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Showing papers in "Criminal Justice Policy Review in 2014"


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examined the role of gender in the sentencing of defendants in federal courts and found that female defendants receive more lenient sentence outcomes than their male counterparts, even after controlling for legal characteristics.
Abstract: Using data from the United States Sentencing Commission (2001-2003), we examine the role of gender in the sentencing of defendants in federal courts. We address two questions: First, can we explain the gender gap in sentencing by taking into account differences in legal and extralegal factors? And second, do legal and extralegal factors have the same impact for male and female defendants? Overall, we find that female defendants receive more lenient sentence outcomes than their male counterparts. Legal factors account for a large portion of the gender differences, but even after controlling for legal characteristics a substantial gap in sentencing outcomes remains. Also, despite their influence on sentencing outcomes in some instances, extralegal characteristics do not help to close the gender gap. Finally, when male and female defendants are examined separately, we find that not all legal and extralegal factors weigh equally for male and female defendants.

94 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors found that pretrial detention does not influence the decision to incarcerate, however, pretrial release does significantly and negatively affect the length of the sentence in cases that involve a sentence of incarceration.
Abstract: Previous research on judicial decision making has shown that legal factors, such as offense severity and prior criminal record, exert a strong impact on sentencing decisions. In addition, studies have demonstrated that demographic factors, such as race and gender, also influence sentencing decisions. This study utilized a sample of (n = 975) cases collected by New Jersey’s Criminal Disposition Commission, tracked from arrest through disposition, to assess the factors that influence sentencing decisions, with a specific focus on the role of pretrial release status. The authors found that pretrial detention does not influence the decision to incarcerate; however, pretrial detention does significantly and negatively affects the length of the sentence in cases that involve a sentence of incarceration.

58 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Minnesota Screening Tool Assessing Recidivism Risk (MnSTARR) as discussed by the authors ) is a prediction instrument that assesses risk for four different types of individuals in Minnesota.
Abstract: This study presents findings on the development, validity, and reliability of the Minnesota Screening Tool Assessing Recidivism Risk (MnSTARR), a prediction instrument that assesses risk for four t...

53 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper found that females were consistently sentenced more leniently than were similarly situated males in South Carolina and that there was a significant interaction between gender and offense severity level for both sentencing outcomes and criminal history for the incarceration decision.
Abstract: Despite sentencing reforms over the last few decades, many states failed to introduce guidelines, including South Carolina. The present article uses data collected from the now disbanded South Carolina Sentencing Commission (1982 to 2003) in order to assess the influence of gender, age, race, and type of crime. We found that females were consistently sentenced more leniently than were similarly situated males. Interactions between gender and the other variables, however, failed to gain significance with the exception of gender and offense type for the sentence length decision. Interestingly, we found a significant interaction between gender and offense severity level for both sentencing outcomes and criminal history for the incarceration decision. We discuss the implications of these findings in the event that South Carolina would have adopted sentencing guidelines.

51 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper examined the influence of judicial background characteristics on the locus of sentencing discretion in criminal sentencing and found that the mode of conviction shapes the locu- of sentencing in ways that systematically underestimate judge effects for pooled estimates of incarceration and sentence length.
Abstract: Extant research on the effects of judicial background characteristics suggests minimal influence from the race or gender of the sentencing judge in criminal cases. This raises at least two possibilities: (1) the combined influence of judicial recruitment, indoctrination, and socialization into the judgeship results in a homogenous body of criminal court judges; or (2) current approaches to identifying judge effects in criminal sentencing have methodological and conceptual flaws that limit their ability to detect important influences from judicial background characteristics. The current article examines this issue with data from the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing that is augmented to include information on sentencing judges and criminal court contexts. It argues that the mode of conviction shapes the locus of sentencing discretion in ways that systematically underestimate judge effects for pooled estimates of incarceration and sentence length. The empirical results support this interpretation, espec...

