Since news tends to slow on the weekends but we know you still would like some diversion, each Saturday we will post what research abstracts we can find related to sentencing and corrections. Most of them will come from the good folks at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, a too unheralded resource in our activities, so, if there's no link, just hit the one above and get everything, including things we might not have thought were important but we were wrong, at least for you. So get a Guinness and a bag of chips and dive in!
Examining the Interaction Between Level of Risk and Dosage of Treatment
Kimberly Gentry Sperber; Edward J. Latessa; Matthew D. Makarios
Criminal Justice and Behavior
Volume:40 Issue:3 Dated:March 2013 Pages:338 to 348
This study seeks to identify the number of hours of treatment that are necessary to reduce recidivism in a sample of offenders placed in a residential community corrections facility. The risk principle suggests that effective correctional interventions should vary the intensity of treatment by offender risk, with higher risk offenders receiving more intense services than lower risk offenders. Although much research indicates that programs that target higher risk cases are more likely to be effective, relatively little research has examined the impact of varying levels of treatment dosage by risk. Consequently, this study seeks to identify the number of hours of treatment that are necessary to reduce recidivism in a sample of offenders placed in a residential community corrections facility. The sample for this study includes 689 adult male offenders successfully discharged from a Community-Based Correctional Facility in Ohio. The results provide support for providing higher levels of dosage to high-risk offenders, with substantial reductions in recidivism for high-risk offenders receiving 200 or more hours of treatment.
Evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative
National Institute of Justice
This Web page on the National Institute of Justice Web site presents the results of a multi-year evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI). The evaluation had several purposes: to determine the extent to which participation in SVORI programs improved access to reentry services and programs, and to determine whether the improved access resulted in improved outcomes in the areas of housing, education, employment, and criminal behavior. The evaluation found that SVORI increased access to reentry services and programs for offenders with participants more likely to have reentry plans upon release; however, provision of reentry services decreased significantly after offenders were released from incarceration. In addition, the evaluation found that compared to non-SVORI participants, program participants did not have improved outcomes with respect to housing, education, employment, and recidivism rates. This Web page also includes information on the challenges faced by returning offenders and funding for on-going follow-up research on which SVORI programs and services improved reentry outcomes. A list of detailed reports and the dataset from the multiyear SVORI evaluation is included at the end of the Web page, with links to the reports.
Inmate Misconduct and the Institutional Capacity for Control
Marie L. Griffin; John R. Hepburn
Criminal Justice and Behavior
Volume:40 Issue:3 Dated:March 2013 Pages:270 to 288
This study of 50 State prisons for men provides support for the hypothesized direct effects of institutional capacity for control on the level of violent and nonviolent inmate misconduct and for the contextual effect of prison environment. The social order of a prison arises from the combined effects of the prison’s institutional capacity for control and the effectiveness of prison management. Prior research suggests that the criminogenic characteristics of the inmate population, the security level of the prison, and the prison environment are three structural characteristics of prisons that define each prison’s institutional capacity for control, as reflected in the aggregate-level measures of inmate misconduct, and prison environment is expected to moderate the effects of inmate population characteristics on inmate misconduct. This study of 50 State prisons for men provides support for the hypothesized direct effects of institutional capacity for control on the level of violent and nonviolent inmate misconduct and for the contextual effect of prison environment. The findings are discussed in terms of the management environment created among prisons by variations in the institutional capacity for control.
Civil Death: An Examination of Ex-Felon Disenfranchisement and Reintegration
Bryan Lee Miller; Joseph F. Spillane
Punishment & Society
Volume:14 Issue:4 Dated:October 2012 Pages:402 to 428
This article discusses when someone is found guilty of a felony crime they forfeit the right to vote, serve on a jury, and run for elected office in the State of Florida. In the State of Florida, when someone is found guilty of a felony crime they forfeit the right to vote, serve on a jury, and run for elected office. These civil rights are lost regardless of whether they are sentenced to incarceration, probation, or released into the community. The process to regain these civil rights can be difficult, time consuming, and impossible for some. Research on prisoner reentry suggests that the loss of these civil rights constitutes a barrier to full citizenship that may impede the process of community reintegration. This research employs 54 semi-structured interviews with ex-felons who have lost the right to vote to better understand the meaning former offenders attribute to the loss of their civil rights and to assess the impact this may have on staying out of trouble. Findings from this study suggest that for a significant number of ex-offenders the loss of voting rights poses an obstacle to successful reintegration.
