Research Report Digest, Issue 1

April 2011

In NIJ's Research Report Digest, you will find brief descriptions of studies in a variety of criminal justice disciplines, such as criminology and forensic sciences, and evaluations of technologies that are used in the law enforcement and corrections fields.

This issue includes reports based on NIJ-funded research that were added to the NCJRS Abstracts Database from July-September 2010.

Find research reports related to:

Crime

Intersection of Genes, the Environment, and Crime and Delinquency: A Longitudinal Study of Offending
Author: Kevin M. Beaver

The findings show that both the environment and genes substantially contribute to the study of offending behaviors. To stay informed on the growing body of research that shows strong genetic influences on all types of behaviors and personality traits, criminology must make room for biosocial explanations of crime and criminality. Biosocial criminology has relevance for explaining the age-crime curve, racial and gender gaps in delinquent and criminal involvement, and persisting criminal behavior over long periods. This paper examines the direct, indirect, and interactive effects of five different genetic polymorphisms on anti-social behavior.

Read the complete report Intersection of Genes, the Environment, and Crime and Delinquency: A Longitudinal Study of Offending (pdf, 430 pages).


Identifying Gendered Trajectories of Offending for a Panel of First Time Youth Offenders: Exploring the Influence of Time-Stable Covariates
Author: Cynthia Weaver

Results suggest that prior maltreatment predicted moderate to higher level offending for both juvenile males and females. Living in a blended family (mother and stepfather or father and stepmother), living with grandparents, and living with relatives when the first offense took place all correlated with a moderate offending trajectory for boys.

Read the complete report Identifying Gendered Trajectories of Offending for a Panel of First Time Youth Offenders: Exploring the Influence of Time-Stable Covariates (pdf, 106 pages).


Violence

Testing a Model of Domestic Abuse Against Elder Women and Perceived Barriers to Help-Seeking: Comparing Victim and Non-Victim Responses
Authors: Frederick L. Newman, Laura Seff and Richard Beaulaurier

This study examined perceived barriers to help-seeking by female victims of domestic abuse ages 50 and older compared to the perceived barriers for women in the same age group who had not been victims of such abuse. The analyses found that perceived barriers to help-seeking involve six factors that are present in distinctive ways based on the severity of abuse, race and ethnicity, relationship with the abuser, sex of the abuser and age. The six factors are self-blame, secrecy, abuser behaviors, emotional gridlock (hopelessness, powerlessness, protection of family members and image), informal external responses and formal system responses.

Read the complete report Testing a Model of Domestic Abuse Against Elder Women and Perceived Barriers to Help-Seeking: Comparing Victim and Non-Victim Responses (pdf, 119 pages).


Community-Based Violence Prevention: An Assessment of Pittsburgh's One Vision One Life Program.
Authors: Jeremy M. Wilson, Steven Chermak and Edmund F. McGarrell

In 2003, Pittsburgh witnessed a 49-percent increase in homicides, prompting a "grassroots" creation and implementation of the One Vision One Life anti-violence strategy. This initiative used a problem-solving, data-driven model, including street-level intelligence, to intervene in intensifying disputes, and seeks to place youth in suitable social programs. This evaluation found that following implementation of the program, the average monthly number of homicides increased in one of three target neighborhoods. The average number of aggravated assaults and gun assaults increased in all three areas. The researchers offered a number of theories about why the program was not as successful as similar programs elsewhere in the country. Prominent among these is that the community outreach workers may not have focused enough of their efforts on the highest risk people. The researchers also suggested that the community outreach workers might have had too many disparate duties, ranging from counseling young people to attending anti-violence rallies. Consequently, they did not have opportunities to specialize in the tasks that they were best at. This report gives an analysis of the program, which is modeled on similar efforts in Chicago and Boston.

Read the complete report Community-Based Violence Prevention: An Assessment of Pittsburgh's One Vision One Life Program (pdf, 187 pages).


Batterer Intervention Systems in California: An Evaluation
Authors: Dag MacLeod, Ron Pi, David Smith and Leah Rose-Goodwin

This study examined the different ways that courts and departments of probation run batterer intervention programs. It examined a sample of more than 1,000 men who were enrolled in batterer intervention programs across five jurisdictions in California. The researchers said they believed that the men in the programs were not representative of the larger problem of domestic violence. They generally had low levels of education attainment, were poor, majority Hispanic, and had lengthy criminal records. More than one-third of the men in the sample still lived with their victims. The programs incorporated multiple approaches to working with domestic violence offenders. There was no statistical association at all between programs and an offender’s likelihood of re-offense. Offenders’ rates of program completion varied, and the strongest predictors of re-offending following intake in a program were the individual characteristics of the offenders. Men who were more educated, older, had shorter criminal histories and did not display clear signs of drug or alcohol dependence had a lower likelihood of re-arrest.

