Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • Social Disorganization and the Public Level of Crime Control: A Spatial Analysis of Ecological Predictors of Homicide Rates in Bogota, Colombia

    Author:
    Gipsy Escobar
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Joshua Freilich
    Abstract:

    Research in the social disorganization tradition has found community disadvantage to be one of the strongest and most consistent macro-level predictors of homicides in urban areas in the United States (Pratt & Cullen 2005). This dissertation empirically tests the applicability of ecological theories of crime to the spatial distribution of homicides in Bogota, Colombia, while proposing alternative measures of social disorganization that are analogous to those used in the American literature but that are more reflective of both social realities and data availability in Colombia. The study used data from several sources including official homicide figures from the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, socio-demographic characteristics from the 2005 census, location of police stations from the Metropolitan Police of Bogota, and presence of criminal groups and illegal markets from interviews with police precinct commanders. The research employed Principal Components Factor Analysis (PCFA) to create ecological constructs, and Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) and Spatial Regression Analysis (SRA) to examine patterns of spatial dependence in the outcome and predictor variables. Results provide partial support for social disorganization theory to the extent that concentrated disadvantage, social isolation, and residential mobility positively predict homicide rates above and beyond the effect of the presence of criminal groups and other controls. Only one proxy measure of the public level of control (presence of police) was significant, but its effect was in the opposite direction to what was hypothesized. However, this effect disappeared in the final model once the temporal lag of homicide rates was introduced. The study makes several contributions to the literature including testing the external and construct validity of social disorganization and systemic model of control measures, proposing a mixed-methods approach to get a more nuanced understanding of the spatial distribution of homicide rates, and suggesting policy implications to reduce the effects of disadvantage as potentially effective strategies in preventing violent crime at the neighborhood level. In sum, the study provides some evidence in favor of the usefulness of social disorganization theories to understand violent crime in Latin American cities. Replications in the region will be needed to assess the generalizability of these findings.

  • Call of Duty: A question of Police Integrity

    Author:
    Albert Gamarra
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Maria Haberfeld
    Abstract:

    Policing is a profession linked to ideals of integrity and honor. In spite of this, the profession has not been immune to corruption within its ranks. Most research in policing has concentrated on police corruption rather than police integrity. Research studies have examined the issue of corruption but they have encountered a multitude of measurement issues, making the direct study of corruption difficult. The goal of this research study was to replicate the seminal Klockars, Ivkovich, Harver & Haberfeld (2000) study examining police integrity within the United States. There has been a lack of research dedicated to the study of police integrity within the United States since the Klockars, et al. (2000) data was collected. This study aims to further understand the dynamics of integrity issues within the United States with the intension of offering policy recommendations to help reduce and eliminate their prevalence in American police departments.

  • The Gatekeeping Behind Meritocracy: Voices of NYC High School Students

    Author:
    Arlene Garcia
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Richard Curtis
    Abstract:

    Survey and focus group sampling of students in high achieving schools compared to lower achieving schools were used to examine why there are fewer black men graduating from high schools in New York City as well as high schools around the country compared to other groups of students. Race is disaggregated in order to look at the difference in achievement rates for African American, black Hispanic, African, and Afro-Caribbean men. The findings support the contention that foreign-born blacks do better academically than native blacks. Focus groups consist of black males, females, and staff at six of the 12 schools; field notes are included for the other five. The research includes 23 faculty members, and 155 participants with quantitative data on 151 student participants, largely black males. Schools were sampled across four typologies: alternative, empowerment, private, and public to compare high achieving and low achieving schools. The findings uncover some of the reasons as to why fewer black males were graduating from high school. Some of the reasons include weak family, school, and community networks, and low skill levels. Successful black males report strong familial and school community networks, positive school culture that encourages learning, and high teacher expectation. Students report violent schools, teachers who do not make learning relevant, and apathetic teachers and staff hinder learning. The findings intend to inform the development of programs, designed to address the needs of black male students who attend John Jay, other City University of New York colleges, and schools across the country. Given the interest in growing incarceration rates and penal policy, this research explores proactive measures for dealing with at risk youth, e.g. creating tutoring and mentoring programs, recruiting and retaining more teachers and administrators who represent the student body, providing more funding for NCLB, diverting first time offenders, and expanding breakfast and lunch programs.

