Category Archives: Criminal behaviour

New issue: International Journal of Law and Psychiatry International Journal of Law and Psychiatry


The June/July issue of the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry International Journal of Law and Psychiatry (Volume 31, Issue 3) is a special issue on psychopathic traits and risk assessment in children and adolescents, edited by Theo Doreleijers and Robert Vermeiren. A range of articles deals with identifying psychopathic traits, prediction of violence and risk assessment.

An Investigation of Psychopathic Features Among Delinquent Girls

An article that caught my eye in the latest issue of Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice:

Although there has been intense interest in the application of the construct of psychopathy among juveniles, few studies have investigated psychopathic traits among adolescent females. To redress this, this study examines psychopathic features and tests their utility in predicting violent behavior, theft, and drug abuse in a statewide survey of 94 female juvenile offenders. Results indicate that interpersonal and affective facets of psychopathy, specifically narcissism and carefree nonplanfulness were significantly associated with violence and theft. Psychopathy features were not significantly associated with drug abuse. Study limitations and implications for future research are delineated.

I do like the term “carefree nonplanfulness”. It’s part of the Psychopathic Personality Inventory, which “is one of several self-report psychopathy measures available for research purposes” (Long & Titone, 2007, p.124). Carefree nonplanfulness “measures the tendency to live in the moment and ignore the future”. But I do wonder what “careful nonplanfulness” might measure. Or “carefree planfulness”.

You can access the article on psychopathy among female juveniles via this link (subscription required for full text). Other articles in the same issue cover predictors of police contact among Midwestern homeless and runaway youth; implementing effective community-based prevention programs; classification of offenders; and the impact of reentry services on juvenile offenders’ recidivism .


The limited role of neuroimaging in determining criminal liability

For those who are into ‘neurolaw’, head over to the latest issue of Forensic Science International for a paper on neuroimaging studies involving aggressive, violent, psychopathic or antisocial offenders. Here’s the abstract:

Objective: Studies indicate there is a substantial biological substrate for psychopathic behavior. Neuroimaging techniques have afforded biomedical sciences a means to investigate further how aberrant brain activity or structure may be correlated with psychopathy and violence. This paper will provide an overview of the literature, and then will explore the role of structural and functional MRI brain imaging in the defense of a young adult male charged with kidnapping and rape.

Method: Using Pubmed and the keywords “functional neuroimaging,” “structural neuroimaging,” “psychopathy,” “antisocial personality,” “sociopathy,” “aggression,” “impulsivity,” and “violence,” the authors conduct a review of structural and functional neuroimaging studies involving aggressive, violent, psychopathic or antisocial offenders. We then provide a case report of a defendant, charged with kidnapping and rape, who was found during a forensic evaluation to have abnormal neuroimaging findings.

Results: The defendant’s counsel was able to present in his client’s defense multiple indicators of brain dysfunction and psychiatric illness partially substantiated by brain imaging.

Conclusions: The extent to which neuroimaging findings can be used as exculpatory or mitigating evidence remains the subject of much debate. Neuroimaging is just one piece of evidence the forensic expert relies on in determining the extent of neuropathology and mental illness. As illustrated in the case report, imaging studies most often will serve a mitigating role, affording the courts an opportunity to tailor punishment, provide court-ordered treatment, and potentially decrease recidivism.


Criminal Justice and Behavior: Special issue on child sexual abuse and the church

chairs in churchThe May 2008 issue of Criminal Justice and Behavior (Volume 35, No 5) is a special issue on child sexual abuse, particularly timely in view of the Pope’s current visit to the USA.

Abstracts can be accessed here, though you’ll need to pay or have a subscription to view the full articles.

