Questions How would you evaluate the effectiveness of America’s criminal justice system – “tough” or “lenient?” Why? Will there always be a certain “going rate” for crime? Does the system fail in the apprehension and prosecution of criminals? If so, in what way?
Question What is the funnel effect of the criminal justice system?
Uniform Crime Reports UCR’s are based on crimes reported to the police and crimes cleared by arrest – on a monthly basis (Data is collected by over 17,000 local law enforcement agencies which is further compiled and published by the F.B.I). Less than 40 percent of all crime is reported to the police. Between 20-21 percent of all reported index crimes are cleared by arrest each year. Crime rates are based on a population unit of 100,000. UCR’s are divided into two representative categories: Indexed and non-Indexed.
Clearance Rate The clearance rate for crimes is when at least one person is arrested, charged, and turned over to court for prosecution or by exceptional means, i.e., when the offender leaves the country. Of all crimes reported to the police, 20-21 percent are cleared by arrest. (50 % for violent crimes and 18% for property crimes ).
CRIME RATE The crime rate is computed by the number of crimes reported to the police. Number of Reported Crimes x 100,000 = Rate per 100,000 Total U.S. Population
Validity of the Uniform Crime Reports Three Main Areas of Concern: Reporting practices: underreporting is the main concern. Law enforcement practices: varying definitions of crime types, methods of recording crime differ among agencies, departmental image concerns, improved computer technology. Methodological issues: (see next slide)
Methodological Issues With UCR Data No federal crimes are reported. Reports are voluntary – they vary in accuracy and completeness. Not all police departments submit reports. The F.B.I. uses estimates in its total crime projections. Each act is listed as a single offense for some crime but not for others. Only the most serious crime is recorded (for an offender who commits multiple crimes). Definitions of crimes vary from F.B.I. to individual states.
The Future of the Uniform Crime Reports National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Maintained by the F.B.I. Includes data on forty-six offenses (which includes all index crimes) that are reported plus arrest data on these forty-six offenses and eleven lesser offenses. Also includes data from federal agencies. Data compiled based on each reported incident, not arrests. More information on each crime in each category, i.e., offender, victim, and nature of crime. Twenty-two states have implemented NIBRS (twelve are in the process).
Questions What is the National Crime Victimization Study? What are some findings of the NCVS? What are some methodological problems?
VICTIM SURVEYS: NCVS Asks victims about their encounters with criminals (households that include individuals 12 or older) Uses sampling techniques May also describe people most at risk Potential measurement problems include: 1) Over and Under reporting 2) Sampling Errors 3) Inadequate question format 4) Inability to record activity
Self Reported Crime 4 Participants reveal information about their violations of the law. Self-report surveys target youth in school settings, inmates, drug users, and the general public. An example is the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study which targets high school seniors and drug use. 4 Helps to get at the “Dark Figure of Crime.” 4 Supplements and expands official data. 4 Validity and reliability better than expected for youth arrest and court data, however, accuracy for chronic offenders and drug abusers may be limited. 4 Data indicates that the number of people who break the law is far greater than official statistics (MTF data). Offenders seem to engage in a “mixed bag” of crime and deviance as opposed to specializing in one type of crime or another. 4 Participants reveal information about their violations of the law. Self-report surveys target youth in school settings, inmates, drug users, and the general public. An example is the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study which targets high school seniors and drug use. 4 Helps to get at the “Dark Figure of Crime.” 4 Supplements and expands official data. 4 Validity and reliability better than expected for youth arrest and court data, however, accuracy for chronic offenders and drug abusers may be limited. 4 Data indicates that the number of people who break the law is far greater than official statistics (MTF data). Offenders seem to engage in a “mixed bag” of crime and deviance as opposed to specializing in one type of crime or another.
Questions What is the “dark figure of crime?” Do you question the accuracy of self-report surveys? If so, in what way?
Self-report Surveys: Methodological Issues People may exaggerate or forget their criminal acts. Some surveys may contain an overabundance of trivial offenses which are often lumped together with serious crimes. Missing cases is also a concern when students refuse to participate in the survey or are absent that day from school. Institutionalized youth are generally not included in self-report surveys. Reporting differences may exist between racial, ethnic, and gender groups.
Crime Trends According to UCR data, violent crime rates have decreased about 11 % between 1997 and 2002 (between 1995 and 2005 violent crime was down about 20%, however, it increased in 2006, but decreased in 2007); property crime declined about 26% between 1992-2002 (between 1995 and 2006 property crime was down about 18%). NCVS data indicates that between 1993-2002 the violent crime rate has decreased 54% and the property crime rate decreased 50%. According to self-report findings, crimes of theft and violence may be more stable than the trends reported in the UCR arrest data. Overall, trends can be quite similar.
Explaining Crime Trends Age The economy Social malaise Guns Abortion Media Gangs Drugs Social-legal change Justice Policy Crime Opportunities Some of the important critical factors that have been used to explain the puzzle of crime rate trends
Questions In your opinion, what does the future hold for crime trends in the United States? Why? Has the “get tough” on crime penal philosophy of the United States accounted for the declining crime rates? How do crime trends in the United States compare to international crime trends?
Crime Patterns How do the following “main” traits and patterns in crime statistics help us understand causation? CRIME AgeGenderRace Social Class Ecology Criminal Careers Firearms
Question Should guns be controlled? If so, why?
After following a birth cohort of 9,945 boys born in Philadelphia in 1945, Wolfgang and his associates found that 6% of the total sample were responsible for 51.9% of all offenses. These were referred to as chronic offenders or career criminals. Similar research has resulted in similar findings. The “Chronic 6%”
The Continuity of Crime Children exposed to a variety of personal and social problems at an early age are the most at risk to repeat offending. Those who start a delinquent career early are more likely to persist as adults. Youthful offenders are more likely to abuse alcohol, have lower aspirations, get divorced, and have a weak employment record. Implications of chronic offending suggest individuals may possess a trait which is responsible for their behavior, i.e., social, psychological, and/or physical functioning.
Questions Do you think “three strikes and you’re out” policies have an effect on chronic offenders? Does past behavior predict future behavior?