Sunday, December 09, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, December 9, 2007


NCJ Number: 220390
Title: Recidivism in Australia: Findings and Future Research
Author: Jason Payne
Source: Australian Institute of Criminology

This report summarizes studies published in the Australian literature that have focused on recidivism over the past 10 years, deals with important questions relating to Australian recidivism research, provides a conceptual framework through which recidivism can be defined and interpreted, and arms researchers and policymakers with a battery of tools useful in critical assessment of the research literature. Future directions identified as priorities in Australian recidivism research include: (1) developing a national research agenda and nation indicators of recidivism; (2) improving capacity to measure recidivism; and (3) increasing the value of recidivism research for policy development by standardizing methodological reporting. Emerging areas of research that will likely generate unique findings for public policy and crime prevention include: (1) developing recidivism prediction models; (2) additional exploratory analysis of recidivism in neglected and emerging areas of crime; and (3) further investment in evaluating the number and variety of operational crime prevention and reduction programs in Australia. At a time when evidence based policy development has become increasingly important in the criminal justice policy arenas, recidivism research provides promise for crime control strategies targeted at reducing reoffending. Identifying recidivists, understanding the correlates of high volume offending, and evaluating programs designed to reduce offending remain three key research and policy priorities in Australia. However, despite the importance of recidivism, there remains a large divide between research and policy. This report deals with important questions relating to recidivism research, provides a conceptual framework through which recidivism can be defined and interpreted, and arms researchers and policymakers with tools useful in the critical assessment of the research literature. It begins by looking at the general definition of recidivism and the problems inherent in its measurement and identification. It concludes with future directions for recidivism research in Australia, the priorities in recidivism research. Tables, figures, references and appendix

NCJ Number: 220395
Title: Families Shamed: The Consequences of Crime for Relatives of Serious Offenders
Author: Rachel Condry
Source: Willan Publishing

This book attempts to understand how, when a serious crime is uncovered, relatives of offenders are drawn into the shaming processes that follow, and exactly what it is that underlies these processes, it also attempts to understand what relatives did with the shame and stigma they experienced and how they moved forward and the various ways they managed their experiences. Utilizing the story of a group of relatives of serious offenders between 1997 and 2003, the experiences of relatives appeared to be mediated by the kin relationship they shared with the offender, the offense type, and the gender of the offender. The gender of the offender was found to be significant in several ways. Relatives of female offenders tended to contextualize the offense using actor adjustments constructed around denials of full responsibility. Participants in the study spoke of their time in court as particularly traumatic, and a time when they were often lacking in support. In some cases, relatives were in fear of, or subject to, attacks from the victim’s associates. After the court process, serious offenders’ families often become prison visitors for many years. However, recognition of the needs of prisoners’ families has developed considerably in recent years. In most cases, participants in the study wanted to support the offender, and further wanted to encourage the offender to address his or her offending behavior. However, these adjustments, in most cases, did not attempt to fully absolve the offender of blame. This book tells the story of serious offenders’ families, the difficulties they face, and their attempts to overcome them. It focuses on how relatives make sense of their experiences, individually and collectively; how they describe the difficulties they face; whether they are blamed and shamed and in what manner; how they attempt to understand the offense and the circumstances which brought it about; and how they deal with the contradiction inherent in supporting someone and yet not condoning his or her actions. The accounts in this book have been partial and one-sided, restricted to the families’ stories of crime and its consequences. These stories often reflect progress and a sense of moving forward from an initial point of devastation. Appendixes 1-2, references

NCJ Number: 220402
Title: Identity Fraud Trends and Patterns: Building a Data-Based Foundation for Proactive Enforcement
Author: Gary R. Gordon; Donald J. Rebovich; Kyung-Seok Choo; Judith B. Gordon
Source: Ctr for Identity Management and Information Protection

The purpose of this federally funded project is to identify patterns and trends of identity theft, specifically identity theft offenders, so that public law enforcement and private sector security departments will have added knowledge to apply to a proactive means of preventing this insidious crime. This study of closed Secret Service cases provides empirical evidence about identity theft in the United States from a law enforcement point of view and can be extrapolated to local and State law enforcement. It focuses on identity theft offenders setting it apart from previous surveys and research centered on identity theft victims. The analysis of the cases revealed that while identity theft can occur anywhere, it was concentrated in the Northeast and South. The results show that identity theft is a crime that minorities are just as apt to commit as Whites. The number of younger offenders, female offenders, and female African-American offenders in these crimes is noteworthy. Offenders can be separated into two groups: those who engaged in identity theft practices as isolated events as opportunities presented themselves and those who actively pursued identity theft as part of a property theft criminal career. Analysis of the methods employed by the offenders showed that Internet and/or other technological devices were used in approximately half of the cases. The case analysis results refute some presumptions about the relationship between the offender and the victim. The typical identity theft criminal took advantage of those not personally known to him/her. The medium loss incurred by identity theft victims was $31,356. In general, the more offenders involved in the case, the higher the victim loss. In addition to individuals, the financial services industry was just as likely to be victimized as an individual, with a wide spectrum of methods used. The closed Secret Services cases in this study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance provided reliable information collected objectively. Recommendations are presented and based on the use of the findings. Figures, appendix and references

NCJ Number: 220474
Title: Do Harsher Prison Conditions Reduce Recidivism?: A Discontinuity-Based Approach
Journal: American Law and Economics Review Volume:9 Issue:1 Dated:2007 Pages:1 to 29
Author: M. Keith Chen; Jesse M. Shapiro

This article exploits a feature of the Federal inmate classification system to estimate the effect of moving a prisoner [ed. note: they don't mean moving from one security level to another, just the original placement of the offender in the system, but forgive them because they and their peer reviewers are just economists] to a higher security level, with the intent to determine whether an increase in the severity of prison conditions would increase or decrease the propensity of inmates to commit crimes after release. By exploiting discontinuities in the assignment of inmates to different security levels, this study attempted to isolate the causal impact of prison conditions on recidivism. The findings suggest that harsher prison conditions do not reduce post-release criminal behavior, and may even increase it. While the estimates are imprecise, they are large in magnitude and appear larger than benchmark estimates of deterrence effects. The results highlight the potential importance of research aimed at determining which aspects of incarceration increase or reduce recidivism. A richer understanding of the ways inmates respond to both harsher prison conditions and exposure to more violent peers would likely allow policymakers to suppress socially costly recidivism by adjusting conditions and redesigning assignment (classification) systems. With over 2 million inmates currently incarcerated and 600,000 inmates released per year, the demographic impact of American prisons can hardly be overstated. Theory alone cannot tell us whether an increase in the severity of prison conditions will increase or decrease the propensity of inmates to commit crimes after release. This article attempts to understand the impact of incarceration on inmates’ subsequent criminal behavior. It estimates the causal effect of prison conditions on recidivism rates by exploiting a discontinuity in the assignment of Federal prisoners to security levels. Figures, tables, appendix, and references

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