Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Dual Arrest in Intimate Partner Violence Incidents: The Influence of Police Officer, Incident, and Organizational Characteristics

    Author:
    Patrick Morris
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Justin Ready
    Abstract:

    An unintended consequence of mandatory and preferred arrest laws has been dual arrest, the arrest of both parties in an incident involving intimate partner violence. Concern has been raised that its continued use may have an undesirable impact on the victims of this crime, particularly as it relates to revictimization by the criminal justice system. Using family violence arrest data from 21 municipalities in southwestern Connecticut for calendar year 2005, this research tests the influence of officer, incident and organizational variables on the decision to arrest both parties in an incident involving intimate partner violence. The sampling frame for the research is all family violence incidents that occurred from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2005 in the 21 municipalities identified above, that resulted in arrest. In order for the incident to be included in the sampling frame, it had to involve a couple in an intimate relationship. The data analysis was conducted in a three-step process. Univariate analyses consist of means, frequency and percentage distributions, and tabular displays of the relative distribution of scores on each variable. Bivariate analyses consist of chi square tests of statistical independence. Finally, binary logistic regression was employed to test each of the independent variables and examine their contribution to the prediction of dual arrest. Significant predictors were identified as departmental policy with self-defense language, offense seriousness, officer seniority, and spousal relationship. The methodology also included a qualitative component in the form of focus groups. Four focus groups of 4-6 officers each were conducted in an effort to further explain quantitative results and attempt to probe the minds of the police officers making these arrest decisions. Additional issues raised by police officers during the focus groups were the influence of liability, field training officers, and first line supervisors. The implications of the research include an increased understanding of dual arrest, the need for better data collection, illumination of the benefits of self-defense language in departmental policies, the need for enhanced police officer training, and demonstration of the need for primary aggressor language in statutory law.

  • Exploring change in local criminal justice systems: An examination of the implementation of the Justice Reinvestment at the Local Level model in three U.S. counties

    Author:
    Suzanne Neusteter
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Jeff Mellow
    Abstract:

    Tough on crime policies in the U.S. began to emerge in the 1970s and steeply escalated through the 1980s and 1990s, prompting massive growth of correctional populations and criminal justice costs. Although many of these policy and legislative reforms were enacted at the federal and state levels, they have trickled down and greatly affected localities across the country. The recent economic downturn has exerted additional pressures on local governments. These factors have prompted the development of a number of planned change strategies designed to curb the escalating growth and related costs in criminal justice systems. One such approach, Justice Reinvestment at the Local Level (JRLL), targets the implementation of a planned change model within local criminal justice systems. This dissertation employs qualitative and quantitative data from three case studies to test if the JRLL planned change strategy supports the Lewin-White planned change schema. Lewin's model involves three phases: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. White advances this three-step process, arguing that for the purposes of full system change the final phase of Lewin's model requires a commitment to an iterative and experimental process. This study analyzed data from two waves of stakeholder interviews and surveys to assess if change was evident in areas pertaining to the Lewin-White model. Mixed results from the three JRLL case studies are somewhat consistent with this schema, and serve as an intermediate benchmark for success, indicating that the JRLL model has promise to affect full system change in the three study sites and potentially elsewhere as well.

  • Developing Theoretical Propositions of Far-Right Ideological Victimization

    Author:
    William Parkin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Joshua Freilich
    Abstract:

    This study develops theoretical propositions of far-right ideological victimization using empirical data from the Extremist Crime Database, a unique, relational database that collects information on criminal activities, both ideological and routine, committed by domestic extremists in the United States. Data related to far-right ideological homicide events was collected, cleaned, and analyzed on the individual, situational, and macro-levels of analysis. Ideological victims were compared to other types of homicide victims, such as far-right non-ideological victims and "routine" homicide victims. Univariate, bivariate, and multivariate statistical analyses were conducted to determine whether far-right ideological victims were similar or different to any of the comparison groups. After presenting the empirical results, theoretical propositions of far- right ideological victimization were formally stated, focusing on the concept of differential identity. It is argued that the presence and magnitude of differential identity on multiple levels of analysis can help to explain and predict ideological victimization risk. The study ends with a discussion of its contributions, limitations, and policy implications.