Emotions About Crime and Attitudes to Punishment
Timothy F. Hartnagel; Laura J. Templeton
Punishment & Society
Volume:14 Issue:4 Dated:October 2012 Pages:452 to 474
Various polls and surveys seem to indicate that a substantial proportion of the Canadian public desires harsher penalties for crime. While various explanations have been offered for this punitiveness, emotional reactions to crime have been under-researched. The present research draws on a Canadian dataset to test the hypothesis that the emotions of fear and particularly anger about crime are significant predictors of punitive attitudes once crime victimization, economic insecurity, internal attributions of crime causation and other variables are controlled for. This research also examines the possible indirect effects of economic insecurity, victimization and internal attributions of crime causation on punitiveness through their impact on fear and anger. The multiple regression results support the role of emotions, particularly anger, in explaining punitive attitudes. While indirect effects of victimization and economic insecurity were insignificant, 14 percent of the effect of internal attributions was through anger.
Targeting Blacks for Marijuana-Possession Arrests of African Americans in California, 2004-08
Harry G. Levine; Jon B. Gettman; Loren Siegel
Marijuana Arrest Research Project
This report provides data on arrests for marijuana possession among African-Americans in California for the years 2004-08, with attention to the adverse impact of such arrests. The study found that in every one of the 25 largest California counties, Blacks are arrested for marijuana possession at double, triple, or even quadruple the rate of Whites; however, U.S. Government studies have consistently found that young Blacks use marijuana at lower rates than young Whites. These racially biased arrests are system-wide, occurring in every county and nearly every police jurisdiction in California. This suggests that the pattern of over-representation of Blacks in arrests for marijuana possession is not due to the bias of individual officers, but rather to a general policy of resource allocation among law enforcement agencies. These marijuana possession arrests have serious consequences. They create permanent “drug arrest” records that can be easily found on the Internet by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies, licensing boards, and banks. The stigma of a criminal record for marijuana possession can create barriers to employment and education for anyone; however, criminal records for marijuana possession severely limit the chances for employment and related economic advancement among the poor and the young, particularly young Blacks and Latinos.
Race, Place, and Drug Enforcement: Reconsidering the Impact of Citizen Complaints and Crime Rates on Drug Arrests
Robin S. Engel; Michael R. Smith; Francis T. Cullen
Criminology & Public Policy
Volume:11 Issue:4 Dated:November 2012 Pages:601 to 635
This study examined racial disparities in drug arrests in two different drug markets in Seattle, WA. Highlights of findings from this study on racial disparity in drug arrests in Seattle, WA, include the following: when looking at the representation of different ethnic groups among arrestees citywide, the findings indicate statistically insignificant differences within the two drug markets examined; when compared with calls for service (CFS) data, Blacks and Hispanics were not overrepresented among drug arrestees; Blacks and Hispanics were less likely to be arrested compared to Whites based on comparisons of citizen complaints of drug activity; and in the Downtown drug market, Blacks and Whites were both arrested at nearly the same rate to what would be expected based on citizen complaints about drug activity. This study reexamined racial disparities in drug arrests in two drug markets in Seattle, WA, using new data, measures, and methods from a previous study. Data for this study were obtained from three sources at the Seattle Police Department: drug arrests, drug-related citizen calls for service, and reported crimes. The data was analyzed to the extent that minorities were over or underrepresented in arrests for drug charges. The findings indicate that Blacks and Hispanics are either evenly represented or underrepresented among drug arrestees, and that a moderate to strong association exists between drug arrests, drug-related calls for service, and reported crimes. Policy implications are discussed.
