Monday, September 7, 2015

Journal of Quantitative Criminology 31(3)

Journal of Quantitative Criminology, September 2015: Volume 31, Issue 3

An Experimental Evaluation of a Comprehensive Employment-Oriented Prisoner Re-entry Program
Philip J. Cook, Songman Kang, Anthony A. Braga, Jens Ludwig & Mallory E. O’Brien
Objectives: While the economic model of crime suggests that improving post-prison labor market prospects should reduce recidivism, evaluations of previous employment-oriented re-entry programs have mixed results, possibly due to the multi-faceted challenges facing prisoners at the time of their release. We present an evaluation of an experiment that combines enhanced employment opportunities with wrap around services before and after release. Methods: This paper presents what we believe is the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a re-entry program that combines post-release subsidized work with “reach-in” social services provided prior to release. The sample was 236 high-risk offenders in Milwaukee with a history of violence or gang involvement. Results: We observe increased employment rates and earnings during the period when ex-offenders are eligible for subsidized jobs, and these gains persist throughout the year. The intervention has significant effects (p < 0.01) in reducing the likelihood of rearrest. The likelihood that the treatment group is re-imprisoned during the first year after release is lower than for controls (22 vs. 26 %) but the difference is not statistically significantly different from zero. Conclusions: The results of our RCT suggest that “reach-in” services to help improve human capital of inmates prior to release, together with wrap around services following release, boosts employment and earnings, although whether there is sufficient impact on recidivism for the intervention to pass a benefit-cost test is more uncertain. Average earnings for both treatment and control groups were very low; legal work simply does not seem that important in the economic lives of released prisoners.

Investigating the Applicability of Macro-Level Criminology Theory to Terrorism: A County-Level Analysis
Joshua D. Freilich, Amy Adamczyk, Steven M. Chermak, Katharine A. Boyd & William S. Parkin
Objectives: This exploratory study examines if causal mechanisms highlighted by criminology theories work in the same way to explain both ideologically motivated violence (i.e., terrorism) and regular (non-political) homicides. We study if macro-level hypotheses drawn from deprivation, backlash, and social disorganization frameworks are associated with the likelihood that a far-right extremist who committed an ideologically motivated homicide inside the contiguous US resides in a particular county. To aid in the assessment of whether criminology theories speak to both terrorism and regular violence we also apply these hypotheses to far-right homicide and regular homicide incident location and compare the results. Material and methods: We use data from the US Extremist Crime Database (ECDB) and the FBI’s SHR to create our dependent variables for the 1990–2012 period and estimated a series of logistic regression models. Conclusions: The findings are complex. On the one hand, the models we estimated to account for the odds of a far-right perpetrator residing in a county found that some hypotheses were significant in all, or almost all, models. These findings challenge the view that terrorism is completely different from regular crime and argues for separate causal models to explain each. On the other hand, we estimated models that applied these same hypotheses to account for the odds that a far-right homicide incident occurred in a county, and that a county had very high regular homicide rate. Our comparison of the results found a few similarities, but also demonstrated that different variables were generally significant for each outcome variable. In other words, although criminology theory accounts for some of the odds for both outcomes, different causal mechanisms also appear to be at play in each instance. We elaborate on both of these points and highlight a number of important issues for future research to address.

A Synthetic Control Approach to Evaluating Place-Based Crime Interventions
Jessica Saunders, Russell Lundberg, Anthony A. Braga, Greg Ridgeway & Jeremy Miles
Objective: This paper presents a new quasi-experimental approach to assessing place based policing to encourage the careful evaluation of policing programs, strategies, and operations for researchers to conduct retrospective evaluations of policing programs. Methods: We use a synthetic control model to reduce the bias introduced by models using non-equivalent comparison groups to evaluate High Point’s Drug Market Intervention and demonstrate the method and its versatility for evaluating programs retrospectively. Results: The synthetic control method was able to identify a very good match across all socio-demographic and crime data for the intervention and comparison area. Using a variety of statistical models, the impact of High Point Drug Market Intervention on crime was estimated to be larger than previous evaluations with little evidence of displacement. Conclusions: The synthetic control method represents a significant improvement over the earlier retrospective evaluations of crime prevention programs, but there is still room for improvement. This is particularly important in an age where rigorous scientific research is being used more and more to guide program development and implementation.

