Scary Places

Kevin Lewis

October 29, 2021

Police Violence Reduces Civilian Cooperation and Engagement with Law Enforcement
Desmond Ang et al.
Harvard Working Paper, September 2021

How do high-profile acts of police brutality affect public trust and cooperation with law enforcement? To investigate this question, we develop a new measure of civilian crime reporting that isolates changes in community engagement with police from underlying changes in crime: the ratio of police-related 911 calls to gunshots detected by ShotSpotter technology. Examining detailed data from eight major American cities, we show a sharp drop in both the call-to-shot ratio and 911 call volume immediately after the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Notably, reporting rates decreased significantly in both non-white and white neighborhoods across the country. These effects persist for several months, and we find little evidence that they were reversed by the conviction of Floyd's murderer. Together, the results illustrate how acts of police violence may destroy a key input into effective law enforcement and public safety: civilian engagement and reporting. 

Training for War: Academy Socialization and Warrior Policing
Samantha Simon
Social Problems, forthcoming

The role of the police in the United States is a topic of contentious debate. Central to this debate is a binary that constructs police officers as fulfilling either a protective, community-serving role, or an aggressive, crime-fighting role. The most recent iteration is reflected in the warrior-guardian construct, which conceptualizes officers as both initiators of, and defenders against, violence. This article examines how the warrior-guardian framework shapes police training, and highlights how this construct is itself gendered and racialized. I draw on one year of ethnographic field work at four police academies and 40 interviews with police officers and cadets to argue that police training is an organized effort to condition officers to conceptualize their relationship with the public as a war. Three components constitute this framing: (1) instructors construct an evil, unpredictable enemy; (2) cadets are taught to identify their enemy in gendered and racialized ways; and (3) cadets are encouraged to adopt a warrior mentality. I show that cadets are taught to view the world in a way that pits them against an enemy, pushes them to conceptualize their enemy as a man of color, and to think about violence as a moral necessity. 

"Addiction Doesn't Discriminate": Colorblind Racism in American Rehab
Sarah Whetstone
Social Problems, forthcoming

Drawing on ethnography and interviews with recovering men in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, this study explores how two dominant models of American rehab are racialized - coerced treatment theorizing addiction as criminal personality - and a more medicalized, voluntaristic model rooted in the brain disease paradigm. At the "carceral rehab" of "Arcadia House," staff assumed its majority court-mandated, poor men of color would arrive resistant to reforming their "lifestyle addictions," justifying treatment backed by (re)incarceration. In contrast, "Healing Bridges" offered its gentler, "medical-restorative rehab" to mostly white, middle-class patients whoescaped incarceration despite substantial participation in drug-related crime. While both programs mobilized the colorblind logic that "addiction doesn't discriminate," local disparities routed recovering men into vastly different treatments, disproportionately criminalizing the addictions of the Black poor. In a racialized binary operating across the field, Arcadia's clients of color were viewed as sicker and more out of control than Bridges' white patients. While Arcadia's clients required coercive state management, Bridges' patients were understood as already possessing the capacity for self-management - reinforcing staff's mission to empower the non-addict within. Distinctions between coerced and voluntary treatment were naturalized and mapped onto recovering men, reproducing race at the most intimate levels of self-making. 

Impulse Purchases, Gun Ownership, and Homicides: Evidence from a Firearm Demand Shock
Christoph Koenig & David Schindler
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Do firearm purchase delay laws reduce aggregate homicide levels? Using variation from a 6-month countrywide gun demand shock in 2012/2013, we show that U.S. states with legislation preventing immediate handgun purchases experienced smaller increases in handgun sales. Our findings indicate that this is likely driven by comparatively lower purchases among impulsive consumers. We then demonstrate that states with purchase delays also witnessed comparatively 2% lower homicide rates during the same period. Further evidence shows that lower handgun sales coincided primarily with fewer impulsive assaults and points towards reduced acts of domestic violence. 

