Criminal Justice Policy Review

Sage Publications, Inc.
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Latest documents

  • Criminalizing Homelessness: Circumstances Surrounding Criminal Trespassing and People Experiencing Homelessness

    Criminal trespassing (CT) is an understudied misdemeanor offense often enforced to maintain control over contested spaces and, in practice, often disproportionately used against disenfranchised populations such as the homeless and mentally ill. This study uses the CT case files of a county criminal district attorney’s office to investigate how cases involving defendants experiencing homelessness are handled compared with other defendants. Results show that homeless defendants make up a substantial portion of all CT cases, are more likely to be repeat CT defendants, and account for most jail sentences. Whereas defendants with mental health issues were often deferred for services, this avenue was not similarly extended to homeless defendants. Qualitative analyses show varied circumstances related to CT arrest for homeless and non-homeless defendants. The findings suggest various policy implications to refocus police resources and promote interagency cooperation to address the underlying causes of CT involvement by people experiencing homelessness.

  • Methods of Calculating the Marginal Cost of Incarceration: A Scoping Review

    Criminal justice reforms and corrections cost forecasts require appropriate estimates of the marginal costs of incarceration to adequately assess cost savings and projections. Average costs are simple to calculate while marginal cost calculations require much more detailed data and advanced methods. We undertook a scoping review to identify, report, and summarize the existing academic and gray literature covering the different estimation methods of calculating the marginal costs of incarceration, following the Arksey and O’Malley framework. Eighteen publications met criteria for inclusion in this review, with only one from the peer-reviewed literature. The three main approaches in the literature and their use are reviewed and illustrated. We conclude that there is a lack of, and need for, peer-reviewed literature on methods for calculating the marginal cost of incarceration, and marginal cost estimates of incarceration, to assist program evaluation, policy, and cost forecasting in the field of corrections.

  • When Dogs Make the Difference: Jail-Based Parenting With and Without Animal-Assisted Therapy

    With 1.7 million children in the United States with an incarcerated parent, the need to provide evidence-based programming, which helps incarcerated mothers re-establish healthy relationships with their children, is essential. This study examines Parenting, Prison, and Pups, a jail-based parenting course for incarcerated women, integrated with the use of animal-assisted therapy (AAT). Utilizing a mixed-method quasi-experimental design, the authors examined differences between mothers who completed a parenting course with AAT, compared with those who completed the same course without AAT; statistically significant lower rates of parental stress and higher rates of self-esteem and parental knowledge among the AAT group were found. Based on qualitative data, the presence of therapy dogs appeared to encourage communication, trust, and connectedness between group members. These results indicate the importance of using innovative tools to help incarcerated women, who often have long histories of trauma and abuse, to develop healthy bonds with their children.

  • Mission Impossible? Challenging Police Credibility in Suppression Motions

    Suppression motions are the means by which defendants challenge the constitutionality of stops, searches, and seizures, and move the court to exclude illegally recovered evidence. However, defendants face insurmountable obstacles in challenging police credibility in these motions. Using 31 motions with factual disputes from a northeastern state, we dissect the types of defense challenges related to stops, searches, seizures, and arrests, as well as the prevalence and types of corroborating evidence presented by the defense. We find that most defense challenges to police credibility are not corroborated, and evidence of prior police misconduct is not presented. Furthermore, judges typically rule in favor of the police when adjudicating uncorroborated factual disputes between police officers and defendants. As a result, suppression motions generally fail to serve as an accountability structure for police conduct and rarely provide defendants with a viable remedy to address rights violations.

  • Advancing Interorganizational Crime and Violence Reduction Goals Through a Relational Change Intervention

    Effective interorganizational collaboration is deemed essential to comprehensive crime and violence initiatives but rarely is it empirically assessed. An 18-month intervention to improve collaboration Comprehensive Gang Model (CGM) locations was used in this study to examine the impact on increasing community capacity to address gangs and violence and reducing gang and violence in the community. Relational coordination theory grounded the collaboration intervention. Results from the quasi-experimental design showed significant, increased collaboration and reduction in violent crime in one intervention site. Other crime reduction efforts were explored as counterfactuals. Matched comparison sites saw no change in the ability to work together or violence reduction. Study implications are that relational coordination interventions may facilitate the goal of working better together, but parallel evaluations for each of the five core CGM strategies are needed to understand the independent effects of each strategy on gang and violence reduction goals.