Read the complete report Batterer Intervention Systems in California: An Evaluation (pdf, 151 pages).


Tribal Crime and Justice

Review of Research on Alcohol and Drug Use, Criminal Behavior, and the Criminal Justice System Response in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities
Author: Darryl Wood

This report presents a summary and analysis of literature on substance use and alcohol- and drug-related crime in American Indian and Alaskan Native communities. National surveys show people in these communities are more likely than the general public to report symptoms of alcohol and drug use disorders as defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Alcohol and drug use among Native American youth has been the subject of much research, most of which shows a higher lifetime prevalence compared to the general population. A much higher proportion of crimes where American Indians and Alaska Natives were perpetrators or victims involved alcohol use than illicit drug use.

Read the complete report Review of Research on Alcohol and Drug Use, Criminal Behavior, and the Criminal Justice System Response in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities (pdf, 111 pages).


Lessons Learned in Implementing the First Four Tribal Wellness Courts
Author: Karen Gottlieb

The "lessons learned" presented in this paper were drawn from the experiences of the first four tribal wellness courts (drug courts): Hualapai (Arizona), Blackfeet (Montana), Fort Peck reservation (Montana), and Poarch Creek (Alabama). Although these tribal drug courts had distinct experiences in planning and carrying out court procedures and programs, they displayed a similar pattern of strengths and weaknesses. The first of 10 lessons discussed is to develop a strong structure for the court team. The responsibility of the team is to integrate the members’ skills and backgrounds in achieving a holistic approach to treating court participants who have substance abuse problems. The team should consist of representatives from across the reservation, including tribal elders and others who embody traditional tribal values. The second lesson is to use the informed consent model for admittance to the court program, which involves selecting referral points and the use of legal procedures that protect the individual’s due-process rights. The third lesson is to assess readiness for change in potential participants through legal and clinical screening for eligibility. A fourth lesson is to integrate culture, not religion, into the court, which involves providing access to holistic, structured, and phased substance abuse treatment services that incorporate culture and tradition. Other lessons discussed range from overseeing participants during times when illegal acts are likely to occur to early outreach within the community.

Read Lessons Learned in Implementing the First Four Tribal Wellness Courts (pdf, 60 pages) or an executive summary Process and Outcome Evaluations in Four Tribal Wellness Courts (pdf, 18 pages).


Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Drug Court
Author: Karen Gottlieb

This report presents the method, findings and recommendations of an evaluation of the drug court of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, located in southwestern Alabama near the Florida border. The outcome part of the evaluation found no statistically significant relationship between completion status and recidivism. Graduates were as likely to be arrested again as the terminated participants. The positive changes — increases in self-esteem and decreases in substance abuse behavior — seen in many of the participants show that some achieved successful rehabilitation. The drug court’s strengths were determined to outweigh the weaknesses. In 2005, the program admitted 28 participants with alcohol and drug-related offenses. Fifteen of the participants graduated, eight were terminated, and five were current participants.

Read the complete report Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Drug Court (pdf, 107 pages).


Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Hualapai Wellness Court
Author: Karen Gottlieb

This report presents the method, findings, and recommendations of an evaluation of the Hualapai Wellness Court (HWC) of the Hualapai Tribe in northwestern Arizona. The court provided access to holistic, phased substance-abuse treatment and rehabilitation services for both adults and juveniles that incorporated tribal culture and tradition. The HWC worked from March 1999 through October 2003, serving 64 adults and 36 juveniles with substance abuse problems related to their offending. The evaluation found no statistically significant relationship between graduation from the program and later recidivism; graduates were as likely to be arrested again for an alcohol or drug offense as participants who were terminated from the program through arrest or noncompliance. However, graduates were slower to re-offend than terminated participants. The recidivism rate for all adults who participated in the program was 54 percent. Most arrests were for public intoxication. The outcomes for the juvenile Wellness Court were less clear; 75 percent of the juvenile participants had an arrest after completing the program. Unlike the adults, there was no difference in time to recidivism between those who graduated and those who did not. There were success stories, however. Several HWC participants commented that they "slowed down" their alcohol and drug use, and they were not arrested as often after participating in the program. In addition, some were able to stay on a job and provide for themselves and their families.

Read the complete report Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Hualapai Wellness Court (pdf, 144 pages).


Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Fort Peck Tribes Community Wellness Court
Author: Karen Gottlieb

This report presents the method, findings and recommendations of the evaluation of The Fort Peck Tribes Community Wellness Court in northeastern Montana (Assimboine and the Sioux tribes). The court served from February 1998 through September 2003 as a drug court for drug-abusing juvenile tribe members, with a focus on integrating tribal cultural values and traditions in treatment regimens. Of the first 50 participants, 15 graduated and 35 were terminated for various reasons. Forty-five of the first 50 participants (90 percent) were arrested on criminal charges, usually disorderly conduct, after leaving the program. There was no statistically significant relationship between completion status and recidivism; graduates were as likely to be arrested for an alcohol or drug charge as were terminated participants. The evaluation recommends that besides offering participants treatment, wellness courts must offer education, job training and a focus on a positive future.

