Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Negotiating labyrinths of risk: The impact and implementation of a structured violence risk assessment instrument in juvenile parole

    Author:
    Kevin Barnes-Ceeney
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Jeff Mellow
    Abstract:

    ABSTRACT Negotiating labyrinths of risk: The impact and implementation of a structured violence risk assessment instrument in juvenile parole Kevin Barnes-Ceeney Risk assessment has become a critical aspect of correctional work. Risk assessment instruments are often used by criminal justice workers to predict the likelihood of prison escape, recidivism, or an offender's potential for perpetrating future harms. Increasingly, state parole boards are using risk assessment to assist in their evaluation of offenders' risks, to identify requisite interventions, and to ascertain suitability for parole. Although there has been considerable research concerning the predictive validity of risk factors, few studies have examined how criminal justice workers experience and understand risk assessment, and how such understandings impact decision making. Many scholars have posited that the use of risk assessment to inform discretion decisions can improve the consistency and accuracy of recidivism prediction. Others, however, suggest that risk assessment instruments are indicative of the pernicious scientification of administration, and that an emphasis on risk factors may lead workers to practice containment rather than resolution, ensnaring individuals in biographical "labyrinths of risk." Despite extensive risk theorization, few scholars have examined the impact of risk technologies at the individual and organizational level. This mixed methods case study addresses this gap in the literature. The qualitative inquiry answers the central research question: How do juvenile justice actors experience and understand risk assessment processes? Subsidiary questions seek to unpack these experiences and understandings by asking: How do juveniles experience labyrinths of risk? and What is the nature of risk labyrinths? The quantitative part of the study answer the question: Does the implementation of a structured risk assessment increase the number of juveniles released early on parole? Tracking the implementation of the Structured assessment of violence risk in youth (SAVRY) assessment tool, in juvenile parole in New Jersey, this dissertation seeks to understand the meanings juvenile justice actors ascribe to risk, and how such understandings shape juvenile justice system responses. Semi-structured interviews focusing on perceptions of risk were conducted with three juvenile parole board members, six parole hearing team officers, 12 Juvenile Justice Commission staff, and 10 committed juveniles. Where possible, interviews were recorded and transcribed. Forty-five parole board hearings were also observed, and 21 case files were selected and transcribed. Quantitative data comprised of 445 SAVRY assessed and un-assessed juvenile cases. Cases were matched on the following variables: age within 6 months of index offense, gender, sentence length, seriousness of index offense score, and the Offender Group Reconviction Scale 3 (OGRS 3.) A grounded theory approach was adopted to analyze the qualitative data. Line-by-line open coding of transcripts was conducted, using Atlas ti qualitative data analysis software. The constant comparison method was used to refine initial codes, and develop pattern codes. Repeated patterns of meaning were grouped into themes, and the themes discussed with study participants. The quantitative data was analyzed through a survival analysis. Hazard curves were generated to examine whether assessed juveniles are likely to be released earlier than non-assessed juveniles. The findings suggest that juveniles who received a SAVRY assessment were more likely to be released earlier on parole, after an initial period of one year had passed. Parole board members felt that the SAVRY instrument was helpful as they are required to chart a course through large amounts of risk information. Risk assessment instruments do not create labyrinths of risk, however the labyrinths of risk metaphor is still useful. Risk assessment instruments appear to serve as Ariadne's thread helping to guide parole board members as they negotiate labyrinths of risk when making a parole decision. Furthermore, a juvenile's progression through the juvenile justice system can be likened to a classical labyrinth, consisting of a single unicursal path leading to the center and out again. Successful navigation of such a labyrinthine structure involves a process of transformation, in which the juvenile is expected to extinguish his offending self, thereby metaphorically slaying the Minotaur. A net labyrinth awaits the juvenile on his release. Organizational interconnectivity is of critical importance when a juvenile negotiates such a postmodern labyrinth of labyrinths. This dissertation facilitates a better understanding of the interplay between risk assessment instruments and juvenile justice decision-making. The findings improve knowledge of the barriers to successful risk assessment implementation, and identify problems with intra-and inter-organizational connectivity. Training opportunities for juvenile justice actors are identified, which facilitate the adoption of effective risk management procedures. Key findings of the dissertation were disseminated to juvenile justice employees through face-to-face discussions during the data analysis process, and meetings with senior parole officials.