Gun Carrying Among Drug Market Participants: Evidence from Incarcerated Drug Offenders
Eric L. Sevigny & Andrea Allen
Objectives: The decision to carry a gun by drug market participants involves consideration of the potential for conflict with other market actors, the need for self-protection, and the desire for reputation and status, among other factors. The objective of this study is to investigate the motives, contingencies, and situational factors that influence criminal gun possession among drug market participants. Methods: Using data on drug offenders from the 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, we estimate design-based logistic regression models within a multiple imputation framework to investigate the influence of drug market features and participant characteristics on gun carrying behavior. Results: Overall, 7 % of the drug offenders in our sample carried a firearm during the offense for which they were incarcerated. Our multivariate findings indicate that a number of factors condition drug market participants’ propensity for gun carrying, including individual psychopharmacological, economic-compulsive, and systemic factors as well as broader features of the marketplace, including the type of drug market, the value of the drugs, and certain structural characteristics. Conclusions: Our findings have a number of implications for designing drug market interventions. Directing enforcement resources against emerging, expanding, or multi-commodity drug markets could deter lethal violence more than interventions targeting stable, single-commodity markets. In addition to open-air street markets, targeting higher-level and closed market segments could realize meaningful gun violence reductions. Finally, the expansion of promising focused deterrence strategies that combine deterrence and support initiatives could further deescalate gun violence.

Support for Balanced Juvenile Justice: Assessing Views About Youth, Rehabilitation, and Punishment
Daniel P. Mears, Justin T. Pickett & Christina Mancini
Objectives: The juvenile court was envisioned as a system of justice that would rehabilitate and punish young offenders. However, studies have not directly measured or examined support for “balanced” juvenile justice—that is, support for simultaneously employing juvenile rehabilitation and punishment to sanction youth—or how beliefs central to the creation of the court influence support for balanced justice. Drawing on scholarship on juvenile justice and theoretical accounts of views about sanctioning, the study tests hypotheses about such support. Methods: The study employs multinomial logistic regression, using data from 866 college students enrolled in criminology and criminal justice classes, to examine support for different approaches to sanctioning violent juvenile offenders. Results: Analyses indicate that a majority of respondents supported balanced justice for violent delinquents, approximately one-third supported a primarily rehabilitation-focused approach to sanctioning, and the remainder supported a primarily punishment-oriented approach. Individuals who believed that youth could be reformed and deserved treatment were more likely to support balanced justice or a primarily rehabilitation-oriented approach to sanctioning youth. Conclusions: The findings underscore the nuanced nature of public views about sanctioning youth, the salience of philosophical beliefs to support different sanctioning approaches, and the importance of research that accounts for beliefs central to the juvenile court’s mission.

Examining the Relationship Between Road Structure and Burglary Risk Via Quantitative Network Analysis
Toby Davies & Shane D. Johnson
Objectives: To test the hypothesis that the spatial distribution of residential burglary is shaped by the configuration of the street network, as predicted by, for example, crime pattern theory. In particular, the study examines whether burglary risk is higher on street segments with higher usage potential. Methods: Residential burglary data for Birmingham (UK) are examined at the street segment level using a hierarchical linear model. Estimates of the usage of street segments are derived from the graph theoretical metric of betweenness, which measures how frequently segments feature in the shortest paths (those most likely to be used) through the network. Several variants of betweenness are considered. The geometry of street segments is also incorporated—via a measure of their linearity—as are several socio-demographic factors. Results: As anticipated by theory, the measure of betweenness was found to be a highly-significant predictor of the burglary victimization count at the street segment level for all but one of the variants considered. The non-significant result was found for the most localized measure of betweenness considered. More linear streets were generally found to be at lower risk of victimization. Conclusion: Betweenness offers a more granular and objective means of measuring the street network than categorical classifications previously used, and its meaning links more directly to theory. The results provide support for crime pattern theory, suggesting a higher risk of burglary for streets with more potential usage. The apparent negative effect of linearity suggests the need for further research into the visual component of target choice, and the role of guardianship.

The Effect of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Use of Force and Citizens’ Complaints Against the Police: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Barak Ariel, William A. Farrar & Alex Sutherland
Objective: Police use-of-force continues to be a major source of international concern, inviting interest from academics and practitioners alike. Whether justified or unnecessary/excessive, the exercise of power by the police can potentially tarnish their relationship with the community. Police misconduct can translate into complaints against the police, which carry large economic and social costs. The question we try to answer is: do body-worn-cameras reduce the prevalence of use-of-force and/or citizens’ complaints against the police? Methods: We empirically tested the use of body-worn-cameras by measuring the effect of videotaping police–public encounters on incidents of police use-of-force and complaints, in randomized-controlled settings. Over 12 months, we randomly-assigned officers to “experimental-shifts” during which they were equipped with body-worn HD cameras that recorded all contacts with the public and to “control-shifts” without the cameras (n = 988). We nominally defined use-of-force, both unnecessary/excessive and reasonable, as a non-desirable response in police–public encounters. We estimate the causal effect of the use of body-worn-videos on the two outcome variables using both between-group differences using a Poisson regression model as well as before-after estimates using interrupted time-series analyses. Results: We found that the likelihood of force being used in control conditions were roughly twice those in experimental conditions. Similarly, a pre/post analysis of use-of-force and complaints data also support this result: the number of complaints filed against officers dropped from 0.7 complaints per 1,000 contacts to 0.07 per 1,000 contacts. We discuss the findings in terms of theory, research methods, policy and future avenues of research on body-worn-videos.

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