Neuroscience and Criminal Justice
Don’t hold your breath for us to stop pointing you toward your future
in criminal justice, the “neuroscience” future in which advances in the
field threaten to change basically everything foundational in what we
do, including corrections. This
piece is about the work being done on fMRIs that map the brain and
lead to questions of free will, culpability, and appropriate punishments. These
questions and concerns are just going to grow as the work progresses
so don’t let yourself get too far behind where it is and is heading. Here’s
a tickler to back all this up:
“Where the law would have us assume that nearly everyone has the capacity to judge and control his or her behavior, neuroscience is saying that isn’t necessarily true.
This scientific assertion raises profound questions: If all our mental states can ultimately be reduced to neuro-physiological brain states, and there is really no such thing as free will, how can people be held accountable for criminal behavior? What would it even mean, in neurological terms, to form an intention or act according to reason? “It’s really an old idea,” observes Joshua Greene, a Harvard University psychologist, philosopher and neuroscientist who studies law and morality. “This goes back to the pre-Socratics. Once people got the idea, ‘What if it’s just atoms, it’s all just physical stuff?’ they asked, ‘How do we make sense of choice? How do we make sense of responsibility?’”
Most people don’t ponder such questions too deeply until a case arises involving addiction, brain damage or other mental impairment, because then a person’s ability to control his behavior is called into question. “You very quickly get into these philosophical problems, where you say, ‘OK, why do we want to say the psychopath is still responsible?’” Greene said.”
See? Go read. 02/26/10
This Week at NCJRS
The usual endless buffet of good stuff research-wise abstracted over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service this week. Here are a few appetizers, but we may have missed what you would have considered the entrée. Go check them all out.
- Getting Ready: How Arizona Has Created a 'Parallel Universe' for Inmates
- Legitimacy in Corrections: A Randomized Experiment Comparing a Boot Camp with a Prison
- Offender Supervision with Electronic Technology: A Community Corrections Resource, Second Edition
- Using Electronic Monitoring to Supervise Sex Offenders: Legislative Patterns and Implications for Community Corrections Officers
- Does an Offender's Age Have an Effect on Sentence Length?: A Meta-Analytic Review
“Drunk Under the Streetlight Behavior”
interview with a finance expert critical of economists and their
overemphasis on quantitative analyses, especially the part where nuance
and differences get washed away in the name of the numbers, could easily
apply to stat work in criminology and other social sciences that affect
us in corrections as well. Here’s a bit of the expert’s perspective:
“That illustrates one of the difficulties of the approaches the discipline [economics] prefers, that it makes it hard to integrate qualitative information. “Hard” data that can be quantified easily is preferred, which produces drunk under the street light behavior, of framing empirical analysis around where economists can get clean data, rather than around what questions really are important to be answered, and then figuring out how to get insight with the information, both hard and soft, that is available.”
Given that econ has had decades to get to the point at which its analytical limitations are finally being understood, it’s probably going to be a while before criminology and the others hit the same wall. But consider how often, even though we know well the politics and biases of arrest policies and their implementation, we insist on using arrests as a premier indicator of recidivism on which to base policies and programs, thereby perpetuating systemic biases and problems, and you can see where this is heading, too. And the idea that the reverse of the usual interpretations may be true, that is, that the arrest policies actually lead in some degree to the crimes that they are supposed to be subsequent indicators of, is virtually never considered by academics, although they are a part of life for those who live in the communities subjected to them, shows how far it may eventually go. Of course, the only indication that criminologists are paying any attention so far has been the weak defense of UCR data that we mentioned a few posts down a few days ago. Not a good sign for the future. Anyway, give it a read and figure out if you agree. At the very least you’ll get an interesting overview of how the economy got where it is, which is sorta consequential for corrections right now, isn’t it? 02/22/10.
Your Weekend Reading Assignments
And, yes, there will be a quiz.
- Despite other findings that, so far, the economic downturn hasn’t increased crime, that doesn’t appear to be the case for domestic violence, especially homicides, as you will discover, along with links, here.
- Final part of 3-part series at Addiction Inbox we’ve previously highlighted on the genetics of substance addiction and the implications for how we treat it.
- Research here on the inability of adolescents to accurately predict their life expectancies. Not news to you? Well, remember previous research that points to extreme versions of this being a major factor in the cost-benefit teens do when considering crime and its penalties. Interested now?
- A nice story that you should have on hand when people ask you why you’re in corrections, how you can work with people like that, why “those people” can’t ever turn their lives around. Also, details on what is apparently a successful reentry program, run by one of “those people” once she turned her life around.
- Finally, if you really want a head buzz this weekend, wrap your mind around the interview here that is technically about the statistics (and the poor use of them) surrounding our current economic analysis, but really you could substitute crime data virtually everywhere they talk about econ data and see how the advancements and changes being advocated could also have a major impact on how we see and deal with crime.
That ought to keep you busy while NBC has the curling events on. No need to thank us. 02/19/10.
This Week at NCJRS
More good research abstracted over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service this week. Among the offerings are the titles below, but that just scratches the surface. Go over and check out the rest. It’s legit work time.
- Time to Prison Return for Offenders with Serious Mental Illness Released From Prison: A Survival Analysis
- Job Involvement, Job Stress, Job Satisfaction, and Organizational Commitment and the Burnout of Correctional Staff
- Sexual Offenders in Prison Psychiatric Treatment: A Biopsychosocial Description
- Mental Health, Abuse, Drug Use and Crime: Does Gender Matter?
- Low Self-Control and Fraud: Offending, Victimization, and Their Overlap
This Week at NCJRS
Been wondering where the list of recent research abstracts at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service is this week? Well, wonder no more. Just go on over later and check out anything we may have missed.
- When Actions and Attitude Count Most: Assessing Perceived Level of Responsibility and Support for Inmate Treatment and Rehabilitation Programs Among Correctional Employees
- Projecting Felony Intakes to the Justice System
- Profile of Paroling Authorities in America: The Strange Bedfellows of Politics and Professionalism
- Intermediate Sanctions in Probation Officers' Sentencing Recommendations: Consistency, Net Widening, and Net Repairing
- Problems at Work: Exploring the Correlates of Role Stress Among Correctional Staff
- Officer Perceptions of Risk of Contracting HIV/AIDS in Prison: A Two-State Comparison
Desire Colliding with Reason
Okay, got your attention. Now here’s the abstract of the
study this refers to.
“Human decisions are guided by "desire" or "reason," which control actions oriented toward either proximal or long-term goals. Here we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess how the human brain mediates the balance between proximal reward desiring and long-term goals, when actions promoting a superordinate goal preclude exploitation of an immediately available reward option. Consistent with the view that the reward system interacts with prefrontal circuits during action control, we found that behavior favoring the long-term goal, but counteracting immediate reward desiring, relied on a negative functional interaction of anteroventral prefrontal cortex (avPFC) with nucleus accumbens (Nacc) and ventral tegmental area. The degree of functional interaction between avPFC and Nacc further predicted behavioral success during pursuit of the distal goal, when confronted with a proximal reward option, and scaled with interindividual differences in trait impulsivity. These findings reveal how the human brain accomplishes voluntary action control guided by "reason," suggesting that inhibitory avPFC influences Nacc activity during actions requiring a restraint of immediate "desires."”
Uh . . . somewhere in there is the conclusion that cognitive researchers are getting better at identifying and potentially treating the areas of the brain known to direct self-control. Which might have an impact on behavior and the need for and type of corrections down the road. Somewhere in there. 02/10/10.
Dead Horse Beaten
Sorry if this is getting old to you, but more stories keep popping up raising serious questions about the data, particularly about crime rates, that we use to drive our corrections and sentencing policies, just as questions about bad data have hit Census numbers and our economic modeling [sic]. Consider the following, if you’re still with us. This BBC story on how “globalization” (they spell it funny over there) has meant cheaper goods, which means, if you’re trying to make money from crime, you shift from stealing now inexpensive DVRs that won’t get you much to other more profitable avenues, like, unfortunately, robbery:
“Mr Treadwell said globalisation - especially cheaper electronic goods
from China and the Far East - was forcing thieves to re-think what items
were worth taking.
He said: "The last decade has been a remarkable one where crime is concerned, with massive changes and shifts.
"If we look back to the 1980s and 1990s, the type of staple crimes would be, for example, very often burglary and car crime and those crimes worked because they followed a business model and it was possible to break into a house and steal a video recorder and sell that at a profit.
"Cheap labour in China has had an impact on the type of crime that's committed in the UK and the type of goods that are stolen today.
"Gradually, the prices of such goods has fallen so low as to they almost have no resale value.". . .
"While DVD players for example, got cheaper, certain consumer items became smaller and were very, very expensive and sought after and so the latest mobile phone, or the latest iPod, which people carry about them, have become targets for robbers.
According to the university, the British Crime Survey (BCS) for 2008/09 estimated there were 1.28m domestic burglaries in England and Wales in 1999, almost one in 10 of the crimes recorded by the survey.
By 2008/09 that number had fallen and there were some 744,000 burglaries. The survey also found burglary dropped 58% between 1995 and 2008/09.
A Home Office spokesman said: "The evidence is clear, burglary is down 54% since 1997 and mugging has remained stable during that time.
"The risk of being a victim of crime is historically low and the British Crime Survey shows that since 1997 overall crime has fallen by 36% and violence is down by 41%."”
Think of how this all played out since we started putting tape decks in our cars (to be ripped off and increase burg stats) through the present and then ask yourself why, out of the millions of variables the criminologists and economists have claimed caused the crime drop of the ‘90’s, they never seem to have gotten around to technology changes and new or closed opportunities Hmm.