  • MINORITIES' PERCEPTIONS OF MINORITY-WHITE BIRACIALS: THE ROLE OF IDENTIFICATION FOR COGNITIVE, AFFECTIVE, AND BEHAVIORAL RESPONSES

    Author:
    Sabrica Barnett
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Daryl Wout
    Abstract:

    Research on intergroup relations has a rich history in social psychology, with scholars devoting a considerable effort investigating factors that influence stereotyping, prejudice and discriminatory behavior. The results of these studies suggest that individuals' cognitions, affect, and behaviors are affected by their own group memberships as well as the groups to which others belong. People generally view the groups that they belong to (their ingroup) positively, and view the groups that others belong to (outgroups) stereotypically (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). However, much of the research on social identification and subsequent perceptions has focused on socially distinct groups rather than groups that blur categorical boundaries. As such, there is a dearth of research on how individuals identify with and perceive people who belong to multiple racial groups. To address this gap in the literature, I investigated minorities' identification with minority-White biracials, as well as the downstream cognitive (warmth and competence stereotypes), affective (pride, shame), and behavioral (facilitation, distancing) consequences of identification across three studies. Results demonstrated that Black (Study 1) and Hispanic (Study 2) participants were equally identified with biracials and other ingroup members (Blacks, Hispanics), and were less identified with outgroup members (Whites). In contrast, White participants (Study 1) were most identified with other White people, least identified with Black people, and moderately identified with Black-White biracial people. Moreover, Black participants stereotyped Blacks and Black-White biracials as equally warm and competent (Study 1); Hispanic participants felt equally proud of and were equally willing to help Hispanics and Hispanic-White biracials (Study 2); and both Black and Hispanic participants felt equally ashamed when a Black or Hispanic and Black-White or Hispanic-White biracial person acted in a stereotypically negative manner, and wanted to distance themselves from the wrongdoer (Study 3). In contrast, minorities perceived Whites less positively across measures of stereotypes, emotions and behaviors. Finally, consistent with self-categorization theory (Turner et al., 1987), minorities' identification with minority-White biracials predicted their group-based stereotypes, emotions and behaviors. These results make an important contribution to the limited work on perceptions of biracial people, and extend previous research regarding the role of identification for intergroup perceptions.

  • Counterfeiting in American Literature

    Author:
    Todd Barosky
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    English
    Advisor:
    David Reynolds
    Abstract:

    This dissertation provides an analysis of representations of counterfeiting in American literature across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. One of the oldest crimes in America and until the Civil War one of the most prevalent, counterfeiting appealed to the literary imagination not merely because it was so common, but because, as a fundamentally ambiguous activity, it seemed to expose significant fault lines in American life. The ambiguity of counterfeiting arose from the fact that its performance, and especially its successful performance, explicitly challenged the stability of the concepts, such as monetary value and sovereign authority, that were necessary to define it as a crime. Counterfeiting thus probed the shifting and often permeable boundaries between what was considered legitimate and illegitimate, legal and illegal, moral and immoral, natural and artificial, valuable and valueless, real and imaginary. The subject of counterfeiting became for a diverse group of American writers, from Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Burroughs and Charles Brockden Brown in the eighteenth century, to John Neal, George Lippard, and Herman Melville in the nineteenth century, a lens through which social and political analysis could be brought into focus, and a fertile source of philosophical speculation and literary creation. Once it was figured as a literary subject, counterfeiting also had a profound impact on the texture and development of American literature across this period. Most obviously, attempts to represent counterfeiting and counterfeiters gave rise to new experiences, new characters, new settings, and new vernaculars. Less obviously, the ambiguity of counterfeiting was such that it exerted pressure on the traditional literary forms, such as the picaresque narrative and the gothic novel, which were deployed in an effort to make it meaningful. What is more, sustained reflection upon the meaning of counterfeiting often led American writers to doubt the possibility of truthful or meaningful representation as such. "Counterfeiting in American Literature" thus seeks to demonstrate that the subject of counterfeiting exists in American literature as a site of literary creativity and cultural tension, a site where older literary forms are recast to fit new circumstances, and where different ideas are inaugurated and tested.