  • American Sports Fans: What Makes Them Tick, and Sometimes Explode, and What Attributes of the Arena Contribute to Fan Incidents

    Author:
    Meredith Patten
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Joshua Freilich
    Abstract:

    This study of fan behavior at professional sporting events in select United States (U.S.) cities addresses three points: theoretical explanations of fan violence (from Europe and the U.S.); amount and type of fan violence/aggressive behavior occurring at professional sporting events and what characteristics of the arena contribute to incidents (examined across sport and city); and suggested measures for individual organizations and cities to combat the problem. In the U.S., fan violence is typified by a November 2004 incident during a National Basketball League game at the Auburn Hills Arena in Michigan that involved fans and players and led to multiple arrests and the suspension of some National Basketball Association players. This event is now commonly referred to as the "Basketbrawl." Yet, despite increased attention paid to fan behavior in the U.S., little research has been conducted on the behavior of spectators at professional sporting events. This study begins to fill this gap by examining the seriousness (assault versus non-assault) of arrests at sporting events in the U.S. Using a binary logistical regression model; the research shows that offender demographics are predictors of crime seriousness. However, the characteristics of the stadium, such as parking structure and whether the stadium was indoor or outdoor, were not. The research serves as a starting point to examine other attributes of the stadium and implement policies to keep incident numbers down and less serious.

  • UV-VISIBLE MICROSCOPE SPECTROPHOTOMETRIC POLARIZATION AND DICHROISM WITH INCREASED DISCRIMINATION POWER IN FORENSIC ANALYSIS

    Author:
    Dale Purcell
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Thomas Kubic
    Abstract:

    Microanalysis of transfer (Trace) evidence is the application of a microscope and microscopical techniques for the collection, observation, documentation, examination, identification, and discrimination of micrometer sized particles or domains. Microscope spectrophotometry is the union of microscopy and spectroscopy for microanalysis. Analytical microspectroscopy is the science of studying the emission, reflection, transmission, and absorption of electromagnetic radiation to determine the structure or chemical composition of microscopic-size materials. Microscope spectrophotometry instrument designs have evolved from monochromatic illumination which transmitted through the microscope and sample and then is detected by a photometer detector (photomultiplier tube) to systems in which broad-band (white light) illumination falls incident upon a sample followed by a non-scanning grating spectrometer equipped with a solid-state multi-element detector. Most of these small modern spectrometers are configured with either silicon based charged-couple device detectors (200-950 nm) or InGaAs based diode array detectors (850-2300 nm) with computerized data acquisition and signal processing being common. A focus of this research was to evaluate the performance characteristics of various modern forensic (UV-Vis) microscope photometer systems as well as review early model instrumental designs. An important focus of this research was to efficiently measure ultraviolet-visible spectra of microscopically small specimens for classification, differentiation, and possibly individualization. The first stage of the project consisted of the preparation of microscope slides containing neutral density filter reference materials, molecular fluorescence reference materials, and dichroic reference materials. Upon completion of these standard slide preparations analysis began with measurements in order to evaluate figures of merit for comparison of the instruments investigated. The figures of merit investigated included: 1) wavelength accuracy, 2) wavelength precision, 3) wavelength resolution stability, 4) photometric accuracy, 5) photometric precision, 6) photometric linearity, 7) photometric noise, and 8) short-term baseline stability. In addition, intrinsic instrument polarization effects were investigated to determine the impact of these properties on spectral interpretation and data quality. Finally, a set of recommendations were developed which describe instrument performance characteristics for microscope and spectrometer features and functions, and specific instrument parameters that must be controlled in order to acquire high quality data from an ultraviolet-visible forensic microscope spectrophotometer system for increased discrimination power.

  • Intimate Partner Violence: An Examination of Ecological Factors

    Author:
    Sheetal Ranjan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Maureen O'Connor
    Abstract:

    Intimate Partner Violence has commonly been examined using an individual-psychological or a socio-structural perspective. Little research has examined IPV using an integrated approach. Specifically, little research has focused on understanding IPV in the context of neighborhood or ecology. In ecological studies the units of analysis are spatially defined population aggregates (Anselin, Cohen, Cook, Gor and Tita 2000). The Steering Committee for the Workshop on Issues in Research on Violence against Women, National Research Council clearly identifies the need for ecological research in relation to IPV: "The committee recommends research to estimate the extent of variation in violence against women among census tracts or small neighborhoods, police precincts or districts, or other theoretically meaningful social area aggregations. Research should also be aimed at determining which features of area composition influence rates and types of violence against women." (Kruttschnitt, McLaughlin and Petrie, 2004, p5). The present study, therefore, uses both individual level and community level data to understand the features of area composition that influence IPV. A combination of primary data from survey participants and secondary data from the Census, Infoshare, New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Domestic Violence Research Unit of the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services were modeled using Hierarchal Linear Models (HLM) software. The data were also geo-coded on electronic maps using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. Multi-level binomial regression results indicate no neighborhood effects for the survey sample, whereas Moran's I tests using Geoda software indicate significant spatial clustering of IPV rates in police precincts. Further, regression analysis shows that concentrated disadvantage (b=.55), immigrant concentration (b=-.22) and community violence (b=.31) significantly predict IPV rate in police precincts accounting for about 71 percent of variance in the model.