Then there’s this story from San Diego highlighting how the current economy is putting pressure on law enforcement there in the form of heightening mental illness problems. Another variable that the crims and econs seem to have forgotten is how the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill from large state hospitals fed directly into the crime buildup of the 80s and early 90s and how the overall population of “institutionalized” at state levels really didn’t change that much in the last several decades, just where they were institutionalized. (Yes, there are problems with that interpretation because the racial mix, for one thing, of the two populations is dramatically different, but still shouldn’t that be in the “explanation” mix somewhere???) Meanwhile, it looks like at least some corrections departments can look forward to even more mentally ill offenders within their supervision.
Then to top it all off, turns out that the heralded crime drop in New York City that, because of NYC’s size (more than most states), also affected national crime rates may have had just a touch of whimsy. The old problem of monkeying with the numbers when you create a system where “what is counted, counts” like COMSTAT, it seems. As one independent analyst there is quoted, ““But this is an important reminder that while statistics offer a vital window into how well services are being performed, whether we’re talking about crime rates in precincts, or successes in schools, or cleanliness of the streets, they’re not necessarily a perfect measure. They’re subject to all sorts of potential biases and pressures.””
Now read this GOVERNING piece on the importance of comparative state statistics to understand and drive state policymaking. A good piece and not untrue . . . but not completely true, either. What all these stories show is how very essential and important RELIABLE and ACCURATE data are, but not “any data in a storm.” If states want good policy, whether it’s corrections or anything else, they have to invest in good data systems and people to analyze the data and then maintain and keep them going, even when budgets are bad. Which is when they’re needed most.
Okay, off the soapbox. You’re safe for a while. Maybe 02/10/10.
In Case Regular Criminology Wasn’t Enough for You
We now apparently have “neurocriminology,” which incorporates the new
work on brain imaging and on genetics into theories and evidence of criminal
behavior. Perhaps even bringing back some ideas, once discredited
and even laughed at Happy Hour, from Cesare Lombroso and his prediction
of criminality based on skull shapes. Here’s
just a bit from a very good overview on the subject, if you’re interested,
highlighting some of the implications, but go read the whole thing to
see where the field (and we in corrections) may be heading (not to mention
fish oil sales, if you’re looking for a company to invest your remaining
“Lombroso may have been a poor scientist, Raine says, but he was right in one important sense: the brains of criminals are often different from those of the rest of us. By studying brain scans of prisoners, Raine has discovered, for example, that murderers, especially those who kill in the heat of the moment, are more likely to have a poorly functioning prefrontal cortex. This is the reasoning, decision-making section of the brain that helps to regulate impulses, including feelings of aggression, rising up from the more “primitive” parts of the brain making up the limbic system. We are all subject to violent instincts, but our prefrontal cortex helps most of us to think better of them before we harm anyone. For a few, however, the neurological brakes are broken.
Other violent criminals may suffer from a deficit of emotional capacity. Raine and his collaborators carried out brain scans on people whom they determined to have psychopathic personalities. The subjects were given a decision-making task while in the scanner. The dilemma they were presented with is a diabolical scenario beloved of moral philosophers (it was also used in the final episode of M*A*S*H). It’s wartime. You are hiding in the basement of a house with fellow villagers. You can hear enemy soldiers outside, who you know have orders to kill anyone they find. You are holding your own baby. Your baby has a cold. You know that if she coughs or cries then the soldiers will find your hiding place, kill you, the baby, and all of your friends. Should you smother your own baby or let it cough?
Don’t worry, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. In fact, the researchers weren’t interested in the subjects’ choices so much as what was happening in their brains while they considered the problem. Non-psychopathic individuals given this test display plenty of activity in parts of the brain governing emotions. If you spent just a moment thinking about that horrible dilemma you probably felt uneasy. The brain scans showed that the more psychopathic the individual, the less activation the task produced in the amygdala and other emotion-regulating regions. In other words, these subjects seemed to lack an emotional component to their moral decision-making process. It’s often said that psychopaths are people who don’t know right from wrong. But that’s not true — they could probably pass a test of moral reasoning as well as you or I. Their problem is that they can’t feel right from wrong.
Raine doesn’t just want to understand the biological causes of violent crime: his aim is to find more humane and effective ways to prevent it. Some of his work focuses on the facilitation of better brain functioning in offenders. This might be simpler than it sounds. In an experiment conducted in 2002 by Bernard Gesch, of the University of Oxford, prisoners convicted of violent offences were fed fish-oil pills, a source of omega-3 fatty acids critical for brain functioning. Among those who took it, the rate of offending in prison showed a significant decline.” 02/08/10.
More On Data (or Is it “Moron Data”?)
We’ve noted recent stories on the problems with crime rate data and the problems those problems cause criminal processing decision and policy making. To the scoffers who think we’re going “conspiracy” crazy, we’ve noted the recent criticisms of Census data, especially the manipulations associated with data on the elderly. We’ve also taken some shots at our economic data, as have others (see here for a good example that explains many of the employment data problems). But here and here are a couple of direct examples showing why crime rate changes may be suspect. The first one details how inflation moves previous misdemeanors into felony categories with no underlying behavior change in the society; thus, we see crime “increases” when victimization is steady. The example deals with felony theft, but it could apply to hot checks and other fraud as well. The second one goes in the other direction, the more familiar case in which police departments want to look more effective than they are so they monkey with the data to make serious crimes look less serious. The point is simply a variation of the old fallacy of “misplaced concreteness.” We let data too often seriously flawed by inconsistency, error, and politics in collection, reporting, and interpretation become “real” in our responses, and, disregarding the necessary contingency and the need to take the data with a large helping of salt, shape our research, evaluations, and social action without the qualifiers and Plan Bs we will need when the gap between the data and reality becomes waayyy too apparent, which it does repeatedly in corrections and elsewhere. We see it in other areas right now, too, like the problems we’re having with the economy, health care, etc., that our data and analysis were supposed to keep us from. It’s not to say that data and analysis are worthless because they clearly aren’t. But they are means, not ends. Anyone who has ever run a criminal processing data shop and seen how data rarely ever lose all their problems would argue that sense and judgment should always be applied and given precedence in their use. 02/08/10.
This Week at NCJRS
The research world just keeps spinning, and the good folks at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service just keep giving us the abstracts of some of that research. Below are a few titles of what’s there this week, just to prove the point, but you need to click the link to make sure we didn’t miss any you might have wanted to see.
- Caring for Individuals With Schizophrenia In Correctional Settings and Beyond
- Understanding Homicide Trends: The Social Context of a Homicide Epidemic
- Justice in Transition: Community Restorative Justice in Northern Ireland
- Detecting Specialization in Offending: Comparing Analytic Approaches
- Different from Adults: An Updated Analysis of Juvenile Transfer and Blended Sentencing Laws, With Recommendations for Reform
Top That Off for Me, Wouldja, Dad?
Okay, don’t want your kid to drink but know s/he probably will. Better
to keep it at home and under your watchful eye than to let them run around
doing who knows what or how much, right?
Uh . . . no. Not according to the research reported here. In fact,
“In a study of 428 Dutch families, researchers found that the more teenagers were allowed to drink at home, the more they drank outside of home as well. What's more, teens who drank under their parents' watch or on their own had an elevated risk of developing alcohol-related problems.
Drinking problems included trouble with school work, missed school days and getting into fights with other people, among other issues.”
And let’s not even start with that “playing with matches” notion, okay? 02/02/10.
We’ve noted from time to time here the impact of lead ingestion on human behavior, particularly young people’s and particularly criminal behavior. Here’s yet another study, finding links with ADHD. Good thing inability to focus attention and plan for the future well don’t have anything to do with criminal behavior. 02/01/10.
What Every Woman Already Knows
Males are worse pigs when it comes to feeling guilt than females. Says so here. It’s not so much that women are guilt-ridden but that men feel less guilt about actions than one might expect from anything called human. The gender difference starts to narrow as males age and apparently get some clue. Not that that’s relevant to corrections or the ratios of gender in our populations or the age composition of receptions and stock. 01/27/10.
This Week at NCJRS
And speaking of excellent research, we’ve listed a few titles below from the abstracts available at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service right now. But, as you’ve likely commented about some of the things we’ve posted here, we’re not always the sharpest knives in the drawer, so you probably oughtta go over and check out the full offerings.
- Governing Through Anti-Social Behaviour: Regulatory Challenges to Criminal Justice
- What Works for Women?: A Comparison of Community-Based General Offending Programme Completion
- Crime Rates and Youth Incarceration in Texas and California Compared: Public Safety or Public Waste?
- Racial Disparities and the Drug War
- OVC 2007 Report to the Nation, Fiscal Years 2005-2006: Rebuilding Lives, Restoring Hope
- OVC Report to the Nation 2009, Fiscal Years 2007-2008: Putting Victims First
Speaking of Ambiguous Research Results
This post indicates that the old advice about carefully weighing cost and benefits before making decisions really only applies to some very specific situations and that doing the cost-benefit in less specific situations really isn’t proven to be advantageous. While this may be helpful for everyday life and maybe for some administrative contexts, we might also find it useful for any programming or philosophies based on concepts that offenders are benefit-maximizers and that they’re good at it. And the implications of all that. 01/25/10.
This Week at NCJRS
More good stuff up at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service this week. Here are a few titles to their research abstracts to get your whistle whetted, but you know you need to go over there yourself to be sure we didn’t miss anything.
- Women on Parole: Understanding the Impact of Surveillance
- Supermax Incarceration and Recidivism
- Short-Term Effects of Executions on Homicides: Deterrence, Displacement, or Both?
