Findings

Suspect

Kevin Lewis

June 06, 2012

Ordeals

Peter Leeson
Journal of Law and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
I argue that medieval judicial ordeals accurately assigned accused criminals' guilt and innocence. They did this by leveraging a medieval superstition called iudicium Dei. According to that superstition, God condemned the guilty and exonerated the innocent through clergy conducted physical tests. Medieval citizens' belief in iudicium Dei created a separating equilibrium in which only innocent defendants were willing to undergo ordeals. Conditional on observing a defendant's willingness to do so, the administering priest knew he was innocent and manipulated the ordeal to find this. My theory explains the peculiar puzzle of ordeals: trials of fire and water that should've condemned most persons who underwent them did the reverse. They exonerated these persons instead. Boiling water rarely boiled persons who plunged their arms in it. Burning iron rarely burned persons who carried it. Ordeal outcomes were miraculous. But they were miracles of mechanism design.

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Catholic Schools and Broken Windows

Margaret Brinig & Nicole Stelle Garnett
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, June 2012, Pages 347-367

Abstract:
Our previous work has suggested that the closure of Catholic elementary schools generates disorder and suppresses social cohesion in urban neighborhoods - findings that support the conclusion that Catholic elementary schools create neighborhood social capital. We extend our inquiry here by asking if Catholic school closures might also affect crime rates. Using factors independent from neighborhood indicators, specifically school and parish leadership characteristics, we created an exogenous factor that predicted which Catholic schools might close in urban Chicago, and used that factor, with sociodemographic variables, to predict police-beat-level crime rates. We find that Catholic school closures slow the rate of decline of crime in a police beat compared to beats with no Catholic school closure. We also find that higher perceived disorder predicted higher initial levels of crime. Our findings provide insight into which policing policies are effective and the benefits of involving religious institutions in crime-prevention efforts. They also lend support to "school-choice" mechanisms, such as vouchers or tax credits, that would provide financial resources to students attending urban Catholic schools.

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Race and Gender Differences under Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Todd Sorensen, Supriya Sarnikar & Ronald Oaxaca
American Economic Review, May 2012, Pages 256-260

Abstract:
Using data from the United States Sentencing Commission, we examine how judicial biases may have influenced sentences during the era of the Federal criminal sentencing guidelines. Our utility maximization model of judicial sentencing preferences leads to a partially censored ordered probit model that accounts for mass points in the sentencing distribution that occur at the upper and lower guideline limits and at sentences involving no prison time. Our results indicate that racial- and gender-based discrepancies exist, even after controlling for circumstances such as the severity of the offense and past criminal history.

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The Influence of Forensic Evidence on the Case Outcomes of Assault and Robbery Incidents

Deborah Baskin & Ira Sommers
Criminal Justice Policy Review, June 2012, Pages 186-210

Abstract:
The study focused on the influence of forensic evidence on the case processing of assault and robbery incidents. The study utilized a prospective analysis of official record data that followed cases in five jurisdictions from the time of police incident report to final criminal disposition. The results indicated that forensic evidence was collected in less than a third of all robbery and assault cases. Forensic evidence did not impact case outcomes for either robbery or assault cases. Cases in which there is physical evidence are no more likely to reach conviction than those without such evidence. However, the availability of victim and/or witness accounts were found to predict movement through various stages of the criminal case process. Thus, locating and encouraging victims and witnesses to provide testimony appears to enhance case solvability. In addition, variables associated with the perceived seriousness of the offense impact case progression.

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Sentencing Convicted Juvenile Felony Offenders in the Adult Court: The Direct Effects of Race

Rebecca Howell & Tonya Spicer Hutto
Behavioral Sciences & the Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
While research indicates that Black and Hispanic adults sentenced in the criminal court tend to be rendered more severe punishments than their White counterparts, only one prior study has examined whether this finding holds for juveniles tried in the adult system. The findings from this sole study need replication, however, since the effects posed by trial type were not taken into account and it is likely that the results are confounded by measurement error resulting from overlap in criminal sentencing. The current study addressed these issues by assessing whether race has a direct impact on waived juveniles being criminally sentenced to restitution, probation, or jail. Data were derived from a secondary, cross-sectional national dataset on felony juvenile offenders convicted in the adult system. Three hypotheses were tested. After controlling for a number of important legal and extra-legal predictors of sentencing, race differences in sentencing outcomes were observed and the findings yielded partial support for the hypotheses. The implications of the research are noted.

