Wednesday, January 17, 2007

NCJRS Abstracts

I've meant for a while to get you info on some of the more interesting research available through the estimable NCJRS. There have been several recent ones that you might find interesting and/or helpful. Too many to slap on here at one time without driving all the posts off the page. So, over the next few days, I'll drop 2-3 at a time. They also have the NCJ number on them if you want to follow up, get more research info, and maybe be able to download some of them. NCJRS is one of the great resources available to us in this field, and I'm sorry I haven't been more reliable with them. Enjoy.

NCJ 216611
Timothy Griffin ; John Wooldredge
Sex-Based Disparities in Felony Dispositions Before Versus After Sentencing Reform in Ohio
Criminology Volume:44 Issue:4 Dated:November 2006 Pages:893 to 923

Results indicated no evidence of leniency toward female defendants in general during the conviction stage. African-American women were not treated more severely than their White counterparts during the conviction stage either before or after the guideline implementation and all females involved in drug offenses were actually less likely to be convicted on felony charges pre-guidelines. On the other hand, the imprisonment analysis revealed evidence of chivalrous treatment toward women in general during both periods. Interestingly, in the period pre-guidelines, convicted female drug offenders were not treated more harshly yet during the post-guidelines period they were more likely to be imprisoned. Additionally, there was no evidence of leniency toward women with dependent children during either period and, in fact, during the pre-guidelines period, women with dependent children actually received longer prison sentences, as did Black women. These disparities were reduced following the implementation of sentencing guidelines. Research methods involved systematic sampling of prosecutors’ case files within 24 jurisdictions in Ohio during the periods July 1995 through June 1996 (pre-guidelines) and January 1997 and December 1997 (post-guidelines). This sampling technique yielded 3,951 convicted felons to include for the analysis of imprisonment and another 1,963 imprisoned felons for the analysis of sentence length. Variables under analysis included case outcome in terms of conviction and sentence, demographic information, legal predictors such as types of crime, substance abuse history, juvenile incarceration, court’s attorney, and pretrial incarceration. The analysis focused on the possible effects of a defendant’s sex on the odds of a felony conviction, the odds of imprisonment for convicted felons, and the length of imprisonment for felony offenders. Future research should further explore the conditions under which female defendants do and do not receive leniency from the court. Tables, footnotes, references

NCJ 216549
Dr. Diana Fishbein PI ; Monica Scott ; Dr. Christopher Hyde ; Dr. David Newlin ; Dr. Robert Hubal ; Dr. Ralph Serin ; Dr. George Chrousos ; Dr. Salvatore Alesci
Neuropsychological and Emotional Deficits Predict Correctional Treatment Response
National Institute of Justice/NCJRS

The research found that inmates with deficits in the cognitive functions examined in this study were less likely to progress in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which involves analyzing and making decisions about one's behavior and then engaging in constructive behavioral change. Particular cognitive functions that impeded progress under CBT were lack of behavioral inhibition and inability to change responses, impulsivity when selecting high-risk choices, and cognitive inflexibility. None of the background variables distinguished between treatment groups, including education, duration of total prison time, family history of criminality, mental illness, drug abuse, aggressive behavior, stressful events during the first treatment group, and attitude about treatment. A history of physical abuse significantly predicted treatment outcomes, and younger inmates did better in treatment. The extent to which psychological problems were experienced in the past 30 days distinguished between low and high treatment response. The authors suggest that inmates who do not respond well to CBT may be more effectively influenced by targeted, neurocognitive-based treatment regimens suitable for reducing violence among prison inmates. The study recruited 224 male inmates of 3 medium/maximum security facilities in Maryland. CBT programming was similar in the three institutions. The inmates received baseline testing of several complementary dimensions of executive cognitive function (ECF) and conditions that influence its development. These involved three ECF tasks and one emotional perception task, saliva cortisol responses to a stressful task, a general neuropsychological test, several psychological and behavioral surveys, and a historical inventory that assessed prior drug use and child and family background. In addition, interactive virtual reality vignettes were used to assess actual pretreatment and posttreatment change in decisionmaking. 10 tables and 26 references

NCJ 216613
Beth M. Huebner ; Timothy S. Bynum
Analysis of Parole Decision Making Using a Sample of Sex Offenders: A Focal Concerns Perspective
Criminology Volume:44 Issue:4 Dated:November 2006 Pages:961 to 992

The findings indicated that the most important factors influencing parole decisions were considerations of community protection, the parole readiness score, offender age, victim age, and institutional misconduct record. Offenders who assaulted very young children, older offenders, and those with misconduct records were less likely to be paroled than younger offenders, offenders who assaulted older victims, and offenders with no record of misconduct in prison. Although race and ethnicity were taken into account in the decisionmaking process, parole board members’ perceptions of the offenders’ dangerousness to the community appeared to weigh more heavily in their parole decisions than race/ethnicity. Data were drawn from a larger study focusing on parole outcomes and recidivism among a sample of sex offenders in a Midwestern State. Participants included 511 male sex offenders sentenced to a new term of incarceration for sex crimes committed during 1998 and who became eligible for parole prior to August 2004. Data were drawn from pre-sentence investigation reports and official records from the department of corrections. Variables under analysis included the offender’s description of the offense, victim impact statement, juvenile and adult criminal histories, family background information, education, employment history, and mental and physical health profiles. Data analysis involved a series of Cox proportional hazard models which were used to assess the effect of the various variables on parole decisions. Future research should examine the extent to which prison capacity, sentencing structure, and political climate influence parole decisions. Tables, footnotes, references

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