  • SERVING AT THE PLEASURE OF THE MAYOR: AN EXPLORATION OF POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT IN NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER DEPARTURES 1901-2001

    Author:
    Brian Rizzo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Todd Clear
    Abstract:

    In 1901 New York City abolished the bi-partisan Board of Police Commissioners and replaced it with a single headed police commissioner. This legislation was intended to remove politics from policing and affixed a police commissioner's term at five years absent removal for the public interest by the mayor. Through a historical, political and institutional context, the present study explored mayoral involvement in the departure of all former New York Police Commissioners (N=40) between 1901 and 2001. Variations of the following areas found in the literature were included in the analysis; Wilson's police executive selection, Enter's police executive career path, Bynander and Hart's executive succession and Mastrofski's police governance. Two new areas were added to the extant policing literature; "Police Independence" (Professional, Autonomist, Antagonist) which measured the police commissioner's criticism of the mayor at the time of his departure, and "Civilian Control" (Political, Latent Political, Non-Political) which measured the mayor's level of involvement in police commissioner departures. Tepid support for Wilson's (1968) link between local political culture and police style was found using qualitative and quantitative measures. Historically, the study found that despite a mayor being actively engaged in police affairs, political involvement was not the leading cause of police commissioner departures. Multiple manifest rationale were cited for police commissioner departures and numerous latent reasons were identified which revealed underlying political involvement. The average police commissioner tenure was half the City Charter's stipulated five year term and 63% of successions were mid-term. During the period of the study the relationship between the police commissioner and the mayor progressed from servitude to estrangement to, ultimately, accountability and oversight. An informal tradition was identified which was exhibited by police commissioner's decision to resign rather than invoke the City Charter to complete an unexpired term. This tradition which allowed a new mayor the pleasure of selecting his own man not only disregarded the letter of the 1901 legislation intended to protect and insulate incumbent police commissioners from induced political departures, but also violated its spirit to separate politics from policing. These findings are generalizable only to New York City. Future research should focus on municipalities with different political/police structures.

  • Don't I Have a Right to Bail? A Study of Bail Decisions/Outcomes and Their Effects of Plea Bargaining and Sentencing

    Author:
    Meghan Sacks
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Candace McCoy
    Abstract:

    DON'T I HAVE A RIGHT TO BAIL? A STUDY OF BAIL DECISIONS/OUTCOMES AND THEIR EFFECTS ON PLEA BARGAINING AND SENTENCING by Meghan Sacks Advisor: Professor Candace McCoy Previous research on bail practices has shown that legal factors such as offense severity and prior criminal record impact bail decisions and outcomes, as well as demographic factors such as race and gender. While sentencing practices have been studied extensively, bail is at the forefront of the criminal process and has the potential to affect the trajectory of a case. This study examines the factors that impact bail decision making and the subsequent influence of bail on the entire criminal case process that includes plea bargaining and ultimately sentencing. The analyses consist primarily of quantitative methods. Specifically, this research employs a sample of 634 New Jersey superior court cases tracked from arrest through disposition. These data are supplemented with findings from interviews with the courtroom work group and observations of bail hearings. Regarding bail, this study finds that both legal and extralegal factors impact bail decisions and that financial resources play an important role in bail outcomes. More specifically, the seriousness of the offense and the number of charges brought against the defendant strongly impact bail decisions by the court. This study examines bail decisions made by judges and subsequent bail outcomes, i.e., whether defendant posted financial bail and were released or not. Individuals represented by public defenders are less likely to post bail when compared with individuals who have private counsel. Bail amount set by the court is higher for defendants in urban jurisdictions and defendants in urban jurisdictions are less likely to be able to post bail. Looking at demographic factors, minorities receive less advantageous bail decisions and black defendants are less likely to post bail. Conversely, bail amount plays a strong role in bail outcomes in that defendants with higher monetary bail requirements are less likely to post bail, highlighting the importance of the defendant's economic resources. Additionally, this study's qualitative findings demonstrate that criminal history is a strong consideration in bail decisions and that the courtroom work group dynamic also influences bail proceedings. Turning to subsequent decision points, this study found that an increase in the number of charges is related to an increase in the case's disposition time. While cases involving black and hispanic defendants take longer to reach a disposition, cases involving public defenders have a shorter disposition time. These results support the hypothesis that defendants who are detained before trial plead guilty earlier than defendants who are able to post bail, which can significantly affect later dispositions. Although pretrial detention does not impact the decision to incarcerate, pretrial detention does significantly impact the length of the sentence in cases that involve incarceration. Several other factors influence sentence length, including gender, race, the number of charges and offense type, and prior criminal history. In sum, the quantitative analyses indicate that both legal and extralegal factors impact bail decisions. The qualitative data demonstrate that factors internal to the court, i.e., agreement on the going rate, also play a role in bail proceedings. Moreover, these results show that pretrial detention impacts subsequent decision points in that defendants who are detained prior to trial, in most instances, plead guilty faster and receive lengthier sentences. The impact of bail proceedings on the trajectory of a case highlights the ongoing need to carefully scrutinize pretrial practices.

