Saturday, April 07, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, April 7, 2007


NCJ 217481
Robert F. Holland
Improving Criminal Jury Verdicts: Learning From the Court-Martial
Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology Volume:97 Issue:1 Dated:Fall 2006 Pages:101 to 146

This article considers the advantages of using a military verdict approach for State criminal trials that rely on the use of non-unanimous verdicts. The main argument is that State law should permit a super-majority of 12 jurors to render a verdict of guilty. When the required super-majority verdict of guilt cannot be reached, then a not guilty verdict should automatically result. This type of super-majority verdict process should involve the use of a secret ballot vote on guilt or innocence to protect the integrity of the verdict as a collective expression of the individual jurors’ consciences. The author argues that the current system which requires all jurors to agree on one verdict results in the majority “browbeating” the outnumbered dissenters into submission. The proposed super-majority system also has the benefits of promoting thorough discussion of all points of view and eliminating hung jury situations. In outlining the proposed super-majority system, the author illustrates how many specific military trial features can be used within State criminal trial procedures, particularly the use of court-martials which allow non-unanimous verdicts through the use of secret balloting. The author notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has illustrated the constitutional right of States to adopt the military verdict approach that uses a super-majority process rather than the unanimous verdict system. The trial procedures used by the court-martial are described followed by a consideration of how State criminal verdicts can be improved by adopting military jury procedures. The procedures used in State criminal courts are contrasted to the procedures used in court-martials before the author turns to a consideration of the concerns arising from the use of non-unanimous verdicts, which include concerns about the legitimacy of the verdict, how to ensure thorough deliberations, and the protection of unpopular minorities. The advantages of using the court-martial’s unique secret ballot to reach a verdict are reviewed and include the increased likelihood that all jury members will vote their conscience. Footnotes

NCJ 217558
Grant T. Harris ; Marnie E. Rice
Adjusting Actuarial Violence Risk Assessments Based on Aging or the Passage of Time
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume:34 Issue:3 Dated:March 2007 Pages:297 to 313

Two studies examined whether the following selected variables were relevant to modifications in violence risk assessment over time: age, the passage of time since the first offense, time spent incarcerated, or time spent offense-free in the community. Using scores on the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG), an actuarial violence risk assessment instrument, this study found no empirical basis for adjusting risk assessment for violence because an offender had gotten older. Age at release predicted violent reoffending, but not as well as age at first offense. For sex offenders, age at first offense improved the prediction of violent and sexual reoffending. The time elapsed since the first offense and the time spent incarcerated were not related to the risk for violent behavior after release. Findings did support the lowering of VRAG recidivism risk estimates based on extended periods of violence-free behavior while at risk for reoffending in the community; however, this finding held only as long as the person assessed was not in the three highest VRAG categories of risk. Using three non-overlapping samples of violent offenders, the first study examined whether any of three variables (time elapsed since the first offenses, time spent incarcerated, and age at release) were related to violent reoffending or made an incremental contribution to the prediction of violent recidivism after age at first offense was considered. The second study used all the participants from the samples in the first study (n=1,309) in order to examine violent reoffending as a function of offense-free time at risk. It used annual time "gates" between 5 and 20 years. For each "gate," researchers included only those participants who had at least the number of years of opportunity to reoffend pertaining to that "gate." 5 tables, 4 notes, and 44 references

NCJ 217565
Sarah E. Ullman
Ten-Year Update of "Review and Critique of Empirical Studies of Rape Avoidance"
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume:34 Issue:3 Dated:March 2007 Pages:411 to 429

The author's review of empirical studies of rape avoidance is updated in order to indicate what has been learned in the past 10 years and what is needed in order to continue to promote this type of rape prevention. The author notes that resistance and rape avoidance are important because research shows that women who have experienced a completed rape have poorer mental health than women who have experienced attempted rape. A review of rape resistance strategies shows that fighting, fleeing, and screaming/yelling are all associated with decreased odds of completed rape. Although more research is required in order to determine what resistance works best in which situations, it appears that resistance should be as forceful as the offender's attack and should be sufficient to counter the type of strategy used by the attacker. Many situational factors are associated with whether women are likely to avoid completed rape and physical injuries. These factors include the social circumstances where the attack occurs, the preattack behavior of victims and offenders, and the victim-offender relationship. Other factors that influence rape resistance are whether a weapon is involved, where the attack occurs, the time of day, and whether help is immediately available. There is also some indication that the characteristics of the attacker may influence whether the woman can resist being raped. Other obstacles to effective rape resistance pertain to social-psychological factors and victimization history. One such barrier is gender role socialization that encourages women to put the needs of others, especially men, above their own needs. Other factors that impede women's resistance to rape are anxiety about being rejected by men and embarrassment at how others might judge their resistance strategy. This paper also discusses self-defense training and rape prevention programs. 93 references

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