Reports round-up: stop and search, persistent criminals, death penalty, judges and drugs

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

Analysis of Racial Disparities in the New York Police Department’s Stop, Question, and Frisk Practices, published by RAND (full report and summary available via the link):

In 2006, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stopped a half-million pedestrians for suspected criminal involvement. Raw statistics for these encounters suggest large racial disparities — 89 percent of the stops involved nonwhites…researchers analyzed data on all street encounters between NYPD officers and pedestrians in 2006. …They found small racial differences in these rates and make communication, recordkeeping, and training recommendations to the NYPD for improving police-pedestrian interactions.

Manuel Utset, in Hyperbolic Criminals and Repeated Time-Inconsistent Misconduct, (Houston Law Review via SSRN, full text available), uses economic models to try and understand why criminals become repeat offenders:

… even a relatively small preference for immediate gratification and over-optimism about their future self-control can lead hyperbolic criminals to repeatedly commit welfare-reducing crimes – i.e., those that (from a detached, long-term perspective) have negative expected returns. [The paper] develops a theory of repeated criminal misconduct that incorporates the findings of the growing behavioral economics literature on hyperbolic discounting and self-control problems; …identifies various deterrence implications of the theory; … explains a number of well-known empirical puzzles of neoclassical theory, including why policymakers punish repeat offenders more harshly and spend more on enforcement than the theory predicts…

Also via SSRN, The Heart Has its Reasons: Examining the Strange Persistence of the American Death Penalty by Susan Bandes (published in Studies in Law, Politics and Society, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2008, full text available):

The debate about the future of the death penalty often focuses on whether its supporters are animated by instrumental or expressive values, and if the latter, what values the penalty does in fact express, where those values originated, and how deeply entrenched they are. In this article I argue that a more explicit recognition of the emotional sources of support for and opposition to the death penalty will contribute to the clarity of the debate.

  • See also: a report from the American Bar Association which reported that “based on a detailed analysis of death penalty systems in eight sample states, the ABA Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project identified key problems common to the states studied, including major racial disparities, inadequate indigent defense services and irregular clemency review processes – making their death penalty systems operate unfairly” (released 29 Oct; key findings available in Word format).

Frederick Schauer at the Harvard University John F Kennedy School of Government attempts to answer the question Is There a Psychology of Judging?
(Working Paper Number:RWP07-049, full text available):

Psychologists have recently begun to study the psychological dimensions of judging, but to date almost all of the research has been on lay experimental subjects. Implicit in the research, therefore, is that the judge’s attributes as a human bring are more important than the judge’s attribute’s as lawyer and/or as judge in explaining judicial behavior. This may possibly be true, and it is relatively consistent with a Legal Realist understanding of judges and judging, but there remains a need for research directed specifically to the question whether judges by virtue of legal training, self-selection to judging, or judicial experience think and reason and make decisions differently from lay people…

The review paper Disrupting Street-Level Drug Markets (published by U.S. Department of State, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, pdf) finds that programmes that

involve strategic crime-control partnerships with a range of third parties are better than community-wide policing approaches that rely on partnerships to reduce drug and disorder problems across neighborhoods plagued with drug problems. Our review also finds that either type of partnership approach (i.e., geographically focused or community-wide approaches that use partnerships) is likely to be more effective at disrupting drug problems than law enforcement-only approaches (e.g., crackdowns, raids, directed patrols) that target drug hot spots. Unfocused law enforcement-only approaches to dealing with drug problems are a distant last.

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