43 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors examined whether differences in defense counsel representation matter in terms of the probability of conviction and severity of sentence imposed and concluded that private attorneys and public defenders secure similar adjudication and sentencing outcomes for their clients, however, receive less favorable outcomes compared to their counterparts with public defenders.
Abstract: The role of defense counsel in criminal cases constitutes a topic of substantial importance for judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, scholars, and policymakers. What types of defense counsel (e.g., public defenders, privately retained attorneys, or assigned counsel) represent defendants in criminal cases and how do these defense counsel types perform in terms of securing favorable outcomes for their clients? These and other issues are addressed in this article analyzing felony case-processing data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Specifically, this article examines whether differences in defense counsel representation matter in terms of the probability of conviction and severity of sentence imposed. Results show that private attorneys and public defenders secure similar adjudication and sentencing outcomes for their clients. Defendants with assigned counsel, however, receive less favorable outcomes compared to their counterparts with public defenders. This article concludes by discussing the poli...

33 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper found that among those who rely on the registry or who feel sex offenders are driven to reoffend, concern about the registry's unintended effects will be reduced, which supports an instrumental or utilitarian argument that use of the registry and pessimism about offender rehabilitation significantly decreased public concern about registries negative outcomes.
Abstract: Sex crime policies have been associated with unintended effects One involves harassment of registered sex offenders Despite this finding, and the prominent role of the public in reentry efforts, few studies have examined public opinion about this collateral consequence By extension, virtually no scholarship has investigated predictors of concern From a utilitarian perspective, it follows that among those who rely on the registry or who feel sex offenders are driven to reoffend, concern about the registry’s unintended effects will be reduced In testing this hypothesis the study draws on responses from a national public opinion poll conducted in 2005—a critical time when state registries and online registry websites became increasingly available Findings support an instrumental or utilitarian argument Use of the registry and pessimism about offender rehabilitation significantly decreased public concern about registries’ negative outcomes Implications for research and offender reentry debates are dis

26 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: For example, when conflict exists in one domain, research indicates it can spill over and affect the other as discussed by the authors, and many workplace factors have been found to be correlated with workplace factors.
Abstract: Life is filled with the demands of work and family. When conflict exists in one domain, research indicates it can spill over and affect the other. In corrections, many workplace factors have been s...

26 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The aggravating and mitigating circumstances that contribute to increased, or decreased, sentence severity for sex offenders have largely been unexplored as discussed by the authors, although previous studies have evaluated the effect of mitigating circumstances on sentence severity.
Abstract: The aggravating and mitigating circumstances that contribute to increased, or decreased, sentence severity for sex offenders have largely been unexplored. Although previous studies have evaluated o...

25 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: For example, the authors found that little attention has been paid to corrections officers who hold supervisory positions in prisons, despite the increasing number of studies examining work outcomes among prison staff.
Abstract: With the increasing number of studies examining work outcomes among prison staff, it is surprising that little attention has been paid to corrections officers who hold supervisory positions. Using ...