  • Boronic Acids as Penicillinase Inhibitors

    Author:
    Juan Barquero
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Biochemistry
    Advisor:
    Manfred Philipp
    Abstract:

    Abstract Boronic Acids as Penicillinase Inhibitors by Juan F. Barquero Advisor: Dr. Manfred Philipp. £]-lactamases are enzymes produced by bacteria resistant to antibiotics. A common feature on beta lactam antibiotics is the beta-lactam ring. £]-lactamases hydrolyze the £]-lactam ring leaving the antibiotic inoperative. The advent of bacteria that are resistant to £]-lactams has impelled researchers to find inhibitors for £]-lactamases that mimic the lactam ring but do not get hydrolyzed. One group of these new antibiotics is the aryl boronic acids. The main reason the boronic acids have been chosen as potential drugs is their lack of toxicity and their easy excretion in the urine. One of the most important structural features of these compounds is their chemical and geometric fitness in the active site of £]-lactamases. Boronic acids mimic the tetrahedral intermediate formed in the half-acylation reaction that occurs during the hydrolysis of the fÒ-lactam ring. The major goal of the research presented here was to discover new aryl boronic acids inhibitors of penicillinases from the class A £]-lactamases. To accomplish this goal, commercially available boronic acids that are manufactured for the Suzuki reaction were used. These compounds included fluorinated, chlorinated, brominated, carboxylated, nitrophenylated, pinacol-esterified and thiophene-carboxylated aryl boronic acid derivatives. Kinetic evaluations of each class of compounds were performed under pseudo first-order enzymatic reaction conditions and the inhibitory constants (Ki) were reported using nitrocefin as substrate for two enzymes: the in-house expressed £]-lactamase BlaC and the £]-lactamase from Bacillus cereus 569/H9 (Calbiochem) identified as TEM-116. The structure-activity relationship (SAR) showed that the most potent inhibitors of BlaC £]-lactamase were 2-carboxythiophene-5-boronic acid; 3,4,5-trifluorophenylboronic acid; 3-nitrophenytlboronic acid and 2,3,4,5-tetrafluorophenylboronic acid, Ki values of 1.2, 175.7, 213.9 and 228.6 micromolar respectively. In addition, SAR revealed that the most potent inhibitors for Bacillus cereus £]-lactamase I were 2-carboxythiophen-5-boronic acid, 3-carboxyphenylboronic acid, 2-carboxythiophene-4-boronic acid, and 3-carboxy-4-fluorophenylboronic acid having Ki values of 1.1, 19.4, 46.5, and 47.1 micromolar respectively. To gain further insight into the molecular interactions between each class of inhibitors and their targeted enzymes docking experiments were performed using Autodock Vina program combined with Sculpt from MDL and followed by the molecular visualization of the protein-ligand complexes using Swiss-PdbViewer and DiscoveryStudio from Accelerys. The results conclusively show that some selective classes of aryl boronic acids are potent competitive inhibitors of BlaC and Bacillus cereus £]-lactamase I and that they should be further considered for advanced drug discovery and improvement of treatment against antibiotic resistant bacteria. Furthermore, the discovery that 4,4¡¦-DDT is an inhibitor of Mycobacterium tuberculosis £]-lactamase, combined with in silico studies, suggests that further elaboration of this molecule may be one route to new inhibitors.

  • Contact-induced changes in word order and intonation in the Spanish of New York City bilinguals

    Author:
    Carolina Barrera-Tobon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Hispanic & Luso Brazilian Literatures & Languages
    Advisor:
    Ricardo Otheguy
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is a variationist sociolinguistic analysis of the variable word order and prosody of copular constructions (Nicolás es feliz versus Feliz es Nicolás, Es Nicolás feliz, Es feliz Nicolás, `Nicolas is happy') in the Spanish of first- and second-generation Spanish-English bilinguals in New York City. The data used for the study come from a spoken corpus of Spanish in New York City based on 140 sociolinguistic interviews (details of the corpus will be presented in Chapter Three). This dissertation addresses the question of whether second-generation bilinguals have a less flexible word order in Spanish as a result of their increased use of, and contact with, English, where a more fixed order prevails. We will show that the informants in the present study, like their peers in Los Angeles and other parts of the US, exhibit a more rigid word order compared to their first-generation peers. We have established that this increase in rigidity of word order among the second-generation can be attributed in large part to their increased use of and contact with English. The studies mentioned above have interpreted their results to mean that these speakers are losing or have lost the discourse pragmatic constraints that govern word order. However, the data here show that the first- and second-generation speakers in the present study share many of the same conditioning variables and constraints for word order, although these variables appear to account for a smaller amount of variance among the second-generation. In this way, we have established that the second-generation is not losing the discourse pragmatic constraints that govern word order, but that they are differently sensitive to these constraints. In fact, we show that second-generation speakers are very capable of communicating the pragmatic functions that the first-generation speakers do using word order because they maintain the prosodic details of their first-generation counterparts. In other words, the second-generation communicates these functions in ways that are slightly different from the first-generation, relying more on prosodic resources than syntactic ones. Furthermore, the data indicate that their prosodic patterns are not modeled after the prosody of English. In general terms we show that the second-generation does not have a different grammar from their first-generation counterparts, as is claimed by other researchers. Instead we show that these speakers favor certain first-generation strategies over others.