Read the complete report Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Fort Peck Tribes Community Wellness Court (pdf, 149 pages).


Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Blackfeet Alternative Court
Author: Karen Gottlieb

This report presents the method, findings and recommendations of an evaluation of the Blackfeet Alternative Court. This program of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana provided substance-abusing tribal offenders with access to holistic, structured and phased substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation services that incorporated tribal culture and tradition. The evaluation of the Blackfeet Alternative Court, which operated from January 1998 to September 2000, found no statistically significant relationship between completion status and recidivism. Graduates were just as likely to be arrested for a drug or alcohol charges after leaving the program as were participants who were terminated from the program, fled the jurisdiction, or were in the program when it ended. The court had a strong treatment component that included a full-time chemical dependency counselor, integrating tribal culture into court actions during its last year, and a residential treatment center for families. The court also had a team committed to the wellness court idea. On the other hand, a series of setbacks cumulatively undermined the court’s achievement of its objectives. The setbacks included core team changes, a judge who was not perceived as a team player, appellate decisions critical of alternative court procedures and acceptance into the program of drug dealers who were not addicts.

Read the complete report Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Blackfeet Alternative Court (pdf, 115 pages).


Forensic Sciences

New Forensics Tool: Development of an Advanced Sensor for Detecting Clandestine Graves
Authors: Arpad Vass, Cyril V. Thompson and Marc Wise

Using a specific and unique database of human decompositional odors, this project developed sensors that can find clandestine graves. The detector was built with off-the-shelf parts and is designed to detect the major classes of chemical compounds relevant in human decomposition. It is self-contained, portable and built for field use. The detector provides both visual and auditory cues to the operator. The detector is called the LABRADOR, an acronym for “lightweight analyzer for buried remains and decomposition odor recognition.” Batteries, if fully charged, will last up to six hours of constant use. The cost for a unit is about $1,000-$1,500. The database of odors that emanate from human cadavers was developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the University of Tennessee’s Anthropological Research Facility, and it continues to be developed for long-term burials.

Read the complete report New Forensics Tool: Development of an Advanced Sensor for Detecting Clandestine Graves (pdf, 39 pages).


3D-ID: Geometric Morphometric Classification of Crania for Forensic Scientists
Authors: Dennis E. Slice and Ann Ross

This paper describes the features of the software titled 3D-ID, which is a cross-platform package that allows forensic practitioners to use known geometric morphometrics in determining the sex and ancestry of unknown cranial remains. The practitioner provides the program with the coordinates of a subset of anatomical points recorded from a cranium of interest. The program then extracts a comparable set of crania of known sex and ancestral classification from a reference database of more than 1,000 people. It tries to assign the unknown subject to one of the available classes for which there are enough references. Investigators can then use this information and other sources in their professional assessment of the sex and ancestry of the unknown subject. This report presents systematic procedures for program setup and system requirements.

Read the complete report 3D-ID: Geometric Morphometric Classification of Crania for Forensic Scientists (pdf, 27 pages).


Geometric Morphometric Tools for the Classification of Human Skulls
Authors: Ann H. Ross, Dennis E. Slice and Shanna E. Williams

This project developed population-specific classifications and associated software to help forensic scientists to characterize human skulls. The project compiled a population database drawn from three-dimensional landmark coordinate data of human cranial material that will aid in future victim identifications. It also developed a confirmed population-specific procedure for classifying unknown individuals. In addition, it developed cross-platform software for use in forensic applications of human identification. The project compiled a database (n=1,086) of craniofacial three-dimensional landmark coordinate data that will aid in future victim identification. It also integrated this information into task-specific software for assigning membership probabilities in previously defined sex and ancestral groups to unknown remains. Three-dimensional coordinates of 75 craniofacial landmarks were collected from skeletal collections of European, African and Hispanic populations.

Read the complete report Geometric Morphometric Tools for the Classification of Human Skulls (pdf, 59 pages).


Applications of Molecular Genetics to Human Identity
Author: Meredith A. Turnbough

This paper discusses methods for extracting DNA from human skeletal remains. The project focused on developing better methods for analyzing DNA from degraded, aged, or otherwise compromised skeletal remains. Steps for ensuring that DNA forensic technology is used to its full potential to solve missing persons cases and identify human remains are explored. The project developed improved methods for extracting DNA from human bones, including methods of amplifying the total pool of DNA prior to analysis and using DNA repair enzymes to improve results.

