July 31, 2006
New Prison Sexual Abuse Study Claims Report Numbers are Low
From USATODAY.com: Fewer than three prisoners in every 1,000 report they were sexually abused or harassed, but that probably is not the whole story, a government study says.There may be far more sexual violence in prisons than is reported, the study's authors said, because inmates fear reprisal, adhere to a code of silence, do not trust the staff or are embarrassed.
The study released Sunday by the Justice Department agency is based on reports to corrections officials in 2005.The bureau looked at more than 1,800 correctional facilities holding some 1.7 million inmates — 78% of the adult prison population.The report is the second one required by the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which was an attempt to solve a problem believed to be widespread.
"What gets reported is the tip of the iceberg," said Cindy Struckman-Johnson, professor of social psychology at the University of South Dakota and a member of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. Struckman-Johnson said her studies found 10% of male Midwestern state penitentiary inmates have been raped. "In my research, only a third of the inmates actually reported it to anybody working in a prison," she said. Beck and Harrison found that 38% of allegations involved staff sexual misconduct and 35% involved forced sex by an inmate on another inmate. Also, 17% involved staff sexual harassment and 10% involved abusive sexual contact by an inmate on another.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
July 26, 2006
NIDA Report: Treating Incarcerated Drug Users Costs Less than Ignoring the Problem
From washingtontimes.com: Failure to treat incarcerated drug abusers can lead to higher crime rates and re-incarceration, says to a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the costs of treatment are not nearly as high as the costs to society when drug abuse is ignored.
"95 percent of those who receive no treatment while incarcerated end up relapsing into drugs. And 70 percent of those end up re-incarcerated as a result," Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIDA, said yesterday. "By changing those numbers, we can reduce crime and lower the financial cost. Simply putting a drug abuser in jail without treatment does nothing."
NIDA said every dollar spent toward effective treatment programs yields a $4 to $7 return in reduced drug-related crime, criminal costs and theft. That return is even greater when health care savings are taken into account, the institute said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
July 25, 2006
Study Finds Florida Juvenile System is Harsher on Girls than Boys
From orlandosentinel.com: Florida's juvenile-justice system locks up a higher percentage of underage girls than 46 other states, hands out stiffer punishment to girls than boys and doesn't provide the kind of treatment girls need, according to a National Council on Crime and Delinquency study released Tuesday.
Researchers interviewed 319 Florida girls in juvenile programs. They found:
- 49 percent were self-mutilators.
- 34 percent had attempted suicide.
- 35 percent were pregnant or had been.
- 46 percent had an alcohol or substance-abuse problem.
Those problems are at the root of many of the girls' crimes. In contrast, boys more frequently broke the law because of peer pressure or gang activity, Council President Krisberg said. The report concluded that Florida locks up too many girls -- 172 out of every 100,000 girls between the ages of 10 to 18 during 2003 -- when it should, instead, place some in home- or community-based programs.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
July 20, 2006
RAND Study Finds No Racial Bias With Death Penalty
From DPIC and rand.org: A recent RAND Corporation study of the federal death penalty from 1995 to 2000 found no evidence of racial bias. Even though the investigators found that the death penalty was more often sought against defendants who murdered white victims, researchers ultimately concluded that the characteristics of the crime, not the racial characteristics of the victim or the defendant, could be used to make accurate predictions of whether federal prosecutors would seek the death penalty.
The study found that the likelihood of a decision to seek the death penalty rose for murders that were particularly heinous – usually involving a number of aggravating circumstances such as the killing of several victims, sexual abuse of the victim, the killing of an elderly person or a child, premeditated murders where there was extensive planning, killings in which the victim was set on fire, and murders in which the victim was mutilated or dismembered.
