Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Registered Sex Offenders in the Community: A Test of Agnew's General Strain Theory

    Author:
    Alissa Ackerman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Karen Terry
    Abstract:

    Over the past two decades, sexual offending and offenders have become a topic of interest among researchers, policymakers, and the public. Since the inception of Registration and Community Notification Laws (RCNLS), researchers have assessed the negative consequences associated with the laws and how they affect sex offenders in the community; however, no study has utilized a criminological framework to do so. Agnew's General Strain Theory, which should be able to account for all crime, suggests that when individuals do not achieve desired goals, have negative stimuli placed on them or positive stimuli taken away, they are more likely to engage in crime. These are conditioned by certain factors, such as coping strategies and self-esteem. This study will synthesize these two distinct fields of research to determine whether the negative consequences of RCNLSs lead to recidivism. In all, surveys were mailed to 4,500 sex offenders with (N=997) in Nebraska, (N=2086) and (N=1417) sex and violent offenders in Kansas and Montana, respectively. These states are similar in population and demographic aspects, though they differ in RCNLSs. Findings lend partial support to GST and suggest that, consistently, anger influences recidivism.

  • Registered Sex Offenders in the Community: A Test of Agnew's General Strain Theory

    Author:
    Alissa Ackerman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Karen Terry
    Abstract:

    Over the past two decades, sexual offending and offenders have become a topic of interest among researchers, policymakers, and the public. Since the inception of Registration and Community Notification Laws (RCNLS), researchers have assessed the negative consequences associated with the laws and how they affect sex offenders in the community; however, no study has utilized a criminological framework to do so. Agnew's General Strain Theory, which should be able to account for all crime, suggests that when individuals do not achieve desired goals, have negative stimuli placed on them or positive stimuli taken away, they are more likely to engage in crime. These are conditioned by certain factors, such as coping strategies and self-esteem. This study will synthesize these two distinct fields of research to determine whether the negative consequences of RCNLSs lead to recidivism. In all, surveys were mailed to 4,500 sex offenders with (N=997) in Nebraska, (N=2086) and (N=1417) sex and violent offenders in Kansas and Montana, respectively. These states are similar in population and demographic aspects, though they differ in RCNLSs. Findings lend partial support to GST and suggest that, consistently, anger influences recidivism.

  • MENTORING IN THE LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTEXT: A CASE STUDY OF THE TURKISH NATIONAL POLICE

    Author:
    Selcuk Atak
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Maria Haberfeld
    Abstract:

    The TNP has undergone many changes as a result of Turkey's decision to seek European Union (EU) membership. One ramification of these changes is the TNP codification and implementation of formal mentoring relationships to increase the effectiveness of mentoring relationship. Based on a survey of 400 high ranking officers from the Turkish National Police (TNP), this study examines the effects of mentoring relationships on job satisfaction and organizational commitment. The findings indicate that an effective mentoring relationship has a positive effect on job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

  • MENTORING IN THE LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTEXT: A CASE STUDY OF THE TURKISH NATIONAL POLICE

    Author:
    Selcuk Atak
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Maria Haberfeld
    Abstract:

    The TNP has undergone many changes as a result of Turkey's decision to seek European Union (EU) membership. One ramification of these changes is the TNP codification and implementation of formal mentoring relationships to increase the effectiveness of mentoring relationship. Based on a survey of 400 high ranking officers from the Turkish National Police (TNP), this study examines the effects of mentoring relationships on job satisfaction and organizational commitment. The findings indicate that an effective mentoring relationship has a positive effect on job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

  • Negotiating labyrinths of risk: The impact and implementation of a structured violence risk assessment instrument in juvenile parole

    Author:
    Kevin Barnes-Ceeney
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Jeff Mellow
    Abstract:

    ABSTRACT Negotiating labyrinths of risk: The impact and implementation of a structured violence risk assessment instrument in juvenile parole Kevin Barnes-Ceeney Risk assessment has become a critical aspect of correctional work. Risk assessment instruments are often used by criminal justice workers to predict the likelihood of prison escape, recidivism, or an offender's potential for perpetrating future harms. Increasingly, state parole boards are using risk assessment to assist in their evaluation of offenders' risks, to identify requisite interventions, and to ascertain suitability for parole. Although there has been considerable research concerning the predictive validity of risk factors, few studies have examined how criminal justice workers experience and understand risk assessment, and how such understandings impact decision making. Many scholars have posited that the use of risk assessment to inform discretion decisions can improve the consistency and accuracy of recidivism prediction. Others, however, suggest that risk assessment instruments are indicative of the pernicious scientification of administration, and that an emphasis on risk factors may lead workers to practice containment rather than resolution, ensnaring individuals in biographical "labyrinths of risk." Despite extensive risk theorization, few scholars have examined the impact of risk technologies at the individual and organizational level. This mixed methods case study addresses this gap in the literature. The qualitative inquiry answers the central research question: How do juvenile justice actors experience and understand risk assessment processes? Subsidiary questions seek to unpack these experiences and understandings by asking: How do juveniles experience labyrinths of risk? and What is the nature of risk labyrinths? The quantitative part of the study answer the question: Does the implementation of a structured risk assessment increase the number of juveniles released early on parole? Tracking the implementation of the Structured assessment of violence risk in youth (SAVRY) assessment tool, in juvenile parole in New Jersey, this dissertation seeks to understand the meanings juvenile justice actors ascribe to risk, and how such understandings shape juvenile justice system responses. Semi-structured interviews focusing on perceptions of risk were conducted with three juvenile parole board members, six parole hearing team officers, 12 Juvenile Justice Commission staff, and 10 committed juveniles. Where possible, interviews were recorded and transcribed. Forty-five parole board hearings were also observed, and 21 case files were selected and transcribed. Quantitative data comprised of 445 SAVRY assessed and un-assessed juvenile cases. Cases were matched on the following variables: age within 6 months of index offense, gender, sentence length, seriousness of index offense score, and the Offender Group Reconviction Scale 3 (OGRS 3.) A grounded theory approach was adopted to analyze the qualitative data. Line-by-line open coding of transcripts was conducted, using Atlas ti qualitative data analysis software. The constant comparison method was used to refine initial codes, and develop pattern codes. Repeated patterns of meaning were grouped into themes, and the themes discussed with study participants. The quantitative data was analyzed through a survival analysis. Hazard curves were generated to examine whether assessed juveniles are likely to be released earlier than non-assessed juveniles. The findings suggest that juveniles who received a SAVRY assessment were more likely to be released earlier on parole, after an initial period of one year had passed. Parole board members felt that the SAVRY instrument was helpful as they are required to chart a course through large amounts of risk information. Risk assessment instruments do not create labyrinths of risk, however the labyrinths of risk metaphor is still useful. Risk assessment instruments appear to serve as Ariadne's thread helping to guide parole board members as they negotiate labyrinths of risk when making a parole decision. Furthermore, a juvenile's progression through the juvenile justice system can be likened to a classical labyrinth, consisting of a single unicursal path leading to the center and out again. Successful navigation of such a labyrinthine structure involves a process of transformation, in which the juvenile is expected to extinguish his offending self, thereby metaphorically slaying the Minotaur. A net labyrinth awaits the juvenile on his release. Organizational interconnectivity is of critical importance when a juvenile negotiates such a postmodern labyrinth of labyrinths. This dissertation facilitates a better understanding of the interplay between risk assessment instruments and juvenile justice decision-making. The findings improve knowledge of the barriers to successful risk assessment implementation, and identify problems with intra-and inter-organizational connectivity. Training opportunities for juvenile justice actors are identified, which facilitate the adoption of effective risk management procedures. Key findings of the dissertation were disseminated to juvenile justice employees through face-to-face discussions during the data analysis process, and meetings with senior parole officials.

  • Where political extremists and greedy criminals meet: A comparative study of financial crimes and criminal networks in the United States

    Author:
    Roberta Belli
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Joshua Freilich
    Abstract:

    Financial crime poses a serious threat to the integrity and security of legitimate businesses and institutions, and to the safety and prosperity of private citizens and communities. Experts argue that the profile of financial offenders is extremely diversified and includes individuals who may be motivated by greed or ideology. Islamic extremists increasingly resort to typical white-collar crimes, like credit card and financial fraud, to raise funds for their missions. In the United States, the far-right movement professes its anti-government ideology by promoting and using a variety of anti-tax strategies. There is evidence that ideologically motivated individuals who engage in financial crimes benefit from interactions with profit-driven offenders and legitimate actors that provide resources for crime in the form of knowledge, skills, and suitable co-offenders. This dissertation sheds light on the nexus between political extremism and profit-driven crime by conducting a systematic study of financial crime cases involving Islamic extremists, domestic far-rightists, and their non-extremist accomplices prosecuted by federal courts in 2004. Attribute and relational data were extracted from the U.S. Extremist Crime Database (ECDB), which is the first open-source relational database that provides information on all extremist crimes, violent and non-violent, ideological and routine crimes, since 1990. A descriptive analysis was conducted comparing schemes, crimes, and techniques used by far-rightists, Islamic extremists, and non-extremists, before moving into an in-depth social network analysis of their relational ties in co-offending, business, and family networks. The descriptive findings revealed considerable differences in the modus operandi followed by far-rightists and Islamic extremists as well as the prosecutorial strategies used against them. The subsequent exploratory and statistical network analyses, however, revealed interesting similarities, suggesting that financial schemes by political extremists occurred within similarly decentralized, self-organizing structures that facilitated exchanges between individuals acting within close-knit subsets regardless of their ideological affiliation. Meaningful interactions emerged between far-rightists and non-extremists involved in business ventures and within a tax avoidance scheme, indicating that the crime-extremism nexus was more prevalent within far-right settings compared to Islamic extremist ones. The findings were discussed in light of their implications for criminological theories, criminal justice and crime prevention policies, and methodological advances.

