Traffic Enforcement Through the Lens of Race: A Sequential Analysis of Post-Stop Outcomes in San Diego, California
Joshua Chanin, Megan Welsh & Dana Nurge
Criminal Justice Policy Review, July 2018, Pages 561-583
Research has shown that Black and Hispanic drivers are subject to disproportionate stop and post-stop outcomes compared with White drivers. Yet scholars’ understanding of how and why such disparities persist remains underdeveloped. To address this shortcoming, this article applies a sequential approach to the analysis of traffic stop data generated by San Diego Police Department officers in 2014 and 2015. Results show that despite being subject to higher rates of discretionary and nondiscretionary searches, Black drivers were less likely to be found with contraband than matched Whites and were more than twice as likely to be subjected to a field interview where no citation is issued or arrest made. Black drivers were also more likely to face any type of search, as well as high-discretion consent searches, that end in neither citation nor arrest. The article concludes with a discussion of the findings and a series of recommendations.
Local Violence, Academic Performance, and School Accountability
Marcus Casey, Jeffrey Schiman & Maciej Wachala
American Economic Review, May 2018, Pages 213-216
Standardized test scores and value-added measures largely determine "grades" assigned to teachers and schools. Poor evaluations have severe implications: in some cases, entire schools may be closed or replaced by a charter. Although evaluation depends on within-school factors, random shocks external to the school environment may affect measured test performance and evaluations. In this article, we study a salient shock: violent crime. Our results suggest exposure to an additional violent event is associated with decreased test performance. These performance declines are consequential as the schools impacted by within-testing period violent crime are also less likely to meet accountability standards.
Association between Firearm Laws and Homicide in Urban Counties
Cassandra Crifasi et al.
Journal of Urban Health, June 2018, Pages 383–390
Laws related to the sale, use, and carrying of firearms have been associated with differences in firearm homicide rates at the state level. Right-to-carry (RTC) and stand your ground (SYG) laws are associated with increases in firearm homicide; permit-to-purchase (PTP) laws and those prohibiting individuals convicted of violent misdemeanors (VM) have been associated with decreases in firearm homicide. Evidence for the effect of comprehensive background checks (CBC) not tied to PTP is inconclusive. Because firearm homicide tends to concentrate in urban areas, this study was designed to test the effects of firearm laws on homicide in large, urban U.S. counties. We conducted a longitudinal study using an interrupted time series design to evaluate the effect of firearm laws on homicide in large, urban U.S. counties from 1984 to 2015 (N = 136). We used mixed effects Poisson regression models with random intercepts for counties and year fixed effects to account for national trends. Models also included county and state characteristics associated with violence. Homicide was stratified by firearm versus all other methods to test for specificity of the laws’ effects. PTP laws were associated with a 14% reduction in firearm homicide in large, urban counties (IRR = 0.86, 95% CI 0.82–0.90). CBC-only, SYG, RTC, and VM laws were all associated with increases in firearm homicide. None of the laws were associated with differences in non-firearm homicide rates. These findings are consistent with prior research at the state level showing PTP laws are associated with decreased firearm homicide. Testing the effects of PTP laws specifically in large, urban counties strengthens available evidence by isolating the effects in the geographic locations in which firearm homicides concentrate.
Campus crime and concealed carry laws: Is arming students the answer?
Social Science Journal, forthcoming
As of 2018, ten states allowed students, faculty, and staff to carry concealed firearms on campus. Although there has been much discussion regarding campus carry laws, there has been very little empirical research conducted on the link between campus carry laws and crime on campus. The present study attempts to determine if campus carry laws are statistically related to campus level crime. Using state-level data for the period 2005–2014 and a fixed effects model, results of the present study suggest that campus carry laws have no statistically significant relationship with campus level crime. However, campuses located in states that allow unpermitted concealed carry have lower property crime rates. These results corroborate the findings of prior studies on this topic. Given these results, states should reconsider enacting campus carry laws, and colleges and universities should be given more latitude in deciding whether or not firearms are appropriate on their campuses.
Improving police services: Evidence from the French Quarter Task Force
Cheng Cheng & Wei Long
Journal of Public Economics, August 2018, Pages 1–18
This study sheds light on the improvement of police services by examining the French Quarter Task Force (FQTF) – an anti-crime program in New Orleans' French Quarter. First, we provide new evidence that increasing police presence is effective in crime prevention. Our difference-in-differences estimates suggest that the FQTF, which increased police visibility in the French Quarter, reduced robberies, aggravated assaults, and thefts by 37.4%, 16.9%, and 13%, respectively. Second, our findings imply that the proper use of monitoring and incentive strategies has the potential to further improve police services. Exploiting the program's change in management, we find that providing officers with more monitoring and performance incentives led the FQTF to reduce robberies by 22.12 and aggravated assaults by 5.56 each quarter.