"Our findings support the idea that race was not a factor in the decision to seek the death penalty once we adjusted for the circumstance of the crime," noted Stephen Klein, a RAND senior research scientist and co-leader of the project. “We were surprised by how well we could predict the decision to seek the death penalty based on the nature of the crime.” Rest of Article . . . [Mark Godsey]
July 17, 2006
FBI Statistics: Violent Crime Spike is Most Dramatic in 2nd Tier Cities
From democratandchronicle.com: According to preliminary FBI statistics released in June, the current spike in violent crimes is most pronounced in communities beneath the top tier of America's largest cities.
Cities about the same size as Rochester, NY — from 100,000 to 249,999 people — had the highest percentage increase in murders at 13 percent. Those with populations between 250,000 and 499,999 had the largest average increase in overall violent crime at 9 percent.
Edmund McGarrell, a criminologist at Michigan State University and research director for the U.S. Justice Department's Project Safe Neighborhoods, has developed a working hypothesis that multiple factors put added strain on police, including:
- Tighter municipal budgets have led to a reduction in the number of police in many cities.
- Homeland security concerns raised by the 9/11 attacks are further stretching law enforcement resources.
- Criminals are forming gangs in more small and mid-sized cities that did not have gang problems in the past.
- Increased incarceration rates during the 1990s are now resulting in an increase in the number of convicted felons released from prisons.
- A culture of violence in prisons has extended to urban streets.
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
June 13, 2006
FBI Reports Violent Crime is on the Rise
From STLtoday.com: According to crime figures released by the FBI on Monday, the nation saw a 2.5 percent increase in violent crime: murder, rape, robbery and assault. Murder alone increased by 4.8 percent in the past year.
The 12-state Midwest region fared even worse, with reports of violent crime rising by 5.7 percent. Some criminologists pointed to higher unemployment rates in the region. For example, Detroit, Minneapolis and Milwaukee each saw reports of violent crime jump by about one-third. In St. Louis, police Chief Joe Mokwa said assaults continued to climb during the first five months this year.
After steep declines in U.S. crime during the 1990s, followed by five years of unevenly middling results, 2005 marked the first year that reports of crime increased uniformly across U.S. cities, said Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. More. . . [Mark Godsey]
June 12, 2006
ABA Accessment Team Finds Flaws in Alabama Death Penalty System
According to a recent report by Alabama-based ABA Accessment Team, chaired by University of Alabama School of Law Crim Prof Dan Filler, the state of Alabama has failed to meet the standard of doing everything humanly possible to ensure the decision is fair and to minimize the risk of error minimize the risk of error before deciding to take a human life.
This conclusion is based on an assessment of 79 American Bar Association criteria that provide guidance as to how to create a more fair and accurate death penalty system. The Alabama assessment is the second of 16 such reviews being conducted by the American Bar Association and teams based in these states.
Of the 79 ABA assessment criteria, Alabama fully complies with only four, and partly complies with 14. It fails to comply with another 37. Because the review was undertaken without official state participation, it was impossible to determine whether Alabama complies with 24 other measures. Two were inapplicable. With 193 inmates sitting on Alabama's Death Row, the flaws found by the assessment must be addressed. More. . . [Mark Godsey] full report
June 08, 2006
Vera Institute of Justice Releases "Confronting Confinement" Report
On June 8, after a year-long inquiry, The Vera Institute of Justice's Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons released Confronting Confinement, a report on violence and abuse in U.S. jails and prisons; the broad impact of those problems on public safety and public health; and how correctional facilities nationwide can become safer and more effective.
According to the Commission, 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the United States on any given day. 750,000 men and women work in correctional facilities. The annual cost: more than 60 billion dollars. Yet within three years, 67 percent of former prisoners will be rearrested and 52 percent will be re-incarcerated. Policy makers at all levels of government and in both political parties joined the Commission to measure the effectiveness of the American approach to incarceration through the Confronting Confinement report.
The report focuses on four problem areas:
- Dangerous conditions of confinement: violence, poor health care, and inappropriate segregation
- The challenges facing labor and management
- Weak oversight of correctional facilities
- Serious flaws in the available data about violence and abuse.
