Sunday, July 22, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, Criminology Edition


NCJ 218896
Daniel S. Nagin
Moving Choice to Center Stage in Criminological Research and Theory: The American Society of Criminology 2006 Sutherland Address
Volume:45 Issue:2 Dated:May 2007 Pages:259 to 272

This paper argues for moving choice in crimimal behavior to "center stage" in criminological research, since choice is a foundational premise of the criminal law. The author notes that he is not advancing a comprehensive theory of choice in relation to criminal behavior, since this can only come after the accumulation of a large number of research projects that test specific propositions about the role of choice in specific circumstances and stages of development. Part of the collection of this evidence will require that criminologists look toward research and theorizing on choice and decisionmaking that has been conducted in fields other than criminology. Research on judgment and decisionmaking in domains other than criminal behavior should be a key focus. The paper focuses on three points. First, research on choice in problem domains that apparently have little connection to crime provides guidance for advances in knowledge and understanding of choice in relation to crime. Second, decisionmaking involves more than cognitive deliberation. It also involves emotion. Understanding the interaction between cognition and emotion is critical to understanding crime and how to prevent it. Third, understanding the developmental course of decisionmaking in criminal endeavors is crucial to understanding issues such as the emergence of crime from childhood problem behavior, the chronic choice of crime, and desistance from crime. Examples are provided of the type of research on decisionmaking that will relate to important issues in criminology. 37 references

NCJ 218898
Graham C. Ousey; Pamela Wilcox
Interaction of Antisocial Propensity and Life-Course Varying Predictors of Delinquent Behavior: Differences by Method of Estimation and Implications for Theory
Volume:45 Issue:2 Dated:May 2007 Pages:313 to 354

This study identified and assessed several hypotheses that sometimes conflict regarding the ways that a propensity for antisocial behavior moderates the influence on delinquency of social factors that vary over time. The study found significant differences in the effects of the interaction between a stable propensity for antisocial behavior and the nature of social factors that change over time, depending on the statistical model used. Statistically significant interaction effects were nearly always evident under least-squares-based models. These effects are consistent with models that suggest individual propensity for antisocial behavior tends to magnify the changing risk factors of opportunity, delinquent peer association, and strain, as well as the crime-constraining effects of social bonds. In contrast, tobit models that better match the observed delinquency data only found one significant interaction effect, which was for the measure of delinquent friends. Taken together, the differences across the models heighten concerns that interaction effects in least-squares-based analyses of delinquency could be spurious. This originates from a mismatch between the linear model assumptions and the skewed/censored distribution of the dependent variable. Additional research is required before firm conclusions can be drawn; however, the results of this study should encourage scholars to focus on the adequacy of their statistical models when investigating the manner by which criminological variables interact in their effects on skewed delinquency measures. Data for this study came from the four waves of the Rural Substance Abuse and Violence Project, a prospective longitudinal study of substance use, criminal victimization, and criminal offending among a panel of students in Kentucky. Data were collected initially in the spring of 2001. The dependent variable was a 13-item index of delinquent behavior. Variables related to time-stable antisocial propensity and time-varying delinquency predictors were measured. 4 tables, 1 figure, and 55 references

NCJ 218899
Richard Rosenfeld; Robert Fornango; Andres F. Rengifo
Impact of Order-Maintenance Policing on New York City Homicide and Robbery Rates: 1988-2001
Volume:45 Issue:2 Dated:May 2007 Pages:355 to 384

This study examined the effects of order-maintenance arrests on precinct-level robbery and homicide trends in New York City for 1988-2001, using more reliable crime and arrest data, longer time series, and more extensive controls for other influences than were used in previous research. The study found that order-maintenance policing (OMP) did contribute to robbery and homicide declines in New York City; however, the impact was modest, and substantial crime reductions likely would have occurred even without the increase in OMP. In addition to OMP, several factors were associated with New York City's robbery and homicide declines. These factors pertained to socioeconomic disadvantage, racial composition, and immigrant concentration. There was also evidence that areas with greater initial crime levels experienced significantly greater crime decreases. Order-maintenance effects persisted even when the study controlled for robbery and homicide increases since 1984, which marked the beginning of the New York City crack epidemic. The crime, arrest, and criminal complaint data used in the study were from precinct-level annual reports produced by the New York City Police Department. The annual number of police officers per precinct was obtained from the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services provided data on the number of persons sentenced to prison from each precinct. The dependent variables in the analysis were the homicide rates and robbery rates per 10,000 precinct residents. The key explanatory construct was OMP, which was measured as the annual number of misdemeanor and ordinance-violation arrests per 10,000 precinct residents. The number of citizen complaints of misdemeanor and ordinance violations per 10,000 residents was used as a measure of disorder in the homicide, robbery, and OMP models. 4 figures, 3 tables, 43 references, and 1 appendix

NCJ 218900
Steven F. Messner; Sandro Galea; Kenneth J. Tardiff; Melissa Tracy; Angela Bucciarelli; Tinka Markham Piper; Victoria Frye; David Vlahov
Policing, Drugs, and the Homicide Decline in New York City in the 1990s
Volume:45 Issue:2 Dated:May 2007 Pages:385 to 414

This study assessed the role of policing and drugs in the sharp decline in homicide in New York City in the 1990s. The study found that changes in misdemeanor arrest rates were negatively related to changes in total homicide rates. This supports Keeling and Ceases general claim that the implementation of new policing policies (order-maintenance policing) had a noticeable role in the homicide decline in New York City. The study also found that when homicides were disaggregated by weapon use, the effect of changes in policing were significant for gun-related, but not for nongun-related homicide. Changes in homicide rates were also significantly affected by changes in cocaine use. Declining cocaine use, as indicated by the toxicology of accident victims, was associated with decreasing homicide levels. This study went beyond previous research in this area by examining gun-related and nongun-related homicides separately, by using a superior measure of drug activity based on cocaine toxicology of accident fatalities, and by including a measure of felony arrests in order to help distinguish the effects of increased policing of disorder offenses from intensified policing generally. Analyses were based on pooled, cross-sectional, time-series data for 74 New York City precincts over the 1990-99 period, with all variables measured at the appropriate precinct level. 3 tables, 1 figure, 45 references, and appended univariate statistics for New York City Police Precincts, 1990-99

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