This webpage provides the title, authors, abstract, and a word cloud for each article published in QC.
by Kevin Buckler
Judicial discretion in sentencing has historically produced disparities in criminal sentencing outcomes. In an effort to address disparity at the federal level, in 1984, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that led to the creation of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and subsequently the adoption of federal sentencing guidelines. Studies show that even among similarly situated defendants (in terms of offense score and criminal history category) disparities have persisted regardless of the sentencing guidelines. An understudied source of disparity is the combined and interactive role of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys in the application of the guidelines and the statutory framework that informs sentencing. The current study examines sentencing for the federal offense of illegal reentry of removed aliens (8 U.S. Code §1326) in one division of a U.S. District Court. This study reports data from direct non-participant observation of sentencing hearings and publicly available court records. Findings reveal sources of sentencing disparity among similarly situated cases that are not readily illuminated by the yearly quantitative data provided by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The findings suggest that disparity in the sentencing of similarly situated illegal reentry defendants is influenced by differential judicial interpretation of and use of the tools made available to them in the sentencing guidelines and the statutory sentencing authority.
by Beatriz Amalfi Marques, Ashley G. Blackburn, Shannon K. Fowler, Janet L. Mullings, and Maria L. Lecuna
Once incarcerated, inmates face a myriad of potential threats to their physical and emotional well-being. The threat of being sexually or otherwise victimized while in prison breeds anxiety and fear among inmates, especially those who are new to the prison environment. In response, inmates have developed strategies to avoid victimization. The present study, utilizing self-report questionnaires, asked a sample of male and female inmates in a large Southern prison system about the advice they would give to another newly incarcerated inmate to avoid being sexually assaulted. A thematic analysis of inmates’ open-ended responses revealed male and female inmates have different strategies for avoiding victimization, many of which can be linked back to tenets of the inmate code. Based on these findings it is suggested that gender responsive education and treatment are necessary to preventing and responding to fear about, and incidents of, sexual victimization in prisons.
by Davinia Rizzo, Belinda Davey, and Melanie Irons
The wellbeing of prison officers has primarily been understood as a function of contextual variables such as their workplace and the nature of their role. Yet the research suggests the officers’ gender and tenure are the only statistically significant predictors of wellbeing for this population (Butler, Tasca, Zhang, & Carpenter, 2019). These findings suggest that variables at the person level may be more important than contextual variables. As such, we conducted a qualitative, meta-synthesis to explore how interpersonal interactions between prisoners and prison officers may affect the health and wellbeing of prison officers. Following a systematic review of the literature, eight separate studies in which prison officers were interviewed regarding their interactions with prisoners, were included in the meta-synthesis. Thematic analysis resulted in the development of six categories: trust and respect, maintaining and managing boundaries, communication, appraisal of the self, role and prisoner. From this we developed one statement of finding which emphasised a) the importance of trust and respect between prison officers and prisoner, b) the use of discretion and informal favours by prison officers as tools which needed to be applied consistently and c) that communication skills are key. We discuss the practical and theoretical implications of this statement.
by Lisa L. Sample, Brooke Cooley, Tusty ten Bensel, Carin Hyter, and Brett Hurley
This paper examined the perceptions of convicted sex offenders and their interactions with law enforcement over time. Specifically, we focused on how formal interactions influenced stigma management and self-identity transformation. For decades, scholars have proposed that identities and behaviors often result from interactions with others. Sex offender registration and notification laws force interactions between registrants and police agents for years, if not a lifetime. Given that desistance from sex offending is dependent on prosocial identity transformation, we analyzed interviews with 63 registrants to uncover how interactions with police promote or inhibit identity transformation over time. Our findings suggested interactions with police can influence the internalization of a “sex offender” label, can reaffirm non-offender role identities, but mostly have little to no effect on personal identity transformation over time.
by Rémi Boivin, Camille Faubert, Annie Gendron, and Bruno Poulin
Body-worn cameras (BWCs) can be used to provide video evidence that is expected to help settle cases quickly. The present study explores the assumption that everyone who watches a recorded intervention will have the same understanding of the images. Focus groups were conducted with different people: citizens from the general population, in-training police candidates and cadets, as well as experienced police officers. The aim was to provide insights into how a potential BWC perspective bias affects attitudes towards use of force incidents. Results suggest that the bias has more effect on those without actual experience of police work. In particular, it appears that BWC’s first-person perspective encourages self-imagery but that only experienced officers and, to a lesser extent, in-training police candidates can put themselves in a situation similar to that in the video. Also, while distance is recognized as a crucial element in threat assessment, unexperienced participants noted that it was difficult to estimate distance from the BWC footage.
by Benjamin W. Fisher, F. Chris Curran, Samantha Viano, and John Skinner
School resource officers (SROs) have become increasingly prevalent in U.S. public schools, yet critics suggest that there is an inherent incompatibility between the cultures of police and education. However, research has not examined the extent to which some of the potentially incompatible elements of police culture exist among SROs. This study examines three elements of traditional police culture that are likely to be particularly incompatible with school settings— suspicion, danger anticipation, and unpredictability. Given SROs’ involvement in roles such as teaching and informal counseling that extend beyond the typical duties of police officers, it is unclear whether these elements of police culture extend to SROs and influence their work. The current mixed methods study examines these dynamics using data from 31 surveys, 50 time logs, and 47 in-depth interviews with SROs from two suburban school districts. Findings indicated that SROs did embody characteristics typical of traditional police culture and that these characteristics shaped their daily activities and interactions with students, particularly regarding maintaining security and building relationships. Implications for theory, research, and policy are offered.
by Steven L. Holman and Don Hummer
Officer discretion is an oft-debated topic in American culture today. A plethora of research has been conducted on how local, county, and state law enforcement officers use their discretionary authority specific to enforcement of moving violations and the initiation of traffic stops, however to date, no such work has been conducted on a policing entity within the United States military. Through observational ride alongs and unstructured discussion with participants, this study breaks that barrier and assesses how one particular Air Force installation’s law enforcement officers exercise their authority.
by Michael C. LaSala and James P. Fedor
LGBT crime victims underutilize victim assistance services because they fear secondary victimization by homophobic and insensitive workers and organizations. However, assessment of the perceptions and competence of those working with these populations is largely absent from the literature. To address this gap, we qualitatively investigated 83 victim assistance workers and administrators regarding their practices with LGBT victims. Overall, respondents believed that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity was irrelevant, which was well-meaning but potentially perpetuated a type of LGBT cultural blindness to the needs of these populations, not dissimilar to color blindness among some white service providers toward African Americans. Participants questioned the appropriateness of asking about a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity, had not received training in working with LGBT clients, and felt compelled to hide their clients’ sexual orientations and gender identities to protect them from hostility within the legal system. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.
by Jacqueline G. Lee and John W. Ropp
As plea bargains have proliferated in the criminal justice system, scholars have been working to better understand their mechanics. There have been a few recent examinations of plea bargaining, but the literature lacks qualitative research that gives the defense sufficient attention. Using a sample of courtroom practitioners in one large, urban county, we examine defense attorney bargaining and client counseling tactics. Results demonstrate that defense attorneys use a variety of strategies for negotiation, including sharing humanizing information about their clients with the prosecutor and utilizing delay tactics. Results also suggest that attorneys counsel their clients about plea offers in varying ways and that they are not in full agreement regarding the level of autonomy to give their clients. Overall, results support some prior literature but also prompt questions of other widely-held beliefs, such as the idea that all courtroom actors endorse “going rates” as the prevailing norm in the courtroom. Although there are likely some expectations for typical punishments, these results also point to individual defense attorneys' ability to alter the trajectory of a criminal case through their negotiation and client counseling strategies. We conclude that more research is necessary on defense counsel strategies and how they may impact case processing and outcomes.
by Michael McSkimming, Ahmet Guler, and Scott E. Miller
This qualitative study examines a community posse initiative initiated by the Clearfield County Sheriff’s Office in Pennsylvania in 2015. In this research, we aimed to understand the motivations of volunteers who joined the posse initiative and identify the factors that affect citizens’ decisions to contribute to a volunteer policing effort. To do this, we collected data through semi-structured interviews with posse members and also obtained official data from the Sheriff’s Office. The major findings suggest that participants were motivated to join the posse out of feelings of duty/attachment to the community, a desire to help law enforcement, and a heightened fear of crime. Findings of our research and its contribution to the volunteer policing literature are discussed and implications for future research are suggested.
by Andrea Corradi, Carrie B. Sanders, and James Popham
Acts of violence at institutions of higher education have been heavily publicized, leading security on post-secondary campuses to become a hotbed issue in the media and in the daily lives of those who attend them. With extensive media coverage of events such as the attack on Jeanne Clery, and the mass shootings at Northern Illinois University, Dawson College, and Virginia Tech, many post-secondary schools are working to enhance their security practices. The present study uses Valverde’s (2001; 2008; 2009; 2010; 2011; 2014) security projects framework to examine the lived experiences of security measures on a Canadian urban-integrated campus. Through semi-structured interviews with administrators, campus police officers, students, and faculty, and constructivist grounded theorizing, this study provides an in-depth examination of security from multiple perspectives within one institution. Specifically, the study explores how the jurisdiction and logic of security projects have shaped perceptions of safety and security on campus. The resultant negative interactions of this jurisdictional model have affected the way students viewed security on campus and threatened the students’ perception of the campus police.
by Vaughn J. Crichlow, Ross Deuchar, and Seth Wyatt Fallik
Deadly encounters between police and Black men have led to public outrage and increasing scrutiny of law enforcement. In response, some law enforcement leaders have called for more proactive strategies in high-crime areas. While many have criticized oppressive examples of proactivity, such as stop-question-and-frisk, others have suggested that proactive approaches could be more effective if tailored to the needs of racial and ethnic minority residents. In this qualitative study, we explore these issues using data collected from interviews and participant observation with police officers at a Southern Police Department located near several low-income ethnic minority neighborhoods. The aim of this study is to determine how police officers interpret person-based proactivity (Such as stop-question-and-frisk), along with other self-initiated forms of person-based proactive approaches in times of increasing public scrutiny due to reported incidents of police violence. Participants expressed frustration regarding negative public sentiment, as well as the seeming futility of doing “good police work.” Many believed that mass media ignored the positive achievements of police. Participants were also concerned that negative publicity had discouraged officers from potentially effective forms of self-initiated proactivity. The implications for proactive policing and community-informed strategies in troubled times are discussed.