  • Realignment and Recidivism Revisited: A Closer Look at the Effects of California’s Historic Correctional Reform on Recidivism Outcomes

    California’s 2011 Public Safety Realignment has received considerable attention nationally as a watershed moment in the movement to downsize prisons. The present study leverages data collected in 12 California counties to provide the most comprehensive examination to date of how Realignment has impacted recidivism for the key offender groups targeted in the reform. We find small to modest increases in rearrest in three of four groups targeted in the reform. The fourth group experienced moderate decreases in rearrest. Moreover, all groups experienced decreases in reconviction, which gives credence to the idea that a significant reprioritization of who should be in prison can positively affect public safety. These findings point to the complex ways that reforms like Realignment can affect custodial and community-based supervision systems by changing incentives for law enforcement and the people who supervise offenders. Our conclusions discuss the implications for other states and systems considering similar reforms.

  • Shared Race/Ethnicities of Prosecutor and Defendant: A Test of Competing Hypotheses Predicting Case Outcomes

    Diversifying prosecutors’ offices and hiring more minority prosecutors have been touted as promising initiatives to address racial disparities in prosecution. However, two theoretical perspectives—social identity and internalized racism—delineate contradictory predictions on the punitiveness of minority prosecutors. The social identity perspective maintains that minority prosecutors are likely to seek better outcomes for defendants of their own race/ethnicity, whereas internalized racism proposes that minority prosecutors will be punitive to defendants of their own race/ethnicity. The present study uses the most recent data from a large urban jurisdiction to test whether the effect of shared minority identities between prosecutors and defendants on case outcomes is consistent with the social identity or internalized racism perspectives. Results suggest that minority prosecutors tend to show leniency to defendants of their own race/ethnicity; however, they are punitive toward minority defendants of a different race/ethnicity. Policy implications and directions for future research are also discussed.

  • Impact of Focused Deterrence on Lived Experiences With Gangs and Gun Violence: Extending Effects Beyond Officially Recorded Crime

    The study evaluates a geographically based focused deterrence (FD) intervention, extending knowledge about FD impact beyond crime data to also examine residents’ lived experiences with gangs and gun violence via a two-wave household survey. We employ a quasi-experimental design and utilize time-series analyses, coefficient difference tests, and mixed-effects ordinal logistic regression. The results show a significant reduction in shots fired incidents in the target area relative to comparison areas. Shots fired calls for service trended downward citywide, but the magnitude was doubled in the target area. Survey data showed substantive declines in the target area on all six gang and gun violence outcomes, significantly exceeding changes experienced in comparison areas. We conclude that focusing geographically as well as on repeat offenders is an effective FD approach, and evaluating community surveys provides an improved understanding of the community impact.

  • The Offense-Specific Nature of Gender and Familial Responsibility in United States Federal Sentencing, 2010–2016

    Prior sentencing research has identified leniency afforded to females (compared with males) and those with familial responsibility (compared with those without). Studies have also found that the effect of defendant gender, familial responsibility, and their intersections depend on the type of offense examined. What remains unclear is the situations in which these factors matter more or less. The purpose of this study is to disaggregate extralegal effects by understanding how gender, familial responsibility, and their intersections influence federal sentencing outcomes across various offense types. Findings from this study suggest that gender, familial responsibility, and their combinations exert different influences depending on the (a) dependent variable and (b) offense type examined.

  • Using Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Advance Juvenile Justice Reform: Experiences in 10 Communities

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation created its national deep-end initiative to support local jurisdictions to develop and implement practices, policies, and programs that prevent youth involved in the juvenile justice system—especially for youth of color—from being sent to out-of-home placements. This article presents findings about the role that partnerships played across 10 communities in the initiative, leveraging data collected through interviews and a web-based stakeholder survey. As part of the deep-end initiative, stakeholders developed partnerships with multiple entities, though they reported partnering with community organizations, youth, and families less than with juvenile justice agencies. Family engagement emerged broadly and consistently as a priority, but stakeholders infrequently mentioned youth engagement. Sites with more collaboration typically had stronger implementation, suggesting that successful collaboration goes hand in hand with implementing broader reform activities. Developing diverse partnerships to engage in juvenile justice reform is an achievable goal that can advance reform efforts.

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