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Latino Crime and Latinos in the Criminal Justice System: Trends, Policy Implications, and Future Research Initiatives

Jacob Stowell, Ramiro Martinez & Jeffrey Cancino
Race and Social Problems, April 2012, Pages 31-40

Abstract:
With exponential growth in the Latino population over the past decade, both social scientists and politicians have directed their attention toward understanding Latino behavior(s) ranging from purchasing power and marketing to voting. Less is known, however, about the extent to which Latino population growth might be associated with patterns of criminal justice or violent criminal outcomes. One objective of this research is to provide a contemporary overview of the Latino experiences with the criminal justice system by highlighting racial/ethnic disparities in incarceration and sentencing. Using racial-/ethnic-specific homicide victimization data provided by the Centers for Disease Control, we also examine the impact of Latino concentration on levels of group-specific homicide, both regionally and nationally. Results from our negative binomial multivariate analyses indicate that the concentration of Latinos tends to be associated with lower levels of homicide victimization, a finding that holds across racial/ethnic groups and geographic specification. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of these findings with an eye toward future research in this area.

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Less interest, less treatment: Mexican‐American youth and the Los Angeles Juvenile Court in the Great Depression era

Michael Schlossman
Punishment & Society, April 2012, Pages 193-216

Abstract:
This study uses case records from the Los Angeles Juvenile Court to examine how racial discrimination played out in juvenile justice before the decline of public confidence in rehabilitation in the 1960s and 1970s. Using qualitative and quantitative methodologies, I compare how Mexican‐American and white boys (ages 10-17) were treated by the juvenile court during the Great Depression era. I find that although Mexican‐American boys were more likely to be arrested and petitioned to court, they were less likely to receive out‐of‐family placements because court officials viewed these placements as beneficial and were less interested in rehabilitating minority than white youth. I compare these results with the current overrepresentation of minorities in institutional confinement and with contemporary studies that find that black youth are punished more severely than comparable whites. My research suggests that there have been major philosophical changes in how officials in the juvenile justice system view out‐of‐family placements, and that patterns of discrimination in juvenile justice depend upon how officials in courts and correctional institutions view the rehabilitative potential of their interventions.

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Media Coverage of Capital Murder: Exceptions Sustain the Rule

Jeffrey Lin & Scott Phillips
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholars have demonstrated that prominent media coverage of crime shapes the creation of public policies. More subtly, such coverage can also sustain existing policies. In this paper, we ask: which capital crimes captivate the media and thus sustain popular support for the death penalty? To answer the question, we examine newspaper coverage of capital murders that occurred in Harris County (Houston), Texas between 1992 and 1999. Our findings reveal that prominent media coverage presents a distorted reality in which brutal crimes tend to be committed by minority offenders against vulnerable, "worthy" victims. Thus, the public mandate for capital punishment is sustained by atypical crimes that conform to existing cultural templates about criminal threat and victimization.

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Sex Work and Infection: What's Law Enforcement Got to Do with It?

Paul Gertler & Manisha Shah
Journal of Law and Economics, November 2011, Pages 811-840

Abstract:
A number of countries are pursuing the regulation of sex work to decrease the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and to reduce the probability of a generalized human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome epidemic. We study the effects of enforcing licensing regulation laws on sex worker STI rates, using nationally representative sex worker data from Ecuador. We find that increasing enforcement in the street sector significantly decreases STIs. However, increasing enforcement in the brothel sector increases the probability of a sex worker ever being infected with any STI. Increasing enforcement in the street shifts some sex workers from the more risky street into the less risky brothels and increases street prices, reducing the overall number of street clients. As a result, overall infection rates decrease. In contrast, increasing enforcement in the brothel sector can exacerbate public health problems by inducing some unlicensed brothel sex workers into the riskier street sector.