by Johnny Nhan and Kendra N. Bowen
Few studies have examined Internet sex trafficking through the lens of law enforcement working these cases. The purpose of this research is to explore the dynamic nature of policing sex trafficking in the online environment. The qualitative data was drawn from interviews with police investigators and detectives who work sex trafficking cases in two urban cities in Texas. The results suggest that the nature of sex trafficking has significantly evolved since the advent of social media, including the strategies for recruitment of workers and clients, making enforcement easier with some aspects and much more difficult with others. Additionally, law enforcement interviewed believe domestic sex trafficking is a much greater issue in their metropolitan area than international sex trafficking.
by Willard M. Oliver
Public opinion polls largely developed post-WWII and questions about the police did not appear until the late 1960s. Since then, over 100+ studies have assessed the modern-day public opinion of the police, but none have looked to public opinion from an earlier time period. This study uses a qualitative historiographical approach for assessing public opinion of the police in the 1930s by drawing on the primary source of a letter exchange between two of that eras greatest pulp writers: Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. Findings suggest similarities between the 1930s and present day public opinion of the police.
by Marta-Marika Urbanik and Carolyn Greene
Empirical research has consistently demonstrated that residents of disadvantaged and racialized inner-city neighborhoods across North America are subjected to disproportionate and omnipresent policing. Consequently, relationships between law enforcement officials and marginalized community members are often strained. Whilst a robust body of literature has examined how citizens perceive “every day” policing practices such as “carding,” stop and search, etc., it remains unclear how citizens perceive more invasive policing encounters—such as police raids. Drawing upon 35 interviews with residents of Toronto’s inner-city, this paper explores how community members experience, make sense of, and talk about police raids. Our data uncover widespread perceptions of nefariously motivated police misconduct, raise questions about how residents anticipate and expect police to treat them, and highlight nuances in how these experiences shape police legitimacy views. We argue that how residents perceive police to behave during raids matters, as this can damage perceptions of police legitimacy for some residents, while merely reaffirming existing views for others.
by Amny M. Shuraydi
In the social sciences, Arabs and Arab-Americans are an understudied population. While there are numerous contributing factors as to why this disparity in the literature exists, one of the main contributing factors when studying Arab populations is that of access. In quantitative data, those of Arab descent are often misclassified or grouped into broader categories such as “White,” “Middle-Eastern,” or “Muslim.” This can lead to data that either seem limiting or misleading. In qualitative research, cultural factors such as shame, stigma, fear of judgment, and a culture of honor can lead to blocked access to offender populations. This article will discuss some of the challenges with gaining access that are specific to ethnically Arab populations, particularly with drug users.
by Shannon Dodd
Studies on gender differences in public punitiveness show that women generally hold less punitive attitudes toward offenders than men. The reverse is true, however, when it comes to ‘back-end’ criminal justice processes, like parole, that involve the early release of prisoners. With evidence to suggest that differing emotional responses may help to explain gender gaps like these, this study draws on the concepts of gendered feeling rules and emotion management, together with the notion of gender as a performance, to explore how men and women enact their gendered identity through emotion in a criminal justice context. The findings highlight the salience of emotions like fear, anger, and empathy to gender differences in public support for parole. Further, they show that while both men and women perform gender by conforming to gendered emotion expectations, they also resist traditional emotion norms.
by Kevin H. Wozniak
Through analysis of six focus groups with 44 black and white residents of the greater Boston metropolitan area, this paper presents a qualitative assessment of people’s “zone of acquiescence” for justice reinvestment reform, paying particular attention to people’s criminal justice budget preferences and their openness to sentencing reform for violent offenders. When asked to write their own crime prevention budgets, participants chose to invest more money into the infrastructure and social services of communities than into police, probation, or prisons, arguing that the former is in greater need of funding than the latter. Most participants were initially resistant to sentencing violent offenders to community-based sanctions, but after discussion, they endorsed a discretion-centric, case-by-case treatment of violent felons. These data suggest that, when properly framed, policymakers have more “political space” to reinvest money directly into at-risk communities and release some violent offenders without provoking public backlash than they have so far assumed.
by Micahel Aiello
I examine the constructions of costumed crime-fighting reflected in ‘Phoenix’s Journal,’ a blog describing the efforts of a group called the Rain City Superhero Movement (RCSM). The RCSM blog provides a self-produced portrait of the group, allowing for analysis of this critical case of vigilantism within their cultivated domain. The theoretical framework of legal consciousness guides a qualitative and ethnographic content analysis exploring two research questions concerning the punishment philosophies of the RCSM, and how costumed crime-fighters use the law to frame their behavior. The RCSM blog indicates a fundamental tension between the members as vigilantes, incapacitating threats to the public, and their role as participants in a larger phenomenon of community crime prevention. The online presence of the RCSM suggests a disinclination to punish beyond incapacitation, as well as portraying these costumed crime fighters as mainly operating within the constraints of the law.
by Stan Korotchenko and Kim M. Anderson
Although research indicates that social determinants impact minority health, there remains a dearth of knowledge on how economically disadvantaged communities perceive the effects of poverty stigmatization, community disorder, and feelings of unsafety on their health status. This qualitative study used community-based participatory research methods to explore how minority residents (n=23) from an urban neighborhood of concentrated poverty perceived the impact of residential and environmental factors on their health. Thematic analysis highlighted how the combination of high crime rates and community disorder negatively affected residents’ ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle due to increased levels of stress and decreased access to health resources. Additionally, perceptions of stigmatization and feelings of unsafety adversely impacted levels of community connectedness and collective efficacy and prevented efforts to improve their individual and neighborhood health conditions.
by Karen McElrath, Lori Guevara, Zahra Shekarkhar, and Joe M. Brown
Out-of-school suspension (OSS) is a major disciplinary tool that has impacted large numbers of students in the United States. Most research into OSS has drawn exclusively on data collected from school records and other “official” sources, and this body of work has contributed to our understanding of suspension decisions by school officials. Considerably less is known about how students experience out-of-school suspensions. This line of inquiry is important because it captures the student voice and reveals a series of counter-narratives that offer alternative interpretations of students’ behaviors that lead to OSS. The aims of this study were twofold: 1) to explore the backgrounds and contexts of the behaviors for which students were suspended, and 2) to examine the degree to which suspension practices reflected criminal justice processes. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews with 26 students who had experienced at least one OSS during the previous 18 months. Collectively, they had been suspended from 10 different public high schools in one county. The sample was largely African American and male. Respondents provide important contextual details about the events as they describe their role, frustration over subjective infractions, labeling, and concerns about limited due process.
by Quintin Williams and Cesraéa Rumpf
In the current era of mass incarceration, an increasing number of people face the challenge of transitioning from prison to society. Researchers of post-incarceration life have produced a detailed account of the collateral consequences of incarceration, noting the numerous barriers people must overcome as they try to return to society. In this paper, we show how stigma continues to be a structuring force in the lives of the formerly incarcerated. We develop the concept of the burden of post-incarceration life, meaning the structural constraints formerly incarcerated people face and the constant work they undertake to demonstrate and attempt to receive recognition for their rehabilitation. We argue that this burden is a critical though understudied aspect of life after prison. To develop this argument, we draw upon ethnographic and qualitative interview data from two distinct research projects with formerly incarcerated men and women in Chicago and highlight three interrelated themes that emerged from our data: judgment, exploitation, and competing demands. By centering burden in our analysis, we conclude that a focus on overcoming barriers may obfuscate the ongoing challenges formerly incarcerated people face.
by Anjali Fulambarker
To better understand police response to domestic violence, it is useful to consider the perspectives of officers themselves. Through exploratory, in-depth interviews and applying the lens of role theory, this study focuses on police officers’ perceptions of their role in responding to domestic violence, their perceptions of the effectiveness of their response, and challenges they face. Findings suggest that, for these participants, there is an overlap in the different roles they inhabit, as well as limitations and barriers to their response. These limitations and obstacles are a signal that officers may be experiencing role overload, which leads to their frustration and ambivalence toward domestic violence situations. This study has the potential to serve as the groundwork for future research and policy changes aimed at mitigating role overload experienced, particularly in domestic violence calls.
by Dara Lewis and Philip Young P. Hong
Despite the growing body of literature detailing the disproportionate social consequences of mass incarceration to black men, many of whom are fathers, insufficient attention has been given to the extent of damage on fatherhood and father identity in particular. This article examines the consequences of mass incarceration on father identity and the performance of fatherhood among a group of black men. Drawing from rich qualitative data, the study uses the lived experiences and perceptions of a group of formerly incarcerated black fathers. This research found that the incarceration experience significantly disrupted the performance of fatherhood among this group of men resulting in acute harm to their identity as fathers during incarceration and ongoing harm after release.
by Ethan M. Higgins, Benjamin W. Fisher, and Maury Nation
Although research has shown that students and school personnel believe that adults respond to bullying at different rates, it is unclear why these differences occur. Using open-ended survey responses from 189 students, this study investigates why students perceive that school personnel fail to respond to bullying. Students articulated a variety of reasons for school personnel’s lack of response, including ways in which they could fail to see, notice, or respond to the bullying. In turn, students used their agency to understand and counteract school personnel’s lack of response. Theoretical and policy implications are discussed.
by Justin M. Smith
Unwarranted disparity in sentencing continues to be a problem in criminal courts. Sentencing, a final step in the multi-stage process of criminal justice, is seen as such an important component of ensuring consistency that legislative policy has created guidelines to control judicial decision-making. Nonetheless, research shows that disparity under sentencing guidelines persists due to influences external to the law—referred to as substantive rationality. Sentencing research overwhelmingly utilizes quantitative analysis of official court data to produce its conclusions about the influences of disparity. The current study builds upon past research by using qualitative analysis of interviews with 20 judges in Michigan. The recent shift from mandatory to advisory sentencing guidelines and the scope of disparity in Michigan make it a substantively rich site for investigation. This analysis found several themes in judges’ perspectives on causes of disparity, including: (1) localization, organizational resources, and court policy; (2) individual judicial philosophy and decision-making, (3) influence from pre-sentencing reports and appellate courts.
by Joyce A. Arditti, Amy A. Morgan, Sara Spiers, Virginia Buechner-Maxwell, and Vicky Shivy
Guided by a grounded theory methodology, the authors propose a theory of rehabilitation for incarcerated persons within a prison equine program (PEP). Interviews with ten incarcerated men yielded a grounded theory of rehabilitative change centered around the importance of relationships with program staff and horses, and the uniqueness of the barn-equine environment in promoting safe attachments and positive views of self. Special emphasis is placed on the development of secure reparative attachments between men and their horses grounded in acceptance and mutual empathy, as well as the development of redemptive identities whereby participants viewed themselves as having purpose and value as human beings. Implications for policy and practice for fostering effective rehabilitation in incarceration settings are discussed.
