Saturday, March 24, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, March 24, 2007


NCJ 217391
Joseph Murray ; Carl-Gunnar Janson ; David P. Farrington
Crime in Adult Offspring of Prisoners: A Cross-National Comparison of Two Longitudinal Samples
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume:34 Issue:1 Dated:January 2007 Pages:133 to 149

This Swedish study replicated a British study that found parental incarceration predicted boys' delinquency, even after controlling for parental criminality and other childhood risks. This study of 15,117 Swedish children born in the same year as the English cohort (1953) found that parental incarceration predicted the children's criminal behavior; however, unlike in the English cohort, the effects of parental incarceration disappeared after statistically controlling for parental convictions. In offering explanations for the difference in findings between the British and Swedish studies, the authors suggest it might be due to either mechanisms that link parent and child criminality or by mechanisms more specific to parental incarceration. The latter pertains to provision for maintaining constructive parent-child contacts during incarceration as well as having shorter prison sentences. Compared to England, Sweden has shorter prison sentences, more family friendly prison policies, a welfare-oriented juvenile justice system, an extended social welfare system, and more sympathetic public attitudes toward crime and punishment. This suggests that incarceration in Sweden has less adverse effects on the economic and social conditions of families during a parent's incarceration. This study used data from Project Metropolitan, a prospective longitudinal survey of 7,719 Swedish boys and 7,393 Swedish girls born in 1953 and living in the Stockholm metropolitan area in 1963. The British study with which it was compared is entitled the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development. Data pertained to parental criminality and incarceration, children's crimes, and social class. 5 tables, 1 figure, 6 notes, and 51 references

NCJ 217365
Chandra D. LaFrentz ; Cassia Spohn
Who is Punished More Harshly in Federal Court?: The Interaction of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Age, and Employment Status in the Sentencing of Drug Offenders
Justice Research and Policy Volume:8 Issue:2 Dated:2006 Pages:25 to 56

Using data on drug offenders sentenced in three U.S. district courts, this study tested for direct, indirect, and interactive effects of an offender's race and ethnicity on sentence severity. The study found that gender, age, and employment status, but not race/ethnicity, had direct effects on sentencing. These findings are conditioned by the fact that an offender's gender and employment status had effects on sentencing only in cases sentenced outside the Federal sentencing guidelines. The effect of gender and employment status were conditioned by race/ethnicity. No support was found for the hypotheses that young Black and Hispanic men and unemployed Black and Hispanic men would receive more severe sentences. Both Black and Hispanic women, however, received substantially shorter sentences than their male counterparts. Being employed benefitted White offenders at sentencing. A number of case characteristics had differential effects on the sentences imposed on White, Black, and Hispanic offenders. Pretrial status, for example, had a significant effect on sentence length for Black offenders and White offenders, but not for Hispanic offenders. Compared to their counterparts who were released prior to sentencing, Black offenders who were in custody received sentences that were a year and a half longer than offenders not in custody. Black offenders and Hispanic offenders were more likely than White offenders to be held in custody prior to sentencing. Pleading guilty produced more lenient sentences for Black offenders and for White offenders, but not for Hispanic offenders. The data were collected from three U.S. district courts in the Eighth Circuit: the District of Minnesota, the District of Nebraska, and the Southern District of Iowa. All offenders sentenced for a drug offense (major charge) in fiscal years 1998, 1999, and 2000 (n=1,752) were included in the study. 7 tables and 49 references

NCJ 217376
Rick Ruddell ; Noelle E. Fearn
Simplistic Explanations Are the Problem: Crime, Homicide, and the Zimring-Hawkins Proposition
Criminal Justice Studies: A Critical Journal of Crime, Law and Society Volume:19 Issue:4 Dated:2006 Pages:323 to 336

In order to test the Zimring-Hawkins hypothesis that lethal violence (homicide) occurs independently in relation to nonlethal crimes, this study used ordinary least-squares regression models to examine the effect of crime rates on State, city, and county homicide rates based on cross-sectional data from 2000. The findings challenge the Zimring-Hawkins hypothesis in showing a significant positive association between ordinary crime and homicide at the State, city, and county levels. This effect of nonlethal crime on homicide was consistent in all of the models estimated, although the strongest associations were found at the county and city levels. This finding is consistent with the spatial distribution of homicide, because State-level data average the higher homicide rates found in cities with outlying rural areas, which have historically had few murders. Zimring and Hawkins' recommendation to shift the crime-control focus away from ordinary crime to lethal violence fits their argument for an applied public health model of violence reduction. The problems that contribute to lethal violence, however, are more structurally complex and culturally entrenched than the problems that confronted the public health movement when it reduced highway-traffic deaths by making vehicles and roads safer. Zimring-Hawkins' proposition is an example of how the development of simplistic solutions and slogans to explain long-term, entrenched social problems gives policymakers and the public unrealistic assumptions about solving complex problems. All U.S. cities with populations over 10,000 were used in the analyses. A random sample of 191 mid-sized counties was also included. All analyses used Uniform Crime Reports homicide and nonnegligent manslaughter rates per 100,000 residents in the population from 1999 to 2001. Consistent with previous homicide studies, a set of control variables was used to establish a baseline model. 2 tables, 5 notes, and 59 references

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