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The implementation of county residence restrictions in New York

Kelly Socia
Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, May 2012, Pages 206-230

Abstract:
First implemented in 1995 at the state level and in 2005 at the county and local level, sex offender residence restrictions have become extremely popular throughout the United States. However, only a single state-level study has examined the types of jurisdictions most likely to implement these policies, and no research has examined their implementation at the county level. This study addresses this lack of research by examining the characteristics of counties implementing these policies in New York State over the course of 5 years using Logistic regression and linear probability models. In doing so, this study draws on the literatures relating to the implementation of crime policies and the diffusion of policy innovations. Results indicate that political competition is very influential in implementing a county residence restriction. Further, while geographic proximity to an existing residence restriction may have some influence, it appears to discourage rather than encourage the implementation of these policies in nearby counties. This finding undercuts contentions of a "domino effect" and instead supports the existence of a "polar effect," at least at the county level. Finally, the rate of sex crimes in a county is not related to the likelihood of implementing a residence restriction.

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Does a Rising Tide Lift All Boats? Labor Market Changes and Their Effects on the Recidivism of Released Prisoners

Daniel Mears, Xia Wang & William Bales
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The dramatic growth in incarceration nationally has increased attention to the factors that influence recidivism among ex-prisoners. Accordingly, scholars have called for research that identifies factors, such as employment opportunities, that may influence reentry experiences. Few studies, however, have examined how changes in labor market conditions affect ex-prisoner offending. Drawing on prior scholarship, this study examines the effect of such changes on the recidivism of ex-prisoners and, in particular, how the recidivism among blacks and whites may be differentially affected by changes in labor market conditions in the areas to which they return. The analyses indicate that, among black male ex-prisoners, labor market declines increase violent recidivism. They also indicate that, among white male ex-prisoners, the effects are more tenuous, influence only property recidivism, and are moderated by prior labor market conditions and criminal history. Implications of the study are discussed.

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Labeling and Cumulative Disadvantage: The Impact of Formal Police Intervention on Life Chances and Crime During Emerging Adulthood

Giza Lopes et al.
Crime & Delinquency, May 2012, Pages 456-488

Abstract:
Research in labeling theory has been revived recently, particularly in relation to the effect of labeling on critical noncriminal outcomes that potentially exacerbate involvement in crime. This study partakes in that revitalization by examining direct and indirect effects of police intervention in the lives of adolescents who were followed into their 30s. The authors find that early police intervention is indirectly related to drug use at the ages of 29 to 31, as well as unemployment and welfare receipt. Given that such effects were found some 15 years after the labeling event, on criminal and noncriminal outcomes, and after controlling for intraindividual factors, the authors conclude that the labeling perspective is still relevant within a developmental framework.

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Spread too thin: Analyzing the effectiveness of the Chicago camera network on crime

Rajiv Shah & Jeremy Braithwaite
Police Practice and Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The use of surveillance cameras is growing tremendously in the USA. In this paper, researchers evaluate two studies that analyzed the effectiveness of Chicago's camera network in reducing crime. Chicago has one of the largest urban surveillance networks, with over a 1000 cameras. The analysis found the initial crime level of an area where a camera was placed had a significant effect. In areas with high crime, cameras were very effective in reducing crime. In other areas, the cameras had little effect in reducing crime. This exploratory research suggests fewer cameras in crime hotspots are much more effective than a wide diffuse camera dragnet.

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An exploration of burglary in the criminal histories of sex offenders referred for civil commitment

Danielle Harris, Amelie Pedneault & Raymond Knight
Psychology, Crime & Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Commission of nonsexual crimes generally antedates officially recorded sexual offenses. In particular, burglary has been hypothesized to be a potential ‘stepping stone' in the development of one's sexual criminal career in the same way that marijuana has often been considered a ‘gateway drug' to more serious drug-related offenses. The present study examined the officially recorded criminal histories of 828 male sex offenders to determine the relevance of burglary in their criminal histories. One third of the men in the sample (n=281, 34%) had been charged at least once for burglary. These 281 men committed a total of 762 separate incidents of burglary. Offenders with at least one officially recorded charge for burglary (BSOs) were compared with those with no such charges (SOs). Next, the characteristics of each burglary were examined and four distinct types of burglary were identified: nonsexual, covertly sexual, overtly sexual, and combination burglary/rape. BSOs accrued twice as many charges as the SOs and were significantly more likely to have an earlier age of onset, a longer criminal career, more employment problems, elementary school problems, antisocial behavior, and substance abuse.

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The effect of line-up administrator blindness on the recording of eyewitness identification decisions

Dario Rodriguez & Melissa Berry
Legal and Criminological Psychology, forthcoming

Purpose: Line-up administrators' expectations have been shown to influence eyewitnesses' identification decisions. Expectations may also influence administrators' willingness to record witnesses' decisions as positive identifications.