by Adam Trahan and Douglas Evans
Family members and significant others of incarcerated individuals suffer when their loved ones are incarcerated. The loss of a parent, sibling, child, spouse, or partner to incarceration can be painful. If they wish to stay physically connected to an incarcerated individual, visitation is their only recourse. Visiting a prison can be costly in terms of the amount of time it takes to travel to the facility, the total expenses incurred during travel, and the socio-emotional effects of limited contact. On top of these costs, visitation can be an intricate process to navigate due to the multitude of facility rules and the difficulty of preparing for them. Overlooking even one rule can result in denial of entry, ending a visitation before it even starts. Inexperienced visitors are at a particular disadvantage because of their lack of familiarity with the formal and informal rules of a secure facility. The strictness of facility policies and staff charged with enforcing them places visitors with experience in a position to offer valued resources to new visitors. Resources can be socioemotional, informational, material, or economic benefits that help visitors navigate a successful visitation. This study uses interviews with relatives and significant others of currently or formerly incarcerated individuals to explore the social exchanges that occur between visitors to prisons.
by Walter S. DeKeseredy, Kathryn Burnham, Robert Nicewarner, James Nolan, and Amanda K. Hall-Sanchez
A number of key risk factors are associated with racist, sexist, and homophobic practices on North American college campuses. However, one additional determinant that has thus far been overlooked is male aggrieved entitlement. Using exploratory qualitative data gleaned by the Campus Quality of Life Survey administered at a large college in the South Atlantic region of the United States, the main objective of this article is to help fill a major research gap by showing that aggrieved entitlement is a correlate that warrants more attention in future empirical and theoretical work on campus climates.
by Heith Copes, Whitney Tchoula, and Jared Ragland
The use of photographs in criminological research can be an important tool for both collecting data and illustrating findings. When used in published research, photographs can aid in viewers connecting with the subject matter and the participants. However, photographs can also reify and reinforce cultural stereotypes. We believe that the potential damage done by including photographs can be mitigated when the photographs are properly contextualized. Our aim here is to argue for the value of contextualized photographs in research with those who engage in crime or deviance. We illustrate how by including the stories of participants and ourselves we can complicate cultural narratives and act as counter-visuals for stigmatized images found in the media.
by Scott Chenault and Brooke Collins
Since the 1950s scholars have applied the term dirty work to occupations that society views as demoralizing or disgusting. Occupations are labeled as dirty when they require work which is physically, socially and/or morally tainted. Correctional officers experience pervasive levels of all three types of taint while working in a low prestige occupation. This article relies on ethnographic data to examine how occupational stigma management techniques are taught to new officers and what techniques are most prominent. The findings indicate that new officers are taught occupational ideologies regarding stigma management primarily through sense-making and storytelling. We find that officers manage stigma primarily through reframing their work.
by Karyn Sporer, Michael K. Logan, Gina S. Ligon, and Doug C. Derrick
We draw from Sykes and Matza’s techniques of neutralization theory to interpret how Islamic State and the Levant (ISIL) soft-sympathizers justify violence perpetrated by ISIL. Data come from Tweets associated with ISIL-affiliated accounts that occurred within 24 hours of three high-profile ISIL-attributed attacks: Paris, Nice, and Orlando. Our findings suggest that condemnation of the condemners was a particularly salient neutralization technique used to point out the perverse motives and inconsistent behaviors of Western armed forces, media, and the public. More specifically, we found that the condemnation of the condemners was underlined by three specific claims: (1) comparable violence, (2) selective silence, and (3) differential humanity. Together, these claims intended to display the perceived hypocrisy of ISIL condemners, to undermine the moral credibility of the West, and to serve as the foundation for justifying ISIL-attributed violence. We conclude with theoretical implications and suggestions for policy and practice.
by David V. Baker and Gilbert Garcia
Narratives on the lynching of black females in the United States have rarely commanded much more than minor postscripts in the lynching scholarship, thus leaving the historical picture of lynching violence incomplete and distorted. To correct for this unfinished portrait of American lynchings, the present work provides a contextual history on black females victimized largely by white male terrorists. To distinguish black female lynchings and bring into sharper focus the wretched horror suffered by black women and young black girls, this work constructs an inventory of 188 confirmed cases of black females lynched mostly by white mobsters from 1838 to 1969. A contextual history of black female lynchings supports the notion that vigilante violence against black women and girls was a means of gendered racial oppression in American society; black female lynchings were symbolic and cautioned marginalized black women and girls to maintain their inferior place in society to white male supremacy. One objective of this paper is to bring voice to this population of black females wronged by the interlocking systems of gender, race, and class oppression in United States society. Regrettably, black female oppression as an artifact of gendered racism remains a formidable characteristic of today’s society.
by Kimberly A. DeTardo-Bora, Erica N. Clark, and Bill Gardner
Our knowledge of online activists or hacktivists is growing, but it is still far from complete. The reasons why some of these individuals violate computer laws or how they justify their behavior remains elusive, yet one particular framework that lends itself to understanding a hacker or hacktivist’s belief system is Sykes and Matza’s (1957) neutralization theory. The present study involved a content analysis of publicly available commentary found online and made by participants in Anonymous operations against United States targets from 2008-2013. Over 13,000 words were analyzed, and of the 384 passages of text and phrases, roughly 62% of passages contained some type of neutralizing statement, whereas 38% of passages were coded as containing no neutralization technique. Among the 238 passages and phrases of neutralizations, over half contained neutralizations that reflected condemnation of the condemners, appeal to a higher moral principle, and denial of the victim. Another important finding was that several participants in Anonymous operations justified their actions as simple acts of protest or civil disobedience. While this study sheds light on how hacktivists may justify their behavior, it also paves the way for exploring other neutralizing techniques and signals the need for developing crime-specific neutralizations.
by Charissa Crépault Weir
In this paper, I demonstrate how an understanding of narrative and the tools of narrative analysis can help criminologists unpack the techniques of meaning-making employed in media representations, including documentary films about imprisonment. Since media help to shape, though do not determine, public perceptions of crime and criminal justice, it is useful for criminologists to examine not just media content (i.e. what is said), but also how media constructions advance arguments that are presented as self-evidently true. Narrative structure offers one way for journalists to organize content in a persuasive and emotionally appealing manner and to embed arguments and interpretations within the story of what happened such that they appear to flow naturally and logically from the events themselves. Through a detailed examination of narrative structure, criminologists can better understand how the arguments and interpretations of mediated constructions are communicated and made to appear logical and persuasive. In what follows, Labov’s socio-linguistic narrative approach is adapted to illustrate the role that narrative structure can play in argumentation and, in this case, to facilitate analysis of two Canadian investigative documentaries about the widely publicized mistreatment and carceral death of a female prisoner, Ashley Smith.
by Clara Fesmire, Thomas Vander Ven, and Lauren Wright
Research suggests that serial rapists use more sophisticated techniques and possess more specialized awareness than average single-victim offenders (Park, Schlesinger, Pinizzotto & Davis, 2008). Although there is a substantial body of literature on the attack styles of offenders, data and theoretical models on the interactional styles and performance rituals of serial rapists are relatively scarce. The current study uses a qualitative analysis of major American newspaper accounts to discuss the behavioral patterns and performance styles of the con-style serial rapist as depicted by crime reporters. The con rapist uses deceptive persuasion and everyday disguises (e.g., posing as a police officer or as someone in need of assistance) to gain the trust of potential victims in order to isolate them, reduce capable guardianship, and to amplify their vulnerability. Guided by an analysis of coverage in major American newspapers from 1940-2010, we develop a con-rapist typology organized around the special forms of deceit and social camouflage used by offenders. Our typology includes the Working Con (42% of con rapists), the Good Samaritan (31%), the Supplicating Con (17%), and the Transactional Con (10%). We discuss each variation on the con-approach in terms of the premise, performance, and props used to accomplish the act.
by Sara Uhnoo
All professions display their own specific humor shaped by the occupational culture, type of work, and working conditions defining them. In this article, the role of ethnic jokes and banter in police humor, including their functions and consequences, are investigated drawing upon interviews with Swedish police employees from an ethnic minority background. A typology is developed containing six distinct types of ethnic police humor. Based on it, some of the ways in which ethnic boundary-making occurs and operates within the Swedish police force are analyzed. The consequences of ethnic humor for police work both internally within the police organization and externally, in the daily work of police officers out on the street, are examined. Particular attention is paid to the police’s interactions with the public and, more in general, to the role of ethnic police humor in contributing to the production and reproduction of an ethnified social order.
by Amber Horning, Christopher Thomas, and Sara Jordenö
This study analyzes semi-structured interviews with 85 pimps in New York City to explore how pimps discuss their economic pathways – i.e., how their pimping leads to distinct types of work outcomes and how they discuss their associated feelings and attitudes. We compare younger (18-23) to older (24-67) pimps, anticipating that younger participants would be more adaptive and produce discourse less entrenched in outsider thinking. Pimps’ movements between licit and illicit work worlds mirror those of drifters (Matza, 1964) and align with Murphy and Robinson’s (2008) concept of maximizers (i.e., economically benefiting from both work worlds simultaneously). Younger pimps, despite their at-risk status, boast of several distinct advantages in moving between worlds, such as flexibility and technological savvy. How pimps’ experiences in both worlds connect to insider (mainstream orientation) or outsider discourse (oppositional orientation) is also examined. Many older pimps who identify as ‘hustlers’ express oppositional discourse that aligns with Sandberg’s (2009) ‘gangster’ discourse. Those pimping to survive tend to express ‘oppression’ discourse. Despite their at-risk statuses, many younger pimps demonstrate a hybrid (insider/outsider) orientation, which is one of versatility where participants describe an ability to master both illicit and licit worlds or at least maximize their opportunities by participating in both worlds.
by Kabrianna Tamura and Elaine Gunnison
The Deaf population in America’s criminal justice system is far under-acknowledged, researched, and accommodated. Each year, gross negligence toward Deaf individuals results in exponentially costly lawsuits regarding violations of their constitutional and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rights. The purpose of this study is to empirically identify the current deficits experienced by the Deaf within the criminal justice system through 18 qualitative interviews with two sub-populations: Deaf individuals who have directly interacted with the criminal justice system and professionals who witness the interaction of the Deaf within the criminal justice system. Results from the qualitative investigation revealed that the top three problems in the system were: 1) the lack of qualified, reliable interpreters; 2) the lack of communication accommodations available in prisons and jails; and 3) the lack of accommodative resources. The results suggest a disconnect between the professionals who serve the Deaf in the system and the Deaf themselves, which limits the potential benefit of those professionals to aid the population. The research implications of this investigation are presented.
