Criminal Justice

Beyond Bureaucracy: Heterarchies and the Regulation of Urban Conflicts in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Beyond Bureaucracy: Heterarchies and the Regulation of Urban Conflicts in Sao Paulo, Brazil
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research

Coslovsky, Salo
10/23/2015

Cities need law to thrive but it is not clear how abstract texts become tangible policy outcomes. Existing research on the role of law in urban affairs conceives law as either an algorithm that shapes urban life, or a reflection of political disputes. The former assumes that the meaning of law is obvious; the latter claims it is irrelevant. In contrast to these views, this paper argues that laws are multipurpose instruments that acquire a specific function when enforced by those government agents who operate at the frontlines of public service. To understand what these agents do and why, this paper conducts a qualitative study of the Ministério Público and the Defensoria Pública in São Paulo, Brazil. It finds that these government agencies are not cohesive bureaucracies but heterarchies composed of distinct internal factions with different evaluative principles. Moreover, officials within them are not isolated from other entities in society but tightly entangled with them, and these connections influences what officials do. Finally, enforcement agents are not always resigned to solving conflicts as they arrive. Rather, they strive to find acceptable solutions in the interstices of existing conditions or even change the circumstances that created the conflict in the first place.

Mortgage Foreclosures and the Changing Mix of Crime in Micro-neighborhoods

Mortgage Foreclosures and the Changing Mix of Crime in Micro-neighborhoods
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Published online before print February 20, 2015. doi: 10.1177/0022427815572633

Johanna Lacoe and Ingrid Gould Ellen
02/20/2015

Objectives: The main objectives of the study are to estimate the impact of mortgage foreclosures on the location of criminal activity within a blockface. Drawing on routine activity theory, disorder theory, and social disorganization theory, the study explores potential mechanisms that link foreclosures to crime.

Methods: To estimate the relationship between foreclosures and localized crime, we use detailed foreclosure and crime data at the blockface level in Chicago and a difference-in-difference estimation strategy. Results: Overall, mortgage foreclosures increase crime on blockfaces. Foreclosures have a larger impact on crime that occurs inside residences than on crime in the street. The impact of foreclosures on crime location varies by crime type (violent, property, and public order crime).

Conclusions: The evidence supports the three main theoretical mechanisms that link foreclosure activity to local crime. The investigation of the relationship by crime location suggests that foreclosures change the relative attractiveness of indoor and outdoor locations for crime commission on the blockface.

High Stakes in the Classroom, High Stakes on the Street: The Effects of Community Violence on Students’ Standardized Test Performance

High Stakes in the Classroom, High Stakes on the Street: The Effects of Community Violence on Students’ Standardized Test Performance
Sociological Science, forthcoming

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Patrick Sharkey, and Johanna Lacoe
03/06/2014

This paper examines the effect of exposure to violent crime on students’ standardized test performance among a sample of students in New York City public schools. To identify the effect of exposure to community violence on children’s test scores, we compare students exposed to an incident of violent crime on their own blockface in the week prior to the exam to students exposed in the week after the exam. The results show that such exposure to violent crime reduces performance on English Language Arts assessments, and no effect on Math scores. The effect of exposure to violent crime is most pronounced among African Americans, and reduces the passing rates of black students by approximately 3 percentage points.

Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics

Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics
Cambridge University Press.

Egan, Patrick J.
07/22/2013

Americans consistently name Republicans as the party better at handling issues like national security and crime, while they trust Democrats on issues like education and the environment – a phenomenon called “issue ownership.” Partisan Priorities investigates the origins of issue ownership, showing that in fact the parties deliver neither superior performance nor popular policies on the issues they “own.” Rather, Patrick J. Egan finds that Republicans and Democrats simply prioritize their owned issues with lawmaking and government spending when they are in power. Since the parties tend to be particularly ideologically rigid on the issues they own, politicians actually tend to ignore citizens' preferences when crafting policy on these issues. Thus, issue ownership distorts the relationship between citizens' preferences and public policies.

American Murder Revisited: Do Housing Vouchers Cause Crime?

