Kevin Lewis

April 08, 2015

Does Immigration Enforcement Reduce Crime? Evidence from Secure Communities

Thomas Miles & Adam Cox
Journal of Law and Economics, November 2014, Pages 937-973

Prior research investigates whether immigrants commit more crimes than native-born people. Yet the central policy used to regulate immigration — detention and deportation — has received little empirical evaluation. This article studies a recent policy innovation called Secure Communities. This program permits the federal government to check the immigration status of every person arrested by local police and to take the arrestee into federal custody promptly for deportation proceedings. Since its launch, the program has led to a quarter of a million detentions. We utilize the staggered rollout of the program across the country to obtain differences-in-differences estimates of its impact on crime rates. We also use unique counts of the detainees from each county and month to estimate the elasticity of crime with respect to confined immigrants. The results show that the Secure Communities program has had no observable effect on the overall crime rate.


Increased death rates of domestic violence victims from arresting vs. warning suspects in the Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment (MilDVE)

Lawrence Sherman & Heather Harris
Journal of Experimental Criminology, March 2015, Pages 1-20

Objectives: We explored death rates from all causes among victims of misdemeanor domestic violence 23 years after random assignment of their abusers to arrests vs. warnings.

Methods: We gathered state and national death data on all 1,125 victims (89 % female; 70 % African-American; mean age = 30) enrolled by Milwaukee Police in 1987–88, after 98 % treatment as randomly assigned.

Results: Victims were 64 % more likely to have died of all causes if their partners were arrested and jailed than if warned and allowed to remain at home (p = .037, 95 % CI = risk ratio of 1:1.024 to 1:2.628). Among the 791 African-American victims, arrest increased mortality by 98 % (p = .019); among 334 white victims, arrest increased mortality by only 9 % (95 % CI = RR of 1:0.489 to 1:2.428). The highest victim death rate across four significant differences found in all 22 moderator tests was within the group of 192 African-American victims who held jobs: 11 % died after partner arrests, but none after warnings (d = .8, p = .003). Murder of the victims caused only three of all 91 deaths; heart disease and other internal morbidity caused most victim deaths.

Conclusions: Partner arrests for domestic common assault apparently increased premature death for their victims, especially African-Americans. Victims who held jobs at the time of police response suffered the highest death rates, but only if they were African-American. Replications and detailed risk factor studies are needed to confirm these conclusions, which may support repeal or judicial invalidation of state-level mandatory arrest laws.


Viewer Ethnicity Matters: Black Crime in TV News and Its Impact on Decisions Regarding Public Policy

Ryan Hurley et al.
Journal of Social Issues, March 2015, Pages 155–170

Content analyses have consistently documented the disproportionate portrayal of Black Americans as criminals in the news. This experiment examines the impact of such portrayals on consumers by investigating the relationship between viewer ethnicity, viewing Black criminal suspects in the news, and beliefs related to public policy. Participants viewed a 30-minute local newscast containing crime stories featuring a majority of Black suspects, White suspects, or no crime stories. Those exposed to crime stories featuring a majority of Black suspects were more likely to rate a nondescript inmate as personally culpable (i.e., unable to be rehabilitated). An interaction between participant ethnicity and treatment condition revealed that ethnic minority group members who view a majority of Black criminals demonstrated significantly lower police support than other participants. These data suggest a complex relationship between exposure to Black crime, racial/ethnic-group membership, and crime-related perceptions and have implications for priming and spreading activation.


Per Se Drugged Driving Laws and Traffic Fatalities

Mark Anderson & Daniel Rees
International Review of Law and Economics, June 2015, Pages 122–134

In an effort to reduce drugged driving by 10 percent, the Office of National Drug Control Policy is encouraging all states to adopt per se drugged driving laws, which make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a controlled substance in the system. To date, 20 states have passed per se drugged driving laws, yet little is known about their effectiveness. Using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for the period 1990-2010, the current study examines the relationship between these laws and traffic fatalities, the leading cause of death among Americans ages 5 through 34. Our results provide no evidence that per se drugged driving laws reduce traffic fatalities.


The African-American Entrepreneur–Crime Drop Relationship: Growing African-American Business Ownership and Declining Youth Violence

Karen Parker
Urban Affairs Review, forthcoming

Although much of the urban violence literature focuses on the link between urban disadvantage and crime rates, in this article we explore the relationship between African-American entrepreneurship and rates of juvenile violence, net of the effects associated with labor market shifts and the concentration of disadvantage within these areas. That is, Black-owned businesses have increased considerably over time but have largely been neglected in the criminological literature. After generating two distinct measures of Black entrepreneurship, we test to see if Black-owned businesses were significant to the documented decline in juvenile violence in larger U.S. cities from 1990 to 2000. We find an inverse relationship between entrepreneurship and juvenile arrests involving violence across multiple cities in 1990 and 2000. Furthermore, when estimating a pooled cross-sectional time-series design, the growing presence of African-American businesses is a significant contributor to the change (decline) in Black youth violence during the period of the 1990 crime drop, while the rate of paid employees in Black firms remained unrelated to Black youth violence. In changing economic times, we discuss the importance of exploring ways to capture the presence of African-Americans in the urban economy.


