighted sum of crimes of roughly -0.5. The estimates confirm a controversial finding from the previous literature that police reduce violent crime more so than property crime.

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Long term impact of youth sports participation on illegal behavior

Blake Davis & Scott Menard
Social Science Journal, March 2013, Pages 34-44

Abstract:
Previous research into the relationship between sports and illegal behavior has left it unclear whether sports participation acts as a preventative measure or a risk factor for illegal behavior. The present study examines the relationship between sports involvement and illegal behavior, in both the long and the short-term, in a national sample, using propensity score matching and negative binomial regression to examine the short and long-term impacts of youth sports participation and adult illegal behavior. The results suggest that in general, sports participation has very little if any direct impact on illegal behavior, but participation specifically in contact sports, either alone or in combination with participation in noncontact sports, is associated with reduced frequency of some illegal behaviors. Implications for policy and future research are considered.

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Dangerous Safe Havens: Institutional Betrayal Exacerbates Sexual Trauma

Carly Parnitzke Smith & Jennifer Freyd
Journal of Traumatic Stress, February 2013, Pages 119-124

Abstract:
Research has documented the profound negative impact of betrayal within experiences of interpersonal trauma such as sexual assault (Freyd, 1994, 1996; Freyd, DePrince, & Gleaves, 2007). In the current study of college women (N = 345, 79% Caucasian; mean age = 19.69 years, SD = 2.55), we examined whether institutional failure to prevent sexual assault or respond supportively when it occurs may similarly exacerbate posttraumatic symptomatology - what we call "institutional betrayal." Almost half (47%) of the women reported at least one coercive sexual experience and another 21% reported no coercion, but at least one unwanted sexual experience (total reporting unwanted sexual experiences, N = 233). Institutional betrayal (e.g., creating an environment where these experiences seemed more likely, making it difficult to report these experiences) was reported across different unwanted sexual experiences (47% and 45% of women reporting coercion and no coercion, respectively). Those women who reported institutional betrayal surrounding their unwanted sexual experience reported increased levels of anxiety (R2 = .10), trauma-specific sexual symptoms (R2 = .17), dissociation (R2 = .11), and problematic sexual functioning (R2 = .12). These results suggest that institutions have the power to cause additional harm to assault survivors.

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Sentencing Riot-Related Offending: Where Do the Public Stand?

Julian Roberts & Mike Hough
British Journal of Criminology, March 2013, Pages 234-256

Abstract:
This article examines public attitudes to the sentencing offences associated with the rioting which took place in England in August 2011. Findings are based on a nationally representative survey of adults. The study uses a randomized split-sample experimental design to compare sentencing preferences for actual offences committed during the riots with preferences for similar offences committed under normal circumstances. The riot sub-sample generally ‘sentenced' more severely than the non-riot sub-sample, but much less severely than the courts. The majority also thought that a non-custodial sentence with a reparative element was an acceptable alternative to custody. These trends suggest an unusual divergence of perspectives between the community and the courts: although the public are generally critical of the courts for leniency, with respect to non-violent offending during the riots, the latter appear more punitive.

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An Empirical Examination of Retired Police Officers' Length of Retirement and Age at Death: A Research Note

Steven Brandl & Brad Smith
Police Quarterly, March 2013, Pages 113-123

Abstract:
The purpose of this research note was to compare Detroit police officers with other City of Detroit employees in terms of the length of their retirements and the age at which they die. Data on retired and deceased police officers and other city employees were obtained from the City of Detroit (N = 7,325). Ordinary least squares regression equations were estimated using age at death and length of retirement as dependent variables. The results show that retired officers die significantly younger than other retired city employees and that officers have significantly shorter retirements prior to death than other city employees. Given the limitations of the data analyzed here, the reasons for the differences among retired police officers and other retired workers with regard to mortality largely remain speculative. However, the findings suggest that additional attention to health concerns and issues among current and retired officers may be warranted in policy as well as in research.

