Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Committed to the Cause? Violent and Financial Criminal Behaviors of Domestic Far-Rightists

    Author:
    Ashmini Kerodal
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Joshua Freilich
    Abstract:

    This study used factor analysis, logistic and multinomial logistic regression analysis to evaluate the effects of an individual's level of commitment to far-right extremism on his / her criminal offending behavior. Agnew's General Strain Theory (2001, 2005), Cloward and Ohlin's Differential Opportunity Theory (1960) and Simi and Futrell's (2010) concept of free / movement spaces were used to address the three research questions: (1) What effect did individual level stressors, significant others, and negative interactions with government officials have on membership in a far-right group, (2) What effect did individual level stressors, significant others, membership in an extremist group, and negative interactions with government officials have on an individual's commitment to rightwing extremism, (3) What effect did an individual's commitment to far-right extremism, and membership in extremist groups have on his / her criminal behavior? This study investigated whether strain factors alone influenced radicalization, or if there was a combination of strain factors - including negative interactions with law enforcement - and interactions with other extremists that influenced levels of commitment to rightwing extremism. This study defined radicalization as "the process by which individuals become violent extremists...[that is] individuals who support or commit ideologically motivated violence to further political, social, or religious goals" (NIJ 2012 Research on Domestic Radicalization Solicitation, p. 4). Commitment to rightwing extremism was conceptualized as commitment to far-rightist norms, similar to Cloward and Ohlin's (1960) definition of commitment to delinquent norms or the extent of indoctrination into a deviant subculture. This variable drew on themes found in previous research on extremism (Aho, 1990; Blazak, 2001; Blee, 2002; Ezekiel, 1995; Hamm, 2004, 1993; McCauley & Moskalenko, 2011, 2008). A factor analysis was used to check the validity of the commitment to far-right extremism scale. Another unique characteristic of this study was that its dependent variable of criminal behavior included both violent (i.e., fatal) incidents and financial schemes. Data were obtained from the US Extremist Crime Database (ECDB), a Department of Homeland Security/START-funded project led by Dr. Joshua D. Freilich and Dr. Steven Chermak. Illegal violent incidents and financial schemes committed by domestic extremist that resulted in criminal charged were included in the ECDB. Violent incidents were defined as homicides, and financial schemes were defined as "illicit financial operation[s] involving a set of activities [i.e. techniques] carried out by one or more perpetrators to obtain unlawful gain or other economic advantage through the use of deliberate deception" (Belli, 2011, p. 64). The study found that GST did not predict membership in extremist groups, but was associated with a higher risk of committing a homicide. Group membership was predicted by access to extremist groups and a possible predisposition or sympathy towards extremist beliefs. However, none of the theories explained levels of commitment to extremism. Instead, differences were found between two types of DFRs: Conspiracy Theorists and Proud Supremacists. Conspiracy Theorists were more likely to have been non-white and employed, while Proud Supremacists were more likely to have been white males who experienced strain and had extremist referent others. Finally, the presence of strain and a prior prison record were associated with violent criminal behavior of DFRs. High levels of commitment to extremism, female gender, and the absence of strain (i.e., held a good job and did not have prior negative interactions with government officials) were associated with an increased risk of financial offending behavior.

  • Cyber-surveillance: A Case Study in Policy & Development

    Author:
    Richard Kim
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    F Benton
    Abstract:

    The dissertation examines the historical developement of surveillance, electronic surveillance, and cyber-surveillance from the Colonial times to the present. It presents the surveillance laws, technologies, policies as a balance between national security and privacy. To examine more recent developments, the dissertation includes case-studies of three cyber-surveillance tools: Carnivore, Magic Lantern, annd NARUS; describing the operational functions, logistic search functions, minimizaation capacities of these tools. The closing chapters assess the dynamic balance between the achievement of national security and public order and the need to preserve rights and the expectatation of privacy.

  • Cyber-surveillance: A Case Study in Policy & Development

    Author:
    Richard Kim
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    F Benton
    Abstract:

    The dissertation examines the historical developement of surveillance, electronic surveillance, and cyber-surveillance from the Colonial times to the present. It presents the surveillance laws, technologies, policies as a balance between national security and privacy. To examine more recent developments, the dissertation includes case-studies of three cyber-surveillance tools: Carnivore, Magic Lantern, annd NARUS; describing the operational functions, logistic search functions, minimizaation capacities of these tools. The closing chapters assess the dynamic balance between the achievement of national security and public order and the need to preserve rights and the expectatation of privacy.