Young Adult Offenders: The Need for More Effective Legislative Options and Justice Processing
David P. Farrington; Rolf Loeber; James C. Howell
Criminology & Public Policy
Volume:11 Issue:4 Dated:November 2012 Pages:727 to 750
This article discusses the need for more effective legislative options and justice processing for young adult offenders due to the drastic change in how juvenile offenders are treated once they become legal adults. The article first examines the justifications for special legal treatment afforded juvenile offenders, focusing on culpability and adjudicative competence. Next the authors discuss the current state of scientific knowledge regarding human development in adolescence and young adulthood. The research suggests that biological changes in the brain continue from adolescence on into young adulthood, indicating that young adults do not suddenly become more adult-like in their actions. The authors also discuss research that has examined offending careers of juvenile and young adult offenders, the reentry problems faced by young adult offenders, and special legal procedures for young adult offenders. Based on the research, the authors conclude that young adult offenders are more similar to juveniles than adults with respect to features such as their executive functioning, impulse control, responsibility, and susceptibility to peer influence, and changes should be made to policies dealing with young adult offenders to reflect these differences. Recommendations for changes to policy are discussed.
Status Concerns as a Motive for Crime?
CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4225
This paper analyzes the implications of potential offenders caring about their relative status. We establish that subjects' status concerns can result in multiple-equilibrium crime rates and may modify the standard comparative-statics results regarding how the crime rate changes in response to a higher detection probability and higher sanctions. In addition, we argue that the socially optimal level of the detection probability and the sanction will often be higher when potential offenders care about their relative positions. Our analysis can be linked to one of the most important criminological theories of crime, namely strain theory.
Incentivizing Lawfulness Through Post-Sentencing Appellate Waivers
A sentencing appellate waiver is a promise by a criminal defendant not to appeal her sentence. These provisions routinely appear in federal defendants’ plea agreements. With a few narrow exceptions, a knowing and voluntary sentencing appellate waiver bars a defendant from appealing all issues within the scope of the waiver. Using previous models of judicial behavior and available empirical data, this article argues that the inclusion of sentencing appellate waivers in plea agreements creates bargaining inefficiencies and removes important incentives from the sentencing process. As a solution, the article proposes that sentencing appellate waivers should take the form of separate post-sentencing agreements.
First, during the plea bargaining stage, both parties suffer from incomplete information about the true value of the defendant’s appellate rights because neither the procedure nor the outcome of the sentencing hearing is yet known. With that information deficiency, the parties’ default valuation of the defendant’s sentencing appellate rights are often unaligned—the defendant overvalues her appellate rights out of fear of an unjust sentence and the government undervalues the same rights based on past experiences. This disparity is magnified by the disproportionate significance that a defendant places on an unfavorable sentencing outcome relative to an unfavorable outcome’s significance to the government. As a result, the parties inefficiently bargain over sentencing appellate waivers at the pre-plea stage.
Second, the foreknowledge that a sentence is virtually unreviewable removes important incentives from the sentencing judge. Past research and behavioral modeling have demonstrated that the “ordinary” district court judge labors under an aversion to reversal and that this reversal aversion influences sentencing outcomes and procedures. By signaling to the court that the prospect of appellate review has been removed, the current system of including sentencing appellate waivers in plea agreements reduces the likelihood that district courts will adhere to statutorily-required sentencing practices.
Third, the inclusion of sentencing appellate waivers in plea agreements creates difficulties in imposing meaningful consequences on defendants for breach of the agreement. Under the current system, a breaching defendant who notes an appeal in violation of her appellate waiver suffers the consequence of having her appeal dismissed. In general, neither the government nor the court is willing to unravel the entire plea agreement as a result of the breach. Thus, the defendant’s breach renders her no worse off than if she had adhered to her promise not to appeal. The government’s impotence to impose meaningful additional sanctions beyond the prospect of dismissal fails to effectively deter defendants from breaching their sentencing appellate waivers.
This article proposes a post-sentencing appellate waiver system whereby the defendant and the government may bargain for a separate sentencing appellate waiver agreement after the completion of the sentencing hearing. During this post-sentencing bargaining, both parties will be fully informed about the sentencing hearing’s procedure and outcome, and thus will be able to appropriately value the defendant’s appellate rights and bargain efficiently. Because a sentencing appellate waiver will not be consummated (if at all) until after the sentencing hearing is complete, the sentencing judge will be incentivized to conduct a hearing that complies with all applicable sentencing law. And, because the government can withdraw the incremental benefit bartered in exchange for the defendant’s promise not to appeal, defendants will be disincentivized from breaching their sentencing appellate waiver agreements.