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Status-Seeking in Criminal Subcultures and the Double Dividend of Zero-Tolerance

Robert Dur & Joël Van Der Weele
Journal of Public Economic Theory, February 2013, Pages 77-93

Abstract:
This paper offers a new argument for why a more aggressive enforcement of minor offenses (zero-tolerance) may yield a double dividend in that it reduces both minor offenses and more severe crime. We develop a model of criminal subcultures in which people gain social status among their peers for being "tough" by committing criminal acts. As zero-tolerance keeps relatively "gutless" people from committing a minor offense, the signaling value of that action increases, which makes it attractive for some people who would otherwise commit more severe crime. If social status is sufficiently important in criminal subcultures, zero-tolerance reduces crime across the board.

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The Familial Concentration and Transmission of Crime

Kevin Beaver
Criminal Justice and Behavior, February 2013, Pages 139-155

Abstract:
Research has revealed that crime tends to concentrate in families and that it also tends to be transmitted across generational lines. The current study expanded on this line of research by examining the familial concentration and transmission of crime in a sample of sibling pairs. Analysis of data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) revealed that 5% of all families accounted for more than 50% of all criminal arrests. Additional analyses revealed between-sibling similarity and intergenerational transmission in being arrested, being sentenced to probation, being incarcerated, and being arrested multiple times. Structural equation models (SEMs) were also estimated to examine the mechanisms that might account for the familial concentration and transmission of crime. These SEMs provided evidence indicating that the concentration and transmission of crime was due, in part, to genetic factors as well as mating patterns.

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Are Academics Messy? Testing the Broken Windows Theory with a Field Experiment in the Work Environment

Joao Ramos & Benno Torgler
Review of Law & Economics, December 2012, Pages 563-577

Abstract:
We test the broken windows theory using a field experiment in a shared area of an academic workplace (the department common room). More specifically, we explore academics' and postgraduate students' behavior under an order condition (a clean environment) and a disorder condition (a messy environment). We find strong evidence that signs of disorderly behavior trigger littering: In 59% of the cases, subjects litter in the disorder treatment as compared to 18% in the order condition. These results remain robust in a multivariate analysis even when controlling for a large set of factors not directly examined by previous studies. Overall, when academic staff and postgraduate students observe that others have violated the social norm of keeping the common room clean, all else being equal, the probability of littering increases by around 40%.

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The Elusive Relationship between Community Organizations and Crime: An Assessment across Disadvantaged Areas of the South Bronx

Lee Ann Slocum et al.
Criminology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several theoretical perspectives posit a negative association between the extent of a neighborhood's organizational infrastructure and crime; yet, empirical support for this proposition has been limited in that researchers generally examine only a few types of organizations or combine them into one aggregate measure. Studies with few measures may omit organizations that are effective at reducing crime, whereas those using aggregate measures obscure differences across organizations in their ability to control crime. Using data from 74 block groups in the South Bronx, NY, this research seeks to specify more clearly the relationship between organizations and crime in a disadvantaged urban environment. We examine the relationship among nine different types of organizations and violent and property crime controlling for prior crime, land use, and area sociodemographic characteristics. Consistent with theories that highlight the importance of organizations for establishing ties outside the neighborhood, we find that block groups with more organizations that bridge to the larger community experience a decrease in crime. Property crime also is reduced in block groups with more organizations that promote the well-being of families and children. We find that schools are associated with an increase in property crime, whereas the effects of other organizations are context specific and vary based on neighborhood racial composition, commercial land use, and disadvantage.

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Removing Release Impediments and Reducing Correctional Costs: Evaluation of Washington State's Housing Voucher Program

Zachary Hamilton, Alex Kigerl & Zachary Hays
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Homelessness is a persistent problem facing offenders returning to the community from prison. Many offenders were homeless prior to incarceration, and often return to homelessness after release. Additionally, the costs of incarceration have led policy-makers to consider large-scale alternatives to rapidly and effectively reduce correctional costs. The Washington State Department of Corrections' Housing Voucher Program (HVP) is a reentry program that seeks to divert offenders from homelessness by paying for returning offenders' rent expenses in private housing for up to three months following their release. The current study provides an impact evaluation and cost assessment of HVP. Findings demonstrate support for the program and indicate dramatic reductions in associated correctional costs.