  • IS BURGLARY A VIOLENT CRIME? AN EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION OF CLASSIFYING BURGLARY AS A VIOLENT FELONY AND ITS STATUTORY IMPLICATIONS

    Author:
    Phillip Kopp
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Jon Shane
    Abstract:

    Under the common law, burglary is defined as a crime committed against the property of another, and is listed as a property offense for purposes of statistical description by the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). However, burglary is prosecuted and sentenced as a violent crime under habitual offender laws at the federal level, and can be regarded as violent in state law, depending on varied circumstances. Using a mixed methods approach, the current study compared state and federal burglary and habitual offender statutes to an empirical description of the offense. First, a comprehensive content analysis of the provisions of state burglary and habitual offender statutes showed that burglary is often treated as a violent crime, instead of prosecuting and punishing it as a property crime and then separately charging and punishing any violent acts that occasionally co-occur with it. Second, using data from the period1998-2007 from the NCVS and the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), results showed that in contrast to its statutory classification, burglary is overwhelmingly a non-violent offense. The reported incidence of actual violence or threats of violence during a burglary ranged from a low of 0.9% in rural and suburban areas, to a high of 7.6% in highly urban areas. Additionally, a victim was present during only 26% of all burglaries. These findings led the present study to recommend reform for state and federal burglary and habitual offender statutes to comport with the empirical description of the burglary characteristics provided. Furthermore, it is suggested that federal law should be amended to remove non-violent burglaries as a violent felony under habitual offender statutes, and instead, that burglary should be prosecuted and punished at a level equal with other non-violent property crimes, unless actual violence occurred during the offense.

  • Evaluation of the Effects of Shift work Assignment: A Survey of Motivation in Police Officers

    Author:
    Rainer Kroll
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Maria Haberfeld
    Abstract:

    The detrimental health effects of a varied shift schedule on personnel were researched extensively. In fact, the culmination of this work was substantive policy changes, especially within the law enforcement field. While these policy changes were sound in principal, the implementation of invariable shift assignments to meet organizational requirements and the subsequent impact on personnel was documented less frequently. There was little research on employee motivation as a consequence of shift assignments. Partly a consequence of the implementation of organizational mandates with little regard for employee welfare, it was this employee/organization nexus that was inherently important to personal and organizational success. This relationship between employee motivation and shift assignments needed to be researched, and was the focus of this proposal. A Motivation Index, comprised of the various survey questions grouped together according to a specific factor, was created to allow analysis of specific effects of shift assignments on the employee's motivation. These factors were based on external-personal and internal-institutional variables. The analysis began with descriptive statistics of the data--mean, median, mode, range, minimum, maximum, standard deviation, bar chart, histogram, and significant correlations were presented. Additional analysis was conducted using principal components analysis, used to help reduce the data to outline patterns of relationships between the survey questions. These results were used to identify which clusters of variables shared variance and were considered most important to the survey respondent. The purpose of the analysis was twofold--to identify which factors were most meaningful to the survey respondent, and to incorporate these results into policy development in organizational behavior, specifically within the law enforcement community.

  • A meta-analysis of the prediction of violence among adults with mental disorders

    Author:
    Hing Po Lam
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Karen Terry
    Abstract:

    The study of the risk for violence among persons with mental disorders has received substantial scientific attention over the past few decades; however, many uncertainties and controversies remain due to the wide disparities in the reported results. Using the state-of-the-art perspective of public health, a meta-analysis was conducted to clarify the ambiguities by synthesizing quantitative findings from 85 research reports (completed between January 1970 and May 2010) on violence risk assessment among mentally disordered adults. Results of this meta-analytic study revealed that the estimates of the prevalence of violence among the psychiatric population varied considerably from 1.1% to 78.4% with a combined mean rate of 19.3% (95% CI = 15.7-23.5%, k = 68, N = 160,206). Additionally, a total of 290 effect sizes were computed for 36 risk factors of interest and their relative strength in relation to violence was compared. Most importantly, this review demonstrated that mentally disordered patients were no more likely than their non-mentally disordered counterparts to commit violent acts. Overall, the findings have significant implications for clinicians, policy makers, researchers, and the general public, including the psychiatric patients. Lastly, a "Global Public Health-Comprehensive Meta-Analysis" (GPH-CMA) approach is proposed as a new direction for risk assessment and management.

