Crime stoppers

Kevin Lewis

November 06, 2019

Reducing gunshot victimization in high-risk social networks through direct and spillover effects
George Wood & Andrew Papachristos
Nature Human Behaviour, forthcoming

More than 60,000 people are victimized by gun violence each year in the United States. A large share of victims cluster in bounded and identifiable social networks. Despite a growing number of violence reduction programmes that leverage networks to broaden programmatic effects, there is little evidence that reductions in victimization are achieved through spillover effects on the peers of participants. This study estimates the direct and spillover effects of a gun violence field intervention in Chicago. Using a quasi-experimental design, we test whether a desistance-based programme reduced gunshot victimization among 2,349 participants. The study uses co-arrest network data to further test spillover effects on 6,132 non-participants. Direct effects were associated with a 3.2-percentage point reduction in victimization among seeds over two years, while potential spillover was associated with a 1.5-percentage point reduction among peers. Findings suggest that peer influence and the structure of networks might be leveraged to amplify gun violence reduction efforts.

How does oversight affect police? Evidence from the police misconduct reform
Wei Long
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

This paper assesses how Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations affect policing behaviors. From 2010 – 2013, nine local police agencies were investigated for civil rights violations and police misconduct and most reached settlements with the DOJ. These settlements mandate extensive reforms such as retraining of officers, collaboration with community representatives and modernization of procedures related to the use of force. Using both the synthetic control method and the panel data approach proposed by Hsiao et al. (2012), I find a significant reduction in misdemeanor arrests of blacks during that period. However, I do not observe a meaningful impact on felony arrests and arrests of whites. These findings suggest that the investigations indeed affected officers’ policing behaviors, but I find no evidence of universal de-policing effects in the investigated agencies.

The Network Structure of Police Misconduct
George Wood, Daria Roithmayr & Andrew Papachristos
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, October 2019

Conventional explanations of police misconduct generally adopt a microlevel focus on deviant officers or a macrolevel focus on the top-down organization of police departments. Between these levels are social networks of misconduct. This study recreates these networks using data on 16,503 complaints and 15,811 police officers over a six-year period in Chicago. We examine individual-level factors associated with receiving a complaint, the basic properties of these misconduct networks, and factors related to officer co-naming in complaints. We find that the incidence of police misconduct is associated with attributes including race, age, and tenure and that almost half of police officers are connected in misconduct ties in broader networks of misconduct. We also find that certain dyadic factors, especially seniority and race, strongly predict network ties and the incidence of group misconduct. Our results provide actionable information regarding possible ways to leverage the co-complaint network structure to reduce misconduct.

When Does Transparency Backfire? Putting Jeremy Bentham's Theory of General Prevention to the Experimental Test
Christoph Engel
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, forthcoming

Jeremy Bentham brought enlightenment to criminal policy. He argued that the primary purpose of criminal sanctions should be deterring future crime. To that end he advocated complete transparency. This article investigates Bentham's intuition in a public goods lab experiment by manipulating how much information on punishment experienced by others is available to would‐be offenders. Compared with the tone that Jeremy Bentham set, the result is unexpected: when would‐be offenders learn about punishment of others at the individual level, they contribute much less to the public project. This is due to an inevitable side effect. Information about punishment is only meaningful together with information about the infraction.

The Individual-Level Deterrent Effect of “Call-In” Meetings on Time to Re-Arrest
Giovanni Circo et al.
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Focused on deterrence popular model to address community-level violence, however little research has examined the individual-level effect of deterrent messaging on subsequent offending. To answer this question, we utilize data on 254 gang- and group-involved probationers and parolees who attended offender “call-in” meetings as part of the Detroit Ceasefire. We employ inverse-probability weighting to construct a counterfactual comparison group from a sample of gang-involved young adults who were not subject to the Ceasefire call-in. We then use a Cox regression to estimate time to re-arrest. We find that individuals who were delivered a deterrent message at a call-in meeting had a longer time to re-arrest compared to a weighted comparison group for up to 3 years following the meeting.

A randomized controlled trial of restorative justice-informed treatment for domestic violence crimes
Linda Mills et al.
Nature Human Behaviour, forthcoming

Recent innovation in domestic violence (DV) treatment suggests that when a batterer intervention programme (BIP) is combined with clinical elements, including motivational or readiness to change strategies, subsequent incidents of violence can be reduced. Prompted by previous research on restorative justice in reducing recidivism in crimes other than DV, a randomized controlled trial in Utah, USA, compared a typical BIP with one that included restorative justice-informed treatment, called circles of peace (CP). The findings reveal that the ‘hybrid’ BIP-plus-CP resulted in statistically significant reductions in both new arrests (53%) and crime severity scores (52%) for all offences, including DV, over a 24-month period. We conclude that a hybrid BIP-plus-CP programme should be considered as a viable treatment option for DV offenders. Implications for DV victims are discussed, as are the study’s limitations, including the fact that some elements typical of restorative justice programmes could not be attained in this DV context.

Far from Home and All Alone: The Impact of Prison Visitation on Recidivism
Logan Lee
American Law and Economics Review, Fall 2019, Pages 431–481

Tightening corrections budgets, the lack of a legal right to in-person prison visitation, and the increasing availability of video visitation have led many prison and jail administrators to consider limiting opportunities for in-person visitation. This is concerning given the large literature which argues inmates receiving in-person visits are less likely to recidivate upon release. On the other hand, these studies have not determined whether this relationship is causal or is instead driven by the correlation between receiving visits and having a network of family and friends that can offer support upon release. In this article, I estimate the causal effect of in-person visitation on recidivism using unique, administrative data from the Iowa Department of Corrections. I find that visitation itself, as currently implemented in Iowa, has no impact on recidivism. Instead, my results suggest prison policies that create meaningful support networks available to prisoners upon release may yield significant benefits.

Leniency Can Increase Deterrence
Alexander Lundberg
International Review of Law and Economics, forthcoming

Police discretion raises deterrence if the odds of lenient treatment fall with the severity of the crime. Leniency also provides an incentive for citizens to cooperate with law enforcement. When the police discover a crime, a guilty citizen decides whether to share any information. If such cooperation ever reveals a secondary crime, a citizen only shares information if the police sometimes reduce penalties for the initial crime. Thus, when citizens are multiply active in crime, discretion is a further tool for deterrence. Generous discounts induce universal cooperation, and the possibility of being caught for a secondary crime reduces the incentive to invest in every crime.

On the relationship between social disorganization and police coercive action(s) in the New York City Police Department
Allison Martin & Robert Kaminski
Police Practice and Research, forthcoming

This study applies indicators of social disorganization theory (i.e., concentrated disadvantage, residential instability, and concentrated immigration) to predict officers’ use of coercive action during street stops of citizens suspected of criminal activity. It also investigates whether concentrated disadvantage moderates suspects’ likelihood of receiving greater levels of police coercive actions when stopped for reasons listed in the New York City Police Department’s Unified Form 250 (UF-250). Results from multilevel analyses of stop incidents nested within neighborhoods confirm that certain indicators of social disorganization are associated with officer use of coercive action. Further, suspects stopped in areas marked by concentrated disadvantage are less likely to receive higher levels of police coercive action. The implications of these findings and directions for future research are presented.


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