Methods: Single- and double-blind participant administrators presented a line-up to a confederate witness, who identified either the suspect or a filler.

Results: A hierarchical log-linear analysis revealed an interaction effect of blindness and witness choice on participants' recording of the identification: Single-blind administrators were more likely to record the confederate's choice as a positive identification when the witness chose the suspect (vs. a filler), whereas double-blind administrators' records were not influenced by the witness's choice. An interaction between blindness and witness choice also emerged for participant administrators' witness evaluations. Single-blind administrators rated confederates who chose a filler as significantly less credible than those who chose a suspect; double-blind administrators' ratings were consistent across photo selection.

Conclusions: Blindness influenced line-up administrators' record of line-up outcomes. These results add to the growing body of research supporting the use of double-blind line-up administration.

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Narratives of Crime and Criminals: How Places Socially Construct the Crime Problem

Andrea Leverentz
Sociological Forum, June 2012, Pages 348-371

Abstract:
A common narrative about crime in the contemporary United States is that offenders are primarily young black men living in poor urban neighborhoods committing violent and drug-related crimes. There is also a local context to community, crime, and fear that influences this narrative. In this article, I address how narratives of crime and criminals play out differently within particular places. The article is based on participant observation and interviews conducted in two high-crime Boston-area communities. Although both communities are concerned with stereotypical offenders, there are differential community constructions of crime, formed through interactions between crime narratives and place identities. In one, crime is a community problem, in which both offenders and victims are community members. In the other, outsiders commit crime against community members. Media portrayals of crime and community, community race and class identities, and concerns over neighborhood change all contribute to place-specific framing of "the crime problem." These frames, in turn, shape both intergroup dynamics and support for criminal justice policy.

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Spatial Heterogeneity, Social Capital, and Rural Larceny and Burglary

Steven Deller & Melissa Deller
Rural Sociology, June 2012, Pages 225-253

Abstract:
We explore the role of social capital in explaining patterns of rural larceny and burglary crime rates. We find consistent evidence that higher levels of social capital tend to be associated with lower levels of rural property crime rates. We also find that there is significant spatial heterogeneity in the underlying data-generating process. This spatial heterogeneity suggests that relying on global estimates from classical statistical methods, such as least squares, may lead to erroneous policy recommendations at the local level. We suggest that some of the inconsistencies in the ecological empirical criminology literature might be explained by spatial heterogeneity.

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Why Are Criminals Less Educated than Non-Criminals? Evidence from a Cohort of Young Australian Twins

Dinand Webbink et al.
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many studies find a strong negative association between crime and education. This raises the question whether crime reduces investment in human capital or whether education reduces criminal activity. This article investigates posed question by using fixed-effect estimation on data of Australian twins. We find early arrests (before the age of 18) both to have a strong effect on human capital accumulation, as well as strong detrimental effects on adult crime. Schooling does not have an effect on adult crime if there is variation in early arrests. However, schooling reduces crime if there is little variation in early crime.

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Men's Vulnerability to Prisoner-on-Prisoner Sexual Violence: A State Correctional System Case Study

Merry Morash et al.
Prison Journal, June 2012, Pages 290-311

Abstract:
The one-state case study described in this article assesses imprisoned men's vulnerability to sexual assault by an inmate before policies were implemented to reduce sexual violence. The cases studied were substantiated in an internal hearing procedure. On average, victims were more recently incarcerated, younger, smaller, and less aggressive than their perpetrators, but many victim-perpetrator pairs deviated from this profile. The strongest predictor of victimization was a history of childhood sexual victimization. Other predictors were race, youth, build, education, and experience with incarceration.

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Police Use of Force and Officer Injuries: Comparing Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs) to Hands- and Weapon-Based Tactics

Eugene Paoline, William Terrill & Jason Ingram
Police Quarterly, June 2012, Pages 115-136

Abstract:
The widespread adoption of conducted energy devices (CEDs) across American police departments over the last decade has been mired in public controversy. It is generally accepted, from a police perspective, that CEDs are safer for officers who can use the weapon at a greater distance, avoiding much of the harm associated with close physical struggles with citizens. Research has generally supported the notion that aggregate levels of officer injuries are reduced following the implementation of CEDs. Unfortunately, multivariate examinations that, in varying degrees, have attempted to compare CED applications to other forms of force (while controlling for rival causal factors) have yet to produce the same consistent results as the pre- and post-CED adoption studies. The current research adds to recent multivariate inquiries by using data collected as part of a national multiagency use of force project to assess the independent effect of CEDs on officer injuries. Based on a series of multivariate models, our results generally find evidence of increased benefits (i.e., lower probability of officer injury) of CEDs when used by themselves. By contrast, in some instances when CEDs were used in combination with other forms of force, there was an increased probability of officer injury. The implications of these findings for police researchers and practitioners are considered.