- Assessment of Risk to Recidivate Among a Juvenile Offending Population
- Relational Violence in Women's Prison: How Women Describe Interpersonal Violence and Gender
In Case You Don’t Get the Boston Globe
It had a couple of not immediately relevant but actually very pieces
this weekend that we in corrections could benefit from. One
article summarized several recent research articles, including
one on how people who thought they had been given testosterone were
actually more aggressive than people who really were, but this one
should be the one to make us rethink our vocabularies when we’re trying
to curtail confrontation and abusive self-interest:
“People who were subliminally or incidentally exposed to legal words were then significantly more inclined to think competitively, see others as less trustworthy, and pursue their own self-interest. The authors of the study blame the Anglo-American system, with its norms of adversarial, zero-sum confrontation. Moreover, the increasingly pervasive legal style of thinking - in government, business, and entertainment - has arguably caused a vicious cycle, where legal thinking leads to cynicism, which encourages people to resort to more legal thinking.”
And this one is about cognitive errors in CIA decision-making but listen to what they are and see if you think they’re irrelevant to us in corrections and correctional policymaking: (1) “our minds are prone to see patterns and meaning in our world quite quickly, and then tend to ignore information that might disprove them”; (2) “people pay more attention to visible information than to information generated by an absence”; (3) “conclusions often rest on assumptions that are not readily testable, and may even be immune to disproof”; and (4) “to believe that the adversary sees the world as you do - a failing that is especially strong when the adversary’s beliefs are strange or extreme, but can also happen when the adversary has tactical goals that you hadn’t expected” (uh, offenders anyone?). The punchline:
“Our minds are, then, very good at forming a coherent picture, but less good at challenging it, questioning its assumptions, and coming up with alternative explanations. We are quick and often assured, but we are not self-correcting.
If there are flaws in the way that we think, then gathering more and more information isn’t a solution. What our intelligence system really needs is ways to avoid becoming trapped by the natural tendency to leap to conclusions and stick with them. This is true in other fields as well, which is why so much of professional and scientific training is designed to reduce the errors made by fallible people using weak information.”
The article does give some ways to address the cognitive traps, but frankly we’ve known the traps and the remedies for decades. Not exactly progressing quickly. Still, the whole article is interesting and entertaining, even if your brain decides not to pay any attention to it later. 01/19/10.
They do happen in our criminal processing system, despite the cynicism
and depression that frequently prevail. For example, this
report describes the success of the Rockefeller drug law reforms
in New York:
“The report analyzes data related to the 2004 and 2005 reforms to the Rockefeller Drug Laws, where over 1,000 incarcerated people became eligible for resentencing and release. The findings illustrate that New York’s judges are exercising their discretion on a case by case basis and proving to be an effective screen that protects the community from new crime. The recidivism rate for those people who were re-sentenced and have been out of prison for three years is about three times better than that produced by the highly praised DOCS Shock program. The report also finds by resentencing and releasing eligible people under drug law reform, the state saved over $40 million.”
And this blogpost discusses how making sure parolees have bank accounts pays off well in reduced recidivism:
“In the UK, an experimental project to open bank accounts for paroling prisoners has led to a remarkable finding: The ex-cons who got bank accounts were only half as likely as other parolees to reoffend.
And here's another remarkable finding: Four out of five of these guys had never had a bank account before.”
We do know things that “work” in what we do. Hopefully stories like these will continue to get wide play. In fact, why don’t you tip some colleagues off with a helpful link to our site . . . ? 01/15/10.
Maybe They’re Rational After All?
If you don’t think you’re going to live a long and prosperous life,
maybe it’s not irrational to live a violent and self-absorbed one. This
story gives you yet another view of research showing that much criminal
behavior, especially but probably not exclusively of young people, is
grounded in a view that life is harsh, brutal, and yada, yada. Which
shoots theories of punishment and prevention based on long-term life
views (that policymakers and academics who most certainly don’t live
under similar conditions might respond to) full of holes. And which
means we have to work on incorporating the fatalism into those punishments
and preventions. Here’s some of the article but, you know, read
the whole thing for the full idea:
“The professors interviewed more than 30 young offenders in some of Atlanta's toughest neighborhoods, specifically focusing on Central West Atlanta, a community that has suffered high rates of drug trafficking, serious street crime and youth violence. Those interviews, which lasted from 45 to 120 minutes, focused on the participants' perception of risk, with an emphasis on the risk of future injury, early death and the extent to which these perceptions influenced their attitudes and behaviors related to offending.
"Many had been shot or stabbed and bore visible scars of physical trauma," Brezina said. "They also expressed what criminologists refer to as a "coercive" worldview; in their eyes, they occupy a dog-eat-dog world where it is acceptable if not necessary to use force to intimidate others and to prevent victimization."
The bleak outlook on life and sense of "futurelessness" of young offenders has been shaped by some of their earliest memories and reinforced by other people in their lives and the witnessing of violence, Topalli said. Prior research has found that when young people believe they have no future, it is argued, they have little to lose by engaging in crime or violence.” 01/14/10.
This Week at NCJRS
The good folks at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service have their usual helpings of interesting research abstracts up this week. As we echo weekly, we can list a few titles below to get you tempted, but you’re the only one who would know what articles we omitted that really would have helped you out.
- Information on Criminal Aliens Incarcerated in Federal and State Prisons and Local Jails
- Correctional Leadership Competencies for the 21st Century: Manager and Supervisor Levels
- Mental Health Performance Measurement in Corrections
- Self-Control, Prison Victimization, and Prison Infractions
- Drug Use and Criminal Activity Among Rural Probationers with DUI Histories
- Effect of a Longer Versus Shorter Test-Release Interval on Recidivism Prediction with the Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles (PICTS)
- Racial Differences in Desistance From Substance Abuse: The Impact of Religious Involvement on Recovery
Back Away from the Rose-Colored Glasses
Cognitive scientists tell us that the more we use our brain’s
frontal lobes, the better we plan, the more realistically we see
the world and the better we do in dealing with it. Unfortunately,
the less you use them, the more optimistically you see the world, and
particularly yourself. What’s this got to do with corrections? Well,
It may help scientists better understand brain functions in seniors or people who suffer from depression or other mental illnesses. It could also have implications for recovering methamphetamine addicts whose frontal lobes are often damaged by drug use and who can overestimate their ability to stay clean.
Just remember: pessimists are never surprised or disappointed when bad things happen.
This Week at NCJRS
Your usual potpourri of interesting research abstracts at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Here are a few of the titles there that may interest, but we may have missed some guilty pleasures so go check the whole site out.
- Empirically Supported Reentry: Review and Prospects
- Correctional Staff Attitudes After One Year of Employment: Perceptions of Leniency and Support for Inmate Rehabilitation
- Victims of Crime: Policy and Practice in Criminal Justice
- Concentrating Investments to Prevent Violence Against Women
- Sex Trafficking: International Context and Response
Speaking of Research
The Law and Neuroscience Blog has some summaries and links here to
recent articles tying developments in cognitive science to how we do our jobs
in corrections (although you may have to use your imagination for a couple
of them). See especially the one on determining criminal responsibility
and the one on how new research on juvenile minds does and doesn’t affect how
we should look at punishment of juvenile offenders. The basic point is
that there is a major scientific field churning busily away out there in the
legal community with the potential to revolutionize what we do in our criminal
processing systems. We might find it helpful to be ahead of the curve
in how we plan to deal with their findings and their ramifications before they’re
forced on us.
The Biggest Payoff
In tough budget times it helps to have studies that show you where the
best bang for your buck is in crime and victimization prevention. Several
studies have shown that home health nurses for young first- or second-time
mothers end up paying off big time in later social function, including
less crime by the kids who received the help when they were infants. Here’s
another and latest study that details those results, especially, it seems,
for females. Go read the whole thing for the details, but these
excerpts will show you why:
“Of the 310 families followed up when the children were 19 years of age, 140 were in the control group, 79 received visits during pregnancy only and 91 received visits during pregnancy and infancy. Families in the program received an average of nine home visits by nurses during pregnancy and 23 from birth through the child's second birthday.
Compared with the 73 in the comparison group, the 44 girls whose families were visited during pregnancy and infancy were less likely to have been arrested by age 19 (10 percent vs. 30 percent) or convicted (4 percent vs. 20 percent), and had fewer lifetime arrests (an average of 0.1 vs. 0.54) and convictions (0.04 percent vs. 0.37 percent). When the analysis was restricted to girls whose mothers were high-risk (unmarried or low-income), those who were visited by nurses had fewer children (11 percent vs. 30 percent) and were less likely to use Medicaid (18 percent vs. 45 percent) than those who were not visited.
For boys, the likelihood of an arrest increased significantly in both the intervention and control groups after age 12, with no difference in arrests between groups through age 19. . . .
"In the current debate over health care reform, the question of the cost vs. benefit of investing in prevention has become a hot topic," writes J. David Hawkins, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, Seattle, in an accompanying editorial.
"The Nurse-Family Partnership Program costs about $7,000 per child. Benefit-cost analyses for the already published effects of the program have found that it produces total benefits of about $41,000 per child of low-income, unmarried, nurse-visited mothers and about $9,000 per child of lower-risk nurse-visited mothers, a positive benefit-cost ratio in both cases."
"There is now clear evidence from this and other long-term follow-up studies that well-conceived and well-implemented preventive interventions focused on reducing shared risks for diverse problems can have wide-ranging effects in preventing physical and mental health problems and promoting economic and social well-being with large health and economic benefits for both participants and the larger society that endure over many years and across generations," Dr. Hawkins concludes. "Findings from studies like these must be included in assessments of the ultimate costs and benefits to society of preventive and health-promoting interventions."” 01/05/10.