  • The Effects of Ethnic Matching on Abusive/Neglectful Minority Clients' Counseling Satisfaction, Engagement, Pre-mature Termination, and Outcome

    Author:
    Arlene Barrow
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Shick Tryon
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explored the relationship of ethnic matching between abusive and/or neglectful ethnic minority parents and minority counselors. Specifically, it examined these clients' satisfaction with and engagement in counseling as well as type of termination (unilateral or continuing) and outcome (client adjustment, meeting of agency goals, and re-abuse). This study also looked at the relationships of ethnic identity and acculturation discrepancies of clients who abused their children and their counselors, who were either ethnically matched or not matched, to client satisfaction, client engagement, client termination type, and client outcome. This dissertation sought to answer the following questions: (a) Are child-abusing clients who are ethnically matched with their counselors more satisfied with the intake counseling session than those who are not ethnically matched? (b) Are child-abusing clients who are ethnically matched with counselors more likely to become engaged in counseling than their non-matched counterparts? (c) Are child-abusing clients who are ethnically matched with their counselors less likely to terminate early than those who are not ethnically matched? ( d) Do child-abusing clients who are ethnically matched with their counselors have better outcomes than those who are not ethnically matched? (e) How do client-counselor differences in ethnic identity and acculturation relate to client satisfaction, engagement, termination, and outcome? I confirmed that abusive/neglectful clients who were ethnically matched with their counselors were significantly less likely to terminate prematurely after engagement than ethnically unmatched clients. Ethnic matching was not related to engagement, client satisfaction, or counseling outcome. Overall, results of this study suggested that ethnic matching per se may have little to do with client satisfaction, engagement, and outcome. Results also suggested that in contrast to ethnic matching, client-counselor ethnic identity discrepancy is important in client engagement, early-termination, and counseling outcome regardless of whether or not clients are ethnically matched. Although acculturation discrepancy was related to re-abuse, it had little relationship with the other variables in this study.

  • The Effects of Ethnic Matching on Abusive/Neglectful Minority Clients' Counseling Satisfaction, Engagement, Pre-mature Termination, and Outcome

    Author:
    Arlene Barrow
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Shick Tryon
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explored the relationship of ethnic matching between abusive and/or neglectful ethnic minority parents and minority counselors. Specifically, it examined these clients' satisfaction with and engagement in counseling as well as type of termination (unilateral or continuing) and outcome (client adjustment, meeting of agency goals, and re-abuse). This study also looked at the relationships of ethnic identity and acculturation discrepancies of clients who abused their children and their counselors, who were either ethnically matched or not matched, to client satisfaction, client engagement, client termination type, and client outcome. This dissertation sought to answer the following questions: (a) Are child-abusing clients who are ethnically matched with their counselors more satisfied with the intake counseling session than those who are not ethnically matched? (b) Are child-abusing clients who are ethnically matched with counselors more likely to become engaged in counseling than their non-matched counterparts? (c) Are child-abusing clients who are ethnically matched with their counselors less likely to terminate early than those who are not ethnically matched? ( d) Do child-abusing clients who are ethnically matched with their counselors have better outcomes than those who are not ethnically matched? (e) How do client-counselor differences in ethnic identity and acculturation relate to client satisfaction, engagement, termination, and outcome? I confirmed that abusive/neglectful clients who were ethnically matched with their counselors were significantly less likely to terminate prematurely after engagement than ethnically unmatched clients. Ethnic matching was not related to engagement, client satisfaction, or counseling outcome. Overall, results of this study suggested that ethnic matching per se may have little to do with client satisfaction, engagement, and outcome. Results also suggested that in contrast to ethnic matching, client-counselor ethnic identity discrepancy is important in client engagement, early-termination, and counseling outcome regardless of whether or not clients are ethnically matched. Although acculturation discrepancy was related to re-abuse, it had little relationship with the other variables in this study.