by Pete Simi, Steven Windisch, Daniel Harris, and Gina Ligon
There is growing recognition about the similarities between generic criminality and violent extremism. Using data derived from a unique set of in-depth life history interviews with 40 former U.S. white supremacists, as well as previous studies of criminal desistance, we examine the emotional valence that characterizes actors' descriptions of the disengagement process. More specifically, results suggest that negative emotions (i.e., anger and frustration) directed toward the extremist group and oneself function as a catalyst for disengagement. Negative emotions become a source of motivation in re-evaluating the relative importance of the group as it relates to the individual. Ultimately, the reevaluation of the group is essential to the decision to disengage from violent extremism.
by Brent R. Klein, Jeff Gruenewald, Steven M. Chermak, and Joshua D. Freilich
Empirical research on the law enforcement strategies used to prevent terrorism has increased since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Yet, few studies have examined how these preventative approaches vary based on terrorists’ ideological affiliations and across time. This study thus explores the similarities and differences in law enforcement investigatory strategies used to thwart global jihadi and far-right terrorist violence prior to and since the 9/11 terrorism events. Employing a convergent parallel mixed method research design, our study analyzes both quantitative and qualitative data on 86 terrorism enterprise investigations from the U.S. Extremist Crime Database (ECDB). The quantitative data analyses examine patterns relating to how investigations are initiated, the agencies involved, and the roles of human intelligence in foiling terrorist violence. Complementary qualitative case narratives are then used to explore in more detail the investigatory process for a subset of cases. We discuss several noteworthy findings that have implications for both law enforcement practitioners as well as future scholarly research.
by Jennifer Varriale Carson and Patrick Andres James
Although social structure and social learning (SSSL) theory has oft been proposed as a general theory of crime, it has rarely been applied to that which qualifies as ideologically-motivated. We seek to rectify this notable gap in the research by examining the suitability of an SSSL framework to radicalization; an understudied, yet vital process to enacting evidence-based counterterrorism efforts. Utilizing a “most likely” case study approach, we find several themes consistent with SSSL principles, primarily within its social learning constructs. We conclude that SSSL does indeed offer promise for explaining all forms of crime including acts of terrorism.
by Philippa Levey and Martin Bouchard
Online discussion forums have been identified as an online social milieu that may facilitate the radicalization process, or the development of violent narratives for a minority of participants, notably youth. Yet, very little is known on the nature of the conversations youth have online, the emotions they convey, and whether or how the sentiments expressed in online narratives may change over time. Using Life Course Theory (LCT) and General Strain Theory (GST) as theoretical guidance, this article seeks to address the development of negative emotions in an online context, specifically whether certain turning points (such as entry into adulthood) are associated with a change in the nature of sentiments expressed online. A mixed methods approach is used, where the content of posts from a sample of 96 individuals participating in three online discussion forums focused on Islamic issues is analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively to assess the nature and evolution of negative emotions. The results show that 1) minors have a wider range of sentiments than adults, 2) adults are more negative overall when compared to minors, and 3) both groups tended to become more negative over time. However, the most negative users of the sample did not show as much change as the others, remaining consistent in their narratives from the beginning to the end of the study period.
by Alesa Liles
Although research on female offending has grown in the past few decades, the criminal justice system has remained inadequate in addressing the needs of women. Available research shows some experiences play a significant role in the lives of women that differ from men. To elaborate, this study sought to incorporate life course perspective and the individual’s perspective to show that context is fundamental to life course research. This study identified life events and turning points specific to female homicide offenders and validated the necessary incorporation of perception and attribution to future research with life course perspective.
by Jennifer L. Lanterman and Sarah J. Blithe
Firearm violence persists in the United States despite innumerable social, political, and economic changes throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries. Collaborative Event Ethnography was used at seven gun shows in three regions of the United States to explore childhood socialization into firearm culture via intergenerational communication of values and views regarding violence, safety, and the use of firearms. Children were observed at all gun shows engaged in activities ranging from standard play to potentially dangerous activity in an environment characterized by bias and controversy. The findings support social learning theory and provide some insight into the role of culture in the development of firearm-related views and elucidate one possible explanation for the etiology of firearm violence committed by some white males.
by Jay P. Kennedy, Ksenia Petlakh, and Jeremy M. Wilson
Pharmaceutical counterfeiting is one of the most pressing public health concerns in the United States and abroad, and recently an increasing amount of scholarly attention has been given to this issue. However, the extant literature lacks a systematic investigation of the specific roles undertaken within pharmaceutical counterfeiting schemes. We attempt to address this knowledge gap through an analysis of individuals convicted in federal court of counterfeiting offenses related to U.S.-based pharmaceutical counterfeiting incidents. From our investigation we identified six distinct roles that can classify an individual’s involvement in a pharmaceutical counterfeiting scheme: Key/Lead, Supporting, Sales/Distribution to Legitimate Others, Sales/Distribution to Illegitimate Others, Production, and Purchase. Through an examination of these roles and their distinct characteristics we propose several role-related crime prevention strategies. Additionally, we discuss the broader implications of our work for the study of pharmaceutical counterfeiting and identify directions for future research.
by Alice Hutchings and Thomas J. Holt
Research on cybercrime offending and victimization has increased dramatically over the past two decades, though qualitative scholarship on more technical offenses such as computer misuse has not kept pace with this broader trend. This research aims to identify potential best practices for researchers considering qualitative interviews as a method for researching computer misuse offenses, more commonly involving hacking techniques. The authors interviewed six experienced researchers who conducted qualitative examinations of active or incarcerated cybercriminals to understand their common experiences with recruitment, ways in which they interviewed research participants, ethical issues, and publishing their research. This analysis explores the difficulties associated with this area of research that are not typically discussed in the methods section of a research paper. The findings demonstrate the problems that emerge in research and the precautions researchers may need to take to protect themselves, their participants, and the research data.
by John A. Shjarback
Cloward and Ohlin’s (1960) differential opportunity theory made several significant contributions to criminology, including the emphasis on illegitimate means and the idea that social structure influences criminal opportunity. The problem, however, is that the field largely misinterpreted Cloward and Ohlin’s intent as a simple variation of strain theory instead of a critical refinement of the existing perspective. Generally, the theory has not received much scholarly attention in terms of testing of its key propositions. Using semi-structured personal interviews with 105 active residential burglars in St. Louis, Missouri during 1989-1990, the current study uses qualitative measures to analyze differential opportunity theory as it applies to residential burglary. Results show support for the theory, including access to criminal learning environments and mentoring, the importance of criminal connections, neighborhood influence on offenders’ risk perceptions, and the overall salience of neighborhood context on what are termed “front-end” and “back-end” opportunity structures. Emerging themes, practical implications, and directions for future research are discussed.
by M.R. McGuire
Has the framing of computer crime been a process which has, in effect, left us all framed? What is it that we think that we understand when we use terms like “internet crime,” “cybercrime,” or “technocrime,” and in what sense does this understanding constitute knowledge? In particular, the kind of knowledge which can be defined as “social scientific?” In this paper, I apply one of the key distinctions used to define computational processes—that made between a syntax and a semantics—to illustrate some of the problems that have affected our thinking about cybercrime and undermined our responses to it. I argue that the construction of cybercrime in terms of syntactic rather than semantic considerations has fostered the myth that it is a technical crime requiring technical solutions. Worse, by emphasizing cybercrime’s machinic over its human origins, syntactic interpretations have inflated its risks and directly contributed to the ‘culture of fear’ surrounding cybercrime. Drawing upon qualitative analytic techniques such as thematic visualization, I outline the need for a more sociocultural account of the origins of cybercriminality, one that might not only help stem the increasingly counterproductive influences of the cybersecurity industry, but can also contribute to more effective ways of containing it.
by Wytske van der Wagen
When we think of technocrime, it is immediately “the hacker” who comes to mind, a somewhat mystical figure who can do seemingly magical as well as malicious things with technology. Throughout history, various scholars, including criminologists, have sought to grasp the hacker phenomenon so as to unravel hackers’ techno-culture, identity, and mentality. The current study is one of them, yet it does so from a novel, less anthropocentric angle. Drawing on the cyborg-lens of actor-network theory, which considers the human and the technical as non- separable, this study conceives the hacker as a “cyborgian deviant:” a transgressive blend of human and technology. Such perspective puts the human-technology relationship more on the frontline of the analysis, enabling us to gain a more nuanced understanding of how hackers’ (deviant) relationship with technology can take shape. Based on 10 interviews with hackers, the study revealed that being and becoming a hacker cannot be understood in separation from how they interact with, through, and against technology. Whether engaged in licit or illicit hacks, hackers seek to simultaneously set, explore, and extend the boundaries of technology and themselves, while also blurring the boundaries between good and evil along the way.
by Joshua B. Hill and Nancy E. Marion
What politicians say about crime matters, both because of the impact their rhetoric has on public opinion and the policies and motives those words often portend. This is no different when presidents speak about the relatively new area of technocrime. As with other types of crime, political rhetoric on technocrime relies on previous social constructions of the problem, which are (in part) based on myths rooted in popular culture. These myths can be used to help forward political agendas in ways that may be useful to the politician, but that do not address the causes or effects of technocrime. Using ethnographic content analysis, we examine presidential speeches on technocrime, specifically cybercrime, for reliance on mythic narratives, a set of characteristics including threats to common values, the construction of a hero, the existence of innocent victims, and reliance on a deviant population. Our findings indicate that presidents often rely on mythic narratives in their speeches regarding cybercrime. This reliance can best be understood through the lens of securitization, which allows presidents to use myths to further their security agendas.
by Jurjen Jansen and Rutger Leukfeldt
An increasing number of Internet users are dealing with cybercrime victimization. In order to find out whether victims adequately recover from cybercrime incidents, it is important to gain insight into its effects and impact on users. However, as it stands now, there is not much literature on the impact of cybercrime. We address this gap by qualitatively examining the impact of two types of cybercrime, namely phishing and malware attacks targeting online banking customers. We used the coping approach as a framework to study how victims deal with the negative events they have experienced. In order to study the impact of cybercrime and how victims cope with it, 30 cybercrime victims were interviewed. We observed that, next to financial damage, victims described different forms of psychological and emotional effects. Victims also reported various kinds of secondary impacts, such as time loss and not being treated properly when handling the incident. In addition, the interview data provided insight into cognitive and behavioral change, which potentially offers opportunities for cybercrime prevention. Our study demonstrates that the level of impact varies among cybercrime victims, ranging from little or no impact to severe impact. In addition, while some victims were only affected for a few days, some were still feeling the effects. The effects and impact of these fraudulent schemes on victims should therefore not be underestimated. We conclude that the coping approach provides a useful framework to study the effects and impact of cybercrime victimization and how victims recover from it. The results of our study provide a steppingstone for future studies on this topic.