25 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In an effort to encourage research, the authors offers a refined estimate of the proportion of copycat offenders and at-rst offenders and the number of offenders involved in copycat crime.
Abstract: Commonly perceived as rare, copycat crime has not been sufficiently studied. In an effort to encourage research, this research note offers a refined estimate of the proportion of offenders and at-r...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors focused on the imposition of a blended, "determinate" sentence rather than a traditional indeterminate sentence, controlling for adult court transfers, and found that minority juveniles (Black and Hispanic) were no more likely than non-Hispanic White youth to receive a blended sentence.
Abstract: This study sought to determine whether legal and extra-legal factors such as type and severity of offense, prior criminal history, age, gender, and race influence decision making in juvenile court. Specifically, the study focused on the imposition of a blended, “determinate” sentence rather than a traditional indeterminate sentence, controlling for adult court transfers. Data for this study were obtained from the largest county in the state of Texas. The results indicated that juveniles sentenced to a blended sentence had committed more serious offenses than those sentenced to traditional indeterminate sentences. Unlike with transfers to adult court, however, minority juveniles (Black and Hispanic) were no more likely than non-Hispanic White youth to receive a blended sentence. Although findings from the current study generally support the imposition of blended sentences, the true test of their utility lies further downstream in the implementation process.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examines criminal participation of women within domestic terrorism while testing two beliefs: the ruthlessness and lethality of female terrorists and the belief that women are more likely to commit suicide than men.
Abstract: This research examines criminal participation of women within domestic terrorism while testing two beliefs. Those beliefs focus on the ruthlessness and lethality of female terrorists as described b...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors examined the implementation efforts of a sample of Texas school districts to gain insight as to how the dating violence policy has been carried out, and concluded that as districts move forward in implementing the DV policy, emphasis must be placed on providing services to victims and increasing awareness.
Abstract: Texas was the first state to pass a law requiring school districts to develop and adopt a dating violence policy. However, very little attention has been paid to whether and how school districts implemented the policy. The current study examines the implementation efforts of a sample of Texas school districts to gain insight as to how the policy has been carried out. Content analysis was used to examine district handbooks, codes of conduct, and websites. Our findings indicate that a majority of the districts included in the study have developed and adopted the basic parts of the policy (the definition and a general set of consequences) while neglecting to implement specific parts of the policy beneficial to victims. Based on our findings we concluded that as districts move forward in implementing the dating violence policy, emphasis must be placed on providing services to victims and increasing awareness.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Specialized Prostitution Diversion (SPDiversion) program as mentioned in this paper was created by three Baltimore, Maryland community groups advocating for more effective responses to prostitution led to the creation of the specialized prostitution diversion program.
Abstract: Concerns arising from three Baltimore, Maryland community groups advocating for more effective responses to prostitution led to the creation of the Specialized Prostitution Diversion program (SPD),...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The assumption in courts and sentencing research is that recidivists, or defendants with a criminal record who are facing new charges, are considered more blameworthy and perceived as more dangerous as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: The assumption in courts and sentencing research is that recidivists—or, defendants with a criminal record who are facing new charges—are considered more blameworthy and perceived as more dangerous...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examined whether sentencing guidelines shift discretion and disparity from judges to the Sentencing Guidelines and found that they often reduce disparity in sentence disparities, but few studies have examined whether they shift discretion or disparity away from judges.
Abstract: While research indicates that sentencing guidelines systems often reduce sentencing disparity, few studies have examined whether sentencing guidelines shift discretion and disparity from judges to ...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: For example, this article found that a majority of the respondents viewed making either offender leave their home as punishment, while those who believed that most sex offenders would reoffend were significantly less likely to view these policies as punitive.
Abstract: Residence restrictions, which prohibit sex offenders from living within close proximity to places where children congregate, have grown popular. Participants (n = 255) were asked to participate in a survey rating and comparing their perceptions of residence restrictions for drunk drivers and sex offenders. Residence restrictions were seen as more punitive for DUI offenders than for sex offenders, though a majority of the sample viewed making either offender leave their home as punishment. Those who believed that most sex offenders would reoffend were significantly less likely to view these policies as punitive. Older respondents and those who knew someone convicted of a crime were also less likely to view residence restrictions as punitive. The results of the current study indicate that although many of the respondents were not optimistic about the effectiveness of residence restrictions in reducing victimization, those policies still garnered considerable support.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors describe how the state of Wisconsin attempted to manage violent sex offenders once released from prison and civilly committed under a sexually violent person statute, showing the problematic nature of implementing a state statute in a large county and identifying barriers inherent to this process.
