Crimes and misdemeanors

February 15, 2019

Family Matters? Voting Behavior in Households with Criminal Justice Contact
Ariel White
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Contact with the criminal legal system has been shown to reduce individuals’ political participation, but its effect on friends and family members is less clear. Do people who see loved ones arrested or incarcerated become mobilized to change the system, or do they withdraw from political life? I address this question using administrative data from one large county, identifying registered voters who live with someone facing misdemeanor charges. Court records and vote histories allow me to accurately measure proximate criminal justice exposure and voting for a broader sample of people than survey data would. Using case timing for arrests shortly before and shortly after the election allows me to avoid bias from omitted variables. I find evidence of a short-term demobilization effect for people who see household members convicted or jailed in the weeks before the election, but no evidence of a lasting turnout effect from these experiences.

PG-13 Rated Movie Violence and Societal Violence: Is There a Link?
Christopher Ferguson & Patrick Markey
Psychiatric Quarterly, forthcoming

Recent scholarship has suggested that the frequency of violence in PG-13 rated movies has increased in recent years. Although some scholars have expressed concern that such an increase may have public health implications, this has remained untested. In the current article, trends in PG-13 movie violence are tested against trends in violence in society, including both homicides and youth violence. Raw correlations suggest that PG-13 rated movie violence is inversely related to actual violence in society. However, controlling for autocorrelations suggests that the best interpretation is that PG-13 rated movie violence is unrelated to violence in society. Caution is advised for scholars to avoid implying that PG-13 rated movie violence may have a causal effect on crime in society.

Assessing the effects of body‐worn cameras on procedural justice in the Los Angeles Police Department
John McCluskey et al.
Criminology, forthcoming

In this article, we explore variations in procedural justice delivered in face‐to‐face encounters with citizens before and after the implementation of body‐worn cameras (BWCs). We draw on recent advances in the measurement of procedural justice using systematic social observation of police in field settings in the Los Angeles Police Department. Data collected on 555 police–citizen encounters are examined in bivariate and multivariate models exploring the primary hypothesis that BWCs affect procedural justice delivered by police directly and indirectly. Our results indicate that significant increases in procedural justice during police–citizen encounters were directly attributable to the effect of BWCs on police behavior as well as to the indirect effects on citizen disrespect and other variables. The implications for policy include explicit measurement and monitoring of procedural justice or elements such as officer discourtesy in departments adopting BWCs. Further research questions such as more detailed examination of citizens’ behavior changes under BWCs are also considered in the context of the findings.

The Dark Figure of Hate Crime Underreporting
Frank Pezzella, Matthew Fetzer & Tyler Keller
American Behavioral Scientist, forthcoming

Hate crimes are notoriously underestimated evident by significant differences reported between the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Between 2004 and 2012, an average of 269,000 victimizations were reported by the NCVS; simultaneously, UCR hate crime statistics reported an average of 8,770 incidents (FBI UCR Hate Crime Statistics, 2004-2012) implicating sizable hate crime underreporting. We present two hypotheses to explain the dark figure of hate crime reporting. First, we hypothesize that bias crime victims, relative to nonbias crime victims, are less likely to report their victimization to police. Second, we hypothesized that misperceptions of police legitimacy by groups with strained relations with police who are also at risk for hate victimization explain declinations to report. Using stepwise logistic regression, controlling in subsequent models with victim, offender, and situational factors previously found to increase nonbias crime victim reporting, we detected an increasingly stronger propensity for bias crime victims to not report their victimization. We also found that victim misperception of police legitimacy evident by the absence of confidence (29.2%) and victim decisions to report to different official (22.3%) largely explain underreporting. Implications for victim perceptions of police legitimacy and their ability to discharge procedural justice are discussed. Improved public relations with communities who sustain a strained relationship with police in conjunction with proactive, clear enforcement policies, and practices are suggested.

Dangerous weapons or dangerous people? The temporal associations between gun violence and mental health
Yu Lu & Jeff Temple
Preventive Medicine, April 2019, Pages 1-6

Despite the public, political, and media narrative that mental health is at the root of gun violence, evidence is lacking to infer a causal link. This study examines the temporal associations between gun violence (i.e., threatening someone with a gun and gun carrying) and mental health (i.e., anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, hostility, impulsivity, and borderline personality disorder) as well the cross-sectional associations with gun access and gun ownership in a group of emerging adults. Waves 6 (2015) and 8 (2017) data were used from a longitudinal study in Texas, US. Participants were 663 emerging adults (61.7% female) including 33.6% self-identified Hispanics, 26.0% white, 27.0% Black, and 13.4% other, with an average age of 22 years. Multivariate logistic regression indicated that, individuals who had gun access were 18.15 times and individuals with high hostility were 3.51 times more likely to have threatened someone with a gun, after controlling for demographic factors and prior mental health treatment. Individuals who had gun access were 4.74 times, individuals who reported gun ownership were 5.22 times, and individuals with high impulsivity were 1.91 times more likely to have carried a gun outside of their homes, after controlling for prior gun carrying, mental health treatment, and demographic factors. Counter to public beliefs, the majority of mental health symptoms examined were not related to gun violence. Instead, access to firearms was the primary culprit. The findings have important implications for gun control policy efforts.