Here are the contents:

  • Karen J. Terry – Stained Glass: The Nature and Scope of Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church
  • Margaret Leland Smith, Andres F. Rengifo, and Brenda K. Vollman – Trajectories of Abuse and Disclosure: Child Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests
  • Alex R. Piquero, Nicole Leeper Piquero, Karen J. Terry, Tasha Youstin, and Matt Nobles – Collaring the Criminal: Understanding Criminal Careers of Criminal Clerics
  • Anthony D. Perillo, Cynthia Calkins Mercado, and Karen J. Terry – Repeat Offending, Victim Gender, and Extent of Victim Relationship in Catholic Church Sexual Abusers: Implications for Risk Assessment
  • Jennifer A. Tallon and Karen J. Terry – Analyzing Paraphilic Activity, Specialization, and Generalization in Priests Who Sexually Abused Minors
  • Cynthia Calkins Mercado, Jennifer A. Tallon, and Karen J. Terry – Persistent Sexual Abusers in the Catholic Church: An Examination of Characteristics and Offense Patterns
  • Karen J. Terry and Alissa Ackerman – Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: How Situational Crime Prevention Strategies Can Help Create Safe Environments
  • Michael D. White and Karen J. Terry – Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: Revisiting the Rotten Apples Explanation

Photo credit: RichardLowkes, Creative Commons License

A Confederate South effect in homicide rates, and other interesting articles from the Social Science Journal

My life’s a bit busy at the moment with not much time for considered blogging. Forgive me if, for a little while, I post interesting titbits without much commentary (better, I think, than posting nothing at all, or posting ill-considered commentary).

Three articles caught my eye in the latest issue of The Social Science Journal. The first is on homicide in the US South:

A significant literature has evolved in the last 40 years investigating regional variation in lethal violence, with most studies focusing on Southern homicide rates…. We investigate regional variations in the effects of resource deprivation on White homicide in rural areas—a context in which the Southern culture of violence should be most prominent….The results of our county-level analyses of census and homicide data around the year 2000 reveal that White homicide rates are higher in Confederate South states and that resource deprivation has a positive association with White homicide. The effect of resource deprivation also accounts for the Confederate South effect, and an interaction model indicates that the effect of this variable is significantly stronger in the non-South as predicted by the attenuation argument. Overall, these results suggest that both structural and cultural forces contribute to rural White homicide rates.

Next up, an article on “the degree to which individuals’ perceptions of concrete events of harassment and violence mirror the interpretive frameworks offered by proponents of hate crime legislation”:

… Specifically, the study examines the determinants of definitions of hate crime and perceptions of seriousness, focusing on both incident-level and respondent-level variables. Using data from a multilevel factorial survey gathered from a sample of undergraduates, I find a general alignment between the political construction of hate crimes and college student perceptions of incidents of harassment and violence, although sensitivity to hate crimes varies by witness demographic and attitudinal characteristic.

Finally, J. Keith Price and Gary R. Byrd attempt to answer the question of whether capital murderers (murderers who are executed) are “more likely to murder or commit other violent crimes again” if they had not been executed, compared to “other murderers or the average citizen”:

… To answer these questions, many states require a prediction of future dangerousness of a newly convicted murderer. To what extent has the judgment of future dangerousness matched actuarial data of subsequent murders and serious crimes? Using a secondary analysis, this investigation attempted to assemble available data of postconviction dangerousness of death sentenced capital murderers to create a more comprehensive actuarial account of subsequent dangerousness and to present the data in a common format used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Across 14 studies identified with relevant data, there were 13 instances of subsequent murder and 462 serious crime or prison rule violations.

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:

Photo credit: Focus_on_me, Creative Commons License

Violence on Campus: Prediction, Prevention and Response

Hat tip to Crime and Consequences for alerting us to an upcoming conference at Columbia Law School:

…a one day conference on Violence on Campus: Prediction, Prevention and Response to be held on Friday, April 4, 2008 at the Law School. The conference, which will feature academic experts from law and the social sciences, policy makers and practitioners, is intended to bring together professionals and academics to share knowledge and information, and to stimulate research and innovative policy development in this area. We expect that attendees will include university attorneys and administrators; counseling center directors and staff; off-campus clinicians who work with students; academics in mental health, law, and policy; students; and the media.