  • Situational Surveillance Control

    Author:
    Vincenzo Sainato
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Patrick O'Hara
    Abstract:

    This research considers the adoption, design, implementation, and oversight of digital surveillance technologies in the daily and critical functions of the Belleville Police Department. This agency has custom designed and implemented a digital surveillance and data management system which has since been adopted by forty police departments across its state--including the State Police; moreover, Belleville's data systems interface with the principal national and state-level criminal justice databases, as well as with data sources external to the criminal justice system. The agency provided, to the extent permissible by law, complete access to the agency's employees and systems, as well as all available historical data and records relating to the creation and development of the system. The researcher collaborated with the agency's employees in an extended ethnographic study of their digital surveillance technologies and processes in order to empirically assess associated potential and actual harms, issues, problems, and vulnerabilities. This study concludes by proposing ways that harm reduction models, such as Situational Crime Prevention, can be applied to digital surveillance technologies to improve oversight and accountability.

  • Pathogen Detection Using the Luminex Multi-analyte System

    Author:
    Andrew Schweighardt
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Margaret Wallace
    Abstract:

    The causative agents of anthrax, botulism, tularemia, and plague are so destructive that they could be used maliciously by bioterrorists. Microscopical and biochemical methods of identifying pathogenic bacteria are often inaccurate and time-consuming. Genetics-based alternatives surpass traditional detection methods in terms of speed and accuracy, but often lack the capacity for multiplexing. Luminex technology embodies all the advantages of DNA-based identification while still offering impressive multiplexing capabilities. Luminex is a liquid array platform that relies on specially labeled microscopic beads to which unique probes are covalently attached. Hybridization of the probes to the unknown target sequences is detected and quantified by the instrument. Four core pathogenic bacterial species were selected: Bacillus anthracis, Clostridium botulinum, Francisella tularensis subsp. tularensis, and Yersinia pestis. Probe sequences intended for confirmatory identification of the four core pathogens were located within genes related to the toxicity of each bacterium. Additional probe sequences within the 23S ribosomal RNA gene rrl were selected for presumptive identification of the four core pathogens, or a relative belonging to the same genus. Primer3 and AutoDimer software programs were used during probe and target DNA design to specify oligo parameters and minimize cross-reactivity. The specificity of all oligos was verified using whole genome searches conducted on the NCBI BLAST database. Target sequences were amplified by PCR and quantified using the Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer. Primer specificity was confirmed by the detection of target band(s) of the requisite length. Specificity and sensitivity were examined by introducing various increments of each target sequence to all probes. A reasonable degree of specificity was observed, although some probes were prone to false positives. The LLDs for the probes ranged from 0.1 to 10 ng. Sensitivity was improved by using lambda exonuclease to enzymatically digest the non-complementary PCR strand. Thirty-three binary, ternary, and quaternary mixtures were examined in which all components were present in a 1:1 ratio, with an 80% success rate for identifying all components. Four binary mixtures were subjected to further study in which the two components were combined in various ratios. Both components were detected in 100% of the twenty-eight mixtures analyzed, even when the minor component was overshadowed by a ten-fold excess of the major component. False positives typically had an attenuated fluorescent response that made them easily distinguishable from a genuine positive result. Overall, the Luminex platform is a robust method of identifying pathogenic microorganisms. This technique has a superior level of specificity and sensitivity, provided that each assay has its underpinnings in a thorough survey of all pertinent bioinformatics data. Continued research with the Luminex technology is important both for validating the utility of this technique and for satisfying legal admissibility standards.