Exploring the impact of 9398 demolitions on neighborhood-level crime in Detroit, Michigan
Matthew Larson et al.
Journal of Criminal Justice, January–February 2019, Pages 57-63

The intersection of neighborhood-level processes and crime has received a wealth of attention in the criminological literature over the last century. In line with this tradition, the current study focuses its attention to one of the more recent, and woefully under-explored, policy phenomena embraced by a growing number of cities throughout the United States: demolitions. From 2010 to 2014, the city of Detroit successfully completed a total of 9398 demolitions, making it the nation's leader in the demolitions experiment. Focusing specifically on crime at the block-group level, we examine the association between demolitions and changes in four crime types (i.e. total crime, violent crime, drug crime, and property crime) by calling upon a set of publicly available geo-spatial crime and demolition data. We find that demolitions have a statistically and substantively meaningful negative relationship with total crime, violent crime, and property crime in 2014, net of controls for prior crime and structural covariates. Supplemental analyses also indicate that reductions in crime from 2009 to 2014 were greatest among block-groups that experienced the greatest number of demolitions. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical and policy implications of demolitions as a potentially valuable crime reduction strategy.

Is Police Behavior Getting Worse? The Importance of Data Selection in Evaluating the Police
Aurelie Ouss & John Rappaport
University of Chicago Working Paper, January 2019

Public concern about harmful policing is surging. Governments are paying historic amounts for law enforcement liability. Has police behavior changed? Or is society responding differently? Traditional data sources struggle with this question. Common metrics such as lawsuits and payouts conflate the prevalence and severity of policing harms with the responses of legal actors such as lawyers, judges, and juries. We overcome this problem using a new data source: liability insurance claims. Our dataset contains 23 years of claims against roughly 350 law enforcement agencies that contract with a single insurer. We find that while lawsuits and payouts have trended upwards over the past decade, insurance claims have declined. We generate and test multiple explanatory hypotheses. We conclude that, in our sample, police behavior is not getting worse; rather, public responses to policing harms are intensifying. Data selection, our analysis shows, strongly influences results in policing research. 

The Impacts of Large-Scale License Plate Reader Deployment on Criminal Investigations
Christopher Koper & Cynthia Lum
Police Quarterly, February 2019

The use of automated license plate readers (LPRs) has spread rapidly among American police in recent decades. However, research on LPRs has been very limited and focused primarily on small-scale use of LPRs in patrol. This study expands the evidence base on LPRs by evaluating investigative use of a large-scale fixed LPR network in one populous city. Survival analysis methods were used to assess changes in the likelihood and timing of investigative case closures in this city following installation of a fixed network of nearly 100 LPRs. The analysis focused on auto theft, theft of vehicle parts, and robbery investigations, which account for most uses of LPRs by investigators. Case clearances for auto theft and robbery improved after the installation of the LPR network, particularly in places where LPRs were concentrated. However, these changes were not statistically significant in multivariate analyses, and patterns in the data suggest that other factors may have also contributed to higher clearances during the intervention period, particularly for auto theft cases. Results suggest that large-scale LPR deployment may have the potential to improve investigative outcomes for some serious crimes — particularly with more consistent use and better placement for investigations — but further assessment is needed. More generally, additional research is needed to determine the best uses of LPRs, the optimal scales and methods of LPR deployment, and the full range of costs and benefits associated with LPR use.

Assessing the Impact of Time Spent in Restrictive Housing Confinement on Subsequent Measures of Institutional Adjustment Among Men in Prison
Ryan Labrecque
Criminal Justice and Behavior, January 2019

Proponents of restrictive housing argue that its use is an effective deterrent of antisocial behavior, while its critics maintain that the setting causes serious psychological damage and increases noncompliance with institutional rules and expectations. Unfortunately, few studies exist that examine the influence of restrictive housing on behavioral outcomes. This investigation adds to this gap in knowledge by assessing the impact of time spent in restrictive housing confinement on subsequent measures of institutional adjustment among men in prison. Logistic regression analyses reveal no statistically significant relationships between the number of days spent in restrictive housing and subsequent measures of institutional misconduct, and uncover a small, but significant, negative relationship with subsequent placement in restrictive housing. The research and policy implications of these results are discussed.