  • Apple picking: The rise of electronic device thefts in Boston subways

    Author:
    Kendra Gentry
    Year of Dissertation:
    2015
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Michael Maxfield
    Abstract:

    As mobile technology advances and the demand for WiFi and phone coverage increases, electronic device theft is becoming an international problem in metropolitan public transportation systems. Using transit police reports, this dissertation applies crime opportunity theories to understand which factors increased electronic device theft in Boston subway stations from 2003-2011. This approach addresses previous studies regarding crime on public transportation, robbery and larceny on subways and electronic device theft - as none have focused on this problem as the theft of a "hot product" within a "hot environment." Negative binomial regression, crime script analysis, sign tests and temporal pattern identification are used. This study identifies 24 subway stations where electronic device theft is concentrated. The findings suggest that district crime rates and subway station characteristics may help transit police understand why certain stations serve as activity spaces for electronic device theft. It also recognizes "hot times," risky passenger behavior and potential offender tactics. Policy implications and recommendations are discussed.

  • POLICE DISCRETION: AN ANALYSIS OF NON-DOMESTIC ASSAULT CALLS FOR SERVICE

    Author:
    Monty Gerbush
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    John Kleinig
    Abstract:

    This study is based on an analysis of dispositions of non-domestic low-level assault and fight calls for service in three large municipal police departments (Boston, St. Paul and Nassau County, N.Y.). Accessing data from each of the departments' computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems it compares the dispositions of these calls for service (CFS) by agency. Dispositions were classified for the purpose of indicating whether calls were closed with "no further action" or "further action" (arrest or report). Utilizing census tract data it also provides agency comparisons based on race and income. The major findings of the study were that there was not a statistically significant difference in the percentage of calls resulting in "further action" between Boston and St. Paul or between Boston and Nassau County. However, Nassau had a statistically significant greater percentage of calls resulting in "further action" compared to St. Paul. The difference between the two departments could not be explained by differences in either racial or income distribution. Ten tables illustrate the results of the statistical tests conducted, and a discussion regarding the implications of both the results and the research methodology is presented.

  • Pennsylvania Academic Career/Technical Training Alliance Initiative: Engaging Youth in School and Work

    Author:
    Marna Goodman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2015
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Jeff Mellow
    Abstract:

    This research offers a feasibility study on the effectiveness of the Pennsylvania Academic Career Technical Training Alliance (PACTT) at engaging youth in school and work upon return to the community. The sample included adjudicated youth from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania committed to PACTT-affiliated residential facilities and who discharged between July1, 2011 and June 31, 2012. An overview of the PACTT Initiative, with specific attention to its core elements, is presented and examined in the context of Ecological Systems Theory. Secondary data was analyzed using logistic regression to measure the overall impact of the five PACTT elements, dosage of PACTT elements, and the influence of a youth's personal characteristics on engagement in school and/or work upon discharge. Although the results revealed statistically non-significant relationships among four of the PACTT elements and the outcome variables, statistically significant positive relationships were identified between the following sets of variables: (a) obtaining a HSD/GED during placement (one of the PACTT elements) and (b) age at discharge(one of the personal characteristics) and engagement in work post-discharge. Additionally, a statistical trend showing a positive relationship between length of stay and school engagement was identified. Taken together, this feasibility study shows a limited relationship between the PACTT program and the youth outcomes the program is designed to impact. However, the study does offer a first step towards a more robust evaluation of PACTT and provides an evaluative framework for future researchers interested in examining the effectiveness of PACTT.

  • Factors of Pretrial Release Conditions within a Misdemeanor and Felony Court: An Analysis of Six Models

    Author:
    Mia Green
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Larry Sullivan
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study was to identify the predictors of pretrial release (defined as release on recognizance and bail), custodial status and failure to appear among felony and misdemeanor defendants within a California Superior Court. Analyses were derived from a sample of defendants (N=1076) who were considered for release through the Court's pretrial service agency. The findings supported the earlier literature in that defendants who had a failure to appear history, probation history (felony court only) or were charged with a current violent crime were significantly less likely to be released on recognizance. Female defendants were more likely to be granted recognizance release in the felony and misdemeanor courts than male defendants. The study also found that race was a significant indicator of pretrial release status. Hispanic defendants were significantly more likely to be released on own recognizance than other defendants in the misdemeanor court, whereas Black defendants were more likely to return for court appearances after they were released. Findings of the present study contributed to the literature in two important ways. First, the study set forth to describe the similarities and differences in pretrial court processing among misdemeanor and felony courts. Secondly, the study demonstrated that misdemeanor courts adhere to state bail guidelines by restricting lenient release conditions when misdemeanants are charged with violent crimes. Future studies that include new methods of analysis (such as path analysis), the inclusion of extensive court and defendant variables and ongoing and longitudinal assessments of pretrial service agencies are suggested.