by Karen Holt
The social impact of technologies is evident among both teenagers and young people. Youth now experience and engage in most aspects of daily life “online” through the use of social media, mobile phones, and the Internet. This has led to a host of concerns, from parents, educators, advocates, and law enforcement regarding the ways in which this technology is being used, with the debate focused primarily on the issue of “sexting” or sharing of naked and semi-naked selfies. This paper explores sexting behavior from a critical perspective, examining the individual and institutional narratives that continue to shape and influence opinion and policy. Drawing from narrative criminology I argue that there are competing narratives surrounding the sexting debate that serve to amplify the deviance associated with these behaviors, resulting in the criminalization of youth and masking the more insidious social problems, such as gender-based violence.
by Mari Kita
This study demystifies the nature of societal reactions to crime in Japan and their consequences on the family members of those who have trouble with the law. Over a 20-month period in metropolitan areas in Japan, participant observation and in-depth interviews were conducted with 50 mothers, fathers, wives, and sisters of those who had broken the law. Major findings include the role that the media and criminal justice authorities play in triggering the informal labeling of offenders’ kin. Families’ strong ties to communities also rendered them particularly vulnerable to the effects of informal sanctions, even more so than offenders themselves. Finally, this study reveals ironies of Japan’s low crime rate and its use of informal sanctions, highlighting the fundamental importance of offender rehabilitation and reentry.
by Nancy Hirschinger-Blank, Lori Simons, and David Fernandez
Racially-involved police community incidents demonstrate the urgent need for educating future criminal professionals to work in a multicultural environment. We present a qualitative evaluation of a criminal justice diversity course designed to broaden university students' multicultural attitudes, knowledge, and skills. Results indicated that most students reportedly experienced a decrease in biases, described the importance of learning about cultural differences, acknowledged minorities’ negative attitudes toward the criminal justice system, and reported intentions to serve as fair and open-minded criminal justice professionals. Students also showed a significant increase in empathy across the semester.
by Ashley Peake Wellman and Sherri DioGuardi
Fundamentally, criminal justice practitioners are public safety promoters, yet safety can be compromised if a divide exists between them and the communities they serve. The best way to train future criminal justice practitioners may be found in the progressive education proposed by John Dewey in the early 20th-century. Dewey’s experiential approach, specifically service-learning, has gained traction as an effective teaching tool for broadening perspectives, deepening understanding of diverse populations, and fostering higher order reasoning, all of which are critical characteristics for criminal justice professionals as well as for all American citizens. Undergraduate students participated in service-learning during a semester-long honors course on victim advocacy, and this qualitative study used a phenomenological approach to explore whether their lived experiences, as revealed in reflective responses to open-ended questions, effectuated learning. Findings were that service-learning involvement generated community commitment and instilled a deeper sense of civic responsibility, both of which have the potential to better promote public safety.
by Rachel E. Green, Miriam Northcutt Bohmert, Amanda N. Gesselman, Rasul Mowatt, Jennifer Maher, and Justin R. Garcia
In 2014, our university began posting educational fliers in bathroom stalls across campus in order to share resources and policies on sexual violence, which spurred numerous forms of graffiti commentary about sexual violence prevention and response. Since some scholars have argued that bathroom graffiti can be a unique form of social commentary and even resistance facilitated by the tension of doing semi-private things in semi-public spaces, we examined 429 bathroom stall fliers across 11 heavily trafficked campus buildings, and a total of 177 graffiti comments/images. We then analyzed the relationships between comments in order to answer research questions about the content of messages, if symbolic support was provided therein, and whether these messages about sexual violence suggested a need for further structural change at the university level.
by Jacqueline B. Helfgott, Beck M. Strah, Joycelyn Pollock, Loren T. Atherley, and John Vinson
Since 2015, there has been a growing interest and controversy regarding the “warrior” versus “guardian” models of policing. This article discusses the concept of guardian policing and uses qualitative data from an evaluation of guardian-based training in a police academy to highlight guardian concepts as understood by the trainers. Results suggest that trainers generally exhibit a widespread level of support and commitment towards the guardian model and the priorities of guardian training, view the model as consistent with what has traditionally been considered “good policing,” and believe that critics do not understand the basic elements of the model itself, nor how it is presented. A common misunderstanding, for example, is that guardian policing is taught in place of “so-called” warrior policing. In reality, however, the guardian model encompasses several concepts of warrior policing. Since the concept of guardian policing is subject to continuing controversy and confusion in law enforcement, this qualitative analysis contributes a deeper understanding and clarification of how academy training staff understand guardian policing concepts.
by Belinda L. Parker
This article presents Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA; Ragin, 1987, 2000) as a useful methodological approach for criminological research. The aim is to introduce QCA’s logic and assumptions and a step-by-step guide to its application of crisp-set QCA using an illustrative hypothetical example. While QCA is a relatively new method and not widely used within criminological research thus far, it offers a unique approach that is particularly well suited to the field. This article is intended to serve as an introduction to those researchers interested in QCA and to demonstrate how they may incorporate it into their research.
by Christopher W. Mullins and Daniel R. Kavish
This paper provides an examination of the role that male peer support plays in negative sexual attitudes and behaviors vis-à-vis women. Drawing on semi-structured interview data collected from at risk high school students in an urban Midwestern town, we are able to qualitatively explore attitudes, behaviors, and experiences within this group of young men and women as they relate to negative sexual behaviors. We integrate routine activities theory with a male peer support theory of violence to to obtain a more holistic view of negative sexual behaviors. Male peer support models provide us with a theoretical explanation of the variation within motivation, thereby filling a serious gap in the routine activities perspective.
by Breanne Pleggenkuhle, Alaina Bearsby Steele, and Elle Gray Teshima
Employment is one of the most critical dimensions of reintegration, and much research documents the barriers formerly incarcerated persons experience in seeking out steady work. However, most offenders are ultimately successful in obtaining some form of employment. Less research discusses how offenders man age these barriers or examines the practice by which offenders navigate employment pathways, and even less examines whether particular offense categories further challenge the process. The current research utilizes qualitative data to examine the methods by which ex-offenders seek out and obtain employment, with an emphasis on the function of self-motivating practices, access to services, and the utilization of social capital. The analysis further differentiates between sex offenders and non-sex offenders in these experiences. Our findings suggest ex-offenders rely on many types of resources in seeking out employment, and that these differ by offense type, but underlying motivation and persistence are key components in their search. Understanding these methods is important, as a comprehensive understanding of successful navigation to employment can inform policy in relation to improved guidance on advising employment searches.
by Megan Welsh
Low-level enforcement activities such as pedestrian and traffic stops, the issuance of criminal court summonses (tickets or citations), and misdemeanor arrests comprise the vast majority of police-citizen encounters relative to the policing of more serious, felony-level offenses. The complexities of these activities—particularly from the perspectives of the police officers who carry them out—have received relatively little scholarly attention. In an effort to more fully understand the nuances of low-level enforcement, in particular how such activities have changed over time and how police officers have experienced such changes, in-depth interviews were conducted with a small sample of retired New York Police Department (NYPD) officers. Findings shed light on how officers understand and experience proactive policing tactics and the pressures associated with data-driven accountability. The implications of this research for improving police-community relations are explored.
by Scott W. Phillips
Research shows that the work shift of a patrol officer includes a large amount of “down time.” Occupational scholarship has validated that workers can reduce boredom by engaging in activities that are ancillary to normal duties. The autonomous work environment of police officers provides them a unique opportunity to minimize boredom by working in a way that makes their expected behavior interesting. To date the police motivation scholarship tends to examine “job satisfaction,” but the notion of boredom is missing from the research. This study used an observational research design to provide a qualitative examination of the techniques used by police officers to “self-motivate” during their down time. It documents how police officers, guided by self-actualization, autonomy, and intrinsic motivation, find constructive policing tasks to fill their time when they are not engaged in official activity, such has handing a call or dealing with a specifically assigned task.
by Kelli E. Canada and Clark Peters
Some veterans face elevated risk of mental illness, alcohol, and drug use, and difficulty adjusting post-deployment, which can increase the risk of homelessness and contact with the criminal justice system (Elbogen et al., 2012). This study adds to the limited and mixed findings regarding factors associated with criminal offending among veterans. It explores, from veterans’ perspectives, what contributes to their criminal justice involvement. In-depth interviews with 28 U.S. Veterans on probation or parole explored their military service, mental health, and the events surrounding arrests. Findings indicate that substance use was a significant contributor to arrests. Alcohol and drugs were used to cope with trauma, interpersonal stress, and their transition from military service to civilian life. Some veterans indicated that substance use was evident and problematic prior to military service, while others found the military culture and conditions post-service contributed to problematic use. Veterans also entered the criminal justice system due to difficulties adjusting to civilian life and economic disadvantage.
by Ronald Floridia
This study explores the working relationship between store detectives and public law enforcement officers. Thirty semi-structured interviews were conducted with store detectives from two national retail chains. The results of this study indicate that store detectives have a positive working relationship with police and engage in active cooperation with them. In addition, the presence of community development units and organized retail crime task forces enhance active cooperation between the two parties. Findings from this study can be used by both academics and practitioners to promote strong relationships between law enforcement and the retail security industry.
by Shanda Angioli and Paul Kaplan
This paper focuses on prosecutorial decision-making during the late-20th and early 21st century era of punitive American criminal justice. Qualitative semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 former prosecutors who worked in two large and diverse states to determine how they made their decisions regarding charging and plea bargaining. This study investigates how prosecutors consider legal and extra-legal factors when making decisions. The results suggest that prosecutors considered legal factors such as evidence/provability and elements of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, and witness credibility and/or victim credibility, but also extra-legal factors such as, victim’s request, law enforcement priorities, relations with defense counsel, high profile cases, and community influence. All of these decisions were made during and reflect the punitive era of criminal justice in the USA.
by Brendan Dooley
An analysis of in-depth discussions (oral histories) with 17 leading criminologists on the seminal debates in which they each participated showcases the benefits of intellectual debate. Over the last half-century, the field’s understanding of crime and its control has experienced genuine gains through a vigorous exchange of conjectures and refutations. It stands to benefit from more of these. However, there is a tension between professional and scientific concerns that limits the expansion of this process. The insistence on open ended inquiry in advancing professional ends dulls the interest and opportunity for debating first principles. As a result, the field is populated by numerous unresolved theoretical disputes. In attempting to settle the dilemma posed by competing interests, a compromise that works to satisfy the concerns of both science and the profession is offered. Crafting an appreciation for where the limits of collective knowledge are found would serve to outline an agenda for discovery while stimulating debate.