A geospatial analysis between the sale prices of single-family properties and the presence of registered sex offenders in Jefferson County, Kentucky
John Navarro & Matt Ruther
Urban Studies, forthcoming

This study explores whether a relationship exists between sale prices and the presence of registered sex offenders in Jefferson County, Kentucky after accounting for observed and unobserved neighbourhood characteristics in accompaniment with property characteristics. The sale prices of single-family properties sold in 2015 were estimated as a function of the characteristics of the property, the housing and population characteristics of the neighbourhood, block group fixed effects and two separate measures of sex offender presence: a) the distance of the nearest registered sex offender to sold single-family properties; and b) the density of registered sex offenders within a half mile distance to sold single-family properties. Registered sex offender distance and density are associated with sale price when controlling for property characteristics and observed neighbourhood characteristics of the property, but these relationships cease to exist when unobserved neighbourhood characteristics are accounted for in the model.

More Is Not Always Better: The Case of Counterterrorism Security
Pritha Dev & Konrad Grabiszewski
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Can counterterrorism security be counterproductive? We argue that it can be when the at-risk population acts strategically. We model a two-stage game where the government first chooses the defensive security level for a public place. The second stage is a simultaneous-move game with terrorist choosing terror effort and members of the population deciding whether or not to attend the public place. Our key measure of the efficiency of the counterterrorism security is the expected number of casualties. Under very standard and general assumptions, we show that it is possible that more security leads to an increase in that number. This is because increasing security both discourages and encourages the terrorist. On the one hand, more security makes a successful terror attack less likely (discouragement). On the other hand, more security motivates more people to attend the public place which makes the attack more valuable to the terrorist (encouragement).

Social Stigma and Asset Value
Patrick Gourley
Southern Economic Journal, January 2019, Pages 919-938

Recent attempts by economists to identify and quantify the effect of social stigma on asset value have often been stymied by confounding mechanisms. I use the unique circumstances surrounding the 1999 Columbine Shooting to estimate the effect of social stigma on asset value. Using a difference‐in‐differences model with property fixed effects, I find the immediate effect of stigma from the Columbine Shooting is 5.7% of a property's value after one year. This implies a $13 million loss from property sales in the year 2000 alone. The results are robust to numerous specifications and synthetic control placebo tests. This suggests that social stigma plays a role in consumer preferences.

Do More Eyes on the Street Reduce Crime? Evidence from Chicago's Safe Passage Program
Daniel McMillen, Ignacio Sarmiento-Barbieri & Ruchi Singh
Journal of Urban Economics, March 2019, Pages 1-25

Chicago's Safe Passage program attempts to ensure the safety of student traveling to and from schools by placing civilian guards along specified routes. The program was launched during the 2009-2010 school year and was expanded to 140 schools by 2015-16. We use data from more than 10 years of geocoded Chicago police reports and school level data to analyze the Safe Passage program's effects on crime rates and the rate of absenteeism from schools. Our findings suggest that the program is an efficient and cost effective alternative way of policing with direct effects on crime and student's outcomes. Exploiting both spatial and temporal variation in the implementation of the program, we find that the presence of guards results in lower levels of crime, with violent crime declining by 14% on average. The rate of absenteeism is estimated to decline by 2.5 percentage points. We find no evidence of spillovers of crime to areas that are not along the Safe Passage routes.

Family Matters: Moving Beyond “If” Family Support Matters to “Why” Family Support Matters during Reentry from Prison
Thomas Mowen, Richard Stansfield & John Boman
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Method: Using four waves of data from the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative, we identified three separate factors of family support — interactional (e.g., providing guidance and support), instrumental (e.g., providing housing and transportation), and emotional (e.g., providing love and belongingness). A series of mixed-effects models examined how each form of family support related to reincarceration, substance use, and criminal offending.

Results: Findings demonstrated that instrumental, but not interactional or emotional, support related to significantly lower odds of reincarceration and lower levels of substance use and criminal offending. Interaction terms revealed that the effect of instrumental family support is almost entirely independent, and not interactive, on each outcome.

“Crime” on the Field
Carl Kitchens, Matthew Philip Makofske & Le Wang
Southern Economic Journal, January 2019, Pages 821-864

Does a greater police presence cause crime rates to decrease? To answer this question, we circumvent common simultaneity and reverse causality issues by exploiting an experiment from college football. In 2013, the Big XII added an eighth referee to conference games only. Unique features of this experiment allow us to identify the causal effects of increased “police force” (officiating crew) size on observed “crime” (penalty) rates, and to distinguish between alternative mechanisms behind those effects. Overall, we find that the increased police presence causes an increase in the observed crime rate. This increase is largest in teams' first treated games, suggesting a substantial detection effect. However, the penalty rate decreases sharply in teams' second treated games, suggesting a large general deterrent effect. Under mild assumptions, results suggest that the general deterrent effect is partly due to players learning to avoid detection, but that the learning process involves errors over time.

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