Place and Punishment: The Spatial Context of Mass Incarceration
Journal of Quantitative Criminology, June 2018, Pages 513–533
Objectives: Research on race and urban poverty views incarceration as a new and important aspect of social disadvantage in inner-city neighborhoods. However, in quantitative studies of the spatial distribution of imprisonment across neighborhoods, the pattern outside urban areas has not been examined. This paper offers a unique analysis of disaggregated prison admissions and investigates the spatial concentrations and levels of admissions for the entire state of Massachusetts.
Methods: Spatial regressions estimate census tract-level prison admission rates in relation to racial demographics, social and economic disadvantage, arrest rates, and violent crime; an analysis of outlier neighborhoods examines the surprisingly high admission rates in small cities.
Findings: Regression analysis yields three findings. First, incarceration is highly spatially concentrated: census tracts covering 15% of the state’s population account for half of all prison admissions. Second, across urban and non-urban areas, incarceration is strongly related to concentrated disadvantage and the share of the black population, even after controlling for arrest and crime rates. Third, the analysis shows admission rates in small urban satellite cities and suburbs comprise the highest rates in the sample and far exceed model predictions.
Megan’s Law 20 Years Later: An Empirical Analysis and Policy Review
Kristen Zgoba, Wesley Jennings & Laura Salerno
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming
This present study examines the sexual and general recidivism rates of 547 convicted sex offenders released before and after the enactment of Megan’s Law in New Jersey. Presenting the longest Megan’s Law evaluation, participants were followed for an average of 15 years after release (range = 10-29 years). Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression equations were estimated to identify covariates significantly associated with both sexual and general recidivism. Group-based trajectories of general recidivism within the 10 years post–prison release were also estimated and compared according to pre–Megan’s Law and post–Megan’s Law release status. No differences in recidivism rates were noted between the cohorts, but differences emerged in the offending trajectories of the high-risk group of offenders within 10 years of release. These results highlight the lack of impact that sex offender registration and notification (SORN) laws have on sexual and general reoffending rates postrelease.
The Decision to Carry: The Effect of Crime on Concealed-Carry Applications
Briggs Depew & Isaac Swensen
Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming
Despite persistent debate on the role of concealed-carry legislation, decisions to legally carry concealed handguns are not well understood. Using detailed data on concealed-carry permit applications, we explore whether individuals apply for concealed-carry permits in response to crime. We find that recent homicides increase applications in areas relatively near to the incident. The effects are driven by gun-related homicides, and are more pronounced for white, male, and Republican applicants. We also find suggestive evidence that applicants are more responsive when they share a demographic characteristic with the homicide victim. The results further indicate that applications after recent homicides are more likely to be renewed, consistent with persistent precautionary behaviors. Our findings provide causal evidence that crime risk influences individual decisions regarding legal gun use.
Low self-control and the adoption of street code values among young adults
Susan McNeeley et al.
Journal of Criminal Justice, May–June 2018, Pages 118-126
The results demonstrate moderate to large associations between various indicators of low self-control and holding street code values, even when accounting for demographic characteristics, a history of violence, and violent victimization.
Can Police Presence Deter Crime Overnight? Evidence From Rare Homicides Across America
University of Wisconsin Working Paper, April 2018
I empirically evaluate the effect of increased policing intensity on criminal offending by using a novel natural experiment in conjunction with detailed, high-frequency, criminal incident data. I leverage the occurrence of homicides in police jurisdictions where homicides are a very rare occurrence as a quasi-random shock to policing intensity as law enforcement seeks to assuage the concerns of a public unaccustomed to homicide. I then evaluate the patterns of criminal offending before, and in the immediate aftermath of, a rare homicide using both a regression discontinuity in time design and an event study. I find substantial declines in criminal offending, and reveal distinct declines in violent, drug and total crimes with reductions as large as 8.1% for violent crime and 24.5% for drug crime. Results are highly significant and robust to a wide range of specifications, estimation techniques and sample refinements. This paper contributes by separating deterrence effects from incapacitation effects, revealing the time evolution of reductions in crime, and evaluating the ability of police to deter crime through increases in police manpower via the intensive margin alone. I also contribute by documenting drug offender rationality in response to an elevated police presence and shed light on criminal offending and policing in communities outside large urban centers.