Exploring the Effect of Exposure to Short-Term Solitary Confinement Among Violent Prison Inmates

Robert Morris
Journal of Quantitative Criminology, forthcoming

Objectives: This study tracked the behavior of male inmates housed in the general inmate populations of 70 different prison units from a large southern state. Each of the inmates studied engaged in violent misconduct at least once during the first 2 years of incarceration (n = 3,808). The goal of the study was to isolate the effect of exposure to short-term solitary confinement (SC) as a punishment for their initial act of violent behavior on the occurrence and timing of subsequent misconduct.

Methods: This study relied upon archival longitudinal data and employed a multilevel counterfactual research design (propensity score matching) that involved tests for group differences, event history analyses, and trajectory analyses.

Results: The results suggest that exposure to short-term solitary confinement as a punishment for an initial violence does not appear to play a role in increasing or decreasing the probability, timing, or development of future misconduct for this particular group on inmates.

Conclusions: Upon validation, these findings call for continued research and perhaps a dialog regarding the utility of solitary confinement policies under certain contexts. This unique study sets the stage for further research to more fully understand how solitary impacts post-exposure behavior.


Do execution moratoriums increase homicide? Re-examining evidence from Illinois

A. Ahrens, T.V. Kovandzic & L.M. Vieraitis B.
Applied Economics, forthcoming

This article revisits the event study by Cloninger and Marchesini (2006), who find that the declaration of the Illinois’ death penalty moratorium on 31 January 2000 had a homicide-promoting effect and resulted in 150 additional homicides over the period 2000–2003. We reassess the author’s identification strategy, which they refer to as ‘portfolio approach’ and which draws upon event studies in finance research. We argue that their methodology is not applicable in crime studies. Instead, we apply univariate time-series methods to test for a structural break at a known and unknown break date. We allow for unknown break points as the structural break might have occurred slightly earlier (criminals might have anticipated the moratorium) or later (due to persistence in criminal behaviour). In addition, we implement the synthetic control estimator which approximates the counterfactual homicide series by a weighted average of homicide outcomes in other US states. Based on various testing methods and two distinct data sets, we conclude that there is no empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that the Illinois’ execution moratorium significantly increased homicides.


Violent victimization, confluence of risks and the nature of criminal behavior: Testing main and interactive effects from Agnew’s extension of General Strain Theory

Graham Ousey, Pamela Wilcox & Christopher Schreck
Journal of Criminal Justice, March–April 2015, Pages 164–173

Purpose: Important facets of the association between violent crime victimization and criminal offending remain unsettled. Drawing on key aspects of General Strain Theory, this study examined whether violent crime victimization affects overall offending proclivity as well as the character—violent vs. nonviolent—of criminal behavior. Additionally, it tested a recent theory extension positing that larger effects of violent victimization will be found among individuals with a greater confluence of criminogenic risk factors.

Methods: Multi-level latent variable item-response models are used to examine data from a sample of nearly 3,000 tenth-grade students from thirty Kentucky counties.

Results: Quantitative analyses indicated that greater violent victimization was associated with both higher scores on a latent index of overall offending and with an elevated propensity for violent criminality in particular. Contrary to expectations, effects of violent victimization on overall offending and the propensity for violence were not higher for individuals with higher scores on a multidimensional risk index.

Conclusion: In support of General Strain Theory, violent victimization elevates the overall amount of criminal offending and increases odds that crimes involve violent rather than nonviolent behaviors. However, variations in the preceding effects across levels of criminogenic risk are not consistent with the theory.


Walking ATMs and the Immigration Spillover Effect: The Link Between Latino Immigration and Robbery Victimization

Raymond Barranco & Edward Shihadeh
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Media reports and prior research suggest that undocumented Latino migrants are disproportionately robbed because they rely on a cash-only economy and they are reluctant to report crimes to law-enforcement (the Walking ATM phenomenon). From this we generate two specific research questions. First, we probe for an immigration spillover effect – defined as increased native and documented Latino robbery victimization due to offenders’ inability to distinguish between the statuses of potential victims. Second, we examine the oft-repeated claim that Black robbers disproportionately target Latino victims. Using National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data from 282 counties, results show 1) support for an immigration spillover effect but, 2) no support for the claim that Latinos are disproportionately singled out by Black robbers. We discuss the implications of our findings.


