Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Risky Businesses: A Micro-Level Spatiotemporal Analysis of Crime, Place, & Business Establishment Type

    Author:
    Christopher Herrmann
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Mangai Natarajan
    Abstract:

    Risky Businesses: A Micro-Level Spatiotemporal Analysis of Crime, Place, & Business Establishment Type by Christopher R. Herrmann Dissertation Chair: Mangai Natarajan Continuing advances in the fields of environmental criminology and geographical information sciences are facilitating place-based research. One of the current trends in environmental criminology is the focus on micro-level `places' including street segments, property lots, and specific kinds of buildings and facilities in understanding crime patterns and the opportunity structure that permits crime. Despite important findings on the concentration of crime in urban areas, there continues to be substantial gaps in our knowledge about micro-level spatiotemporal patterns of crime. These gaps in micro-level environmental criminology research have primarily been a result of the lack of access to data, availability of ancillary data (land-use & business establishment data), accuracy of geocoded crime data, and availability of existing theory and methods to study crime at micro-levels. Interestingly, many studies indicate that crimes are clustered at neighborhood level, but the entire neighborhood is rarely (if ever) criminogenic and only specific parts of neighborhoods contain high concentrations of crime. Prior studies incorrectly assume that the relationships between crime, population, land-use, and business establishment types are both homogenous and spatially stationary. Environmental criminologists using Pareto's 80/20 concept pointed out that not all parks are full of drug users/dealers, not all high schools have high rates of delinquency, not all bars contain high rates of assault, and not all parking lots have high rates of auto theft. In fact neighborhoods contain hot spots (high density crime areas) and cold spots (low density crime areas), bad streets and good streets, and good and bad businesses. By undertaking a micro-level spatiotemporal framework, this dissertation research is intended to promote understanding of the patterns of violent crimes and the opportunity factors that contribute to these crimes in neighborhoods, street segments, property lots and business establishment types. The integration of environmental criminological theory and novel spatial analyses at the street segment and property lot level should help criminology/criminal justice scholars and practitioners to better understand the spatial and temporal processes in the `magma' that fuels today's hot spots.

  • Translator, traitor: A critical ethnography of a U.S. terrorism trial

    Author:
    Maya Hess
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Diana Gordon
    Abstract:

    Abstract TRANSLATOR, TRAITOR: A CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY OF A U.S. TERRORISM TRIAL by Maya Hess Adviser: Professor Diana Gordon Historically, the role of translators and interpreters has suffered from multiple misconceptions. In theaters of war, these linguists are often viewed as traitors and kidnapped, tortured, or killed; if they work in the terrorism arena, they may be prosecuted and convicted as terrorist agents. In United States v. Ahmed Abdel Sattar, a/k/a "Abu Omar," a/k/a "Dr. Ahmed," Lynne Stewart, and Mohammed [sic] Yousry, 02 Cr. 395 (JGK) (S.D.N.Y. 2003), Yousry, an Arabic linguist and scholar of Middle Eastern history, was labeled such an agent, his work as translator/interpreter construed as material support to terrorism, and his expertise recast as dangerous knowledge. Drawing on moral panic theory and applying ethnographic content analysis in combination with the extended case method, this critical ethnography of a terrorism trial (a) analyzes trial records and courtroom observations; (b) relates the findings to secondary data, such as Islamophobia polls and translator-traitor incidents and litigation; and (c) locates the synthesized product within an extralegal and historical context. The verdict's effects on the translation and interpreting community, academia, the terrorism knowledge base, and, by extension, national security are discussed and policy solutions offered.

  • Judicial instructions and the juror's ability to disregard inadmissible evidence: Can varying the timing and content of judicial instructions influence juror decision-making?

    Author:
    Courtney Hougham
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Maureen O'Connor
    Abstract:

    During the course of a trial, a judge will instruct the jury on how they are to act and reach decisions. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of different judicial instructions on a juror's ability to evaluate testimony. The research looked at how instructions can interact with a juror's ability to disregard a piece of evidence ruled inadmissible for different reasons. The design was a 3x5 complete factorial design. The stimulus material was a murder trial summary with weak evidence against the defendant, with the key piece of testimony being a hair found on the victim that matches the defendant. This evidence was objected to and admitted or not admitted into evidence depending on the condition. The hypotheses test how a juror's decision-making process is influenced by a combination of judicial instructions, including one designed to raise suspicion, the ruling - admitted or not admitted, and the reason behind the ruling.

  • A Study Of The Molecular Chemistry Of Glasses By Infrared Microspectroscopy And Its Use In Forensic Glass Discrimination And Classification

    Author:
    Brooke Kammrath
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Thomas Kubic
    Abstract:

    The analysis of the molecular structure of glass is a novel forensic method that provides knowledge about glass chemistry that is not currently employed by forensic scientists as well as improves the discriminatory power within this class of transfer evidence. Infrared (IR) spectra contain extensive information about the molecular structure of the complex silicates in commercial glasses. This research is based on measuring the attenuated total reflection (ATR) mid-IR spectra of soda-lime silicate glasses to detect variations of the molecular structure to assist in the comparison of glass evidence. The use of ATR mid-IR spectra for the discrimination and classification of glasses was investigated. Discrimination error rates of approximately 5% and classification by end-product (window or container) error rates on the order of 2% were achieved with principal component analysis-canonical variate analysis (PCA-CVA) hold-one-out cross validation (HOO-CV) on the first and second derivative spectra of 153 soda-lime silicate glasses. Silicate glass is a common and valuable class of evidence encountered in criminal and civil litigation. Glass is an excellent source of physical evidence because it is brittle and fractures into fragments that are easily transferred from the source to victim and/or perpetrator. The challenge to the forensic scientist is to reliably associate these fragments with their source with high probative value. The mid-IR microprobe analysis of glass requires only minimal additional sample preparation to that which is already done for refractive index (RI) analysis and uses IR investigated samples that are the same size and smaller than the ablated hole made in laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). Thus mid-IR microprobe analysis can be used to provide additional discrimination for glass samples that are indistinguishable by RI and too small for elemental analysis. ATR mid-IR spectral analysis provides information about the molecular structure of soda-lime silicate glass to support other traditional analysis and strengthen the association of this evidence.