This is the editorial introduction to Volume 11, Issue 4.
This issue of the Journal contains four articles and two book reviews. Each of the four articles focuses in some way on crime, criminal justice, and space.
The article Do Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Strategies Deter Taggers? Voices From the Street addresses the capacity of environmental design approaches to deter street tagging behavior. CPTED strategies seek to “modify aspects of the physical environment to emphasize defensible space to increase the perceived risk of offending.” (p. 466). The authors, Arthur Vasquez, Nina Barbieri, and John Rodriguez, provide an inside account of street tagging through interviews with 35 active taggers. The study finds support for four strategies of CPTED, territoriality, natural surveillance, activity support, and access control.
Andrew Burns and Kat Albrecht, in their article, Getting Jumped in Vacationland: The Complicated Rhetoric and Realities of Assault in a Small Town, explore the often ignored issue of crime in rural areas through a case study of Sandusky, Ohio. The city of Sandusky, situated near America’s largest amusement park (Cedar Point) and visited by 3.5 million people annually, has a population of 25 thousand. Once a booming industrial plant town, it now struggles with closures, layoffs, and economic instability, contributing to a 22 percent poverty rate. Burns and Albrecht analyze Facebook group posts from the VSFU Facebook group, which had 30,000 followers in April of 2018, and compare it to official police data. The Facebook group focuses on police and emergency dispatch scanner chatter in Erie County, Ohio, the location of Sandusky. The authors find that Sandusky residents construct their town as “violent, crime-ridden, and beyond hope” and note that the discourses “reinforce cynicism, assign blame, and rely on race, youth, and poverty tropes.” (p. 479) As the authors note, this is contrary to much of the prior literature on the incidence of small-town crime and the positive perceptions of rural Americana.
In ‘I Know a Guy’: Examining Homeless Income Generation and Spatial Mobility, authors Andrew Reinhard and Ted Palys report the results from 24 interviews with homeless and marginally housed persons and their ethnographic field observations. Additionally, they used ArcGIS to determine the income-generating travel distances of the study’s participants. Reinhard and Palys found five categories of income-generating travel strategies, General (such as volunteer work at a market or vending area), Drug and Alcohol-Related, Occasional Employment, Foraging, and Independent Employment. Most utilized income-generation strategies that required little travel. Factors that influenced mobility to generate income included gender, disability, and shelter policies. Less mobile persons in the study were those who spent their lives “in the core of the Downtown Eastside with its higher density of services and greater personal visibility to others. Some participants reported being told to move along by law enforcement or harassed by bus drivers.” (p. 819). The more mobile study participants “remained street homeless for longer than one year and had diverse strategies that caused them to travel much farther than the rest of the sample. They took pride in their ability to construct their shelters and had survival strategies that varied based on the season.” (p. 820)
Anaïs Tschanz’s article, Entering without Breaking: Challenges and Strategies of the Qualitative Criminologist Investigating Carceral Spaces, addresses “things they don't really teach you how to handle in your qualitative methodology class” (p. 833) as they relate to scholarship conducted in a carceral setting. Tschanz elaborates on approaches one may implement when up against organizational, relational, or emotional constraints of studying carceral space. Prisons can be complex, porous institutions to enter as a researcher. One may mitigate the challenge by being prepared and well-informed, utilizing presentation and negotiation approaches to secure authorization, being aware of limitations, and having multiple layers of backup plans. Once an institution grants initial access, a researcher must be able to navigate and engage effectively with those on the inside. One needs to be able to negotiate with leaders of the institution without making demands and be transparent, accommodating, and actively listen to those incarcerated. Lastly, Tschanz discusses the “liminal process” in carceral space. Specifically, a researcher should know the professional and relational dynamics of the institution, establish trust by negotiating identity as a researcher, and understand one’s own emotions and vulnerabilities.
At the October Southwest Association of Criminal Justice meeting, the organization’s leadership appointed me to a three-year term as Editor. I am pleased to serve the organization in this capacity and believe strongly in the ongoing need for an outlet in criminal justice and criminology dedicated to qualitative work. I hope to advance the mission and vision that so many others before me helped establish.
The essential foundation of what immediate past Editor Scott Jacques established will remain intact. The Journal will continue utilizing PubPub as its site, remain open access, emphasize transparency in the editorial and peer-review processes, and pursue open and democratic publishing decision-making.
There are, however, two significant changes I want to highlight.
First, the Journal will, moving forward, publish two versions of papers, a web-oriented version and one that has a look and feels of a traditional print-based journal. On the webpage for each published article, to access the more traditional version, one will select “Download” to the right of the paper’s title and then click “Formatted PDF.” Aside from retaining the familiar look of a journal article, the primary advantage of this strategy is that page numbers will accompany the piece and be available for reference and citation purposes. The Journal converted all 2022 published articles to this new dual format in the past month. Eventually, all papers in each volume and issue will convert to double format.
Second, the Journal will experiment with a “publish pending major revisions” category in the peer-review process. The Journal details its peer-review process here.