Category Archives: Rehabilitation

Videos and podcasts

MP3onredRecently released video and podcasts on topics relevant to psychology and crime. Follow the links for access to the audio and visual material.

Advances in the History of Psychology recently alerted us to a 2005 PBS documentary The New Asylums, which examined the plight of mentally ill prisoners in the USA:

In “The New Asylums,” FRONTLINE goes deep inside Ohio’s state prison system to explore the complex and growing issue of mentally ill prisoners. With unprecedented access to prison therapy sessions, mental health treatment meetings, crisis wards, and prison disciplinary tribunals, the film provides a poignant and disturbing portrait of the new reality for the mentally ill.

All in the Mind (15 March) explores the psychological impact of being on Death Row: “…extraordinary first hand accounts from men who spent decades incarcerated on Death Row. And, psychologists investigating the state of the confined mind.”

An earlier AitM (23 Feb) focused on women offenders, including those convicted of infanticide, and asks if women offenders require different rehabilitation and treatment programmes to men.

Since the beginning of the year the Leonard Lopate show has featured several segments of forensic interest, including:

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An ethnographic account of violent careers

historyofviolenceAn article by Ferdinand Sutterlüty in the Sage journal Ethnography explores the concept of ‘violent careers’, in particular the precursors to a violent life, and the ‘tipping points’: events that might precipitate a vulnerable young person into a criminal lifestyle.

The author points out that although the word ‘career’ suggests a purposeful trajectory, in actuality:

… the developmental stages through which young violent criminals pass cannot be grasped using a ‘career’ concept that presumes set opportunities and structures within which they methodically and strategically move forward. Although their violent careers are characterized by phases of goal-oriented action, the young people also go through phases in which they feel they are ‘buffeted about’ by circumstances and lose control over their lives. At the same time, biographical ruptures play an important role in their life stories. If it is to be applied to the formation and progression patterns of youth violence, the career concept must take into account discontinuities and contingencies as well as the individuals’ temporary inability to control the course of their lives (pp267-268).

Sutterlüty argues that the narratives that young repeat offenders tell indicate that their violent acts “are interconnected and integrated into a recognizable developmental process as opposed to being isolated events. This type of developmental process… is not dominated by causal necessity. Rather, violent careers depend on contingent events and consequences of action, which function as direction-setters and social barriers in an individual’s life” (p.271).

Sutterlüty tells some powerful stories, and explains the lasting impact of early experiences. For instance:

Kilian, a 21-year-old skinhead, recounted how, as a child, he was beaten again and again by his mother for incidents that were beyond his control – for coming home with dirty clothes, for a broken toy, for not immediately understanding his homework, and so on. In response to the hopelessness caused by these situations, the children develop adaptive strategies: in many cases they adopt the perspective of the abuser and conclude, with their childlike logic, that they are beaten because they deserve punishment.

Early experiences can also lead to profound feelings of powerlessness:

[16 year old] Murat … describes his response to his stepfather’s violent treatment of his mother: ‘I always saw it, and I always thought that if I was older, I would hit him right off, but I couldn’t do anything because I was too small. And sometimes I hated myself for not doing anything and for him hitting my mother.’ This remark not only reveals the deep self-hatred that can result from witnessing family violence without the power to act. It also calls attention to the fact that the thoughts of children who have no power to end family violence are quickened by the fantasy of striking back (p.272)

Because Sage Journals is kindly offering open access to all journals at the moment, you can read the article for free. But hurry, their offer ends on 30 November.


Photo credit: Phil Gyford, Creative Commons License

Abstract beneath the fold:

Continue reading An ethnographic account of violent careers

The Construction of Truth and Lies in Drug Court

teendrugAn article in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography reports on a long-term study of how drug-using offenders tell truth and lies in a US drug court. Mackinem (the paper’s first author) is a member of drug court staff, and the discussion of how he and his co-author negotiated the challenges of ‘participant observation’ is as interesting as the results of their observations.