This Week from NCJRS
For your New Year’s preparation, more article abstracts from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. As always, please remember that the titles we’ve pulled out to tempt you to click the link may not be the only ones over there you’ll be interested in. Enjoy.
- Cost Matters: A Randomized Experiment Comparing Recidivism Between Two Styles of Prisons
- Comparing Methods for Examining Relationships Between Prison Crowding and Inmate Violence
- Low Self-Control and Contact with the Criminal Justice System in a Nationally Representative Sample of Males
- Rediscovering Quetelet, Again: The "Aging" Offender and the Prediction of Reoffending in a Sample of Adult Sex Offenders
Arrests and Recidivism
A common variable used to calculate recidivism in academic studies is “rearrest.” As numerous studies have shown, though, arrest policies in local departments and counties may not be randomly administered, making some people more likely targets or not. Here’s one of those studies, from NYC, discussing how almost 90% of the marijuana arrests there last year were black or Latino despite whites’ greater likelihood of using pot. This shows one reason why we in corrections tend to go with reincarceration as the most reliable indicator and why studies of disproportionate minority representation in a criminal justice process can’t study just what happens at sentencing and in corrections. 12/29/09.
Will be with the neuroscientists, it looks like. Here’s some info on general developments of brain modification applications that, as the article shows, could include affecting behavior like coke use (and other behaviors???). Lack of investors seems to be the only thing keeping development at bay right now, but the day may come soon enough. 12/29/09.
This Week at NCJRS
Start your holiday season off joyously by reviewing the article abstracts at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Here are some tasty samples of a full buffet available by just clicking on the link.
- How Staff Attitude and Support for Inmate Treatment and Rehabilitation Differs by Job Category: An Evaluation of Findings From Pennsylvania's Department of Corrections' Employee Training Curriculum 'Reinforcing Positive Behavior'
- Ineffectiveness, Financial Waste, and Unfairness: The Legacy of the War on Drugs
- Race and Sentencing Outcomes Among Female Drug Offenders in North Carolina: An Exploratory Consideration of Earlier Case Processing Outcomes
- Economic Fraud and Identity-Related Crime; and Penal Reform and the Reduction of Prison Overcrowding, Including the Provision of Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems
This Week at NCJRS
As usual, the folks at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service have abstracts up of some very interesting articles for us correctional types. You know that we can’t highlight all the ones you’re interested in so you need to check all of them out. But just to convince you, here are a few of the current titles:
- Greening of Probation
- Suicide in Correctional Facilities
- Enhancing Prisoner Reentry Through Access to Prison-Based and Post-Incarceration Aftercare Treatment: Experiences From the Illinois Sheridan Correctional Center Therapeutic Community
- Once a Criminal, Always a Criminal?: Redeemability and the Psychology of Punitive Public Attitudes
- Examination of an Interventionist-Led HIV Intervention Among Criminal Justice-Involved Female Prisoners
NCJRS En Fuego
TONS of good articles abstracted over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service this week. Below are just a few of the titles you can find there but this week for sure we can guarantee that we missed something you would have been interested in if you don’t do check them all out while they’re up.
- Is Imprisonment Criminogenic?: A Comparative Study of Recidivism Rates Between Prison and Suspended Prison Sanctions
- Health Inequalities in Correctional Institutions: Implications for Health Inequalities in the Community
- Giant That Never Woke: Parole Authorities as the Lynchpin to Evidence-Based Practices and Prisoner Reentry
- Organizational Politics of Implementing Risk Assessment Instruments in Community Corrections
- Discretionary Decision Making by Probation and Parole Officers: The Role of Extralegal Variables as Predictors of Responses to Technical Violations
- Applying Evidence-Based Practices to Community Corrections Supervision: An Evaluation of Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for High-Risk Probationers
- Gender and the Predictive Validity of the LSI-R: A Study of Parolees and Probationers
- Chaos Theory and Correctional Treatment: Common Sense, Correctional Quackery, and the Law of Fartcatchers
Yes, the last one is real, and probably the most important one of the bunch. And telling other people about it will be fun. 12/08/09.
Speaking of Provocative Research
A couple of pieces related to perceptions of one’s
place within the community and the resulting effect on behavior, including
criminal behavior. This
one demonstrates how “low-status individuals have higher tendencies toward
violent behavior, explaining these differences in terms of low-status compensation
theory.” Interesting stuff about how early herding behavior and
the need to stand up for oneself may have led to cultures that have a quick
draw on defending self-respect.
“. . . His theory is based on a considerable psychological literature demonstrating that individuals from low-status groups (e.g. ethnic minorities) tend to engage in more vigilant psychological self-protection than those from high-status groups. Low-status people are much more sensitive to being socially rejected and are more inclined to monitor their environment for threats. Because of this vigilance toward protecting their sense of self-worth, low-status individuals are quicker to respond violently to personal threats and insults.
Henry first examined archival data on counties across the American South to show that murder rates from 1972 to 2006 were far higher in counties that were dry and hilly (conducive to herding) than those that were moist and flat (conducive to farming). Above and beyond the effect of geography, however, the level of status disparities in a particular county explained these increased murder rates. Even after accounting for the general level of wealth in a given county (wealthier counties tend to have lower murder rates), status disparity still predicted murder rates. Not content with merely looking at the United States, Henry analyzed data from 92 countries around the world, to find a replication of this pattern. From Albania to Zimbabwe, greater status disparities predicted greater levels of violence.”
The payoff line? “The sum of these findings can begin to explain the troubled circumstances of those lowest in status. Ongoing efforts to maintain a positive view of oneself despite economic and social hardships can engage psychological defense mechanisms that are ultimately self-defeating. Instead of ingratiating themselves to those around them – this is the successful strategy for status attainment - low-status individuals may be more prone to bullying and hostile behavior, especially when provoked. Research identifying factors that lead to successful status-seeking provides some optimism, though. Individuals capable of signaling their worth to others rather than being preoccupied with signaling their worth to themselves may be able to break the self-defeating cycle of low-status behavior.”
Cognitive behavioral treatment, anyone?
And here’s a story about research on how levels of trust differ in a society related to socioeconomic standing, again clearly involving status distinctions and perceptions. Its payoff line: “To the extent that trust is linked with a sense of well-being, these results are decidedly bad news (the age result notwithstanding), though sadly not surprising. And as the Gallup analysis points out, the problem feeds itself: lower socioeconomic areas have lower levels of trust, which handicap efforts to improve conditions, which leads to worse conditions and less trust. Looking at it another way, lower levels of trust may be spawned by lower socioeconomic conditions, which impede greater trust from developing in the community. Either way, troubling.”
Since trust in each other and in the legitimacy of the justice system have both been clearly linked by researchers to willingness to obey and accept legal authority (google “Tom Tyler” if you don’t believe us), it’s pretty clear that building trust levels could lead to better self- and community perceptions that could lead to less work for us to do in corrections someday. 12/08/09.
Check This Parole Study Out While You’re at It
Iowa has one of the best correctional research setups in the country, which
report examining the existence of bias in state parole decisions demonstrates
about as well as anything could. The research found that, when controlling
for assessed risk level, a previous greater likelihood of whites to be paroled
than blacks disappeared. That’s not to say that the state will no longer
be interested in resolving one of the disproportionate racial composition
in prison ratios in the country:
“The Iowa Department of Corrections is proceeding with efforts to improve community re-entry programs for inmates released from custody in an effort to keep offenders from returning to prison, said Lettie Prell, the department's director of research. A state evaluation has found that state officials could lower the return rate to prison for higher-risk black offenders from 69.7 percent to 52.7 percent with a re-entry initiative, she said.
"High risk or not higher risk, most offenders are going to return to our communities someday, and it's better to return them with support that leads to better success," Prell said.”
Perhaps underplayed in the story a bit is simply the creative and constructive way that state researchers there incorporated risk assessment into their analysis, something that clearly is the way of the future in correctional research. Good work that can stand as a model for the rest of us when similar questions come up. 12/08/09.
This Week at NCJRS
As usual, the folks at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service have a number of abstracts of good articles up for your perusal. We cherry-picked a few titles below, but you know you have to visit the site yourself to find all the ones you’d be interested in.
- Career and Technical Education in United States Prisons: What Have We Learned?
- Tobacco Smoking Among Incarcerated Individuals: A Review of the Nature of the Problem and What is Being Done in Response
- Prison Violence: Does Brutality Come with the Badge?
- Who Accesses the Sex Offender Registries?: A Look at Legislative Intent and Citizen Action in Nebraska
- Sanctions for Sex Offenders: Fear and Public Policy
- Corrections-Based Drug Treatment Programs and Crime Prevention: An International Approach
Like Father, Like Son . . . and Daughter
below on new investigation into intergenerational crime careers. Not
news to anyone in corrections long enough, but good that academics are
finding on the case and have time to do the detail work that we don’t.