In response to these problems, the Commission offers 30 pragmatic recommendations for reform, many of them based on good practices and exemplary leadership in particular correctional facilities around the country. Full Report [Mark Godsey]
March 13, 2006
Life without Parole for Child Offenders
Human Rights Watch report here.
December 20, 2004
Report: More Research Needed on Gun Control
MSNBC.com reports: "An analysis of efforts to control violence by restricting guns released Thursday concludes there is not enough evidence to reach valid conclusions about their effectiveness. The National Research Council said that a major research program on firearms is needed. 'Policy questions related to gun ownership and proposals for gun control touch on some of the most contentious issues in American politics,' Charles Wellford, chairman of the committee that wrote the report, said in a statement.
Among the major questions needing answers are whether there should be restrictions on who may possess firearms, on the number or types of guns that can be purchased, and whether safety locks should be required, said Wellford, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Maryland. 'These and many related policy questions cannot be answered definitively because of large gaps in the existing science base,' he said. “The available data are too weak to support strong conclusions.'
Thirty-four states have 'right to carry' laws that allow certain adults to carry concealed weapons. However, the report found no credible evidence that such laws either decrease or increase violent crime.
Citing another example, the report said there is almost no evidence that programs aimed at steering children away from guns have had any effect on their behavior, knowledge or attitudes toward firearms. The report does not address gun policy itself, only the quality of available research data on firearm violence, control and prevention efforts.
Many studies linking guns to suicide and criminal violence produce conflicting conclusions, have statistical flaws and often do not show whether gun ownership results in certain outcomes, the report said. A serious limit in such analyses is the lack of good data on who owns firearms and on individual encounters with violence, according to the study. Research scientists need appropriate access to federal and state data on gun use, manufacturing and sales, the study urged."
More . . . [Mark Godsey]
December 02, 2004
NIJ Reports: Violence Against Women, Parental Consent to Search
Click here for a new research report on risk factors for violence against women. And here is a report on a program where parents were asked to consent to searches of homes where juveniles were suspected of having guns. [Jack Chin]
November 26, 2004
Drug Diversion and Recidivism
UCLA researcher David Farabee reports that drug defendants diverted from jail thanks to a 2000 ballot initiative are more likely to be rearrested for drug offenders than those who were incarcerated. More here. Meanwhile, a survey reports that a majority of Canadians support decriminalizing personal use of marijuana; 45% report using marijuana at some point in their lives. More here. [Jack Chin]
November 08, 2004
Prisoners in 2003
The Bureau of Justice Statistics released its annual report on the prison population in the United States. Highlights include
- During 2003, the number of inmates under State jurisdiction increased by 20,370.
- On December 31, 2003, State prisons were estimated to be at capacity or 16% above capacity, while Federal prisons were operating at 39% above capacity.
- At yearend 2003, 101,179 women were in State or Federal prisons - 6.9% of all prison inmates.
Report available here: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/p03.htm
October 27, 2004
BJS Report: Characteristics of Non-Violent Offenders Exiting State Prisons
Profile of Nonviolent Offenders Exiting State Prisons
Provides a description of the general characteristics of prison populations serving time for nonviolent crimes as they exit State prisons. Nonviolent crimes are defined as property, drug, and public order offenses that do not involve a threat of harm or an actual attack upon a victim. To conduct this analysis, BJS used data collected under two statistical programs, the National Recidivism Reporting Program that last collected data on those discharged from prisons in 15 States in 1994 and the Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities last conducted in 1997. This report examines the responses of inmates who indicated to interviewers that they expected to be released within 6 months. 10/04 NCJ 207081
October 26, 2004
Domestic Violence Research
An interesting new NIJ report:
When Violence Hits Home:How Economics and Neighborhood Play a Role
The study asks: "Does intimate partner violence occur more in disadvantaged neighborhoods? Are couples facing job instability or other economic distress more susceptible to intimate violence? Is the combination of individual money problems and living in a tough neighborhood a catalyst for higher levels of violence? An NIJ-sponsored study summarized in this Research in Brief answers yes to all three questions."
The full text is available on line: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/205004.htm