Kevin Lewis

January 08, 2016

The Use of Lethal Force by Canadian Police Officers: Assessing the Influence of Female Police Officers and Minority Threat Explanations on Police Shootings Across Large Cities

Jason Carmichael & Stephanie Kent
American Journal of Criminal Justice, December 2015, Pages 703-721

This study examines the applicability of several theoretically derived accounts used to explain the variations in police killings across 39 of Canada’s largest cities over a 15-year period. Pooled time-series negative binomial regression results are consistent with the ethnic threat hypothesis by indicating that lethal police action is associated with the size of the ethnic minority population in each city. Political accounts are supported as non-linear specifications suggest that once ethnic minorities reach a numerical majority in our sample of cities there is a decline in police killings. Findings also support expectations that greater female representation within policing will reduce the use of lethal force by changing the overall culture of the department. Theoretical implications of our findings are discussed.


Race, Crime, and the Micro-Ecology of Deadly Force

David Klinger et al.
Criminology & Public Policy, forthcoming

Limitations in data and research on the use of firearms by police officers in the United States preclude sound understanding of the determinants of deadly force in police work. The current study addresses these limitations with detailed case attributes and a microspatial analysis of police shootings in St. Louis, MO, between 2003 and 2012. The results indicate that neither the racial composition of neighborhoods nor their level of economic disadvantage directly increase the frequency of police shootings, whereas levels of violent crime do — but only to a point. Police shootings are less frequent in areas with the highest levels of criminal violence than in those with midlevels of violence. We offer a provisional interpretation of these results and call for replications in other settings.


Valuing Proactive Policing: A Hedonic Analysis of Stop & Frisk's Amenity Value

Matthew Friedman
NYU Working Paper, August 2015

This paper measures the value households place on street-level intensive policing practices. It utilizes a large, spatially detailed data set that includes more than one hundred thousand real property sales and four million police-citizen encounters in New York City from 2006-2012. A hedonic analysis of this data shows that the New York Police Department's practice of Stop, Question & Frisk policing was likely seen as a neighborhood dis-amenity by home buyers. Using finely partitioned geographical areas to control for variation in omitted variables and precise spatial statistics describing location relative to surrounding amenities and dis-amenities, I find that properties exposed to more intense Stop & Frisk activity sold for significantly lower prices. In a novel application, this paper shows one way in which housing prices can be used to inform administrative policy related to the provision of public services.


Keep the Kids Inside? Juvenile Curfews and Urban Gun Violence

Jillian Carr & Jennifer Doleac
University of Virginia Working Paper, December 2015

Gun violence is an important problem across the United States. However, the impact of government policies on the frequency and location of gunfire has been difficult to test due to limited data. The data that do exist suffer from broad and non-random underreporting. This paper uses a new, more accurate source of data on gunfire incidents to measure the effects of juvenile curfews in Washington, DC. Juvenile curfews are a common, but extremely controversial, policy used in cities across the United States. Their goal is to reduce violent crime by keeping would-be offenders and victims indoors, but removing bystanders and witnesses from the streets could reduce their deterrent effect on street crime. The net effect on public safety is therefore ambiguous. We use exogenous variation in the hours of the DC curfew to identify the policy’s causal effect on gun violence. We find that, contrary to its goal of improving public safety, DC’s juvenile curfew increases the number of gunfire incidents by 150% during marginal hours.


The Social and Geographic Patterns of Sexual Offending: Is Sex Offender Residence Restriction Legislation Practical?

Melanie Clark Mogavero & Leslie Kennedy
Victims & Offenders, forthcoming

The development of sex offender residence restriction legislation was predicated on the assumption that sex offenders pose an increased risk to the public. The goal of such legislation was to create “sex-offender-free” zones in an effort to decrease sex offenders’ access to potential victims. Such legislation prohibits registered sex offenders from residing near landmarks where children are known to congregate. Empirical evidence thus far has failed to demonstrate that residing near these landmarks contributes to sex offenders’ ability to access victims, and may actually be doing more harm than good. The current study questions the rationale behind the implementation of residence restrictions and if this rationale is consistent with the realities of victim selection and sexual offending among incarcerated sex offenders. The sample consisted of 270 males incarcerated in a New Jersey correctional facility. The results demonstrate that most sex offenders resided within a 2,500-foot restricted landmark zone. However, after examining the methods sex offenders used and examining how far they traveled to meet or establish contact with their victims, residing near restricted landmarks did not contribute to victim selection. Of the 270 sex offenders, the offense patterns consistent with many residence restrictions were applicable to less than 1%.


Extreme Hatred: Revisiting the Hate Crime and Terrorism Relationship to Determine Whether They Are “Close Cousins” or “Distant Relatives”

Colleen Mills, Joshua Freilich & Steven Chermak

Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Existing literature demonstrates disagreement over the relationship between hate crime and terrorism with some calling them “close cousins,” whereas others declare them “distant relatives.” We extend previous research by capturing a middle ground between hate crime and terrorism: extremist hate crime. We conduct negative binomial regressions to examine hate crime by non-extremists, fatal hate crime by far-rightists, and terrorism in U.S. counties (1992-2012). Results show that counties experiencing increases in general hate crime, far-right hate crime, and non-right-wing terrorism see associated increases in far-right hate crime, far-right terrorism, and far-right hate crime, respectively. We conclude that hate crime and terrorism may be more akin to close cousins than distant relatives.


Effects of state-level policy changes on homicide and nonfatal shootings of law enforcement officers

Cassandra Crifasi, Keshia Pollack & Daniel Webster

Injury Prevention, forthcoming

Objective: To evaluate the impact of state-level policy changes on assaults on law enforcement officers (LEOs) in the USA.

Methods: Pooled time series and cross-sections with negative binomial regression were used to estimate the impact of state-level changes of right-to-carry (RTC), three-strikes and permit-to-purchase (PTP) handgun laws on fatal and non-fatal assaults of LEOs. LEO assaults were stratified by weapon type (all methods, handgun and non-handgun) and whether or not the assault was fatal. Data were collected from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted database and analysed for the period 1984–2013 for fatal assaults and 1998–2013 for non-fatal assaults.

Results: RTC laws showed no association with fatal (p>0.4) or non-fatal (p>0.15) assaults on LEOs. Three-strikes laws were associated with a 33% increase in the risk of fatal assaults on LEOs. Connecticut's PTP law was not associated with fatal (p>0.16) or non-fatal (p>0.13) assaults. Missouri's repeal of its PTP legislation was marginally associated with a twofold increased risk of non-fatal handgun assaults (p=0.089).

Conclusions: This research indicates that three-strikes laws increase the risk of fatal assaults. RTC laws are not associated with increased risk of assault. Missouri's PTP repeal may increase the risk of non-fatal handgun assaults.


Wasted Resources and Gratuitous Suffering: The Failure of a Security Rationale for Death Row

Mark Cunningham, Thomas Reidy & Jon Sorensen

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, forthcoming

The confinement of capital punishment (death-sentenced) inmates nationwide is typified by marked interpersonal isolation and activity deprivation on segregated death rows. These supermaximum security measures are ostensibly based on an assumption that capital punishment inmates are at high risk for violence. Supermaximum confinement on death row has high costs: fiscal, staffing, and psychological. Prior research on capital punishment inmates mainstreamed in the general prison population or under conditions approximating this confinement has reported low violence rates. This study provided a 25-year follow-up on the Missouri Department of Corrections unique policy of “mainstreaming” capital punishment inmates into the general population of the Potosi Correctional Center (PCC). Findings remained consistent in showing that mainstreamed capital punishment inmates (N = 85) had equivalent or lower rates of violent misconduct than inmates serving life-without-parole (N = 702) or term-sentences (N = 3,000). The failure of assumptions of high violence risk undergirding death row has important public policy and correctional implications.


The Impact of Inflation on Property Crime

John Nunley et al.
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Using U.S. data from 1950 to 2010, we analyze to what extent inflation raises the incidence of property crime. To match our theoretical predictions, we consider different types of property crime (larceny, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and robbery) and broad and narrow definitions of inflation separately. We control for the state of the business cycle and demographic changes over time explicitly. Unobserved or difficult-to-measure determinants of property crime are captured through a stochastic-trend specification within a state-space framework. We find a robust statistical link between inflation and each of the four property crime rates. Our findings are robust to alternative definitions of inflation and the inclusion or exclusion of different control variables. In terms of policy, our findings suggest that monetary policy that creates inflation has costly spillover effects.


The Unpredictability of Murder: Juvenile Homicide in the Pathways to Desistance Study

Matt DeLisi, Alex Piquero & Stephanie Cardwell

Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, January 2016, Pages 26-42

There is minimal research that has investigated the characteristics distinguishing youth who commit murder to other juvenile offenders. Of the research that has been done, scholars have identified a wide variety of factors that distinguish these offenders, including poor family environments, emotional and social problems, poor mental health, and behavioral disorders. Using data from Pathways to Desistance, a study of 1,354 serious youthful offenders, we examined how 8 demographic characteristics and 35 risk factors distinguish between those youth who were charged with some type of homicide and those youth who were not charged with any type of homicide. We find that only 18 (1.33%) youth were charged with a homicide offense. Among the predictors, age, intelligence quotient (IQ), exposure to violence, perceptions of community disorder, and prevalence of gun carrying are significantly different across the two groups. Results from a rare-events logistic regression that simultaneously examined the relationship between these five risk factors and their ability to distinguish between the two groups indicate that only lower IQ and a greater exposure to violence were significant. Finally, a higher number of risk factors were associated with a higher likelihood that youth would be charged with homicide.


Assessing the racial aspects of police force using the implicit- and counter-bias perspectives

Lorie Fridell & Hyeyoung Lim
Journal of Criminal Justice, March 2016, Pages 36–48

Purpose: The events in Ferguson in August 2014 reignited the longstanding national discussion of race and the police use of force. Recent theory and research from those who study human biases have produced contradictory predictions about how a subject's race might impact on officers' decisions to use force. The “implicit-bias perspective” claims that officer's biases should produce a greater tendency to use force against Black subjects; the “counter bias” perspective predicts lesser force against Blacks, due to officers' concerns about the consequences of using force against racial/ethnic minorities. The implicit-bias perspective also predicts a moderating impact of neighborhood context; specifically, this perspective predicts that the use of greater force against racial/ethnic minorities will disappear in high crime neighborhoods.

Methods: The current study examined 1846 use-of-force incidents to determine whether the racial aspects of force are consistent with the implicit-bias or counter-bias perspectives.

Results: Selected results were consistent with the implicit-bias perspective, including the predicted moderating impact of neighborhood crime on the relationship between subject race and force.

Conclusions: Additional research should assess whether actual uses of force are consistent with the implicit-bias or counter-bias perspectives but, it is argued, the implications for training are the same for both.


The Promise of Violence: Televised, Professional Football Games and Domestic Violence

Beth Adubato
Journal of Sport and Social Issues, February 2016, Pages 22-37

This study asks, “Does a highly identified sports fan feel a strong bond while watching his favorite football players and then exhibit violent, copycat behavior?” Using the media, copycat framework, this research looked at five categories of domestic violence arrests in the city of Philadelphia on Eagles’ “gamedays,” for an 8-hr period, beginning with kick-off time. These relationships were tested using comparison of means tests. The mean average of domestic violence arrests on football was statistically significantly different from both comparison Sundays and other sports’ “gamedays.” As predicted, there was no statistically significant difference between home and away games, removing the possible bias that fans were at the game and then became violent.


College Party Culture and Sexual Assault

Jason Lindo, Peter Siminski & Isaac Swensen

NBER Working Paper, December 2015

This paper considers the degree to which events that intensify partying increase sexual assault. Estimates are based on panel data from campus and local law-enforcement agencies and an identification strategy that exploits plausibly random variation in the timing of Division 1 football games. The estimates indicate that these events increase daily reports of rape with 17-24 year old victims by 28 percent. The effects are driven largely by 17-24 year old offenders and by offenders unknown to the victim, but we also find significant effects on incidents involving offenders of other ages and on incidents involving offenders known to the victim.


Athletic contests and individual robberies: An analysis based on hourly crime data

Ya Yu et al.
Applied Economics, Winter 2016, Pages 723-730

Using hourly data on individual robberies, this article employs a novel approach to investigate the relationship between athletic contests and individual robberies in Memphis, Tennessee, a well-known entertainment destination, with its iconic Beale Street locale, in the US. Empirical results indicate that home basketball games hosted by the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and those hosted by the University of Memphis Tigers are associated with increases in individual robberies, while away games are not associated with such an increase. This finding is consistent with the hot spot theory of crime, as large numbers of individuals travel to the games, thus providing additional opportunities for crime.


Litter, gender and brand: The anticipation of incivilities and perceptions of crime prevalence

Dominic Medway, Cathy Parker & Stuart Roper

Journal of Environmental Psychology, March 2016, Pages 135–144

This paper isolates litter as a physical incivility in a film-based experiment, demonstrating the impact of litter on participants’ anticipation of a wide range of both physical and social incivilities, and on their perceptions of crime prevalence. Such relationships have not previously been examined, partly because litter has rarely been the focus of earlier studies on incivilities. This paper also tests for possible interaction effects in these relationships involving gender (finding no significant interaction), as well as examining whether there is a difference in the anticipation of incivilities and perceptions of crime prevalence between participants exposed to branded as opposed to unbranded litter (finding no difference between the two groups). Litter is often viewed as a tolerable nuisance; and not always treated as a priority. This study suggests prioritising funds towards more targeted interventions to reduce litter might result in some ‘quick wins’ – most notably, reducing perceptions of crime prevalence.


Assessing Risk-Based Policies for Pretrial Release and Split Sentencing in Los Angeles County Jails

Mericcan Usta & Lawrence Wein
PLoS ONE, December 2015

Court-mandated downsizing of the CA prison system has led to a redistribution of detainees from prisons to CA county jails, and subsequent jail overcrowding. Using data that is representative of the LA County jail system, we build a mathematical model that tracks the flow of individuals during arraignment, pretrial release or detention, case disposition, jail sentence, and possible recidivism during pretrial release, after a failure to appear in court, during non-felony probation and during felony supervision. We assess 64 joint pretrial release and split-sentencing (where low-level felon sentences are split between jail time and mandatory supervision) policies that are based on the type of charge (felony or non-felony) and the risk category as determined by the CA Static Risk Assessment tool, and compare their performance to that of the policy LA County used in early 2014, before split sentencing was in use. In our model, policies that offer split sentences to all low-level felons optimize the key tradeoff between public safety and jail congestion by, e.g., simultaneously reducing the rearrest rate by 7% and the mean jail population by 20% relative to the policy LA County used in 2014. The effectiveness of split sentencing is due to two facts: (i) convicted felony offenders comprised ≈ 45% of LA County’s jail population in 2014, and (ii) compared to pretrial release, split sentencing exposes offenders to much less time under recidivism risk per saved jail day.


Dosage Matters: Impact of a Violent Offender Treatment Program on Juvenile Recidivism

Darin Haerle
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, January 2016, Pages 3-25

This study estimates the dose–response relationship between the time spent in an intensive, therapeutic treatment program during juvenile incarceration and violent juvenile offenders’ odds of recidivism. A propensity score matching approach is used to determine the treatment effect of a strong and weak dose of this program on recidivism. Analyses reveal that program participants who receive any dose of this program exhibit lower odds of recidivism than nonparticipants. Those who received a stronger dose of treatment are significantly less likely to recidivate during the three years following release than those who received no treatment. This effect grows in magnitude when compared with those who receive a weak dose. The efficacy of this program’s treatment model provides the evidence that, compared to a weak dose, rehabilitation of capital and violent juvenile offenders is more feasible within the venue of juvenile incarceration when treatment is provided to a high-risk population via an intensive dose.


Stigma Dilution and Over-Criminalization

Murat Mungan
American Law and Economics Review, forthcoming

Criminalizing an act that provides weak signals about a person's productivity and character can dilute the stigma attached to having a criminal record. This reduces the deterrence of serious crimes that do provide strong signals regarding the offender's character. Over-criminalization occurs when the costs associated with reduced deterrence due to stigma dilution off-set potential benefits associated with criminalizing the less harmful act. Identifying conditions under which stigma dilution is likely and comparatively costly allows the determination of factors that affect the desirability of (de)criminalizing various acts. These factors are discussed in the context of marijuana possession offenses to illustrate how over-criminalization may reduce social welfare. The normative desirability of various practices in criminal law are also discussed vis-à-vis their impacts on stigma dilution.


When are victims unlikely to cooperate with the police?

Richard Felson & Brendan Lantz
Aggressive Behavior, January/February 2016, Pages 97–108

Data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) are used to examine the tendency for victims of physical assault, sexual assault, and robbery to refuse to cooperate with the police (N= 3,856,171). Analyses of physical assaults involving homosexual and heterosexual couples did not support the hypothesis that women attacked by their male partners are less likely to cooperate than victims of other assaults. Analyses of violent offenses more generally showed that victims of violence were more likely to refuse to cooperate if they knew the offender in any way than if the offender was a stranger. In the case of physical and sexual assault, these effects were mainly observed for minor incidents. Finally, victims of sexual assault were more likely to cooperate with the police than victims of physical assault. The findings suggest the importance of comparing the victim's reactions to intimate partner violence and sexual assault to their reactions to other offenses.


From placement to prison revisited: Do mental health services disrupt the delinquency pipeline among Latino, African American and Caucasian youth in the child welfare system?

Antonio Garcia et al.
Journal of Adolescence, December 2015, Pages 263–273

Racial and ethnic disparities in delinquency among child welfare-involved youth are well documented. However, less is known about the mechanisms through which these disparities occur. This study explores the extent to which sets of variables predict the occurrence of juvenile delinquency and whether race/ethnicity moderates the strength of the relationships between (1) social, emotional, and behavioral (SEB) problems and delinquency and (2) mental health service use and delinquency. We used a nationally representative sample of 727 African American, Caucasian, and Latino youth between the ages of 12–17 who were referred to the child welfare system. Controlling for age, gender, placement instability, maltreatment history, poverty, and urbanicity, linear regression analyses revealed that African American and Latino youth engaged in more delinquent acts than Caucasian youth did. However, service use decreased the likelihood of engaging in more delinquent acts for African Americans. Additional efforts are needed to illuminate and address the contextual and organizational barriers to delivering effective mental health services as a strategy to reduce racial disparities in delinquent behavior.


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