by Joseph D. Galanek, Janelle Duda, Daniel J. Flannery, Jeff Kretschmar, and Frederick Butcher
The Fugitive Safe Surrender (FSS) program is a means for individuals with outstanding warrants to turn themselves in at a non-law-enforcement setting. Challenges remain in evaluating FSS program outcomes. Based on 211 participants’ demographic data and qualitative, open-ended written responses collected during an FSS event in a mid-sized Midwestern city, we analyze participants’ reasons for surrendering and anticipated outcomes of surrendering. Utilizing inductive thematic analysis of participants’ responses, we identify individual-level program outcomes that can be used for evaluating FSS. We additionally identify the intersection of codes among participant responses to demonstrate the inter-connectedness of FSS participants’ reasons and anticipated outcomes of surrendering. Family was identified as a life domain that cross-cut many identified themes in participants’ responses. The most prominent reasons for surrender included family, resolution of legal issues, and obtaining a driver’s license; the most common intersection of these themes included driver’s license/employment, employment/family, and decreasing worry/family. Common anticipated outcomes included obtaining a driver’s license, employment, and decreased worry; the most common intersection of these themes included driver’s license/employment; decreased worry/employment, and family/employment. We propose that these individual-level outcomes may be associated with increased social capital due to participants’ increased opportunities for maintaining familial networks and employment. Future evaluation of FSS should incorporate these individual-level outcomes to measure the effectiveness of warrant clearing for misdemeanors and felonies.
by Monte D. Staton and Arthur J. Lurigio
For nearly twenty years, legal and mental health professionals have created mental health courts (MHCs) for responding to the increasing numbers of criminally involved people with severe mental illnesses (PSMI) who are entering the criminal justice system. This article presents findings from qualitative analysis of survey and ethnographic data collected at nine MHCs established in a Midwestern state between 2004 and 2008, exploring how professionals who operated the MHCs organized the programs and conducted roles at the work sites. Findings revealed that professionals established very similar models of mental health court organization at each of the nine sites. The data supported three forms of institutional isomorphism—coercive, mimetic, and normative—that occurred as professionals introduced MHC programs in various jurisdictions. However, the data also revealed some variances of structure, professional belief, and practice when comparing the MHCs. Some of these variations are explained by local organizational cultures, while others are due to organizational dependence on available resources.
by Layne Dittmann and Jurg Gerber
Research suggests that media portrayals can impact the opinions of adults (Dizard, 2000). However, media reports on aspects of our criminal justice system, such as corrections, are an understudied topic (Marsh, 1989), especially regarding the use of private prisons. The current study examines a sample of 12 local Texas newspapers that reported on the T. Don Hutto Facility in Taylor, Texas, between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2013. This facility was once a state prison for males and local jail inmates before being converted into an undocumented immigrant family detention facility and later into a detention center for undocumented immigrant females. In this article we use the theoretical concepts of moral and instrumental legitimacy and of diversionary framing to explain the importance of the type of inmate population held in a facility. We explain the presence of framing techniques and the involvement of civil rights organizations and discuss how these factors affect the way local print media depict private prison companies and their facilities, especially private family immigrant detention facilities. These facilities, which typically hold undocumented illegal immigrants and their children on non-criminal charges, have received considerable criticism from media for providing substandard quality confinement.
by Kathy Martinez-Prather, Joseph M. McKenna, and Scott W. Bowman
The presence of law enforcement officers in schools has generated an overwhelming amount of concern among educators, parents, researchers, and policy-makers. It is believed their mere presence in schools is associated with the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP), which suggests that the use of police criminalizes minor student behavior and pushes them into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. However, it remains unclear as to what impact law enforcement officers truly have on this phenomenon. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of law enforcement officers on the STPP in relation to the roles they are assigned. We argue that an officer’s role impacts how they choose to respond to student misconduct, which ultimately could impact this pipeline. Interviews were conducted with school-based law enforcement officers in Texas and each was analyzed to identify common themes. The findings suggest a difference between the disciplinary actions officers perform compared to alternative disciplinary actions they believe would be more effective for handling different types of student infractions. The findings also suggest an association between the roles officers have and the types of disciplinary action they perform, which has direct implications for examining and addressing the STPP. Future research should focus on assessing a relationship between the types of training officers receive and the roles in which they are tasked.
by Jason S. Ulsperger, Kristen L. Ulsperger, and Cole Smith
This article examines the social construction of bestiality law in the United States using the Integrative Conflict Model of law formation. With qualitative findings from a media content study including newspaper articles, a documentary transcript, and a variety of online data sources, it explores the dynamics behind the formation of bestiality law in the state of Washington. The research specifically uses the circumstances surrounding the death of Kenneth Pinyan, and the subsequent Enumclaw horse sex scandal that took place in the summer of 2005, to support the idea that bestiality law can emerge due to specific factors: structural foundations, perceptions of crime and public demands for punishment, and triggering events. The article concludes with recommendations for future research on law formation processes, such as including technological advancements as an essential structural foundation. It also considers the possibility of adding structural ritualization perspectives to the integrative model.
by Jaclyn Schildkraut
Nearly as soon as the first shot is fired in a mass shooting, the news media already are rushing to break coverage, the likes of which typically last days or, in the more extreme cases, weeks. Though mass shootings are rare in occurrence, the disproportionate amount of coverage they receive in the media leads the public to believe that they occur at a much more regular frequency than they do. In order to understand how the public comes to understand mass shooting events, however, one first must understand how the stories are constructed by the media. The present study takes this important step by examining The New York Times coverage of 91 shootings occurring between 2000 and 2012. Using Best’s (1987, 2006) three-stage model for the creation of social problems, this study considers the naming or defining of the issue, the incorporation of examples, and the use of statistics. The findings indicate that the coverage (a) overemphasized the shooters, (b) highlighted the most extreme examples for comparison, including Columbine and the Oklahoma City bombing, and (c) relied heavily on the use of statistics, particularly victim counts, while omitting any national data that could ground these events in the larger discourse of violence in the nation. Thus, the disproportional coverage of mass shootings, both individually and as a collective phenomenon, serves to solidify these events as a social problem in the US. Directions for future research, as well as potential policy implications for the coverage, also are discussed.
by Joseph D. Johnson and Natalie Schell-Busey
The Internet is changing society, including criminal behavior. It has been shown that gangs are active online, but it is unclear how gangs are using the Internet. Most studies seem to conclude that gang members are not using the Internet instrumentally to commit or promote criminal behavior, but these same studies show that gang members use social media for flame wars—to insult and threaten one another. We argue that using social media in this way is actually an instrumental use of the Internet because it promotes violence. According to the code of the street, a diss requires a response, often a violent one. Using a set of six underground battle rap videos, we demonstrate a connection between online flame wars and street-level violence.
by Nancy E. Marion and Ronald Gelleny
The border relationship between the U.S. and Canada has traditionally been very trusting, allowing for an ease of trade and travel. However, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 altered this comfortable association. Now, U.S. policy is geared toward protecting the homeland from illegal immigration and potential terrorist actions. In other words, for Americans, security concerns trump trade. At the same time, Canada remains concerned with maintaining an ease of trade and travel with the U.S. To do this, Canada has been forced to establish and implement increased security measures as outlined by U.S. officials, even though there is strong opposition from Canadian officials and stakeholders. This is largely due to the asymmetrical relationship that exists between the countries. Because of the contrast in size and power, the U.S. is able to dictate Canadian security policy at the border. This study examines the border policies since 9/11, particularly the Beyond the Border policy. Using personal interviews with officials and stakeholders in both Canada and the U.S., this study shows that the U.S. is co-opting Canada to increase its security initiatives to be in line with America concerns over homeland security.
by David A. Makin
This research explores the individual construction of the body-worn camera (BWC) within what would be labeled as an average size police agency. Using a pre- and post-implementation qualitative design and leveraging interpretive phenomenological analysis as the analytical strategy, this research explores the nuanced reaction to this technological diffusion within the agency. Results reveal global themes spanning a continuum of negative and positive reactions to the diffusion, with an overwhelming acceptance of the device and individual construction of how best to use the device. While providing an initial lens of analysis for future researchers, the research includes considerable unanswered questions concerning what the diffusion of this technology holds for officers, agencies, and communities.
by Vaughn J. Crichlow and Edmund F. McGarrell
Most agree that police officers cannot do their jobs effectively without the support of community members. However, little is known about the perceptions of small business owners who could potentially make a meaningful contribution to safety and security in such communities. There is also a paucity of research on immigrant-owned businesses in disorderly urban communities. To address the gap, this study explores the attitudes of small business owners toward the police in Detroit, Michigan, a city known for high levels of violent crime and presents an analysis of the qualitative data collected from in-depth interviews with small business owners (n=39), with a special focus on Arab and Chaldean business owners. The findings indicate that although procedural justice perceptions are closely associated with police legitimacy perceptions, business owners are equally concerned about the effectiveness of police in dealing with crime. In particular, the perceived risk of victimization influences many Arab and Chaldean business owners’ perceptions of police. The policy implications of these findings are discussed.
by Claudio G. Vera Sanchez and Jacinta M. Gau
Despite the proliferation of seemingly racially neutral police strategies, Latinos continue to report unfavorable views toward police. Limited attention has been given to how urban strategies, such as order maintenance policing, are experienced by young Latino males. The present study uses data from in-depth interviews conducted with male Latino youth in two Chicago neighborhoods: one majority-Latino, predominantly Mexican; and one mixed-race, gentrifying Puerto Rican. Results show that youth in both neighborhoods report enhanced surveillance and aggressive stop-and-frisks. Additionally, neighborhood context shapes the dynamics between police and young Latinos. In the Puerto Rican neighborhood, policing is enmeshed in culture clashes. In the Mexican neighborhood, policing is structured by a battle against drugs and gangs. The implications for order maintenance policing are discussed.
by Paul Reck
Numerous studies have explored the issue of racial profiling, but only a few studies have examined how officers view racial profiling and whether such views affect officers’ patrolling of racial minorities. These latter studies generally have found that officers rationalize and dismiss the issue of profiling. However, studies pertaining to citizens’ perceptions of the police and studies identifying policing imperatives that officers associate with particular spaces suggest that there are characteristics of communities that may play an important role in shaping officers’ perceptions of profiling and patrolling of racial minorities. The current study, which is based on ethnographic ride-along interviews with and observations of 52 officers in three demographically different suburban communities in a northeastern state, examines how particular community contexts affect officers’ views of racial profiling, and whether the salience of racial profiling as an issue constrains officers’ patrolling of various racial minority groups. The author finds that officers’ perceptions of racial profiling and patrolling of racial minorities vary by race and space across and within towns. Community-based constituency pressures, residential and school-related spatial arrangements, and perceptions of what racial minorities are doing in particular spaces appear to play a significant role in shaping the saliency of profiling concerns, and in turn, officers’ patrolling of racial minorities.