“This paper studies intergenerational correlations in crime between fathers and their children and the underlying mechanisms that give rise to these correlations. Using data from the Stockholm Birth Cohort, we find strong evidence of an intergenerational criminal relationship. Sons whose fathers have at least one sentence have 2.06 times higher odds of having a criminal conviction than sons whose fathers do not have any sentence. At the intensive margin, one additional sentence of the father increases the expected number of sons’ convictions by 32 percent. Father-daughter relationships are generally not significantly different than fathers-son relationships. Traditional regression techniques indicate that socioeconomic status accounts for roughly one-third of the extensive margin father-son relationship and somewhat less, particularly at the intensive margin, for daughters. Over and above this, for both sons and daughters, our ability proxies account for an additional 20 percent. Finally, household heterogeneity, the most important component of which is household instability, accounts for almost one-third of the intergenerational relationships. More direct evidence regarding whether the intergenerational correlations arise through either an inherited traits mechanism or a father as role model mechanism is provided in four alternative experiments. These experiments focus on: (i) a sample of twins, (ii) an adoptee sample, (iii) the timing of the father’s crime, and (iv) the quality of the father – child relationship. We find evidence that both direct channels play a role in the reproduction of crime from one generation to the next. Finally, we find that paternal incarceration may actually lower the number of crimes committed by some children, providing additional evidence of the importance of a behavioral transference mechanism.”
(The last sentence may be the most important finding if we can find out how to make it work for us down the line.) 12/01/09.
Back Away from the CSI-Wherever
Yet another study demonstrating that people who watch more crime tv end up thinking there’s more crime in reality than there is and that they’re more likely to be a crime victim than they are. This kind of research has been around for a couple of decades so not expecting anything from this, but at least we’re consistent year after year. 11/30/09.
This Week at NCJRS
The folks at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service have their usual interesting offerings up on their abstracts page for the latest crim just research. We’ve listed a few of the titles below but you need to go over for all the good stuff there.
- Methamphetamine Treatment: A Practitioner’s Reference
- Investigating Prisoner Reentry: The Impact of Conviction Status on the Employment Prospects of Young Men
- Interacting Roles of Testosterone and Challenges to Status in Human Male Aggression
- Mindfulness and the Treatment of Anger Problems
- Executive Functioning and Risky Decision Making in Young Male Offenders
- Outcomes From Referring Batterer Program Participants to Mental Health Treatment
More Fingers Pointing at Lead
As a rule, if you want to get someone’s eyebrows to rise skeptically, just mention that lead ingestion might be a major contributor to the rise and fall of crime rates in past decades as we cut lead use in gasoline, paint, etc. Unfortunately for the skepticism, the evidence of lead on child development and behavior, with its possible lasting effects into teen and adult years, keeps building up. For example, here’s a report on a study linking ADHD to exposure to both lead and tobacco smoke through the mother during a baby’s gestation. ADHD isn’t generally promoted as a good indicator of later prosocial behavior so maybe all this isn’t as crazy as our eyebrows think. 11/24/09.
While We’re Talking Studies
More and more research on the “biosocial” side of criminal behavior. Here, you’ll learn about how more kids who showed less fear to stimuli while children ended up being more adults who committed crimes. Maybe it had something to do with lower resting heart rates. Or emotion attribution. Or the MAOA gene. What are all these things? Well, that’s why you’re clicking on the links and finding out, isn’t it? 11/23/09.
On the Other Hand
A while back we noted a story of an offender who got a lighter sentence for a violent crime in Italy because it was shown that he was genetically disposed to violence. Doesn’t always work out for the accused, however. Here’s a story from India about a woman who got her brain scanned for lie detection and got convicted of poisoning her ex-boyfriend. The Brave New World of cognitive science and technology are just starting to work their wonders on our criminal justice world. 11/19/09.
Latest Research from NCJRS
The National Criminal Justice Reference Service has up some more abstracts on some interesting articles this week. Here are a few titles, but you know the drill. We don’t know you well enough to be sure we got all the ones you’d like.
- Handbook for Correctional Psychologists: Guidance for the Prison Practitioner, Second Edition
- Prison Library Primer: A Program for the Twenty-First Century
- Justice in a Time of Terror
- Culturally Based Substance Abuse Treatment for American Indians/Alaska Natives and Latinos
- Quality of Mentoring Relationships and Mentoring Success
Seems to be the key for parents getting their kids to be responsible (and
non-prison-inhabiting) adults. So says research covered by this
story from Britain. A teaser to get you to read the whole thing:
“Children brought up according to "tough love" principles are more successful in life, according to a study.
The think tank Demos says a balance of warmth and discipline improved social skills more than a laissez-faire, authoritarian or disengaged upbringing.
It says children aged five with "tough love" parents were twice as likely to show good character capabilities.” 11/13/09.
What’s New at NCJRS This Week?
Good question. As usual, a bunch of good articles abstracted over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service right now. Here are a few titles to interest you, but you know there’s more:
- Preventing Suicide in Jails and Prisons: Suggestions from Experience with Psychiatric Inpatients
- Individual and Environmental Effects on Assaults and Nonviolent Rule Breaking by Women in Prison
- Comprehensive Approach to Sex Offender Management
- Controlling Violent Offenders Released to the Community: An Evaluation of the Boston Reentry Initiative
- Understanding Youth Offending: Risk Factor Research, Policy and Practice
- Pseudo-Stab Wounds: Putrefactive Dehiscence of Remote Surgical Incisions Masquerading as Stab Wounds
You just gotta see what that last one really is, don’t you? 11/12/09.
Lead Yourself Not into Temptation
Turns out that people most convinced they have overcome their temptations
and abuses are the most likely to succumb again and relapse. Because
they’re also the ones most likely to put themselves back into situations
where they can be most seriously tempted.
“Together, Nordgren's four studies beautifully demonstrate the power of the restraint bias in real-life settings. It's a phenomenon that has powerful consequences, especially when it affects behaviours like smoking or dietary choices that could have significant effects on people's health. It also applies to several situations where temptation rears its head. Should a married person knowingly go for dinner with an attractive ex, on the assumption that they'll resist their attraction? Should a busy professional buy a time-sucking computer game based on their confidence that they'll manage their time effectively?
The restraint bias could also help to explain why people willingly take up activities they already know to be addictive - they simply believe that they're strong enough to resist the addiction. As a powerful example of this, one study showed that heroin users are less willing to pay for the substitute buprenorphine if they weren't currently experiencing cravings. If experienced users underestimate their urges, imagine how monumentally more difficult it would be for a naive person to do so.”
The relevance for our treatment program providers and reentry specialists should be obvious, but, if the post immediately above is right, it may be a moot point for most of them anyway. 11/10/09.
Speaking of Drug Research
Here’s an abstract to an SSRN piece coming out later in CRIMINOLOGY looking into whether the severity of the judge and the sentence had an impact on recidivism of convicted drug offenders. In a word, no. In fact, the article indicates a positive relationship between sentence length and recidivism (“stat speak” for “the longer they’re sentenced, the more likely they are to come back later”). You can get to the full article through the link you’ll find there. (h/t CrimProf Blog) 11/05/09.
This Week from NCJRS
If you head over to the abstracts section at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service this week, you find a BUNCH of good articles being cited. Here are a few titles to get you over there, but you should know by now how bad we are at picking out all the ones you’d be interested in.
- Inmate Behavior Management: The Key to a Safe and Secure Jail
- I Am Fried: Stressors and Burnout Among Correctional Staff
- Do Official Misconduct Data Tell the Same Story as the Individuals Who Live in Prison?
- Exploring the Predictors of Treatment Views of Private Correctional Staff: A Test of an Integrated Work Model
- Association of Administrative Segregation Placement and Other Risk Factors with the Self-Injury-Free Time of Male Prisoners
- Mental Health Courts: A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice
- Probation Management of Sex Offenders: An Analysis of Co-Facilitators' Perceptions of Offenders Progress in Treatment
- Gender Differences in the Transformation Narrative: Implications for Revised Reentry Strategies for Female Offenders
- Offenders' Perceptions of House Arrest and Electronic Monitoring
- Race/Ethnicity of Female Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Aged 25 to 34
- Feelings of Safety Among Male Inmates: The Safety Paradox
Good Stuff from NCJRS This Week
As usual. Click here for this week’s research abstracts at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. We’ll give you a few titles to tease you, but you know better than we do what you’re interested in. Chances are good you’ll find something on it in the full offering.
- Radicalization of U.S. Prisoners
- New Look at the Gender Gap in Offending
- Do Returning Parolees Affect Neighborhood Crime?: A Case Study of Sacramento
- Short-Term Changes in Adult Arrest Rates Influence Later Short-Term Changes in Serious Male Delinquency Prevalence: A Time-Dependent Relationship
- Immigration and the Recent Violent Crime Drop in the United States: A Pooled, Cross-Sectional Time-Series Analysis of Metropolitan Areas
- Examination of Trends in Illicit Drug Use Among Adults Aged 50 to 59 in the United States
- From the Inside Out: Efforts by Homeless Women to Disrupt Cycles of Crime and Violence
- Improving Global and Regional Resolution of Male Lineage Differentiation by Simple Single-Copy Y-Chromosomal Short Tandem Repeat Polymorphisms
Okay, that last one was just for fun. 10/29/09.
Smell Nice, Be Nice? and Other New Research
Research indicates that
the cleaner a place smells, the more morally people behave. Relevant
to correctional facilities? Elsewhere, you want to climb
the ladder of your corrections organization? Got your health insurance
“People with job authority report significantly higher levels of interpersonal conflict with others, says Schieman. They're also more likely to encounter work-to-home interference, where stressors at work spill over into non-work domains like family and leisure time. These factors increase the risk for psychological distress, anger and poor health.
"Power at work does have drawbacks, and the negative impact on personal health -- both emotional and physical -- is one of them," says Schieman, lead author on the study.
These findings help explain a lingering paradox in sociological research about job stress: Higher status positions have attributes that should contribute to less stress and better health, but people with authority at work don't seem to have better health. This study sheds new light on the underlying dynamics.”