Read the complete report Applications of Molecular Genetics to Human Identity (pdf, 104 pages).


Mass Spectral and Chromatographic Studies on a Series of Regioisomers and Isobaric Derivatives Related to Methylenedioxymethamphetamines
Author: Tamer A. Awad

This paper evaluates methods for identifying MDMA, a drug of abuse commonly known as Ecstasy. It examines ways forensic laboratories can accurately distinguish the drug from other drugs that have a similar molecular makeup. In the United States, continued designer drug exploration in clandestine laboratories led to legislation (the Controlled Substances Analog Act) to upgrade the penalties associated with use of all compounds of a series. Thus, identification of MDMA and similar drugs is essential, and a significant task for forensic laboratories that are involved in prosecuting these cases.

Read the an abstract of the complete report Mass Spectral and Chromatographic Studies on a Series of Regioisomers and Isobaric Derivatives Related to Methylenedioxymethamphetamines.


Law Enforcement

Multi-Method Evaluation of Police Use of Force Outcomes: Final Report to the National Institute of Justice
Authors: Michael R. Smith, Robert J. Kaminski, Geoffrey P. Alpert, Lorie A. Fridell, John MacDonald and Bruce Kubu

This study focused on identifying factors related to injuries to police officers and citizens during use-of-force events. Findings show that the use of physical force and hands-on control increase the risk of injury to officers and citizens. Increasing levels of suspect resistance were associated with an increased risk of injury to both officers and suspects. The multiagency analysis showed that the use of pepper spray by officers reduced the probability of injury to suspects by 70 percent, but increased the probability of injury to officers by 21 to 39 percent. Conducted energy devices (CEDs), such as Tasers, significantly reduced the probability of officer and suspect injuries, after controlling for other types of force and resistance. Apart from officer force and suspect resistance, few other factors correlated with injury outcomes. In the multiagency models, male suspects were twice as likely as females to be injured in a use-of-force event. The presence of a male suspect slightly increased the risk of injury to officers compared to female suspects. In Seattle, Wash., where officer gender was available for inclusion in the models, female officers were more than twice as likely as male officers to be injured in use-of-force events. The study used a nationally representative survey of U.S. law enforcement agencies to provide an overview of how less-lethal force technologies, training and policies are linked to use-of-force events. Data from three agencies were analyzed separately to identify predictors of injuries to officers and citizens during use-of-force events. Use-of-force records from 12 police agencies were combined and analyzed, and a longitudinal analysis was conducted to discover how CED use by two police departments affected injury rates.

Read an executive summary and the complete report Multi-Method Evaluation of Police Use of Force Outcomes: Final Report to the National Institute of Justice (pdf, 173 pages).


Corrections

Tracking Inmates and Locating Staff with Active Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID): Early Lessons Learned in One U.S. Correctional Facility
Authors: Laura J. Hickman, Lois M. Davis, Edward Wells and Mel Eisman

This report presents early lessons learned from the field, drawn from the experiences of a corrections institution that used active radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. This research had two primary goals. The first was to identify and describe all U.S. correctional institutions that have bought or installed active RFID systems. The second was to provide an objective source of information about the advantages and the challenges of using RFID in correctional settings. In recent years, RFID, a tool used to track inmates and pinpoint the location of staff in duress situations, has been offered to jurisdictions to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of correctional management. This technology consists of a device (or “tag”) that emits radio wave signals within a network of sensors, receivers and monitors that record and display the tag’s unique identity and location. This information can then be displayed on computer monitors and prompt alerts if one of any number of preprogrammed conditions is triggered. The location information is archived so it can be played back later for use in post-incident investigations.

Read the full report Tracking Inmates and Locating Staff with Active Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID): Early Lessons Learned in One U.S. Correctional Facility (pdf, 55 pages).


Evaluation of the Ridge House Residential Program: Final Report
Authors: Janeen Buck Willison, Caterina Gouvis Roman, Ashley Wolff, Vanessa Correa and Carly R. Knight

Findings from this study show that participation in the Ridge House Residential Program, a spiritually based, short-term transitional housing program in Reno, Nev., did not have a statistically significant impact on re-arrest. Program completion, however, was associated with a 16-percent decrease in the probability of re-arrest. The study also found that offenders who completed the program had a lower incidence of property and person crimes. The main goal of the study was to discover the effectiveness of the Ridge House program in reducing recidivism. Impact analyses compared recidivism outcomes for Ridge House participants against a comparison group of parolees who were accepted into the program, but did not attend. The study examined recidivism rates for a sample of 617 parolees (156 program participants and 461 comparison cases) affiliated with the Ridge House Residential Program.

Read the full report Evaluation of the Ridge House Residential Program: Final Report (pdf, 92 ages).

Date Modified: July 11, 2011