In the course of a multiyear investigation of three drug courts in a southeastern state, we explored how drug-court staff decides whether clients are telling the truth or lying when the staff confronts them with a positive test for drugs… The drug-court staff’s construction of truths and lies is one occasion of many when staff members create moral identities for their clients and for those applying to be clients

They found that when confronted with a positive result, a third (32%) of clients responded with denials, while the other two thirds admitted to using drugs. A variety of excuses were put forward as mitigaiton, with personal stress and the influence of peers being the most common. The authors argue that the way in which drug court staff treat lies by drug-using offenders is bound up with the creation of ‘moral identities’ for the offenders:

The drug-court staff’s judgment as to whether clients are telling the truth or lying when confronted with a positive test for drugs is one occasion of many when the staff creates moral identities for its clients and for those applying to be clients. Are the drug-using offenders morally worthy drug addicts attempting to become sober, or are they unworthy criminals with no willingness to kick their habit? Staffers increasingly make these judgments as they evaluate the potential of drug-using offenders to participate successfully in drug court, as they monitor the progress of drug court clients in the program, and as they assess the performance of clients in deciding whether the clients will graduate or be removed from the program (page 244).

Sage Journals is currently offering open access to all journals, so you can read the article for free until the end of November 2007.

Reference :

Photo credit: Kr4gin, Creative Commons License

Continue reading The Construction of Truth and Lies in Drug Court

New issue: Crime & Delinquency 53(4)


Crime & Delinquency 53(4) , October 2007 is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Contents include:

  • Strain, Attribution, and Traffic Delinquency Among Young Drivers: Measuring and Testing General Strain Theory in the Context of Driving – Steven J. Ellwanger
  • Applying a Generic Juvenile Risk Assessment Instrument to a Local Context: Some Practical and Theoretical Lessons – Joel Miller and Jeffrey Lin
  • Serious Mental Illness and Arrest: The Generalized Mediating Effect of Substance Use – James A. Swartz and Arthur J. Lurigio
  • Whistle-Blowing and the Code of Silence in Police Agencies: Policy and Structural Predictors – Gary R. Rothwell and J. Norman Baldwin
  • Recidivism of Supermax Prisoners in Washington State – David Lovell, L. Clark Johnson, and Kevin C. Cain

Docuticker round-up

ex libris gul law reports collectionLatest criminal justice-related reports via Docuticker:

Juror attitudes and biases in sexual assault cases, published by the Australian Institute of Criminology (pdf):

…This paper presents findings from two recent studies […that] show that juror judgements in rape trials are influenced more by the attitudes, beliefs and biases about rape which jurors bring with them into the courtroom than by the objective facts presented, and that stereotypical beliefs about rape and victims of it still exist within the community.

Recidivism in Australia : findings and future research, published by the Australian Institute of Criminology (pdf):

This report deals with important questions relating to recidivism research. It provides a conceptual framework through which recidivism can be defined and interpreted and arms researchers and policy makers with a battery of tools useful in critical assessment of the research literature.

Courtroom Demeanor: The Theater of the Courtroom, from the Minnesota Law Review (via SSRN):

…Trials are affected by many factors, including the appearance and demeanor of the defendant. This article proposes an approach to deal with non-testifying demeanor evidence that occurs outside the witness box. Given the problems with having jurors rely on demeanor evidence, courts should be carefully monitoring the use of non-testifying demeanor evidence. Appropriate jury instructions should be given, including those warning jurors on proper use of such evidence.

Frequency and Predictors of False Conviction: Why We Know so Little, and New Data on Capital Cases, a University of Michigan Public Law Working Paper (via SSRN):

In the first part of this paper we address the problems inherent in studying wrongful convictions: our pervasive ignorance and the extreme difficulty of obtaining the data that we need to answer even basic questions. ….In the second part we dispel some of that ignorance by considering data on false convictions in a small but important subset of criminal cases about which we have unusually detailed information: death sentences… Based on these comparisons we present a handful of findings on features of the investigations of capital cases, and on background facts about capital defendants, that are modest predictors of false convictions.

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New issue: Criminal Justice Studies 20(3)


The September 2007 issue of Criminal Justice Studies 20(3) is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Contents include:

  • Who Let the Dogs Out? Drug Dogs in Court – Jennifer Ashley; Simon Billinge; Craig Hemmens
  • Female Suicide Bombers: Israeli Newspaper Reporting and the Public Construction of Social Reality – Revital Sela-Shayovitz
  • Examining Criminology Majors’ and Non-Majors’ Attitudes Toward Inmate Programs, Services, and Amenities – Christopher Hensley; Mary Koscheski; Richard Tewksbury
  • Desistance from Serious and Not So Serious Crime: A Comparison of Psychosocial Risk Factors – Elaine Gunnison; Paul Mazerolle
  • Is Vigilantism on Your Mind? An Exploratory Study of Nuance and Contradiction in Student Death Penalty Opinion – Angela M. Schadt; Matt DeLisi
  • Delinquency, Deviance, and Tolerance in a Slum in India: A Quantitative Model – M. Z. Khan; N. Prabha Unnithan; Archana Dassi
  • Minority Women in Policing in Texas: An Attitudinal Analysis – Alejandro del Carmen; Helen Taylor Greene; Denise D. Nation; Gbolahan Solomon Osho
  • Community Partners: ‘Doing Doors’ as a Community Crime Prevention Strategy – Mary Ann Farkas; Richard S. Jones

Docuticker round-up

ex libris gul law reports collectionLatest criminal justice-related reports from Docuticker

Public School Practices for Violence Prevention and Reduction: 2003–04 (National Center for Education Statistics): “This Issue Brief (1) examines principals’ reports of the prevalence of formal practices in public schools designed to prevent or reduce school violence and (2) describes the distribution of these practices by selected school characteristics.”

When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2005 Homicide Data (Violence Policy Center): “This annual report details national and state-by-state information on female homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender.”

No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the United States (Human Rights Watch): “the first comprehensive study of US sex offender policies, their public safety impact, and the effect they have on former offenders and their families.”

Exploring the Drugs-Crime Connection within the Electronic Dance Music and Hip-Hop Nightclub Scenes (Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware / National Institute of Justice): “This report explores how the cultural ethos, behavioral norms, activities, and individual and group identities (subcultural phenomena), inherent to the electronic dance music … and the hip hop/rap nightclub scenes … impact the relationship between alcohol, drugs, and crime, with additional attention to victimization.”

Building an Offender Reentry Program: A Guide for Law Enforcement (International Association of Chiefs of Police): “In an effort to determine the state of law enforcement’s participation in offender reentry initiatives, the International Association of Chiefs of Police partnered with OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to comprehensively examine law enforcement’s role in offender reentry initiatives.”

Suicide Trends Among Youths and Young Adults Aged 10–24 Years — United States, 1990–2004 (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC): “The report is an analysis of annual data from the CDC?s National Vital Statistics System”

Law Enforcement for Lawabiders (Police Foundation): “Why do people comply with the law? Professor Tracey Meares of Yale University explores the power of private social control in controlling and reducing crime.”

Violent Deaths and the National Violent Death Reporting System (CDC): “The National Violent Death Reporting System collects data on violent deaths from a variety of sources. Together, these sources offer a more comprehensive picture of the circumstances surrounding a homicide or suicide.”

Upward trend in racist crimes in at least 8 EU countries (European Parliament): “The report analyses discrimination in employment, housing and education across the 27 Member States.”

Minding Moral Responsibility (Engage, via SSRN): “… one of the most enduring areas of controversy in our criminal law involves questions about mitigation and the insanity defense.”

Fatal fires: fire-associated homicide in Australia, 1990-2005 (Australian Institute of Criminology)

2007 Annual Report on Organized crime in Canada (Criminal Intelligence Service Canada)

The British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2007 (Gambling Commission UK)

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Quick links


Quick links from around the web and blogosphere:

Reports from a review of the Virginia Tech massacre have been published (download via Docuticker) prompting much commentary, including this detailed post over at World of Psychology, where John Grohol discusses the report (pdf) detailing mass murderer Seung Hui Cho’s mental health history.

Providentia draws our attention to a study presented at the recent APA convention which “indicated that sexual assault on women with physical disabilities tended to be more coercive and more physically severe than assaults on women with other types of problems”.

GNIF Brain Blogger discusses research on the implications of war on mental health:

A recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released articles dedicated to the study of conflict, human rights, and international mental health consequences. Some of the most striking papers dealt specifically with the psychological effects of war as well as the implications exposure to violent war crimes have on efforts towards peace building.