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An urbanization bomb? Population growth and social disorder in cities

Halvard Buhaug & Henrik Urdal
Global Environmental Change, February 2013, Pages 1-10

Abstract:
For the first time in history, the majority of the world population now lives in cities. Global urbanization will continue at high speed; the world's urban population is projected to increase by more than 3 billion people between 2010 and 2050. Some of this increase will be the result of high urban fertility rates and reclassification of rural land into urban areas, but a significant portion of future urbanization will be caused by rural-to-urban migration. This migration is expected to be particularly prevalent in countries and regions most affected by the changing climate. While urban populations generally enjoy a higher quality of life, many cities in the developing world have large slums with populations that are largely excluded from access to resources, jobs, and public services. In the environmental security literature, great rural resource scarcity, causing rural to urban migration, is seen as an important source of violent conflict. This study investigates how population growth affects patterns of public unrest in urban centers within the context of crucial intervening factors like democracy, poverty, economic shocks. It utilizes a newly collected event dataset of urban social disturbance covering 55 major cities in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa since 1960. The empirical analysis provides little support for the notion that high and increasing urban population pressure leads to a higher risk or frequency of social disorder. Instead, we find that urban disorder is primarily associated with a lack of consistent political institutions, economic shocks, and ongoing civil conflict.

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An Incident-Level Profile of TASER Device Deployments in Arrest-Related Deaths

Michael White et al.
Police Quarterly, March 2013, Pages 85-112

Abstract:
While a considerable body of research has investigated the physiological risks associated with the TASER device, much less research attention has been devoted to examining the nearly 400 police-citizen encounters in which a suspect has died after the device was used. As a result, there are numerous unanswered questions regarding officer, suspect, and incident-level characteristics of these arrest-related deaths (ARDs), as well as the extent to which patterns in these characteristics may have changed over time. The current study seeks to inform the discourse surrounding these death cases through a descriptive analysis of the near-universe of ARDs involving a TASER device deployment from 2001-2008 (n = 392). Using a unique data triangulation methodology that captures both media (n = 392) and medical examiner reports (n = 213), the authors characterize the geographic distribution of ARDs and find parallels between that distribution, state population, the number of officers per state, crime levels per state, and TASER device sales patterns. Also, an incident-level analysis shows that these ARDs were dynamic encounters between suspects who were frequently intoxicated and who actively and aggressively resisted police, and officers who were drawing deeply into their arsenal of force options in an attempt to control and arrest them. Cause of death was most commonly identified as drugs, heart problems, or Excited Delirium Syndrome. Last, longitudinal analysis showed consistency in most incident, suspect and officer characteristics, though key aspects of suspect resistance, including level of aggression and persistence after TASER device exposure, changed notably over time. The article concludes with a discussion of implications for policy and practice with regard to these rare but fatal police-citizen encounters.

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Juvenile Justice Contact of Youth in Systems of Care: Comparison Study Results

Shelley Keith Matthews et al.
Criminal Justice Policy Review, March 2013, Pages 143-165

Abstract:
Youth with serious emotional disturbance involved in juvenile justice systems have complex needs that often are best addressed through collaborative systems that coordinate the efforts of individual agencies. This study examines the effectiveness of a system-of-care-grant-funded community in Birmingham, AL compared to a matched comparison community in Montgomery, AL in reducing youth contact with the juvenile justice system. Logistic regression results demonstrate greater reductions in the likelihood of juvenile justice involvement among youth served in systems of care over time compared to those served in a services-as-usual environment. These findings show the benefits of the incorporation of system-of-care principles for youth with a multitude of needs.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM