Friday, May 20, 2011

Theoretical Criminology 15(2)

Crime and time: The temporal patterning of causal variables
Robert Agnew
Criminologists tend to assume that most of the variables that cause crime are stable over long periods, with some variables having a brief, episodic existence in the lives of individuals. This article challenges that assumption and instead argues that variables are best described in terms of three temporal levels: baseline levels or long-term averages; short-term deviations around these baseline levels, with such deviations lasting from hours to days; and situational deviations, lasting from seconds to minutes. Criminologists can more accurately describe the standing of individuals on the causes of crime using these levels, thereby improving the ability to explain crime.

Reconstructing Leviathan: Emerging contours of the security state
Simon Hallsworth and John Lea
This article develops an account of the current emergence of the security state as successor to the liberal welfare state. It is argued that the security state heralds a new type of authoritarianism which, beginning at the periphery and pre-occupied with the management of the marginalized and socially excluded, is gradually infecting the core social institutions, the criminal justice system in particular. The article considers three areas in which the security state is emerging—the transition from welfare to workfare and risk management; new measures to combat terrorism and organized crime; and the blurring of warfare and crime control. The article concludes by stressing the mutually reinforcing effect of these developments.

The cultural politics of justice: Bakhtin, stand-up comedy and post-9/11 securitization
Elaine Campbell
For Rabelais,‘folk humour’ and its boundless forms are not frivolous, inconsequential aspects of the human condition but, rather, are central to modes of critique and the formation of discourses which seek radical cultural transformation by evading, exposing, resisting, scandalizing and mocking ‘official culture’. Taking its cue from Bakhtin’s exposition of the grotesque realism of the Rabelaisian novel, this article explores the abstract notion of ‘justice’ through the lens of ‘folk humour’—specifically, stand-up comedy which references securitization in the post-9/11 period. In so doing, it calls into question Habermasian discourse ethics, proposing instead a model of ‘doing justice’ predicated on Bakhtinian dialogism.

Reframing criminal victimization: Finding a place for vulnerability and resilience
Sandra Walklate
The purpose of this article is to examine the ways in which studies of criminal victimization have contributed to this presumption of human vulnerability, and to examine the potential in understandings of resilience for overcoming this presumption. In order to do this the argument falls into three parts. In the first part I shall consider the different ways in which victimization and vulnerability have been linked together. In the second I shall examine the concept of resilience and its relationship, if any, with vulnerability and victimization. Throughout this discussion I shall draw on feminist informed work as a way of suggesting a differently oriented approach to both of these concepts: presented here as thinking otherwise. In the final and concluding part of this article the implications of contemporary understandings of these concepts will be situated within the broader policy context characterized by Aradau (2004) as informed by a ‘politics of pity’.

Pedophile crime films as popular criminology: A problem of justice?
Steven A. Kohm and Pauline Greenhill
This article responds to Nicole Rafter’s recent call to develop a popular criminology using cultural representations of crime and criminal justice to supplement and extend mainstream criminological knowledge. Using representations of child sexual abuse in film, we begin to build a popular criminology of the pedophile. In cinema, this figure opens up a cultural space to interrogate key criminological dilemmas about the nature and shape of justice. Pedophile crime films work through concepts by making emotion central to understanding and by using child sexual abuse as a moral context for otherwise abstract dilemmas. Because of their form as well as their content, recent examples of the subgenre hold the potential to challenge popular conceptions of justice in ways that mainstream academic discourse cannot.

Review Symposium:
Pat O’ Malley, Crime and Risk, London: SAGE, 2010.

Introduction to the review symposium
Nicole Rafter

Review Symposium: The risks of risk
Jeff Ferrell

Review Symposium: The politics of risk, the risk of politics
Sandra Walklate

Review Symposium: Il miglior fabbro (the finer craftsman)
Jonathan Simon

Review Symposium: Risk for prevention
Brandon C. Welsh

Friday, May 6, 2011

Journal of Quantitative Criminology 27(2)

Reciprocal Effects of Victimization and Routine Activities
Margit Averdijk
Although there is much research on the relationship between routine activities and victimization, we have little knowledge about the reciprocal effects of victimization and routine activities. The current paper is framed within the Once Bitten Twice Shy perspective proposed by Hindelang et al. (Victims of personal crime: an empirical foundation for a theory of personal victimization. Ballinger, Cambridge, 1978) which argues that victimization decreases risky routine activities and that this in turn decreases the risk of victimization. The current paper tests these propositions by using longitudinal data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, which allows us to tease out victimization and routine activities over time. Both violent and household victimization are examined. Variables pertaining to how often respondents go out for shopping, how often they go away at night and whether they have household devices are used as indicators for routine activities. Results indicate that the reciprocal effects of victimization and routine activities are limited. Consequences for routine activities theory are discussed.

Reliability and Validity of Prisoner Self-Reports Gathered Using the Life Event Calendar Method
James E. Sutton, Paul E. Bellair, Brian R. Kowalski, Ryan Light & Donald T. Hutcherson
Data collection using the life event calendar method is growing, but reliability is not well established. We examine test–retest reliability of monthly self-reports of criminal behavior collected using a life event calendar from a random sample of minimum and medium security prisoners. Tabular analysis indicates substantial agreement between self-reports of drug dealing, property, and violent crime during a baseline interview (test) and a follow-up (retest) approximately 3 weeks later. Hierarchical analysis reveals that criminal activity reported during the initial test is strongly associated with responses given in the retest, and that the relationship varies only by the lag in days between the initial interview and the retest. Analysis of validity reveals that self-reported incarceration history is strongly predictive of official incarceration history although we were unable to address whether subjects could correctly identify the months they were incarcerated. African Americans and older subjects provide more valid responses but in practical terms the differences in validity are not large.

A Longitudinal Study of Escalation in Crime Seriousness
Jiayi Liu, Brian Francis & Keith Soothill
Escalation in crime seriousness over the criminal lifecourse continues to be an important issue to study in criminal careers. Quantitative research in this area has not yet been well developed owing to the difficulty of measuring crime seriousness and the complexity of escalation trajectories. In this paper we suggest that there are two types of escalation process—escalation associated with experience of the criminal justice process, and escalation associated with age and maturation. Using the 1953 birth cohort from the England and Wales Offenders Index followed up to 1999, and a recently developed seriousness scale of offenses, we constructed the individual sequences of seriousness scores from conviction to conviction. These individual sequences were then analyzed using a variety of longitudinal mixed models, with age, number of conviction occasions, sex and number of offenses used as covariates. The results suggest that ageing is associated with de-escalation whereas the number of conviction occasions are associated with escalation, with the two processes pulling in different directions. This conceptual framework helps to disentangle previously contradictory results in the escalation literature.

One Bad Apple May Not Spoil the Whole Bunch: Best Friends and Adolescent Delinquency
Carter Rees & Greg Pogarsky
This study compared the association of adolescent delinquency with that of their best friend and remaining social network. Findings are reported from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a multi-wave nationally representative panel study of adolescents who were in grades 7–12 in 1994. Four delinquent outcomes were examined: Smoking, getting drunk, fighting, and a variety index of general delinquency. All analyses were replicated for three distinct criteria for identifying a “best friend.” We also examined several moderating factors and potential interrelationships between the best friend and remaining friendship group. Relative to the influence of the best friend, the influence of the remaining friendship group increased with group size, and with larger absolute disparities in delinquency levels between best and remaining friends. Our findings extend knowledge on the influence of best friends, and further underscore the importance of whether peer behaviors are measured directly (from the peers themselves) or indirectly (when focal respondents estimate the delinquent behavior of their peers).

Criminal Contemplation, National Context, and Deterrence
Charles R. Tittle, Ekaterina V. Botchkovar & Olena Antonaccio
Using random samples of adults from three European countries rarely surveyed about crime-related issues, this study seeks to identify, with more extensive indicators than is typical, individuals who are likely to contemplate the commission of criminal acts. Then, it assesses the contextual universality of deterrence claims by estimating the deterrent effectiveness of perceived formal and informal sanctions for theft and violence among crime contemplators in Greece, Russia, and Ukraine. With criminal contemplation taken into account, our findings confirm the patterns established in past research. Whereas the threat of formal punishment shows little deterrent effect, perceptions of informal sanctions appear to influence projected crime. However, supportive findings hold only in Russia and Ukraine. Overall, it appears that the deterrent effectiveness of sanctions may be to some extent contingent on cultural or contextual characteristics.

Journal of Quantitative Criminology, June 2011: Volume 27, Issue 2

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 48(2)

The Crime Drop and the Security Hypothesis
Graham Farrell, Andromachi Tseloni, Jen Mailley, and Nick Tilley
Major crime drops were experienced in the United States and most other industrialized countries for a decade from the early to mid-1990s. Yet there is little agreement over explanation or lessons for policy. Here it is proposed that change in the quantity and quality of security was a key driver of the crime drop. From evidence relating to vehicle theft in two countries, it is concluded that electronic immobilizers and central locking were particularly effective. It is suggested that reduced car theft may have induced drops in other crime including violence. From this platform, a broader security hypothesis, linked to routine activity and opportunity theory, is outlined.