by Janani Umamaheswar
Desistance from crime is a significant marker of adulthood, while persistence in criminal behavior is inconsistent with a subjective sense of adulthood (Massoglia & Uggen, 2010). To understand the relationship between crime and adulthood in greater detail, however, it is important to understand how offenders interpret and conceptualize the notion of adulthood in the first place. Based on interviews and mail correspondence with 35 incarcerated women, I explore this question through an examination of how incarcerated women construct definitions of adulthood while in prison. The findings indicate that in a restrictive environment marked by a lack of independence, women in prison rely on intangible markers to define adulthood. Moreover, the inmates believe that these markers are best manifested by those women who have been incarcerated for long periods (5 years or more). I discuss these findings by drawing on older prisonization literature and life-course literature on adulthood.
by Lisa A. Kort-Butler and Michael Killingsworth
The degree to which criminological scholarship on the media-crime relationship has been subject to the tides of moral panics is not well-understood, although there are theoretical reasons to hypothesize about the role of scientists in moral panics. Textbooks are one location in which a discipline chronicles its scholarly history and speaks to the public, making texts an important site for understanding how scholars interpret the media-crime relationship. A content analysis of over 200 criminology texts, ranging in publication dates from 1880 to 2012, was conducted. Almost half the texts covered the media-crime relationship. These texts often appeared to be responding to and concurring with public debates brought on by moral panics. Textbooks most frequently took a negative stance on the media-crime relationship, as opposed to a more neutral stance or balanced approach. Proportionally, the media-crime relationship received the most coverage in the 1950s, 1990s, and 2000s, decades that correspond to surges of public debates about comics and video games. The decision of many authors to take a negative position in texts, while others cited contrary evidence, may reflect scholarly authors’ participation, intentionally or not, in the panic process.
by Kevin F. Steinmetz
Hackers are not defined by any single act; they go through a process of development. Building from previous research and through ethnographic interviews and participant observation, the current analysis examines characteristics which may influence an individual’s development as a hacker. General demographic characteristics are analyzed, the participants’ school experiences are discussed, and perceived levels of parental support and influence are defined. Finally, descriptions of first exposures to technology, the concept of hacking, and the hacking community are presented. The study concludes with theoretical implications and suggestions for future research.
by Danielle Lavin-Loucks and Kristine Levan
This paper examines the collaborative nature of accounts and neutralization techniques that are employed in parole hearings. Prior research using neutralization theory has largely overlooked the role of other actors in the development of neutralizations, examining them through interviews or narratives where interaction is either scripted or limited and thus has little bearing on the production of such accounts. In contrast, this study evaluates real time interaction, examining how parole board members propose, respond to, and modify neutralizations issued by inmates seeking parole. Ethnographic observations of 438 regular parole and parole revocation hearings, videotapes of 40 such hearings from the larger corpus, and interviews with a state parole board demonstrate how accounts are shaped by interactions that may influence social control decision making and criminal justice outcomes.
by Brad Campbell
There are approximately 18,000 police agencies employing 750,000 police officers in the United States in order to police a population over 300 million citizens. In addition, sketchy estimates state there are 400,000 police reserves assisting full-time sworn officers in their duties. One major subgroup of these police reserves are summer police officers (“summer cops”) who serve full-time during the tourist season in mostly beach communities. There has been little to no research into this subpopulation of police officers and little is known about their background and reasons for becoming summer reserve officers. In order to fill this gap in the literature, this study used participant observation and in-depth interviews to assess 15 summer officers in a Maine police department. The study presents major findings about their backgrounds, motives, and goals for becoming summer police officers, as well as their experiences in becoming summer cops and perceptions of training.
by Kenneth Leon and Ronald Weitzer
Medical marijuana is now available in 23 states, and its growing acceptance has paved the way for the legalization of recreational marijuana. This article examines four recent campaigns to legalize recreational marijuana—two failures and two successes. Using data from newspaper sources, interviews with key players, and other sources, we examine the factors that influence whether a ballot initiative succeeds or fails. We identify similarities and differences between the four measures, the social forces shaping the debate, their claims and counterclaims, and a set of factors that appear to increase the odds that a recreational marijuana ballot measure will be successful.
by Scott Chenault
In 1986, James Marquart published a seminal article on qualitative methodology in Justice Quarterly. In that piece he presented the strengths and weaknesses associated with the researcher guard role he used while conducting a prison ethnography in Texas. His method led to data that is still central to our understanding of prison culture. However, in the past 30 years, correctional philosophy and practice have undergone significant shifts in the United States. Despite these shifts, there has been a dramatic decrease in prison ethnography during the same time period. This article presents a modern adaptation of Marquart’s method, based on a recently completed ethnography of officer culture in a Midwestern state.
by Janani Umamaheswar
In this article, I draw on and contribute to existing literature on reflexivity and access in qualitative research, specifically in the context of prison research. I do this through a critical discussion of the research process involved in conducting a study on women prisoners in the U.S. In addition to describing the obstacles I faced in gaining access to a research site in which to conduct the study, I also discuss the implications of gate keeping for knowledge produced about women prisoners. Finally, I build on Bosworth et al.’s (2005) discussion of prison research using communication by mail. I argue that mail correspondence with inmates is a helpful way of obtaining rich data while surmounting some of the difficulties involved in conducting prison research.
by Steve Boehm
Problem-solving courts were developed in the 1980s and 1990s to reduce recidivism and probation revocations. The first problem-solving courts focused primarily on treating drug abuse, but the missions have expanded to include issues such as domestic violence and the problems faced by returning war veterans. Research has found these courts to be generally effective, but there is wide variation in their outcomes, and there are questions about the perceptions of problem-solving court participants compared to other probationers. This study presents qualitative analysis of interview data for a group of problem-solving court probationers (n=19) and a similar group of regular probationers (n=19) that explore the differences and similarities in how these groups describe the probation experience in regard to the constructs of redemption, agency, and motivation. In general, the two groups’ descriptions are more similar than they are different, but those small differences suggest that the participants from a problem-solving court may receive better support than regular probationers in regard to perceptions that are favorable to desistance.
by Miriam Boeri, David Gibson, and Paul Boshears
The goal of our qualitative study was to gain a phenomenological understanding of routes to recovery from problematic drug use. In-depth interviews and drug histories were collected from 50 former methamphetamine users recruited from a U.S. metropolitan suburb who identified as having had problematic use of this drug in the past. Transcripts of the audio-recorded interviews were coded for common themes regarding types of recovery strategies or tools employed on the route to recovery. The common strategies used in all routes for recovery from problematic methamphetamine use were social in nature and did not necessarily include the cessation of all substances. Based on our findings, we suggest a conceptualization of social recovery that focuses on reducing the social harms caused by problematic drug use rather than focusing primarily on cessation of all drug use. Social recovery may be employed as both a treatment strategy and analytical tool. More research is needed to advance the concept of social recovery for intervention, drug policy, and criminal justice implications.
by Andrew S. Denney, Richard Tewksbury, and Richard S. Jones
Barriers to successful reentry have long been identified as impeding an offender’s ability to successfully reenter society upon release from incarceration. As a result, research has long examined what shared obstacles the majority of offenders often face upon reentering society. Much of the research identifies factors such as poor education, obtaining/maintaining employment, stable housing, and transportation as common barriers to successful reentry. By using in-depth interviews with ex-offenders deemed as successful that were conducted by two respective non-profit agencies, the present study explores what significant requirements, if any, successful offenders perceive to need and/or have experienced as lacking while attempting to successfully reenter society. Findings from this study highlight that many of the research-identified needs are not major barriers because they are often provided for by various non-profit agencies. Furthermore, successful ex-offenders overwhelmingly identify poor social support as a major barrier that oftentimes remains neglected in government and non-profit organizational programming.
by Damian J. Martinez and Andrea Leverentz
This article contributes to the growing body of literature on the role of families of origin in the reentry of former prisoners by focusing on a group of young men of color recently released from prison. Our in-depth interviews with young men and selected family members highlighted the ongoing importance of their family relationships for providing important emotional and instrumental support. These relationships also are gendered. In relationships with female relatives, the former prisoners’ primary role was to be there for the women in the family and thereby demonstrate their love of family and their commitment to desistance from crime, while the women provided them care, advice, and emotional support. In relationships with young male relatives, the former prisoners took a more active role, attempting to mentor the young men so they would avoid the same problems or steer their lives in a more positive direction. This article is one step in exploring how family relationships and gender dynamics function in the lives of returning prisoners.
by Ann Marie Rocheleau
There has been scant research on how prison disciplinary processes work in comparison to the myriad of studies on individual, situational, and prison-level factors associated with prison misbehavior. This exploratory research delved into staff and prisoners’ perceptions of a prison system’s disciplinary process. Using in-depth interviews with 25 staff and 25 prisoners as well as direct observation of classification and disciplinary hearings, this research primarily focused on perceptions of fairness. It uncovered those features of the disciplinary process that prisoners and some staff assessed as problematic and unfair. These included: the nature, consistency, and investigation of disciplinary reports, the use of confidential informants, the staffing of disciplinary boards, the use of segregation time for non-serious offenses, and the long-term segregation of some offenders. Ideas for future research were explored and prison administrators were encouraged to focus on fairness as a key component to containing prison violence and serious misbehavior.
by Jennifer L. Klein, Danielle Tolson, and Cathy Collins
For those convicted of a sexual offense, life on the registry is not an easy one. There is a great deal of stigma associated with these offenders despite the fact they served their sentences and were released back into society. Current research examines what life is like for female sex offenders whose information is listed on the Florida Sex Offender Registry. Using Robert Agnew’s General Strain Theory as a lens to examine the registry, this article will show the stress present in the lives of the registrants. Specifically, the article will address coping mechanisms, anger, and several unintended consequences of the registry, such as unemployment, housing problems, and experiencing harassing behaviors, all of which are a result of the participants’ registry status. Research findings, policy implications, and limitations are discussed.
by Sherri DioGuardi
This study conducted semi-structured interviews with 27 death penalty insiders (9 capital judges, 9 prosecutors and 9 defense attorneys) across three states. Prior research examined whether knowledge of capital punishment correlates with death penalty support (the Marshall Hypothesis). While prior research focused on opinions of laypeople, this study interviewed those with direct, hands-on experience to explore the knowledge-based, insider perspective. The majority (80%) of interviewee-respondents did not believe the death penalty is necessary in light of Life without the Possibility of Parole as an available sentencing option, and 62% did not support capital punishment. Qualitative data analysis reveals a wealth of insider information that advances death penalty knowledge and informs policy.