  • Antistalking legislation, recidivism and the mentally disordered stalker

    Author:
    Ronnie Harmon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Jayne Mooney
    Abstract:

    In December of 1999, New York became the last of the fifty States to formally approve anti-stalking legislation, with the goal of facilitating early intervention in potentially dangerous situations. Prior to the passage of the Clinic Access and Anti-stalking Law of 1999, local law enforcement was only able to prosecute stalking behavior through the use of legal prohibitions against other pursuit behaviors such as harassment and menacing. This study examines the effect of the Clinic Access and Anti-Stalking Law on stalking recidivism, using a population of 217 mentally disordered individuals arrested for stalking (n = 68) or other pursuit behaviors (n = 149) in the five years immediately following the passage of the legislation, and referred for evaluation to the Bellevue Hospital Center Forensic Psychiatry Clinic. Additional data was obtained from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Logistic regression analysis was unable to demonstrate that individuals charged with stalking were less likely to repeat stalking behavior than individuals charged with other pursuit behaviors. The study further attempted to explore stalking recidivism as a function of the prior relationship between the stalker and the victim, the level of violence in the stalking episode, and the stalker's diagnosed mental disorder. However, what appeared to be more important to the prevention of future recidivism was the sentence imposed on the stalker subsequent to arrest and conviction.

  • Reentry: African American Men's And Women's Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence

    Author:
    Matasha Harris
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Gail Garfield
    Abstract:

    Numerous studies have examined the challenges of formerly incarcerated African Americans during reentry. A major challenge that many encounter is negotiating social relationships, especially with intimate partners following periods of incarceration. For many African American men and women during reentry, intimate partner violence becomes a problem. The majority of men and women released from prison remain under correctional supervision after returning to society and perpetrating intimate partner violence is a violation of conditions of probation and parole supervision. Consequently, the inability of African American men and women to adjust and reintegrate successfully can increase their likelihood of recidivating and returning to prison. Yet, there is little scholarship in this area, particularly concerning the specific causes, effects, and implications of intimate partner violence in the lives of black men and women returning to their communities from prison. This research addresses this gap in knowledge. A blended methodology that includes an intersectional and a comparative analytical framework is utilized in this study. This research is designed to document the perspectives and experiences of intimate partner violence by African Americans during the reentry process. Using grounded theoretical methods, this study explores the ways in which race, gender, and class intersect to structure their experiences during the process. Participants for this study were recruited through the Fortune Society, a non-profit organization in Long Island City, New York. In order to capture the complexities of African American men's and women's experiences a multi-method research strategy is employed, which includes the use of twenty-nine qualitative face-to-face interviews with formerly incarcerated African American men and women, ten staff interviews, and an examination of intake data from January 2008 to September 2011. Using the theoretical orientations of restorative justice, critical race theory, and critical race feminism, this study provides a nuanced analysis of African American men's and women's experiences during reentry. The findings reveal that intimate partner violence occurs in the lives of formerly incarcerated African American men and women with emotional and physical violence being the two main forms of violence experienced. This study highlights the importance of a theoretical understanding of African American men's and women's experiences and has direct implications for intimate partner violence prevention programs during reentry.

  • The Process of Separation for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence: Evaluating Risk of Indirect and Physical Abuse Relating to Interpersonal Events

    Author:
    Brittany Hayes
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Michael Maxfield
    Abstract:

    Previous research has found that risk of physical abuse increases during the process of separation (Brownridge, 2006). Given the opportunity structure changes once the separation process begins, abusers may be more likely to engage in indirect abuse when their partner begins the process. Indirect abuse is the use of third parties, such as children or family/friends, to manipulate the abused woman. In the current study, opportunity is measured with both events abused women report and relationship characteristics that increase or decrease the likelihood the victim and offender converge in time and space. The study relies on data from the Chicago Women Health Risk Survey (N=469). Events are captured on a life history calendar and theoretically categorized into six types. The association of events and relationship characteristics with indirect and physical abuse is tested. A survival analysis is also conducted to identify if separation increases or decreases the time elapsed between physical abuse incidents. Overall, events are not significant and reliable predictors of abuse, both physical and indirect. Employment of both individuals in the couple decreases risk of physical abuse and indirect abuse to a lesser extent. Separated respondents are significantly more likely to report indirect abuse, especially indirect abuse that involves the children. There is not a significant difference between separated and non-separated respondents on the total number of and the timing between physical abuse incidents, with 75% of the sample reporting the second physical abuse incident occurred 2 weeks or more after the first. The results challenge previous work on risk of abuse during the process of separation and calls for a more nuanced understanding of the separation process. Awareness should be raised about indirect abuse and harm reduction strategies should be implemented during child custody cases. Policy for intimate partner violence victims, especially those that have begun the process of separation, should focus on measures that revolve around access to employment and that limit the opportunity for the abuser and victim to converge in time and space. Future research should examine the role of technology and how it may or may not facilitate indirect abuse.