Are gun ownership rates and regulations associated with firearm incidents in American schools? A forty-year analysis (1980-2019)
Daniel Hamlin
Journal of Criminal Justice, September-October 2021

Methods: Data were linked together from the School Shootings Database, State Firearm Law Database, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the US Census Bureau. State fixed effects and interrupted time series analyses were performed.

Results: State gun ownership rates declined between 1980 and 2019 while school firearm incidents generally ranged between 20 and 40 incidents before skyrocketing to 102 incidents in 2018 and 110 incidents in 2019. Findings were mixed on the relationship between state gun ownership rates and school firearm incidents and injured/killed victims. Additionally, child access prevention, minimum age requirements for gun purchases, and mandatory gun safety training laws exhibited weak and inconsistent relationships with school firearm incidents. 

Reducing Violence?: Examining the Impact of Gun Control Legislation in Massachusetts
Janice Iwama
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Over the last decade, high-profile mass shootings in the United States have brought gun policies back to the front of the public policy debate. While Americans remain divided on a number of gun policies, background checks have drawn bipartisan support. This study examines the impact of changes to background checks and licensing policies shortly after the passage of the 2014 Massachusetts gun legislation on violent crimes in counties from 2006 to 2016. Using fixed-effects negative binomial regression models, the findings show no immediate impact on violent crimes. While there is no statistically significant association between the passage of the gun legislation and most violent crimes, the models for robbery indicate a small increase in robberies while controlling for other variables. The findings are consistent with those in other studies and future studies should explore long-term effects following the passage of the legislation. 

Gentrification, Gun Violence, and Coordination Failure
Zachary Porreca
West Virginia University Working Paper, September 2021 

In this study, I demonstrate the causal linkage between gentrification and gun violence. I develop a theoretical model of competition in the unregulated illegal drug market, and draw the conclusion that violence in the market is, in part, caused by the officially unenforceable nature of territorial claims. Exogenous shocks, such as gentrification, keep viable territory in a state of constant flux, preventing sustained cooperation between these illegal actors. I then specify a two-way fixed effects differences-in-differences estimator to empirically test the model's prediction that the gentrification of one block will lead to increases in violence across the surrounding neighborhood. I find a robust result, that some 2,400 (8%) of Philadelphia's shootings over the decade of this study's window can be attributed to spillover effects from the gentrification of drug blocks. This effect is nearly ten times stronger when it is a high drug crime block that begins gentrifying. This study further contributes a new easily replicable empirical measurement of gentrification drawn primarily from property sales, along with building, zoning, and alteration permit issuance. This new measurement is able to capture gentrification at its finest and most realistic resolution: the individual block level. 

Metrics Management and Bureaucratic Accountability: Evidence from Policing
Laurel Eckhouse
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Bureaucracies increasingly use quantitative measures to monitor personnel behavior. I develop a model of the incentives created by metrics management, a bureaucratic accountability technique, using policing as a case to show that monitoring can lead public-interest motivated bureaucrats to focus on work not in the public interest. Second, I develop a new measure of data manipulation in crime statistics: although theory predicts the presence of manipulation, researchers observe only the altered data. I solve this using the fact that police departments can reclassify rapes (but not other violent crimes) as "unfounded," concluding the reported crime did not occur. Finally, I test the effects of metrics management in policing using a novel data set. CompStat is associated with at least 3,500 additional minor arrests per city-year, substantial data manipulation, and no decrease in serious crime. These results have implications for bureaucracies implementing metrics management, scholarship using administrative data, and legal implementation. 

Lifting the Bar: A Relationship-Orienting Intervention Reduces Recidivism Among Children Reentering School From Juvenile Detention
Gregory Walton et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

When children return to school from juvenile detention, they face a severe stigma. We developed a procedure to orient educators and students toward each other as positive relationship partners during this period. In Study 1, through a structured exercise, students reentering school powerfully articulated to an educator of their choosing their prosocial hopes for school as well as challenges they faced. In a preliminary field trial (N = 47), presenting this self-introduction to this educator in a one-page letter via a third-party requesting the educator's help reduced recidivism to juvenile detention through the next semester from 69% to 29%. In Study 2 (preregistered), the letter led experienced teachers (N = 349) to express greater commitment to, anticipate more success for, and feel more love and respect for a student beginning their reentry into school, potentially initiating a better trajectory. The results suggest how relationship-orienting procedures may sideline bias and make school more supportive for students facing stigma. 