  • Bureaupathology and Organizational Fraud Prevention: Case Studies of Fraud Hotlines

    Author:
    Chelsea Binns
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    F. Warren Benton
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examined the effect of organizational bureaucracy on fraud hotline performance. Fraud hotlines are used to receive anonymous fraud tips from employees in all sectors to prevent and detect fraud. This work contributes to the research on fraud hotlines, which today is very light. This work also examined individual hotline performance against organization theory, which is absent in the literature. The literature also doesn't include studies using social media data to determine organizational climate. This work contributes to that literature by providing a collective case study examination of the fraud hotlines in six organizations. Their hotline performance was examined in light of the Theory of Bureaucracy. According to the literature, the condition of organizational bureaupathology can result in crime concealment, reduced fraud reporting, and/or reduced hotline performance. To determine the presence and level of dysfunctional organizational bureaucracy and bureaupathology with respect to employees, the primary audience of fraud hotlines, this study qualitatively measured employee perception of specific bureaucracy and bureaupathology indicators in their workplace by examining their company review submissions in social media. Hotlines were evaluated using their individual level hotline metrics/statistics and also by examining their specifications, metrics, functionality, and adherence to best practices. Interviews with hotline administrators, an evaluation of the level of reported organizational fraud, and consideration of the historical context was also considered in evaluating the overall performance of the hotlines. This study ultimately determined there is no consistent relationship between organizational bureaupathology and hotline performance. At times, where an organization had more bureaupathology, the hotline tended to perform better, in terms of its metrics, functionality and adherence to best practices. At other times, hotlines with lower levels of bureaupathology tended to perform worse than their counterparts. These organizations were in the private sector, so the sector where a given hotline is operated may be a factor. This study further found better functioning hotlines didn't have less internal fraud. Organizations where employees perceived a high presence of the bureaucracy indicators "Insistence on the Rights of Office" and "Impersonal Treatment" tended to have a better adherence to hotline best practices, yet had a higher instance of internal fraud in comparison to organizations. In other words, the conditions that contribute to a successful hotline may also give rise to fraud, and or inhibit fraud reporting, in the same organizations. This study further determined fraud hotlines might not prevent fraud. Regardless of hotline performance, including the number of calls received, all of the subject organizations experienced employee crime. These results are contrary to expectations but consistent with bureaupathology theory, which says that employees in excessive bureaucracies adhere strongly to organizational rules and procedures and may be incapable of responding to unpredictable events. As a result of the aforementioned findings, organizational hotline assessment methodology should consider external factors, such as the historical context, presence of internal fraud and employee sentiment as factors in assessing organizational fraud, in assessing hotline performance.

  • The Characterization of Black Inkjet Computer Printer Inks using Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (Py-GC-MS), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) and Attenuated Total Reflection Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (ATR FT-IR)

    Author:
    Michelle Boileau
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Thomas Kubic
    Abstract:

    Documents are prevalent in every aspect of daily life and hardly a day passes without using some sort of document. Problems arise, however, when the authenticity of these documents is raised. Forensic science has long been involved in the investigation and examination of suspect documents. One of the steps in the examination of questioned documents is for the examiner to analyze the type of material used to create the document. This could involve the analysis of the paper substrate and/or the medium used to create the written word, namely pen ink, typewriter ink or toner in photocopied documents. This is the age of the computer, and as a result new challenges are facing the questioned document examiner. With more and more individuals using computers to produce their documents, and with the advancement of more sophisticated computer and printer systems, it has become harder for the analyst to distinguish and possibly individualize a suspected document based on physical appearance alone. Once again, the forensic scientist must focus on the material used to produce the document, namely the computer printer ink. An examination of these ink samples may allow for the differentiation between the many manufacturers, as well as within the products of a specific manufacturer. In time, it may also be possible to date a computer printer generated document based on the drying and decomposition rates of the different computer printer ink components. Currently, this is unfortunately still just a theory. There have been few studies on the different types of computer printer inks and how, or if, they differ from each other. The identification of the various black inkjet computer printer ink manufacturers, and the creation of a classification procedure, is the first step in the analysis of a questioned inkjet produced document. The goal of this study was to produce a detailed document on the forensic identification of black inkjet computer printer inks, and this research succeeded in its goal. The analysis of the black inkjet computer printer ink samples by Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) and Attenuated Total Reflection Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (ATR FT-IR) analytical methods resulted in the production of data that led to the establishment of a classification procedure that could assist the forensic scientist in the examination, identification and discrimination of the different inkjet computer generated documents they receive.

  • Ecology of Terrorism: Cross-National Comparison of Terrorist Attacks

    Author:
    Katharine Boyd
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Amy Adamczyk
    Abstract:

    The term terrorism is used to describe a large range of behaviors conducted by a wide variety of groups. Terrorist groups differ in ideology, size, financial support, group longevity, and the number of alliances with other terrorist groups. Relatedly, terrorist groups conduct different number of attacks with varying intents to cause fatalities using diverse forms of violence. This study uses ecological theory to contextualize terrorist violence as a product of terrorist group traits in relation to the environmental context. It is hypothesized that terrorist violence is associated with group traits in relation to the varying political, social, and religious contexts of the countries in which groups operate. Using longitudinal multilevel modeling this study analyzes how terrorist group traits, country characteristics, and exposure to counterterrorism tactics, influence terrorist violence (e.g. number of attacks, fatalities, targets, mode of attack, location of attack) over time. This study uses counterterrorism and group-level data from the Big Allied and Dangerous (BAAD1, 2) datasets, attack data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), country data from multiple public datasets, and counterterrorism and terrorist group data originally collected from open-sources. The results show that each form of violence has a unique set of predictor variables and the results of moderation hypotheses show that group ideologies are associated with different trajectories over time, that group traits condition the effect of counterterrorism, and country characteristics moderation how different terrorist groups conduct violence. This work is among the first to evaluate moderation hypotheses and is one of few studies on terrorism to use advanced statistical methods to evaluate these relationship over time and cross-nationally. The study contributes to the literature on terrorism with relevant policy implications, and contributing to the development of ecological theory and its application to political and religiously motivated violence.

  • Qualitative and Quantitative X-Ray Diffraction Analysis for Forensic Examination of Duct Tapes

    Author:
    Rebecca Bucht
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Thomas Kubic
    Abstract:

    Duct tapes are an increasingly important class of forensic evidence. This research has studied the value of using x-ray diffraction (XRD) to extend the ability of evidence examiners to gain additional information about a duct tape specimen. Duct tapes are composed of five different layers. Starting from the non-adhesive side, these layers are the release coating, backing, scrim, primer and adhesive. The release coating assists in reducing unwind tension and preventing the tape from sticking to itself when on a roll. The backing layer serves as a support for the adhesive, and is usually based on polyethylene. The scrim is a layer of fibers either embedded in the backing layer or between the backing and adhesive layers. Primers help attach the adhesive to the backing. Pressure sensitive adhesives are based on polymers such as natural or synthetic rubbers combined with tackifying resins and hydrogenated resins. Pigments and additives are added to the backing and adhesive layers in order to achieve the desired tape characteristics and appearance. A variety of instrumental methods are used to obtain information for discrimination of pressure sensitive tapes including duct tapes. Research has been reported on the evidential value of a range of physical investigations such as, physical and optical examination of thickness, weight/area, fluorescence, and birefringence, as well as instrumental chemical techniques including UV/VIS, FTIR, XRF, NAA, ICP MS, XRD, pyrolysis-GC/MS and isotope-ratio MS. XRD analyses have been used to identify minerals in duct tape but to date, only limited qualitative XRD information has been used and no systematic investigation of the further uses of XRD analysis and databases has been published. XRD analysis has the potential to offer a convenient, cost effective and non-destructive method for further characterization of the molecular or atomic make up of the tape layers. The diffractogram contains information about the qualitative and quantitative mineral composition and the crystallinity of mineral species and polymers present. This research has shown that the use of quantitative XRD analysis of duct tapes can differentiate between some duct tape samples from rolls that cannot be distinguished by current, routine analysis methods.