The Effect of Community Traumatic Events on Student Achievement: Evidence from the Beltway Sniper Attacks

Seth Gershenson & Erdal Tekin
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Community traumatic events such as mass shootings, terrorist attacks, and natural or man-made disasters have the potential to disrupt student learning in numerous ways. For example, these events can reduce instructional time by causing teacher and student absences, school closures, and disturbances to usual classroom routines. Similarly, they might also disrupt home environments. This paper uses a quasi-experimental research design to identify the effects of the 2002 “Beltway Sniper” attacks on student achievement in Virginia’s public schools. In order to identify the causal impact of these events, the empirical analysis uses a difference-in-differences strategy that exploits geographic variation in schools’ proximity to the attacks. The main results indicate that the attacks significantly reduced school-level proficiency rates in schools within five miles of an attack. Evidence of a causal effect is most robust for third grade reading and third and fifth grade math proficiency, suggesting that the shootings caused a decline in school proficiency rates of about five to nine percentage points. Particularly concerning from an equity standpoint, these effects appear to be entirely driven by achievement declines in schools that serve higher proportions of racial minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Finally, results from supplementary analyses suggest that these deleterious effects faded out in subsequent years.


The Sliding Scale of Snitching: A Qualitative Examination of Snitching in Three Philadelphia Communities

Susan Clampet-Lundquist, Patrick Carr & Maria Kefalas
Sociological Forum, forthcoming

We conducted an in-depth interview study with 77 young men in three moderate to high-crime neighborhoods in Philadelphia to hear their stories about community violence and relations with police. In this article, we have analyzed how Latino, African-American, and white young men experience policing and how they discuss the guidelines around cooperation with the police and what they view as snitching. Contrary to popular perception, talking to the police is not always banned in poor or high-crime neighborhoods. Instead, the respondents present a variety of personal rules that they use to assess when cooperation is called for. We argue that the policing they experience within disadvantaged neighborhoods shapes their frame of legal cynicism, which in turn makes decisions not to cooperate with the police more likely.


The All-volunteer Force and Crime: The Effects of Military Participation on Offending Behavior

Jessica Craig & Nadine Connell
Armed Forces & Society, April 2015, Pages 329-351

Sampson and Laub’s age-graded theory of informal social control posits that social bonds created through marriage, military, and employment lead to a decrease of criminal behavior or desistance. Most research has focused primarily on the roles of marriage and employment in this process, ignoring the impact of military service on future offending behavior. However, recent US military involvement in the Middle East suggests that the effects of military experience on individuals should be reevaluated. Using data collected from a more recent sample of military-involved individuals, all of whom served in the All-volunteer Force, this study examines how participation in the military impacts offending and potential desistance. The results demonstrate that, overall, modern-day military involvement does not have the same protective effect on future offending as observed in World War II samples. Racial subgroup analyses, however, suggest that military involvement leads to a greater likelihood of desistance for minority service members.


Bobbies and Baseball Players: Evaluating Patrol Officer Productivity Using Sabermetrics

Luke Bonkiewicz
Police Quarterly, March 2015, Pages 55-78

Patrol officer productivity is an understudied topic in police research. Prior studies on productivity have primarily relied on rudimentary statistics, such as calls for service and arrests. A more advanced method for evaluating productivity should (a) account for the diverse activities of patrol officers, (b) weight different productivity outputs, (c) evaluate officers in terms of available minutes for self-initiated activities (productive time), and (d) offer agencies the flexibility to select, prioritize, and weight patrol activities most relevant to their jurisdictions. Borrowing from a baseball sabermetric called Value Over Replacement Player, we create and test an innovative statistic called Value Over Replacement Cop. This metric analyzes 12 patrol activities and generates a single number by which to quantify and evaluate a patrol officer’s productivity. Using data from a midsize U.S. Police Department (325 sworn officers), we find strong support for the validity of this new metric.


'Ain't No Rest for the Wicked': Population, Crime, and the 2013 Government Shutdown

Ricard Gil & Mario Macis
Johns Hopkins University Working Paper, February 2015

The vast majority of the empirical literature on crime has focused on the effects of "supply-side" shocks such as the severity of laws and enforcement. In this paper we analyze the effects of a large and unexpected "demand-side" shock: the drop in daytime population in Washington, DC caused by the government shutdown of October 1-16, 2013. We derive implications from a simple theoretical model where criminals choose effort and allocate it across different criminal activities. We test these implications using the city of Baltimore as the comparison group, and employing difference-in-differences methods. Consistent with the model's predictions (and inconsistent with alternative explanations), we find a 3% decline in crime in DC during the shutdown period, with the net effect resulting from a 9% decline during the day hours, and a 5% increase in crime during the evening and night hours, indicating reallocation of criminals' effort induced by the shutdown.