Abstract: Many states passed legislation in the 1990s to address the problem of violent sex offenders. While academic inquiries into the nature and extent of sexual offending have revealed some interesting findings, very little is known regarding how communities address the issue of managing violent sex offenders. This account documents how the state of Wisconsin attempted to manage violent sex offenders once released from prison and civilly committed under a sexually violent person statute. It chronicles the experience of a committee charged with locating possible sites for a facility for sexual predators under supervised release to the community. In addition, this account shows the problematic nature of implementing a state statute in a large county and identifies barriers inherent to this process. The concept of political failure is introduced to describe why sex offender legislation is difficult to implement.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the intervening role of dependence between alcohol, drugs, and offending was assessed, and the results showed that dependence is associated with higher risk of offending and substance misuse.
Abstract: There is a well-established connection between alcohol, drugs, and offending, but little is known about the intervening role of dependence. The present study was designed to assess the intervening ...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article used data collected from five rural counties in Iowa to examine sentencing patterns of nonviolent property crimes in rural areas and found that gender did not have an effect on the decision to incarcerate, the sentence length, or the fine amount.
Abstract: During recent decades, sentencing patterns of offenders based on gender have been the topic of criminological and sociological research. Particular attention has been given to the lenient sentencing of female offenders compared to male offenders. Several research studies have found that gender affects the sentencing process in ways that are advantageous to female offenders, such as lower incarceration rates and shorter prison sentences. Despite the existing research on gender and sentencing, there are still several specific areas that need to be studied regarding this topic, such as property crimes and rural areas. The current research adds to the existing literature by using data collected from five rural counties in Iowa to examine sentencing patterns of nonviolent property crimes in rural areas. Contrary to existing literature, results found gender did not have an effect on the decision to incarcerate, the sentence length, or the fine amount.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors used multilevel modeling techniques to incorporate legal and extralegal individual-level variables with macro-level data in an examination of the factors influencing the formal application of the criminal label when identical noncriminal sanctions are available.
Abstract: This research seeks to add a new dimension to the growing body of literature investigating disparities in sentencing outcomes. Our study used multilevel modeling techniques to incorporate legal and extralegal individual-level variables with macro-level data in an examination of the factors influencing the formal application of the criminal label when identical noncriminal sanctions are available. Results suggest that measures of police racial profiling are predictive of unfavorable plea outcomes and subsequent application of a criminal label. Findings indicated that the likelihood of receiving an unfavorable criminal plea bargain was greater for men, non-Whites, defendants with a prior arrest, defendants arrested in areas of low concentrated disadvantage, and defendants arrested in areas with high levels of racial profiling. In addition, both concentrated disadvantage and stop disparity conditioned the effect of race on plea outcome.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper examined a national sample of more than 600 Black Americans and their views on bias in the American criminal justice system and found that 26% of the Black respondents did not believe there was bias in American Criminal justice system.
Abstract: This study examined a national sample of more than 600 Black Americans and their views on bias in the American criminal justice system. The research found that 26% of the Black respondents did not believe there was bias in the American criminal justice system. To explore the segment of respondents holding these views, we separated the sample into Blacks who believe there is bias in the system (referred to as the discrimination thesis or DT supporters) and those who opposed this belief (referred to as the no-discrimination thesis or NDT supporters). The NDT supporters were more likely to be younger, male, less educated, and have lower income than those respondents who supported the DT. NDT supporters were also more likely to believe that Blacks and Whites had equal job opportunities, have more confidence in the police, and believe that racism was not widespread.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Data is examined from interviews of JDC judges and team member focus groups in six JDCs from two contiguous southeastern states to identify stakeholders’ perceptions about what places youth at risk for involvement in JDC and the factors that may contribute to successful outcomes.
Abstract: Substance use is pervasive among youth, particularly among those involved in the juvenile justice system. Juvenile drug courts (JDCs) are a promising approach for delinquent youth with substance ab...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In Sweden, the harshest punishment that offenders face is a life sentence as discussed by the authors, however, unlike the United States, such a sentence does not necessarily mean that offenders necessarily spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Abstract: In Sweden, the harshest punishment that offenders face is a life sentence. Yet, in contrast to the United States, such a sentence does not mean that offenders necessarily spend the rest of their lives in prison. The Swedish government has traditionally been able to grant clemency to lifers, which has led to an average life sentence of about 14 to 16 years. In 2006, this clemency practice was modified with an act establishing a judicial process deciding about the release of lifers. This research finds that the 2006 act fits into the broader and traditional understanding of the Swedish criminal justice system as a rehabilitative institution focused on the individual offender. By evaluating the act on its impact on public safety, political acceptability, and on the lifetime incarcerated themselves, this article reveals how the 2006 act has so far particularly benefitted the lifetime incarcerated. Language: en