  • Components of Emotional Experience and Reaction Time: A study of Normal Aging and Parkinson's Disease

    Author:
    Judy Barry
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Joan Borod
    Abstract:

    We examined whether valence or arousal levels affect decision and movement times in Parkinson's disease (PD) and in healthy aging. For both decision and movement time, we were interested in differences in the speed and variability in responding. We also studied whether emotional experience is altered as a result of the aging process and PD pathology. Participants included 16 young healthy adults, 15 older healthy adults, and 15 non-demented individuals with mild PD. The PD participants were tested on medication. Participants viewed pictures from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS; Lang, Bradley, & Cuthbert, 2001) differing in emotional content and performed self-report valence and arousal ratings during picture presentation. Components of reaction time (i.e., decision time [DT] and movement time [MT]) were assessed during a forced-choice reaction time task. Results demonstrated that DT and MT were differentially affected by emotional stimuli. The PD group demonstrated significantly longer and more variable DTs than did the healthy controls for negative, positive, and neutral pictures; however, only the MTs for negative and neutral images were significantly different or more variable between groups. Although DTs were longer for the older control group relative to the younger control group, MTs were equivalent between the two control groups. Evidence of altered emotional experience in PD was found, as the PD participants rated negative pictures as less negative than did healthy older adults; however, this significant difference was reduced to a trend when individuals with more severe depressive symptomatology were excluded from the analysis. In addition, high arousal images were rated as more highly arousing among the PD group when depressed individuals were not included in the analyses. There was no evidence of impaired emotional experience as a function of aging, as valence and arousal ratings were not significantly different between younger and older adults. Better understanding of emotional processing deficits, which have been associated with poorer quality of life, in healthy aging and PD may lead to a better understanding of the neural bases of emotional processing, as well as offer treatment approaches.

  • PRICING COLLATERALIZED DEBT OBLIGATIONS WITH PURE JUMP LÉVY PROCESSES: A DYNAMIC BOTTOM-UP APPROACH

    Author:
    Uluhan Basaga
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Economics
    Advisor:
    Liuren Wu
    Abstract:

    The Gaussian copula model is the industry standard in pricing CDO tranches because of its easy implementation and speedy calibration. However, it has several well-known shortcomings: It leads to the so-called correlation smile", generates symmetric and light-tailed asset return distributions and it is static. This dissertation proposes a dynamic bottom-up model based on a pure jump Lévy process, a path rarely taken in the credit pricing literature, and makes a comprehensive empirical analysis of bottom-up CDO pricing models. Owing to its ability to capture asymmetric heavy-tailed return distributions and to accommodate different degrees of dampening for positive and negative jumps, empirical evidence shows that the proposed model significantly outperforms the models commonly employed in the industry and frequently referenced in the literature in fitting CDX and iTraxx tranche spreads. As such, it constitutes an important addition to the credit pricing literature.

  • PRICING COLLATERALIZED DEBT OBLIGATIONS WITH PURE JUMP LÉVY PROCESSES: A DYNAMIC BOTTOM-UP APPROACH

    Author:
    Uluhan Basaga
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Economics
    Advisor:
    Liuren Wu
    Abstract:

    The Gaussian copula model is the industry standard in pricing CDO tranches because of its easy implementation and speedy calibration. However, it has several well-known shortcomings: It leads to the so-called correlation smile", generates symmetric and light-tailed asset return distributions and it is static. This dissertation proposes a dynamic bottom-up model based on a pure jump Lévy process, a path rarely taken in the credit pricing literature, and makes a comprehensive empirical analysis of bottom-up CDO pricing models. Owing to its ability to capture asymmetric heavy-tailed return distributions and to accommodate different degrees of dampening for positive and negative jumps, empirical evidence shows that the proposed model significantly outperforms the models commonly employed in the industry and frequently referenced in the literature in fitting CDX and iTraxx tranche spreads. As such, it constitutes an important addition to the credit pricing literature.