Regarding the impact of sexual trauma on victims, the ability to rebound successfully apparently depends on certain areas of the brain, those controlling emotional circuitry, and the victims apparently can be trained and counseled to enhance resilience. And, finally, those Halloween sex offender policies? Not effective, according to this research. Go find out why. 10/26/09.
Latest CORRECTIONS TODAY, Part Deux
Over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, they have a bunch of abstracts up on new articles from CORRECTIONS TODAY. We gave you the titles of some yesterday, here’s the rest. So go read or find who has the office copy.
On Prison Kiosks, Inmates Learn Job Search Skills
Indiana Implements a Faith- and Character-Based Housing Program
Going to the Dogs: Prison-Based Training Programs are Win-Win
Legal Issues Arise When Corrections Adopts Technology
NIJ Seeks to Strengthen the Practitioner-Researcher Bond
Dollars and Sense: Our Future in Training
NIJ Tests New Technologies
Latest CORRECTIONS TODAY, Part One
Over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, they have a bunch of abstracts up on new articles from CORRECTIONS TODAY. Here are the titles of some. We’ll give you the rest tomorrow. Stay tuned.
Hiring the Right Individual for Your Corrections Staff
Approach with Caution: How to Successfully Implement New Correctional Technology
Radio Frequency Technologies in the Corrections Arena
Using Technology to Monitor Offenders: A Community Corrections Perspective
Expanding Distance Learning Access in Prisons: A Growing Need
Developing Testing Methodology for the Use of Noninvasive Whole Body Scanners
NIJ's Technology Assistance for Corrections
Darker Side of Mobile Technology
And, yes, the first letter of each title spells HARUEDND. 10/21/09.
What You Missed Last Week
Here are some research-related articles that came up last week while this site was on vacation. You’ll have to click on the links to get the full stories:
Brain science starting to impact varied fields (including criminal justice/corrections)
This Week from the NCJRS
And here are titles of some of the abstracts available this week at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, but, as you know, we may have missed some so go check out the whole thing:
Crime and Reconciliation: Experimental Criminology and the Future of Restorative Justice
When do Ex-Offenders Become Like Non-Offenders?
Protecting Children in Families Affected by Substance Use Disorders
Dog Bites Man?
Turns out school dropouts end up incarcerated a lot more than non-dropouts. Weird, huh? Well, if you need proof sometime, go here. 10/09/09.
BPA Affects Aggression in Females
What’s BPA? What does it have to do with testosterone and fetuses at vital stages of development? How could it impact later female aggressiveness? What’s potential impact on crime and corrections? Tune in next week and . . . oh, heck. Just read this. 10/07/09.
Couple of stories on sentencing and correctional issues in Europe. Here we hear about the Netherlands closing down prisons because, after a ‘90s buildup like we had, crime went down and they stopped filling their prisons with lower level offenders who hadn’t gone before. The result? Empty beds and closing the buildings and costs down. And here and here we hear about drug treatment in Britain that has had a big payoff. How and how much?
“One in three people addicted to heroin or crack cocaine in community drug treatment programmes in England stops using by six months, research suggests.
Results from 14,600 people in methadone or specialist counselling programmes
suggested the rates were slightly lower for those dependent on both drugs.
There are about 140,000 people in such treatment programmes in England.
The study, in the Lancet, showed higher funding for treatment was effective,
the Department of Health said.”
“After six months, 42 percent of heroin users reported they had stopped injecting the drug. Among crack users, 57 percent said they had stopped. About half of the people addicted to both drugs said they had either quit or cut down.”
A lot more to it with qualifiers, obviously, that you should read each article for, but what was the payoff? It costs Britain over £5000 per year per person for treatment, according to one of the reports. But the cost-benefit was £9.50 for every £1 spent, according to the other one. A White House spokesperson called for a similar evaluation in the U.S. But look how they spell “program.” We’re going to take lessons from those people?
[The answer to your next question is $1.59 U.S. dollars = £1 at the moment of this writing.] 10/05/09.
Crime Report Reporting
Several good pieces over at The Crime Report right now, including this one on higher rates of violent victimization reported among the disabled, this one on addicted med professionals and how they get that way, and this one on a reentering Ohio offender who is finding that reestablishing legit work after release is not the stuff of a Disney movie. 10/02/09.
Back Away from the Candy
“. . . Children who eat too
much candy may be more likely to be arrested for violent behavior as
adults, new research suggests.
British experts studied more than 17,000 children born in 1970 for about four decades. Of the children who ate candies or chocolates daily at age 10, 69 percent were later arrested for a violent offense by the age of 34. Of those who didn't have any violent clashes, 42 percent ate sweets daily.”
No word on adults who keep eating it. What does that say about our offices where we have candy dishes out???? 10/01/09.
New Ways to Predict Violent Behavior?
That’s the claim from these
researchers, who look into the future for violence assessment and see
a brave new world.
“In the future, diagnosing severe personality disorders, evaluating the childhood environment, assessing alcohol consumption and the analysis of the MAOA genotype may provide more accurate means for assessing risk among violent offenders, according to the Finnish research carried out jointly at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Central Hospital Psychiatry Centre.
"The many negative effects of violence could be alleviated by improving the accuracy of predicting violent behaviour. Lack of knowledge about the root causes of violence is, however, an impediment for such predictions," says Roope Tikkanen, MD, who has published his doctoral dissertation on the subject.”
Read the whole thing for the details. 09/28/09.
This Week at NCJRS
More good stuff right now over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
including the article abstracts listed below. Might have missed one
you wanted, though, so click the link and do your own review.
Understanding Criminal Careers
Keeping Contraband on the Outside
Psychological Effect of Exposure to Gang Violence on Youth: A Pilot Study
Impact of Proactive Enforcement of No-Contact Orders on Victim Safety and Repeat Victimization
Spatial Heterogeneity in the Effects of Immigration and Diversity on Neighborhood Homicide Rates
Nothing to Fear
Interesting piece here on the role of uncertainty in determining how much fear we have and how we react. More uncertainty = more fear, stronger reaction. Not news, probably, but it does clearly have an impact on corrections and the effectiveness of punishment. Fear of going to prison may be a greater deterrent than actually doing the time, especially if reports of prison as a “rite of passage” are true for enough offenders. And fear of being revoked certainly explains much of the common finding that offenders will often waive parole consideration in order to finish their incarceration terms and not have the community supervision (and threat of revocation) hanging over them. In Oklahoma, the most effective sentences for low and moderate risk offenders in terms of highest survival rates are deferreds. Read the whole thing for the experimental discussion and then translate it all into more effective punishments. If you win the Nobel, please credit us in your speech. 09/24/09.
Couple of quick items from the research world. Go here to
find creative use of twin studies to determine how much of our sense of fair
play (which does seem to come into play in criminal justice and corrections
occasionally) is genetically based. And go here to
learn about a computer model of how cocaine addiction affects brain mechanisms. Why
build a model of that?
““The long-term objective of our research is to find out how some rehabilitative drugs work by devising a model of the fundamental workings of an addict’s brain,” said Mohan, who will attend Washington University in St. Louis for his postdoctoral fellowship. “Using a systems approach helped us to find key information about the addict’s brain that had been missed in the past two decades of cocaine addiction research.”” 09/23/09.
Birth Month, Crime, and Corrections
Bear with us for just a bit on this. In his recent book, OUTLIERS, Malcolm Gladwell told several stories about people who were advantaged in life because of the month they were born. For example, hockey players in Canada born in January, February, and March are disproportionately on NHL rosters. Why? Because the cutoffs for entry into a given year’s group are December 31 of that year. Meaning that, in the next year’s group, those born in the early months of that year are just that much older, mature, etc., on average than the younger guys and that edge gets them more attention, training, etc., until they excel at the others’ expense.
What does that have to do with corrections? The Oklahoma DOC did a quick analysis of its inmate population to see what, if any, variation existed in birth months of its inmates, not expecting to see much of any. But April turned out to be the birth month of far, far fewer (statistically significantly fewer) inmates than other months, and some of the other months had lots more than the average.
That all comes to introduce you to this
article that focuses on the poorer life outcomes of kids born in particular
months and the reasons that academics have offered for those results. The
study now hypothesizes that when the birth mother was born has a strong influence
on whether you turn out well or badly:
“Children born in the winter months already have a few strikes against them. Study after study has shown that they test poorly, don't get as far in school, earn less, are less healthy, and don't live as long as children born at other times of year. Researchers have spent years documenting the effect and trying to understand it. . . .
A key assumption of much of that research is that the backgrounds of children born in the winter are the same as the backgrounds of children born at other times of the year. It must be something that happens to those winter-born children that accounts for their faring poorly.
In a celebrated 1991 paper, economists Joshua Angrist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Alan Krueger of Princeton University argued that season-of-birth differences in how far children go in school is due to how school-attendance laws affect children born at different times of the year. Children born in the winter reach their 16th birthdays earlier in the year than other children, which means they can legally drop out of school sooner in the school year -- which some do, leading to lower education levels in the group.
While it was well known that the educated earned more, they also tended to come from privileged backgrounds -- something that also affects later earnings. Up until then, no one knew how to separately judge the impact of education on higher earnings. Data already showed the researchers that winter babies tended to earn less. Once Mr. Krueger and Mr. Angrist knew how much winter births affected education level, they were able to estimate how education affects later earnings. . . .
The two economists examined birth-certificate data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 52 million children born between 1989 and 2001, which represents virtually all of the births in the U.S. during those years. The same pattern kept turning up: The percentage of children born to unwed mothers, teenage mothers and mothers who hadn't completed high school kept peaking in January every year. Over the 13-year period, for example, 13.2% of January births were to teen mothers, compared with 12% in May -- a small but statistically significant difference, they say.”