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Evaluating the Minnesota Comprehensive Offender Reentry Plan (MCORP): Results from a Randomized Experiment

Grant Duwe
Justice Quarterly, May/June 2012, Pages 347-383

Abstract:
Using a randomized experimental design, this study evaluated the effectiveness of the Minnesota Comprehensive Offender Reentry Plan (MCORP), an offender reentry pilot project implemented in 2008. In an effort to reduce recidivism, MCORP attempted to increase offender access to community services and programming by producing greater case management collaboration between caseworkers in prison and supervision agents in the community. The results showed that MCORP significantly improved employment rates, decreased homelessness, broadened offenders' systems of social support, and increased the extent to which offenders participated in community support programming (mentoring, restorative justice services, and faith‐based programming). The findings further revealed that MCORP significantly reduced all three types of reoffending (rearrest, reconviction, and new offense reincarcerations) but did not have a significant impact on supervision revocations for technical violations. The evidence suggests that MCORP was effective in decreasing reoffending largely because it increased the extent to which offenders were employed, involved in community support programming, and able to develop systems of social support.

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Patterns of Near-Repeat Gun Assaults in Houston

William Wells, Ling Wu & Xinyue Ye
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, May 2012, Pages 186-212

Abstract:
The study assesses the extent to which gun assaults are clustered in space and time using crime data from Houston, Texas. The analysis examines patterns of gun assaults at the city-level as well as more localized levels in order to understand the spatial distribution of near-repeats within the city. Consistent with prior research, the city-level analysis shows significant and meaningful near-repeat patterns. The localized analysis indicates that the risk of near-repeats is not evenly distributed across space within the city, but is concentrated among a small portion of incidents and four relatively small spatial clusters. In addition, an examination of crime types, locations, and gang involvement shows slight differences between gun assaults with and without near-repeat follow-up shootings.

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Correlates of Foot Pursuit Injuries in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Robert Kaminski et al.
Police Quarterly, June 2012, Pages 177-196

Abstract:
Police foot pursuits have come under increased scrutiny in recent years because of concerns of officer-involved shootings and fatalities associated with this tactical response. Consequently, there have been calls for police administrators to place strict limits on officer discretion to engage in foot pursuits. Such limits may be premature, however, given limited empirical evidence regarding the hazards of foot pursuits. To help inform this debate, this study analyzed foot-pursuit injuries using data provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The findings indicate that in the vast majority of pursuits, deputies and suspects were uninjured or sustained only minor injuries. In this regard, they do not appear to be any more hazardous than resistive encounters generally. However, that suspects were injured in 60% of foot pursuits and that the use of conducted energy devices by deputies was associated with an increased odds of suspect injury suggest the dynamics of foot pursuits may be different.

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The Effects of Hot Spots Policing on Crime: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Anthony Braga, Andrew Papachristos & David Hureau
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
In recent years, crime scholars and practitioners have pointed to the potential benefits of focusing police crime prevention efforts on crime places. Research suggests that there is significant clustering of crime in small places or "hot spots." A number of researchers have argued that crime problems can be reduced more efficiently if police officers focused their attention to these deviant places. In this article, we update and improve upon a previously completed Campbell Collaboration systematic review of the effects of hot spots policing and crime. Meta-analyses were used to determine the size, direction, and statistical significance of the overall impact of hot spots policing strategies on crime. The results of our research suggests that hot spots policing generates small but noteworthy crime reductions, and these crime control benefits diffuse into areas immediately surrounding targeted crime hot spots. Our analyses find that problem-oriented policing interventions generate larger mean effect sizes when compared to interventions that simply increase levels of traditional police actions in crime hot spots. We also find that only a small number of studies examine the impacts of hot spots policing on police-community relations. The extant research on this topic, however, suggests that community members have positive reactions to these focused policing actions.


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