Adolescent Criminal Behavior, Population Heterogeneity, and Cumulative Disadvantage: Untangling the Relationship Between Adolescent Delinquency and Negative Outcomes in Emerging Adulthood

Matthew Makarios, Francis Cullen & Alex Piquero
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Developmentalists suggest that adolescent criminal involvement encourages later life failure in the social domains of education, welfare, and risky sexual activities. Although prior research supports a link between crime and later life failure, relatively little research has sought to explain why this relationship exists. This research attempts to understand why crime leads to negative social outcomes by testing hypotheses derived from the perspectives of population heterogeneity and cumulative disadvantage. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, the results reveal that net of control variables and measures of population heterogeneity, adolescent criminal behavior consistently predicts school failure, being on welfare, and risky sexual activities. The findings also suggest that after controlling for delinquency, adolescent arrest negatively affects these factors. Furthermore, stable criminal traits and adolescent delinquency interact when predicting measures of poor social adjustment in early adulthood.


Anarchy in the UK: Economic Deprivation, Social Disorganization, and Political Grievances in the London Riot of 2011

Juta Kawalerowicz & Michael Biggs
Social Forces, forthcoming

Thousands rioted in London in August 2011, with the police losing control of parts of the city for four days. This event was not an ethnic riot: participants were ethnically diverse and did not discriminate in choosing targets for looting or destruction. Whereas the sociological literature has focused on variation in rioting across cities, we examine variation within London by mapping the residential addresses of 1,620 rioters — who were subsequently arrested and charged — on to 25,022 neighborhoods. Our findings challenge the orthodoxy that rioting is not explained by deprivation or by disorganization. Rioters were most likely to come from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Rioters also tended to come from neighborhoods where ethnic fractionalization was high, and from areas with few charitable organizations. Political grievances also emerge as important. Rioters were more likely to come from boroughs where the police had previously been perceived as disrespectful.


Strangers, Acquaintances, and Victims: Victimization and Concern About Crime Among Women

Kevin Drakulich
Sociological Forum, March 2015, Pages 103–126

Women report greater concerns about the danger posed by strangers despite greater victimization by acquaintances. Using a survey of Seattle residents, this article investigates one understudied dimension of this seeming incongruity: the actual effect of victimization by a stranger or acquaintance on concerns about crime. The results suggest different patterns for different crimes: relationship to the offender does not matter for burglaries while acquaintance sexual assaults and stranger nonsexual assaults, respectively, hold the largest associations with concerns. Implications are discussed for research on fear of crime, acquaintance victimizations, and perceptions of neighborhoods.


The Short- and Long-Run Effects of Private Law Enforcement: Evidence from University Police

Paul Heaton et al.
RAND Working Paper, February 2015

Over a million people in the United States are employed in private security and law enforcement, yet very little is known about the effects of private police on crime. The current study examines the relationship between a privately-funded university police force and crime in a large U.S. city. Following an expansion of the jurisdictional boundary of the private police force, we see no short-term change in crime. However, using a geographic regression discontinuity approach, we find large impacts of private police on public safety, with violent crime in particular decreasing. These contradictory results appear to be a consequence of delayed effect of private police on crime.


On the Move: Incarceration, Race, and Residential Mobility

Cody Warner
Social Science Research, forthcoming

The present study examines the relationship between incarceration and post-prison residential mobility. In spite of recent research examining the residential context following incarceration, we know little about if or how incarceration affects individual patterns of residential mobility. This study starts to fill this gap in knowledge by drawing on nationally representative data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). I find that individuals with a history of incarceration are more likely to move after prison than they are before prison. This relationship holds even after accounting for various time-varying and time-stable sources of spuriousness, including other known correlates of mobility. Additional analyses suggest that this effect is strongest early in the reentry period, and that there exists important racial variation in the relationship between incarceration and mobility. These results imply that, while housing stability is an important feature of successful prisoner reentry, incarceration contributes to larger patterns of residential instability.


Mortgage Foreclosures and the Changing Mix of Crime in Micro-neighborhoods

Johanna Lacoe & Ingrid Gould Ellen
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Objectives: The main objectives of the study are to estimate the impact of mortgage foreclosures on the location of criminal activity within a blockface. Drawing on routine activity theory, disorder theory, and social disorganization theory, the study explores potential mechanisms that link foreclosures to crime.

Methods: To estimate the relationship between foreclosures and localized crime, we use detailed foreclosure and crime data at the blockface level in Chicago and a difference-in-difference estimation strategy.

Results: Overall, mortgage foreclosures increase crime on blockfaces. Foreclosures have a larger impact on crime that occurs inside residences than on crime in the street. The impact of foreclosures on crime location varies by crime type (violent, property, and public order crime).

Conclusions: The evidence supports the three main theoretical mechanisms that link foreclosure activity to local crime. The investigation of the relationship by crime location suggests that foreclosures change the relative attractiveness of indoor and outdoor locations for crime commission on the blockface.


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