Via Karin Franklin, link to a detailed discussion of the efficacy of sex offender treatment over at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Over at The Situationist Blog, consideration of several forensically-relevant issues over the last few weeks, including ongoing discussion of Philip Zimbardo’s latest book The Lucifer Effect here and here, and in a post in which Zimbardo replies to his critics in person. Other recent posts include a commentary on judicial independence and a spotlight on research on race and the death penalty.

Peter Tillers draws our attention to a new paper up at SSRN on The Theater of the Courtroom.

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 30 is up at Abyss2Hope.

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New issues: Journal of Experimental Criminology 3(2) and 3(3)


The latest two issues of Journal of Experimental Criminology are now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Journal of Experimental Criminology 3(2), June 2007 is a special issue on Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research in the Netherlands. Contents include:

  • Experimental and quasi-experimental criminological research in the Netherlands – Gerben J. N. Bruinsma and David Weisburd
  • Contextual determinants of juveniles’ willingness to report crimes: A vignette experiment – Heike Goudriaan and Paul Nieuwbeerta
  • Implementing randomized experiments in criminal justice settings: An evaluation of multi-systemic therapy in the Netherlands – Jessica J. Asscher, Maja Dekovic, Peter H. van der Laan, Pier J. M. Prins and Sander van Arum
  • Bridging the gap between judges and the public? A multi-method study – Jan W. de Keijser, Peter J. van Koppen and Henk Elffers
  • Newspaper juries: A field experiment concerning the effect of information on attitudes towards the criminal justice system – Henk Elffers, Jan W. de Keijser, Peter J. van Koppen and Laurien van Haeringe
  • Fare dodging and the strong arm of the law: An experimental evaluation of two different penalty schemes for fare evasion – Catrien Bijleveld

Journal of Experimental Criminology 3(3), September 2007, contents include:

  • The effects of an experimental intensive juvenile probation program on self-reported delinquency and drug use – Jodi Lane, Susan Turner, Terry Fain, Amber Sehgal
  • An experimental study of a therapeutic boot camp: Impact on impulses, attitudes and recidivism – Doris Layton MacKenzie, David Bierie, Ojmarrh Mitchell
  • Statistical inference and meta-analysis – Richard Berk
  • Unjustified inferences about meta-analysis – Mark W. Lipsey
  • A world without meta-analysis – William R. Shadish
  • The powerful seductions alchemy – Richard Berk

New issues: Victims & Offenders 2(2) and 2(3)


The latest two issues of Victims & Offenders are now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

  • Victims & Offenders 2(2), is a special issue on Early Intervention. Contents include:
  • Early Prevention of Delinquency and Later Criminal Offending: An Introduction – Brandon C. Welsh; David P. Farrington
  • Public Support for Early Intervention: Is Child Saving a “Habit of the Heart”? – Francis T. Cullen; Brenda A. Vose; Cheryl N. Lero Jonson; James D. Unnever
  • Scientific Support for Early Prevention of Delinquency and Later Offending – Brandon C. Welsh; David P. Farrington
  • Crime Prevention by the High/Scope Perry Preschool Program – Lawrence J. Schweinhart
  • Promoting Social Development and Preventing Health and Behavior Problems during the Elementary Grades: Results from the Seattle Social
  • Development Project – J. David Hawkins; Brian H. Smith; Karl G. Hill; Rick Kosterman; Richard F. Catalano; Robert D. Abbott
  • Effectiveness of Programs to Prevent School Bullying – Anna C. Baldry; David P. Farrington
  • Preventing Crime with Prenatal and Infancy Support of Parents: The Nurse-Family Partnership – David L. Olds

Victims & Offenders 2(3) contents include:

  • How Many Offenses are Really Committed per Juvenile Court Offender? – David P. Farrington; Darrick Jolliffe; Rolf Loeber; D. Lynn Homish
  • The Spiritual Components of Restorative Justice – Kimberly Bender; Marilyn Armour
  • Thinking about Terrorism and Its Victims – David Shichor
  • “Yardsticks” for Victim Sensitive Process: Principle-Based Standards for Gauging the Integrity of Restorative Justice Process – Gordon Bazemore; Diane L. Green