The programme includes:

  • Understanding Violence in Colleges and Universities – William Modzeleski, Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, Washington, D.C.
  • Prediction of Violence – Edward Mulvey, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
  • Turning Violence Inward — Understanding and Preventing Campus Suicide – Morton M. Silverman, M.D., Senior Medical Consultant, The Jed Foundation (New York) Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Chicago.
  • Media Coverage of Campus Violence – Nicholas Lemann, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism and Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism, Columbia University.
  • Panel: Translating Theories Into Practice – Karen Bower, J.D., Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Washington D.C., Richard Eichler, Ph.D., Director of Psychological Counseling Services, Columbia University and Nancy Tribbensee, J.D., Ph.D., General Counsel for the Arizona University System

Exploring homicide in an international context

Sage Publications has made the latest issue of Homicide Studies freely available for a limited time. It’s a special issue on homicide in an international context. The press release explains:

From cross-national to country-specific empirical analyses and exploratory studies, the special issue, guest edited by Indiana University’s William Alex Pridemore, examines homicide from diverse global, gender, age, and cultural directions, looking at such wide-ranging concepts as:

  • The association between alcohol consumption and homicide rates in Europe
  • How economic inequality affects homicide rates in 14 developed democracies
  • Cross-national infanticide
  • Homicide in Finland (which has a higher rate than most European countries)
  • Neighborhood-levels factors associated with homicide in the Netherlands
  • The fall of communism and how it affected homicide rates
  • Explanations of the difference in homicide clearance rates in Japan and the United States
  • Japan’s drop in homicides following World War II

Access the articles via the Sage website here.

Seminar series from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research

glasgowunicloistersThe Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research has announced an impressive series of seminars for January to March 2008.

Seminars take place at the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh. More details on the SCCJR website.

  • 24 January – Ms Helen Baillot, Scottish Refugee Council: ‘Asylum in Scotland – a Human Rights perspective?’
  • 29 January – Professor Nicola Lacey, LSE: ‘From Moll Flanders to Tess of D’Urbervilles: Gender, Identity and Criminalisation in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century England’.
  • 31 January – Professor Johannes Feest, University of Bremen: ‘The future of prisons and prison abolitionism’.
  • 4 February – Charles Woolfson, School of Law, University of Glasgow: ‘The conventionalisation of safety crime in the Baltic New EU Member States: Neo-liberalism and the tolerance of non-compliance’
  • 7 February – Professor Thomas Feltes: ‘Police Reform in Countries in Transition – Experiences from Bosnia, Kosovo and South Africa’ (jointly organgised by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research).
  • 12 February – Jonathan Jackson, Methodology Institute & Mannheim Centre for Criminology, London School of Economics: ‘New directions in research on public confidence in policing: Trust, legitimacy and consent’
  • 20 February – Alistair Fraser, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences, University of Glasgow: ‘Researching young people and violence in Glasgow’
  • 21 February – Professor Fiona Raitt, University of Dundee: ‘Re-Vulnerability in the Adversarial Process’
  • 28 February – Professor Linda Mulcahy, Birkbeck College, London: ‘An unbearable lightness of being? Movements towards the virtual trial’.
  • 6 March – Gavin Smith, Aberdeen University: ‘Re-thinking CCTV operation: interactions and ontologies’.
  • 13 March – Professor Tim Hope, Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, University of Edinburgh and Keele University: ‘A Political Economy of Community Safety’.

Assisting Victims of Intimate Partner Stalking

The US Office for Victims of Crime is hosting an online discussion on 9 January at 2pm (Eastern Time):

… in recognition of National Stalking Awareness Month, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), in coordination with the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), will present a Web Forum discussion with Michelle Garcia on best practices for assisting victims of intimate partner stalking. Ms. Garcia is Director of the Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime.

You can submit questions now via their forum or during the session on 9 January. More details here.