American Murder Revisited: Do Housing Vouchers Cause Crime?
Housing Policy Debate 22(4):1-22

Ellen, Ingrid, Katherine O’Regan and Michael C. Lens
04/01/2012

Potential neighbors often express worries that Housing Choice Voucher holders heighten crime. Yet, no research systematically examines the link between the presence of voucher holders in a neighborhood and crime. Our article aims to do just this, using longitudinal, neighborhood-level crime, and voucher utilization data in 10 large US cities. We test whether the presence of additional voucher holders leads to elevated crime, controlling for neighborhood fixed effects, time-varying neighborhood characteristics, and trends in the broader sub-city area in which the neighborhood is located. In brief, crime tends to be higher in census tracts with more voucher households, but that positive relationship becomes insignificant after we control for unobserved differences across census tracts and falls further when we control for trends in the broader area. We find far more evidence for an alternative causal story; voucher use in a neighborhood tends to increase in tracts that have seen increases in crime, suggesting that voucher holders tend to move into neighborhoods where crime is elevated.

Do Foreclosures Cause Crime?

Do Foreclosures Cause Crime?
Furman Center

Ellen, Ingrid, Johanna Lacoe and Claudia Sharygin
02/01/2012

Foreclosures affect not only individual homeowners, but also the crime levels of the surrounding neighborhood. This study found that neighborhoods with concentrated foreclosures see an uptick in crime for each foreclosure notice issued. These effects are pronounced in hardest hit neighborhoods; that is, those with concentrated foreclosures. The report suggests that policing and community stabilizing efforts should prioritize areas with concentrated foreclosures, especially those where crime rates are already moderate to high.

A world without prisons: Improving prisoners' lives and transforming the justice system

A world without prisons: Improving prisoners' lives and transforming the justice system
Justice Now Teaching Case. The Electronic Hallway and Research Center for Leadership in Action, 2004. Available from https://hallway.org.

Foldy, E. G. & Walters, J.
01/01/2010

Cassandra Shaylor and Cynthia Chandler founded Justice Now in 2000. They push hard for prison abolition while advocating for better health care and conditions for prisoners in California's two largest women's prisons. They prioritize the leadership of prisoners, and offer interns the opportunity to work and meet with women inside prisons to learn firsthand about prisoners' human struggles as well as the policy implications of state sponsored violence. Their strategies include the following:

  • Conduct Legal Visits Inside Prisons to Expose and Challenge Human Rights Abuses: Shaylor, Chandler and the Justice Now interns spend as much time as possible inside prisons to uncover human rights abuses and organize to challenge them. They build relationships with women inside and become the eyes and ears to the outside.
  • Build Leadership Among Prisoners: Justice Now engages people in prison in the organization's work at every level. They also assist women who are already working as activists within the prisons.
  • Push the Prison Abolition Frontier: While Justice Now helps to improve health care and other conditions, they oppose prison reformation efforts. Instead they push for prison abolition.
  • Spread a Vision of a World Without Prisons: Through plays, music, oral histories and toolkits, the organization helps envision and promote a new approach to building lives, not locking people away.

In this leadership story Shaylor and Chandler, along with Justice Now interns and activists, describe their experiences in this case example.

An Empirical Assessment of NYPD’s "Operation Impact": A Targeted Zone Crime Reduction Strategy

An Empirical Assessment of NYPD’s "Operation Impact": A Targeted Zone Crime Reduction Strategy
June

Smith, D.C. & Purtell, R.
06/01/2007

Clearly in a time of shrinking resources, Operation Impact has earned its place as an empirically-validated crime-reduction tool worthy of continued adaptation in New York, and emulation in other cities facing resurgent crime, if they have the capacity to replicate the kind of careful analysis on which the implementation of Operation Impact was launched and its implementation has been tracked and managed.

What Happens to Potential Discouraged? Masculinity Norms and the Contrasting Institutional and Labor Market Experiences of Less affluent Black and White Men

What Happens to Potential Discouraged? Masculinity Norms and the Contrasting Institutional and Labor Market Experiences of Less affluent Black and White Men
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 609 no. 1, January 2007. pp. 153-180. 10.1177/0002716206296544

Royster, D.
01/01/2007

Though less affluent black and white boys and men adhere to similar gendered norms and aspirations and begin with similar labor market potential, they are often sorted into very different and unequal educational and labor market trajectories. Using national-level descriptive data and key qualitative studies of institutional processes, this article contrasts less affluent black and white men’s educational, labor market, and criminal justice system experiences and elucidates the processes of differentiation that reproduce those unequal patterns. In each institutional arena, less affluent black males pay a disproportionate price for enacting masculinity norms in comparison to white males. White boys and men are also presented with more desirable labor market options (and second-chance opportunities when they need help) that are denied their black male counterparts. This article suggests that only a complex strategy, which requires less affluent black men to resist more constructively while citizen groups hold institutions more publicly accountable, can enhance the labor market trajectories of black men.

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