Evaluating the 4th Circuit's decision to limit officer use of Tasers: A descriptive and time-series approach
Hunter Boehme, Allison Martin & Robert Kaminski
Police Practice and Research, forthcoming

In 2016, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Armstrong V. Village of Pinehurst that the use of conducted energy devices (CEDs) on resisting but non-violent and stationary defendants was unconstitutional. Because most empirical studies show that the adoption of CEDs led to reductions in suspect and officer injuries, there are concerns that placing greater restrictions on CED use may increase the risk of injuries. Officers may resort to alternative methods of force to gain citizen compliance, including hands-on tactics, batons, and firearms. Findings from an interrupted time-series analysis show significant reductions in CED uses and threats and increases in firearm threats. Interestingly, significant reductions in suspect injuries were also found. Other findings from a survey of large law enforcement agencies that fall within the Fourth Circuit's jurisdiction to assess the impact of the Court's decision on policy are presented. Policy implications and future research are discussed. 

Frequency of enforcement is more important than the severity of punishment in reducing violation behaviors
Kinneret Teodorescu et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 19 October 2021

External enforcement policies aimed to reduce violations differ on two key components: the probability of inspection and the severity of the punishment. Different lines of research offer different insights regarding the relative importance of each component. In four studies, students and Prolific crowdsourcing participants (Ntotal = 816) repeatedly faced temptations to commit violations under two enforcement policies. Controlling for expected value, we found that a policy combining a high probability of inspection with a low severity of fines (HILS) was more effective than an economically equivalent policy that combined a low probability of inspection with a high severity of fines (LIHS). The advantage of prioritizing inspection frequency over punishment severity (HILS over LIHS) was greater for participants who, in the absence of enforcement, started out with a higher violation rate. Consistent with studies of decisions from experience, frequent enforcement with small fines was more effective than rare severe fines even when we announced the severity of the fine in advance to boost deterrence. In addition, in line with the phenomenon of underweighting of rare events, the effect was stronger when the probability of inspection was rarer (as in most real-life inspection probabilities) and was eliminated under moderate inspection probabilities. We thus recommend that policymakers looking to effectively reduce recurring violations among noncriminal populations should consider increasing inspection rates rather than punishment severity. 

Impact of a Prison Therapeutic Diversion Unit on Mental and Behavioral Health Outcomes
Molly Remch et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, November 2021, Pages 619-627 

Incarcerated individuals with mental health disorders are disproportionally sent to restrictive housing (i.e., solitary confinement), which is known to have deleterious impacts on mental health. In response, North Carolina's prison system developed Therapeutic Diversion Units, treatment-oriented units for incarcerated individuals with high mental health needs who cycle in and out of restrictive housing. This analysis compares the impact of restrictive housing and Therapeutic Diversion Units on infractions, mental health, and self-harm among incarcerated individuals.

Data were 2016-2019 incarceration records from North Carolina prisons. Outcomes were rates of infractions, inpatient mental health admissions, and self-harm in restrictive housing and Therapeutic Diversion Units. Inverse probability of treatment weights was used to adjust for confounding, and Poisson regression with generalized estimating equations was used to estimate adjusted rate ratios. Analyses were conducted between January and December 2020.

The analytic sample was 3,480 people, of whom 463 enrolled in a Therapeutic Diversion Unit. Compared with Therapeutic Diversion Unit rates, the rate of infractions was 3 times as high in restrictive housing (adjusted rate ratio=2.99, 95% CI=2.31, 3.87), the inpatient mental health admissions rate was 3.5 times as high (adjusted rate ratio=3.57, 95% CI=1.97, 6.46), and the self-injury incident rate was 3.5 times as high (adjusted rate ratio=3.46, 95% CI=2.11, 5.69).


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