Low-Skill Employment Opportunity and African American-White Difference in Recidivism
Paul E. Bellair and Brian R. Kowalski
Previous contextual analyses of recidivism are limited by a focus on traditional disadvantage indicators. The authors examine whether those indicators, including poverty, family composition, high school dropout, and unemployment explain disproportionate involvement in serious criminal recidivism among African American relative to White ex-prisoners. Given the fundamental necessity of finding employment after release, the authors move beyond traditional measures and investigate the availability of low-skill employment opportunity in the industries that prior research suggests are most likely to hire ex-prisoners (retail and manufacturing). To address the issue, the authors collected and geo-coded data for a representative sample of 1,568 Ohio ex-prisoners released on community supervision during the first six months of 1999. Contextual analysis reveals that race difference in serious recidivism is explained by low-skill employment opportunity in manufacturing and that it is contingent on levels of neighborhood disadvantage and unemployment.

Getting into the Script of Adult Child Sex Offenders and Mapping out Situational Prevention Measures
Benoit Leclerc, Richard Wortley, and Stephen Smallbone
The current study describes and examines the crime-commission process followed in child sex offending. There are two major aims in this study. The first aim is to propose a script model in child sex offending. The second aim is to show the relevance of completing crime scripts to identify situational crime prevention measures. One of the weaknesses in the current crime script literature is the absence of proposed prevention measures. Besides Cornish, only Clarke and Newman have used crime scripts for its main purpose, which is to offer a way to develop situational crime prevention techniques. In this study, situational prevention measures are mapped onto the crime-commission process in child sex offending.

Racial/Ethnic Threat and Federal Sentencing
Ben Feldmeyer and Jeffery T. Ulmer
This study examines whether federal sentencing decisions are influenced by the racial/ethnic composition of federal court districts. Multilevel models of individual cases within federal judicial districts show that Black defendants receive moderately longer sentences than Whites, and that Hispanics and Whites receive similar sentences. These race/ethnicity effects on sentence length are found to vary across federal districts but not as predicted by racial threat theory. In contrast to racial threat predictions, Black sentence lengths are not significantly conditioned by the district Black population. Contrary to racial threat predictions, Hispanic defendants receive the harshest sentences when they account for the smallest share of the population (1 to 3 percent) and the most lenient sentences when they make up more sizable shares of district populations (more than 27 percent). Our results indicate that racial threat theory provides an inadequate explanation of how social contexts influence the federal sentencing of Blacks and Hispanics.

Networks of Collaborating Criminals: Assessing the Structural Vulnerability of Drug Markets
Aili Malm and Gisela Bichler
Uncovering the resiliency of ties between individuals involved in criminal enterprise will contribute to our understanding of how illicit markets function. To examine activities along the entire drug market commodity chain, this study extracted information about individuals involved or associated with trafficking (1,998 people) from police intelligence reports generated from 2004 to 2006. Significant differences were found for centrality and cohesion across market niches. Results show that the highest fragmentation potential lies with individuals who are involved with smuggling, supply, and financing, particularly when these individuals are also involved in other niches. Variability in small-world and scale-free properties suggest that interdiction strategies must be tailored to niche characteristics.

Ecological Origins of Shared Perceptions of Troublesome Teen Groups: Implications for the Basic Systemic Model of Crime, the Incivilities Thesis, and Political Economy
Ralph B. Taylor, Phillip W. Harris, Peter R. Jones, R. Marie Garcia, and Eric S. McCord
This work investigates how community variation in perceptions of troublesome teen groups are shaped by delinquency, violent crime, and community socioeconomic status (SES). Experts consider this outcome the key indicator of impaired local supervisory control, and past work has confirmed its critical role in linking community structure to crime and victimization outcomes. The investigation responds to recent calls to learn more about impacts of crime on key community processes. Analyses of Philadelphia survey, census, violent crime, and delinquency data find strong impacts of SES. Impacts of crime and delinquency are significant but depend on how they are separated from SES. Influences of the spatially lagged outcome and partialled SES highlight connections between public and parochial control dynamics. These deserve closer theoretical scrutiny in both the basic systemic model of crime and the incivilities thesis.

Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, May 2011: Volume 48, Issue 2