The whole article is fascinating, describing other influences and where this research might go. Whether it can have an impact on corrections has yet to be shown, but what do your state’s data show? Maybe that would be a start. 09/22/09.
This Week at NCJRS
More good articles abstracted this week over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. As always, hit the link and check for yourself, but here are a few teasers to get you moving:
But Some of Them Don't Come Back (to Prison!): Resource Deprivation and Thinking Errors as Determinants of Parole Success and Failure
Racial and Ethnic Recidivism Risks: A Comparison of Postincarceration Rearrest, Reconviction, and Reincarceration Among White, Black, and Hispanic Releasees
Exercise and the Low-Security Inmate: Changes in Depression, Stress, and Anxiety
Applying the Risk Principle to Sex Offenders: Can Treatment Make Some Sex Offenders Worst?
Understanding Physical Victimization Inside Prisons: Factors That Predict Risk
Exploring Long-Term and Short-Term Risk Factors for Serious Delinquency
Googling Public Info
Need a new search tool when you’re hunting gov’t stats or related info? The ever-helpful Google has a new site up that might be useful. Haven’t used it yet but we’ll let you know any cool stuff we find in the future. (Thanks to the site friend who sent this note along.) 09/17/09.
Violent Video Games or Violent Friends?
Video games take a beating for presumably leading to violence among their players, but this research indicates that game-playing doesn’t seem to have much impact if you take other things, like anti-social and violent friends and peers into account.
“We found that depressed mood and association with
delinquent peers were the strongest and most consistent risk factors for
youth violence across outcome measures. Parents’ use of verbal cruelty in domestic relationships and
the child’s antisocial personality traits were also reasonably strong predictors
of violent behavior. By contrast video game violence exposure and television
violence exposure were not found to be predictors of youth violence.”
(h/t Brainspin, which adds: “Unsettling as that news may be, it does help put the emphasis for parents more on what matters: finding out who their kids are hanging around with and whether they should be. That’s much harder than policing TV and video games, though convenient scapegoats they may be.”) 09/17/09.
This Week from NCJRS
As always, good abstracts available at the National Criminal Justice Research Service on recent articles that might help and/or interest you. We’ve listed a few below, but it was a long weekend. We might have missed one you wanted to see, so go check to make sure.
National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Report
Hawaii's Swift and Sure Probation
Costs and Benefits of Privatization Can Be Tricky to Assess
Is Prison Sexual Offending Indicative of Community Risk?
Reinforcing Abstinence and Treatment Participation Among Offenders in a Drug Diversion Program: Are Vouchers Effective?
African American Women on the Possibilities of a Relationship with an Ex-Offender
Lead Exposure and Its Implications for Criminological Theory
Victimization as a Cause of Delinquency: The Role of Depression and Gender
Relationship Between Relapse to Alcohol and Relapse to Violence
Research at NCJRS This Week
As always, a LOT of very good research articles with abstracts posted at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service right now. We again warn you that, even though we’ll give you a few of the titles to look for below, we don’t know what you’re particularly interested in so go look through the whole listing just to make sure.
National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Report: Executive Summary
Impact of Job Stress, Job Involvement, Job Satisfaction, and Organizational Commitment on Correctional Staff Support for Rehabilitation and Punishment
Exposure to Violent Crime During Incarceration: Effects on Psychological Adjustment Following Release
Tale of Two Counties: The Impact of Pretrial Release, Race, and Ethnicity Upon Sentencing Decisions
Systematic Review of DWI Court Program Evaluations
Building the Evidence Base for Family Drug Treatment Courts: Results From Recent Outcome Studies
Effectiveness of the Scram Alcohol Monitoring Device: A Preliminary Test
Treaters or Punishers?: The Ethical Role of Mental Health Clinicians in Sex Offenders Programs
Ranking Drugs by Harm and Dependence
This British research is actually a bit old, but this new post describing it has a nice graph showing where the major drugs (including the legal ones like alcohol and tobacco) rate on scales combining their addictive qualities and the physical harm posed, in case you haven’t seen it before. What’s better about the post are the comments by the post author and commenters that qualify and give more nuance to the basic findings. 09/10/09.
Research from Foreigners
Might not be relevant to you, but here’s a post linking you to some research on factors associated with inmate recidivism in other countries. From their abstracts:
“This paper tests whether factors referring to socio-economic aspects, family heritage, social interaction, habits and customs explain differences among violent and non-violent prisoners. Some of the results of the probit estimation show that economic issues are the main factors that stimulate the practice of non-violent crime. On the other hand, violent crimes results suggest that factors related to family heritage reduce this kind of crime. In relation to variables of social interaction, prisoners who were brought up in a good neighborhood have a lower probability of committing violent crimes.”
“This paper examines the impact of prison conditions on future criminal behaviour. The analysis is based on a unique dataset on the post-release behaviour of 25,000 Italian former prison inmates. We use an exogenous variation in prison assignment as a means of identifying the effects of prison overcrowding, deaths in prison, and degree of isolation on the probability of re-offending. We find do not find compelling evidence of deterrent effects of prison severity. The measures of prison severity do not affect negatively the probability of recidivism. Instead, all point estimates suggest that harsh prison conditions increase post-release criminal activity, though they are not always precisely estimated.”
But maybe this research from good old Americans will show a link:
“This study examined the effect of exposure to violent crime while incarcerated on longer term psychological adjustment following release in violent and nonviolent offenders released to an urban community. Consistent with prior findings exposure to violence while incarcerated was associated with indicators of adjustment. After controlling for exposure outside of incarceration, exposure to violent crime while incarcerated accounted for significant variation in multivariate composites indicating antisocial behavior and emotional distress. The results of this study add to the existing literature by suggesting that these experiences could have sustained harmful psychological effects well beyond release from prison or jail. This suggests that attending carefully to the context of exposure should be a central feature of research on the effects of violence. The relation between exposure to violence and psychological adjustment had for many been a focus of intense research interest, but the majority of the research has been limited to children and adolescents. In this study, 38 violent incarcerated offenders and 86 nonviolent incarcerated offenders were assessed for their experiences as witnesses to or victims of violent crime during incarceration as well as outside of the prison or jail setting.” 09/08/09.
Our Secret’s Out
A reader passes along the notice that the header for our recently announced White Paper on Homicides in Prison is “Managing Increasing Aging Offender Populations.” Actually, that’s the header for the paper that we used as the template for the Homicides paper and then proved our complete lack of job skills for basic secretarial work. Really. We promise. Any connection between the two topics is purely coincidental.
(Here’s the link to our White Paper section to prove it and to show what else is there if you’re interested.) 09/04/09.
Carrots or Sticks?
Well, looks like carrots. That’s the conclusion of a set of studies discussed here and a story here. As you would expect, though, it’s not as cut-and-dried as you would expect so go over and check them out. (Don’t let the academic jargon scare you. There’s real meat there that has relevance to managing offenders and maybe stopping them from being offenders to start with.) 09/04/09.
This Week at NCJRS
The research abstracts posted again this week at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service are full of great stuff. We’ve listed a few of the titles below, but, as we always say, you need to go check them all out yourself because you know how clueless we can be about what you really need here.
Crossing the Line: A Quantitative Analysis of Inmate Boundary Violators in a Southern Prison System
Impact of Punishment and Rehabilitation Views on Organizational Commitment Among Correctional Staff: A Preliminary Study
From the "Streets" to "Normal Life": Assessing the Role of Social Support in Release Planning for HIV-Positive and Substance-Involved Prisoners
Consolations of Going Back to Prison: What 'Revolving Door' Prisoners Think of Their Prospects
Parole Violations and Revocations in California: Analysis and Suggestions for Action
Effect of Participatory Management on Internal Stress, Overall Job Satisfaction, and Turnover Intention Among Federal Probation Officers
Gender-Specific Factors Associated with Community Substance Abuse Treatment Utilization Among Incarcerated Substance Users
New E&A Reports on Website
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ Evaluation & Analysis unit has posted two new reports to its webpage (see all reports and data here). One is a new White Paper on Homicides in Prison, and the other is an analysis of DOC receptions from FY 2002 through FY 2009. Check them out when you have a chance. 08/28/09.
“I Know I Confessed, But . . . .”
Don’t college professors have less mean things to do than get some experiment participants to confess they didn’t do or accuse others of things they didn’t do after seeing a tricked-out video? It must be part of getting that Ph.D. Good thing we don’t rely on eyewitnesses or confessions in criminal justice. 08/28/09.
Chicken or Egg?
A lot of recent reports have found brain development differences in teenagers and attributed their more offensive behavior (so to speak) to that incomplete development, with obvious implications for punishments of said teens. However, this research indicates that, in fact, the more reckless teens appear to have brains more like adults and that experience may play enough of a role in development to cast doubt on the idea of uniform teenage brain development. IOW, maybe it’s the environment that determines brain development as much as or more than the normal genetic outplaying. Who’s right? Not clear yet, but it IS clear that it’s not clear yet, which should say something about those “their brains are different” assertions. 08/26/09.
This Week’s Research at NCJRS
As always, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service has some really
good stuff up in its Research
Abstracts section. We’ll list a few of the titles to tempt you,
but there’s so much there, we’re bound to have missed something you’d like. Go
check the whole thing.