  • Offending in Karachi's neighborhoods: An empirical test of the systemic model of social disorganization

    Author:
    Zainab Latif
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Amy Adamczyk
    Abstract:

    The systemic model of social disorganization posits that structural challenges impede the development of neighborhood networks responsible for informal social control, and thereby increase residents' involvement in crime. However recent studies suggest that in severely disadvantaged and isolated communities, even well-functioning networks may be unable to prevent offending, as a result of cultural and political economy factors such as legal cynicism and the legitimization of violence. This research examines the utility of the ecological framework in Karachi, and assesses the impact of key social disorganization indicators - ethnic heterogeneity, residential mobility and concentrated poverty - on offending. It also examines the extent to which these impacts are mediated by variation in state legitimacy across Karachi's neighborhoods. The project draws on three sources of secondary data: census of Pakistan, election data, and jail admission records. The sample consists of 453 of Karachi's census tracts. Analyses include descriptive techniques to assess the utility of the ecological framework, multivariate regressions to examine direct and mediation effects, and structural equation models to test the significance of the entire complex models. Results display considerable variation across neighborhoods in offending, voting behavior and other sociological indicators. Two social disorganization factors - concentrated disadvantage and ethnic heterogeneity - as well as legitimacy, are each seen to have significant, positive, direct effects on total offending, violent offending and robbery. Results further suggest that concentrated disadvantage and mobility contribute to voting behaviors. These results have important implications for the application of ecological theories in general, and social disorganization in particular, in Karachi. The study also points to the importance of macro-social indicators such as voting behavior in explaining offending. Finally, results speak to the need for careful selection of multivariate regression models and the benefits of supplementing these techniques with SEM. However, it is suggested that further investigation into the nature of the micro-social processes underlying social disorganization, and a more rigorous understanding of the determinants of voting behavior and its ability to adequately represent attitudes toward state legitimacy will allow for more accurate application of these findings to the systemic model.

  • Counterfeiting: A Challenge to Forensic Science, the Criminal Justice System, and Its Impact on Pharmaceutical Innovation

    Author:
    Pauline Leary
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    John Reffner, Ph.D.
    Abstract:

    Counterfeit drugs threaten public health and present unique and complex challenges to the criminal justice system and the field of forensic science. Theft of intellectual property in the pharmaceutical industry has caused sickness and death, and it is necessary that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice. In some cases, threats to health and safety are short term; in others they are long term. This research describes these threats in detail. The problem is complex, and there are many important factors that need to be considered to successfully address the problem. Public-health challenges, drug-development challenges, legal challenges, issues of public policy, and financial considerations are all important aspects of the problem that need to be understood. This research describes these details so that appropriate solutions can be proposed. The field of forensic science struggles to establish analytical methods to identity composition and establish provenance of counterfeit goods. No method has been shown to be universally applied to achieve this goal. The use of field-portable instruments to detect and identify counterfeits in the field is important emerging technology. These instruments must work quickly and accurately. This research defines the challenges faced by the field of forensic science and proposes methods that may be used to address these challenges. This will enable forensic scientists to provide support to law enforcement and other members of the criminal justice and legal systems to successfully investigate and adjudicate these crimes.

  • Memorial Laws: Social and Media Construction of Personalized Legislation, 1994 -2005

    Author:
    Faith Leibman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Warren Benton
    Abstract:

    The purpose of the present study is to conduct an in-depth qualitative evaluation of the sociological traits of victims and the crime variables that appeared to be associated in some manner with the adoption of Memorial Laws in various states. The present study represents a first attempt to investigate Memorial Laws as a phenomenon.The study presents several important factors that it hypothesizes to be related to Memorial Law passage. These factors include socio-cultural conditions (e.g., fear of crime, publicity about victims and attention given by the media to victim attributes) and political activities (e.g., the dominant political ideology statewide, the political culture of a state), among others. The data used in this study consists of all Memorial laws enacted in state legislatures between 1994 and 2005. By examining a number of social, demographic, and political factors associated with Memorial Law enactment, this study seeks to increase our understanding of Memorial Laws.

  • Memorial Laws: Social and Media Construction of Personalized Legislation, 1994 -2005

    Author:
    Faith Leibman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Warren Benton
    Abstract:

    The purpose of the present study is to conduct an in-depth qualitative evaluation of the sociological traits of victims and the crime variables that appeared to be associated in some manner with the adoption of Memorial Laws in various states. The present study represents a first attempt to investigate Memorial Laws as a phenomenon.The study presents several important factors that it hypothesizes to be related to Memorial Law passage. These factors include socio-cultural conditions (e.g., fear of crime, publicity about victims and attention given by the media to victim attributes) and political activities (e.g., the dominant political ideology statewide, the political culture of a state), among others. The data used in this study consists of all Memorial laws enacted in state legislatures between 1994 and 2005. By examining a number of social, demographic, and political factors associated with Memorial Law enactment, this study seeks to increase our understanding of Memorial Laws.