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Supreme Court recently abolished mandatory life without parole (LWOP) for juveniles in Miller v. Alabama (2012) as mentioned in this paper, following a series of decisions that have recognized the inhere...
Abstract: The Supreme Court recently abolished mandatory life without parole (LWOP) for juveniles in Miller v. Alabama (2012). The Court’s ruling follows a series of decisions that have recognized the inhere...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Overall, the interrupted time series analyses indicate that neither the city council’s nor the police department's strategies for mitigating some of the negative consequences of the consumption of alcoholic beverages in bars and taverns were successful.
Abstract: On May 11, 2009, the City of San Marcos, Texas adopted an ordinance that allowed local bars to extend their hours of operation from midnight until 2 a.m. The objective of this initiative, which went into effect on June 4, 2009, was to minimize the problems that arise from the consumption of alcohol. The present investigation uses interrupted time series autoregressive integrated moving average [ARIMA]) modeling techniques to analyze weekly data to assess the impact of the ordinance, along with a limited increase in patrol strength in the downtown district, on the number of calls for service involving verbal disturbances, physical disturbances, public intoxication, and driving under the influence of alcohol. Overall, the interrupted time series analyses indicate that neither the city council’s nor the police department’s strategies for mitigating some of the negative consequences of the consumption of alcoholic beverages in bars and taverns were successful. The implications of these findings for lessening ...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper examined collective bargaining agreements governing correctional agencies to identify impediments that may impact administrators' responses to sexual violence, specifically in instances of allegations of staff-inmate sexual misconduct, and found that a myriad of cultural and structural characteristics of prisons as well as pragmatic considerations may serve to inhibit the implementation of some policy changes.
Abstract: Sexual violence in adult correctional facilities led to the enactment of the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act as one approach to reducing this form of institutional violence. The current study examined collective bargaining agreements governing correctional agencies to identify impediments that may impact administrators’ responses to sexual violence, specifically in instances of allegations of staff–inmate sexual misconduct. In addition, structured interviews and focus groups with correctional administrators and labor representatives were used to develop policy recommendations. Contract language and interview participants demonstrated that a myriad of cultural and structural characteristics of prisons as well as pragmatic considerations may serve to inhibit the implementation of some policy changes. Interview participants identified several insights about contemporary prison settings and modifications that may aid in reducing some forms of institutional violence.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, a self-report survey administered to Wisconsin Circuit Court judges gathered information about these social processes that might be used to predict sentencing patterns, and the results strengthen the position that judges’ decisions are not outside of social pressures, and judges develop sentencing decisions that align with the viewpoints of others and interpretations of the legal code.
Abstract: Judicial sentencing decision research most often examines the legal, defendant, and judicial characteristics that predict incarceration and sentence length decisions. Often ignored are the social worlds of the courtroom and judge in how these relate to sentencing decision processes and outcomes. The general framework of symbolic interactionism, through the theories of expectation states and situated identity, provides a foundation to understand the social processes of sentencing. A self-report survey administered to Wisconsin Circuit Court judges (n = 74) gathered information about these social processes that might be used to predict sentencing patterns. The results strengthen the position that judges’ decisions are not outside of social pressures, and judges develop sentencing decisions that align with the viewpoints of others as well as interpretations of the legal code.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In 2007, after years of dissatisfaction with the 100-to-1 disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, the U.S. Sentencing Commission amended the US Sentencing Guidelines, reducing by two the disparity.
Abstract: In 2007, after years of dissatisfaction with the 100-to-1 disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, the U.S. Sentencing Commission amended the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, reducing by two ...