It Ain't Happening Here: Working to Understand Prison Rape
Reentry, Reintegration, Rehabilitation, Recidivism, and Redemption
Resumption of Smoking After Release From a Tobacco-Free Correctional Facility
Brief Motivational Intervention to Reduce HIV Risk and to Increase HIV Testing Among Offenders Under Community Supervision
Autism in the Criminal Justice Detention System: A Review of the Literature
Victim-Offender Racial Dyads and Clearance of Lethal and Nonlethal Assault
Rational Choice, Agency and Thoughtfully Reflective Decision Making: The Short and Long-Term Consequences of Making Good Choices
Black Beauties, Gorilla Pills, Footballs, and Hillbilly Heroin: Some Reflection on Prescription Drug Abuse and Diversion Research Over the Past 40 Years
The Ultimate Alternative to Incarceration
No need for prisons or jails at all, if you follow this proposal from one of academe’s most distinguished economists. Just straight from courtroom to chair to (maybe, maybe not) release:
“. . . one of Gordon Tullock’s characteristically quirky proposals for reform was to institute the death penalty as the sanction that any crime would meet in the criminal justice system. However, there was a twist, because although any criminal would receive a death penalty, not all criminals would actually be executed. Specifically, all criminals would be strapped to the chair, but there was only a probability that the button would be pressed, the probability depending on the severity of the crime. Because of risk aversion and a tendency to overestimate probabilities (and for the Draconian symbolic value), this scheme would put an effective end to much crime.”
IOW, 2% chance of death for running a red light, 30% for burg II, 99.9% for murder I. You either die or walk. No expensive incarceration or alternatives or even probation. Think of the impact on plea bargaining rationales and calculations. Sentencing guidelines for real.
Or would appellate courts be flooded? Offenders kept in cells until appeals exhausted, de facto 10-15 year sentences for every appeal . . . .
Question of the Day: Would you be scared to live on the same planet as most economists? 08/24/09.
Reports, Reports, Reports
Some excellent reports out with immediate relevance. Here’s one recommending caution (not elimination) on the use of risk assessment in criminal justice, which might, you know, affect what we do in corrections. Here’s one looking at earned time policies in the states as a means of reducing prison costs. And here’s a 2009 update of that tremendously important “return on investment” analysis done by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy back in 2006 that, if you haven’t read it, why haven’t you? 08/19/09.
New report on public attitudes concerning appropriate punishments for a variety of offenders and offenses. The basic findings:
- “A majority of US adults believe that some crimes, for which offenders are currently incarcerated, do not demand time behind bars.
- Eight in ten (77%) adults believe the most appropriate sentence for nonviolent, nonserious offenders* is supervised probation, restitution, community service, and/or rehabilitative services; if an offender fails in these alternatives, then prison or jail may be appropriate.
- Over three-quarters (77%) believe alternatives to incarceration do not decrease public safety.
- More than half (55%) believe alternatives to prison or jail decrease costs to state and local governments.
- US adults more often think alternatives to incarceration are more effective than prison or jail time at reducing recidivism (45% vs. 38%).
- Respondents cited a variety of reasons they believe justify sending fewer people to prison or jail, including expense, overcrowding (danger to guards, danger to inmates), the ability of proven alternatives to reduce crime, and the fairness of the punishment relative to the crime.” (h/t California Correctional Crisis)
And here is a new report on determining the risk of and strategies against organized retail crime, which is becoming a larger threat in these tough econ days and therefore something corrections will likely deal with, too, in the near future. (h/t The Crime Report). 08/17/09.
This Week from NCJRS
As usual, a bunch of abstracts of
interesting articles at the National Criminal Justice Research Service. Here
are a few titles, but you just know we missed the one you’d really like, so
go check them all out:
Violence Prevention and Corrections-Related Activities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Do Fairness and Equity Matter?: An Examination of Organizational Justice Among Correctional Officers in Adult Prisons
Impact and Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Anchorage Wellness Court
Investigating the Longitudinal Relation Between Offending Frequency and Offending Variety
Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R): A Useful Risk Assessment Measure for Australian Offenders?
Prediction of Recidivism Using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised and the Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles Within a Forensic Sample
Public Attitudes Toward Sexual Offenders and Sex Offender Registration
Child Sexual Abusers' Views on Treatment: A Study of Convicted and Imprisoned Adult Male Offenders
This Week’s Research at NCJRS
A little behind this week on catching you up on the latest research
abstracts posted over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
but we’ll make up for it now. A lot (and we mean A LOT) of good stuff
over there this week, of which the portions below are just the tip. Go
see what we mean.
Test of the Importation and Work Environment Models: The Effects of Work Ethic. Importance of Money, and Management Views on the Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment of Correctional Staff
Effective Interventions and the Good Lives Model: Maximizing Treatment Gains for Sexual Offenders
He Versus She: A Gender-Specific Analysis of Legal and Extralegal Effects on Pretrial Release for Felony Defendants
Explanations of American Punishment Policies: A National History
Do You Get What You Pay For? Assessing the Use of Prison From an Economic Perspective
Examining the Role of Lifestyle and Criminal History Variables on the Risk of Homicide Victimization
Perverts and Predators: The Making of Sexual Offending Laws
Repairing the Rupture: Restorative Justice and the Rehabilitation of Offenders
Victims of Crime in Policy Making: Local Governance, Local Responsibility?
Mandating Treatment for Drug Possessors: The Impact of Senate Bill 123 on the Criminal Justice System in Kansas
Self-Control, Gang Membership, and Victimization: An Integrated Approach
"Boys Will be Boys" and Other Gendered Accounts: An Exploration of Victims' Excuses and Justifications for Unwanted Sexual Contact and Coercion
Neuroscience and Corrections
Neuroscience is revolutionizing the way we perceive humans and their behavior, which includes most of us. If you’re interested in where they are right now on topics like free will and the implications for criminal justice and punishments, you might like to check here, here, and here when you have some time. 08/12/09.
And Speaking of Punishment
More research on when it’s effective and when it’s not. Not so much
for juveniles, as this bit from the Crime
“Researchers have found that rather than rehabilitating young delinquents, juvenile detention — which lumps troubled kids in with other troubled kids — appeared to worsen their behavior problems, reports Time. Compared with other kids with a similar history of bad behavior, those who entered the juvenile-justice system were nearly seven times more likely to be arrested for crimes as adults. And those who ended up being sentenced to juvenile prison were 37 times more likely to be arrested again as adults.
“It’s much worse than we would have expected,” says Richard Tremblay, a psychology professor at the University of Montreal and a co-author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. “By having them live together, they form relationships. It’s more likely to increase the problem.” The 20-year study followed 779 low-income youth in Montreal with annual interviews from age 10 to age 17, then tracked their arrest records in adulthood.”
And here’s some research about the adult system presented at the latest American Psychological Association meeting:
“U.S. prisons are too punitive and often fail to rehabilitate, but targeting prisoners' behavior, reducing prison populations and offering job skills could reduce prisoner aggression and prevent recidivism, a researcher told the American Psychological Association.
"The current design of prison systems don't work," said criminal justice expert Joel Dvoskin, PhD, of the University of Arizona. "Overly punitive approaches used on violent, angry criminals only provide a breeding ground for more anger and more violence."” 08/12/09.
The Brains of Psychopaths
Scientists doing those maps of human brains of different types of people have found that people selected for behavior judged psychopathic do indeed turn out to have significantly different structures in some parts of their brains.
“The research investigated the brain biology of psychopaths with convictions that included attempted murder, manslaughter, multiple rape with strangulation and false imprisonment. Using a powerful imaging technique (DT-MRI) the researchers have highlighted biological differences in the brain which may underpin these types of behaviour and provide a more comprehensive understanding of criminal psychopathy.
Dr Michael Craig said: 'If replicated by larger studies the significance of these findings cannot be underestimated. The suggestion of a clear structural deficit in the brains of psychopaths has profound implications for clinicians, research scientists and the criminal justice system.’”
Really? You think so? We’ll leave the “Minority Report,” creative defense strategies, and other scenarios to your imaginations, as well as the lawsuits for law enforcers blamed for not stopping a horrible crime before it happened. As well as any thoughts about leaders, entertainers, and wide receivers that may have also entered your mind. 08/05/09.
Lead Us Not
Looks like temptation is
much more complex than we might have thought, especially our (in)ability to
resist it. Researchers have found some interesting results in experiments,
with implications for the kind of self-control that is relevant both to crime
and public safety as well as to correctional management. Here’s some
of the article, which should . . . tempt . . . you to read it all (see if the
“Whether it's highlighted in major news headlines about Argentinean affairs and Ponzi schemes, or in personal battles with obesity and drug addiction, individuals regularly succumb to greed, lust and self-destructive behaviors. New research from the Kellogg School of Management examines why this is the case, and demonstrates that individuals believe they have more restraint than they actually possess—ultimately leading to poor decision-making.
The study, led by Loran Nordgren, senior lecturer of management and organizations at the Kellogg School, examined how an individual's belief in his/her ability to control impulses such as greed, drug craving and sexual arousal influenced responses to temptation. The research found the sample, on average, displayed a "restraint bias," causing individuals to miscalculate the amount of temptation they could truly handle, in turn leading to a greater likelihood of indulging impulsive or addictive behavior.” 08/04/09.
This Week at NCJRS
Once again the National Criminal Justice Reference Service has some great articles this week abstracted for your perusal and use. Here are a few of the titles up right now but we may have missed some you would have liked:
Violent and Sexual Offenders: Assessment, Treatment and Management
Psychotherapies for Trauma and Substance Abuse in Women: Review and Policy Implications
Psychopathy in Adolescence Predicts Offical Reports of Offending in Adulthood
Ecological Model of the Impact of Sexual Assault on Women's Mental Health
Who's Who?: The Biometric Future and the Politics of Identity