by Andrea Cantora
Few studies have examined the role halfway houses play in helping women navigate the transition from prison to community. To add to this research, my article explores the perceptions and experiences of women residing at a New Jersey female halfway house upon their release from prison. In-depth qualitative interviews with 33 women that I conducted were analyzed to understand the prison to halfway house transition. The study aims to answer the following questions: How does the halfway house help and/or hinder the reentry process? How do women perceive the halfway house during this transitional phase? The results of my research provides support for the argument that more residential opportunities should be provided for returning prisoners as they begin the reentry process.
by Richard Tewksbury
Inclusion on the sex offender registration list is well known to produce stigma, collateral consequences, stress, and feelings of vulnerability for offenders. In addition to state-based registries, a number of institution-specific registries are beginning to appear, including those on college campuses. By using in-depth interviews with a sample of sex offenders listed on a campus-specific sex offender registry, this study explores the experiences resulting from this label. Findings highlight the feeling of vulnerability listing imposes, as well as self-isolating efforts designed to manage the possibility of identification, exposure, and confrontation. The interactional limitations, as well as the unintended consequence of heightening perceived vulnerability of actions, are discussed. Perceptions of the classroom as both a refuge from identify management efforts and as a means of reinforcement of vulnerability are explored.
by Ronald Weitzer and Rod K. Brunson
This article examines city residents’ reported experiences with and perceptions of various forms of police misconduct as well as their perspectives on two types of accountability mechanisms: internal and external to the police department. The data are derived from in-depth interviews with adult African American residents of the city. Our findings highlight the complexities involved in establishing credible citizen-led review boards, particularly in the types of cities such as the one examined here, East St. Louis. Survey research reveals that a majority of the public supports the principle of external oversight, but this general support may be diluted in settings where the public lacks confidence in both the police and in external mechanisms of accountability. The study draws on rich, qualitative data in examining the factors and universes of meaning that influence public attitudes toward police misconduct and accountability.
by Richard K. Moule Jr. and Scott H. Decker
The growing prevalence of longitudinal research in the social sciences, coupled with technological advances, provide new opportunities for researchers to more readily find participants from earlier studies. In addition, these advances necessitate the development of new strategies and methodologies for locating and building rapport with respondents. Drawing on previous methods of subject identification and location, this paper examines techniques for locating and interviewing former gang members from the 1954-1957 Special Youth Program in Roxbury, MA. In contrast to most longitudinal studies, (1) more than 50 years have passed since the original study with no contact with respondents in the interim, (2) we build on a study not intended to include long-term follow-ups, and (3) much of the location and identification of participants occurred using digital resources. Implications for harnessing digital technologies and methods of developing relationships with study participants otherwise wary of engaging researchers are discussed.
by Brittnie l. Aiello
Criminology has documented the decline of rehabilitation in the age of get-tough approaches to crime and punishment. Therapy and punishment, however, are not mutually exclusive. Rehabilitation and traditional punishment have long co-existed in penal facilities. In this article, I examine the role of rehabilitation at Northeast Jail, a county jail in the U.S. that adhered to an ideology of rehabilitation. But Northeast Jail was, first and foremost, a penal facility where offenders were confined and punished. While staff and administrators at Northeast Jail routinely invoked a rhetoric of rehabilitation, they adhered to rules and engaged in punitive practices that interfered with the rehabilitative process. Based on 18 months of participant observation, I found that managing the irresolvable tensions between confinement and rehabilitation was part of the job for staff at Northeast Jail. I identify three strategies that staff used to negotiate these tensions: rehabilitation as rhetoric, role-switching, and deferring to punishment.
by Ron Mottern, C. Amelia Davis, and Mary F. Ziegler
Community-based correctional education has received scant attention in adult literacy research yet mandatory education is a growing part of the legal system and is fueled by research that suggests a link between correctional education and lower rates of recidivism. Growth in alternative to prison programs affects local ABE and GED programs. Adults who attend community-based correctional programs as a condition of their probation or parole face many challenges. The purpose of this existential-phenomenological study was to understand the experience of those adults. Findings describe students’ experiences of being forced to attend a GED program. Opening a space for these stories may help adult educators in community-based programs improve their practice by understanding how students experience the GED program.
by Neetu Abad, Monique Carry, Jeffrey H. Herbst, and Catherine I. Fogel
Prison is an environment in which programs can be implemented to change harmful behaviors among high-risk populations. Incarcerated women experience high rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), yet little research has examined women’s motivation to reduce risky behaviors during incarceration. In-depth individual interviews were conducted with former and current women prisoners in two North Carolina correctional facilities and analyzed to identify barriers and facilitators of behavior change while in prison. Analyses revealed key motivators of behavior change: Viewing prison as a place to recover from past trauma, removing oneself from negative social networks, gaining access to needed mental and physical health services, and engaging in self-care and self-reflection. Barriers to behavior change include fear of recidivism, stigma of being in prison, and return to undesirable social networks post-release. Moreover, women noted that the provision of mental health services, educational enhancement and housing assistance could help them reduce engagement in high-risk behaviors after their incarceration. These findings can be incorporated into HIV/STD risk reduction interventions to facilitate positive behavior change among incarcerated women prisoners.
by Allison M. Hicks
In this article, I examine the emotional culture of prisons as perceived by prison chaplains, a population characterized by conflicting expectations and split loyalties. Expected to enforce institutional rules and punish rule violators, chaplains are also charged with the spiritual rehabilitation of their clients. Greer (2002) argues that prisons represent rich environments for exploring emotion management, being simultaneously emotionally inciting and constraining for those individuals living and working within them. To better understand this duality, I explore chaplains’ interpersonal management of inmates’ emotions. Based on qualitative interview data, I describe some of the assumptions chaplains make about inmates’ emotions and explain how these affect chaplains’ strategies regarding interpersonal emotion management. I conclude by discussing the role of emotion management in redeeming inmates’ moral selves.
by Paul M. Klenowski and Heith Copes
Cressey’s study of trust violators has had a tremendous impact on how criminologists understand white collar offenders. Despite this, few have sought to replicate or validate his findings. The aim of this study is to replicate Cressey’s classic work to determine if it still has practical theoretical value today. To do this, we relied on data collected from 25 male federally incarcerated occupational offenders using semi-structured interviews. The results indicate that there is moderate empirical support for Cressey’s hypothesis when collectively examining all three components of his hypothesis. We found only minimal support for the importance of “non-shareable problems” because about half of the participants did not mention such issues. We did find strong evidence supporting the importance of verbalizations (i.e., neutralizations) in allowing for these crimes to occur. Overall, these findings suggest that more research needs to be conducted in order to determine why non-shareable problems do not seem to be as important now as they once were for the commission of occupational crimes such as embezzlement.
by Corey Burton and Richard Tewksbury
Two common assumptions are that family members of murder victims (i.e. co-victims) will achieve closure and perceive a sense of justice following the execution of their loved one’s murderer. Those acting on behalf of co-victims and purporting to represent their best interests often use closure and justice discourses to bolster their arguments in favor of capital punishment in a particular case. However to assume, unequivocally, that family members will view the execution as the last of several steps in the journey to closure and perceived justice is to ignore a significant number of co-victims who may feel differently. Drawing on family member statements from newspaper articles reporting on 138 executions in the United States from 2006-2011, the current study examined family member post-execution feelings and attitudes as reported in the media. The results indicate that family member closure and perceived justice following the execution, although among the most prominent and specific themes that emerge, are still relatively uncommon. For instance, only 35% of family members stated that the execution represented justice while only 31% of family members stated that the execution gave them closure, healing or a step toward either. Results are discussed in the context of previous literature on family member post-execution feelings and attitudes. Societal and policy implications are also discussed.
by Douglas J. Wholl, Wilson R. Palacios, John K. Cochran, and Christine S. Sellers
This paper aims to introduce and teach readers step-by-step how to conduct a meta-ethnography within the field of criminology. In order to accomplish this, we purposefully selected a very narrow area of study, professional criminals as presented in well-known classic criminological monographs and then further restricted it to a rational choice perspective, a theoretical rubric easily addressed via the meta-ethnography. These limiting decisions were done so that readers would not get lost in the substance of the meta-ethnography. A search of qualitative research monographs and related online bibliographic databases identified a total of 32 research monographs, 6 of which met the inclusion criteria for the critical appraisal process. Following the methodological approach offered by Noblit and Hare’s (1988) traditional meta-ethnography analytical framework, 24 of the most prevalent rational choice concepts were identified and collapsed into a Line of Argument Synthesis of 11 metaphors highlighting the intrinsic and nuanced connections among taken-for-granted rational choice concepts (e.g., rationality, perceptions of risks/costs/benefits, etc.), criminal decision-making processes, and related lifestyle. The implications of meta-ethnography as a methodological tool for theoretical assessment in criminology and criminal justice are discussed.
by Thomas J. Holt, April M. Zeoli, and Kathleen Bohrer
Criminological research has increasingly focused on the decision-making processes of offenders in order to better understand criminal behavior as a whole. A small body of research has considered how the bounds or limits of offender decision-making are shaped by various factors. In addition, limited research has considered the role of preference and bounded rationality in crimes where long-range planning and careful consideration of options are possible. To that end, this study explores both the factors that influence individual decisions and the way that they interact with preference to shape the decision-making process of sex tourists or individuals who travel to foreign countries in order to have sex with prostitutes and others in or out of the sex trade. This study uses a qualitative analysis of posts from multiple web forums on-line used by individuals interested or actively involved in sex tourism across the globe to identify the salient factors that affect tourist decision-making during the planning and execution of a tour. The implications of this study for rational choice theory and the value of on-line data to examine the decision-making process will be discussed in depth.
by Ross Kleinstuber
The Supreme Court has ruled that evidence derived from a capital defendant’s life history is crucial for making the reasoned moral judgment that is central to the death penalty’s constitutionality. However, Dunn and Kaplan (2009) suggested that individualism is so embedded in American culture that most people defer to it uncritically, which makes the use of such contextualizing mitigating evidence challenging. Prior studies suggest that capital jurors do not understand mitigation and focus on guilt-related issues when making their sentencing decisions, but they do not examine why this is so. This study extends these prior works by comparing the content of penalty trial transcripts to the evidence discussed by 35 former capital jurors from eight trials (four that ended with a life sentence and four that ended with a death sentence) in Delaware. The results indicate that whether they voted for life or death, the jurors based their sentencing decisions primarily on the individualistic guilt-centered question of culpability because they rejected the relevance of contextualizing life history evidence, thus supporting and extending Dunn and Kaplan’s (2009) theory. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.