Cell Phones and “Excessive Contact”: The Contradictory Imperatives Facing California’s Parole-Eligible Lifers
Criminal Justice Policy Review, forthcoming
A growing literature emphasizes that U.S. correctional systems have remained committed to rehabilitative goals despite their turn toward incapacitation and punishment. Although past research has documented this commitment in prisons and parole supervision agencies, less is understood about how it is manifested in the discretionary parole release process. This article explores whether and how parole boards encourage people serving parole-eligible life sentences (“lifers”) to maintain ties to friends and family outside of prison, and the results of such encouragement. Interviews, ethnographic fieldwork, and parole-hearing transcripts reveal that California’s parole board encourages such rehabilitative ties through comments at parole hearings and through its parole-eligibility criteria. But to sustain these relationships, some lifers engage in misconduct to bypass restrictive prison policies by using contraband cell phones or engaging in physical contact with visitors that is deemed “excessive.” When detected, these disciplinary infractions become a stated cause of parole denials.
Disentangling the Relationship Between Social Ties, Prison Visitation, and Recidivism
Cassandra Atkin-Plunk & Gaylene Armstrong
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming
Studies find inmates who receive visits while incarcerated are less likely to recidivate upon release, especially when visits are from spouses and occur frequently throughout incarceration. Absent from these studies is measurement of the quality of an inmate’s relationships prior to incarceration, which may play a more significant role in criminal desistance than visitation itself. Longitudinal data from 205 incarcerated male and female adult offenders were used to test the mediating effects of visitation for offenders with varying levels of preincarceration relationships on recidivism. Findings indicate that quality of an inmate’s preincarceration relationships is more important in reducing the odds of recidivism than visitation. When quality of relationships was taken into account, visitation became nonsignificant in predicting the odds of recidivism. Most critical, a strong maternal relationship prior to incarceration was associated with a reduction in recidivism subsequent to a period of incarceration.
Entertainment as Crime Prevention: Evidence From Chicago Sports Games
Ryan Copus & Hannah Laqueur
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming
The concern that mass media may be responsible for aggressive and criminal behavior is widespread. Comparatively little consideration has been given to its diversionary function. We test for the effect of television entertainment on crime by leveraging the randomness inherent in the scheduling of sporting events. We compare Chicago crime reports by the half hour when Chicago’s sports teams are playing to reports at the same time, day, and month when the teams are not playing. We conduct the same analysis for the Super Bowl, National Basketball Association Finals, and Major League Baseball World Series. We find consistent decreases in crime during games. Short-term crime displacement is minimal or nonexistent.
The Effect of Various Police Enforcement Actions on Violent Crime: Evidence From a Saturation Foot-Patrol Intervention
Criminal Justice Policy Review, July 2018, Pages 611-629
The current study tests the crime prevention effect of different police actions conducted during a foot-patrol saturation initiative in Newark, New Jersey. Police actions were categorized into two typologies: enforcement actions (i.e., arrests, quality of life summonses and field interrogations) and guardian actions (i.e., business checks, citizen contacts, bus checks, and taxi inspections). Logistic regression models tested the effect of enforcement and guardian actions on crime during daily (i.e., 24-hr) periods as well as the intervention’s operational (6:00 p.m.-2:00 a.m.) and nonoperational (2:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) periods. Analyses were conducted twice, once for the Operation Impact target area and once for a surrounding catchment zone (to measure spatial displacement). Findings suggest that guardian actions had a greater crime prevention effect than enforcement actions on crime occurrence. Policy implications of the findings are discussed.
Interracial face-to-face crimes and the socioeconomics of neighborhoods: Evidence from policing records
Gregory DeAngelo, Kaj Gittings & Anita Alves Pena
International Review of Law and Economics, December 2018, Pages 1-13
Using a novel data set comprising the universe of reported crimes to the Los Angeles Police Department from 2000 to 2007, we examine race victimization patterns among face-to-face crimes at the neighborhood level. While some of our findings support previous work, others challenge previous research and general expectations about race and crime. Contrary to victimization patterns observed in the aggregate data, our panel data models identify consistent patterns of reported violence committed by White individuals against Blacks and Hispanics across neighborhoods. Specifically, in the presence of controls for neighborhood and time effects, Whites are more likely to assault and use weapons against Blacks and Hispanics than Blacks and Hispanics are to assault or use weapons against Whites. On the other hand, Blacks and Hispanics are typically more likely to commit robbery (crimes which we characterize as being often related to economic motives) against Whites than the reverse. We estimate these effects across the racial composition and earnings distribution of neighborhoods in Los Angeles County and find significant heterogeneity in the propensity for certain types of crimes to occur as a function of the race/ethnic match of suspect and victim.