Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Intergenerational Transmission of Crime

Intergenerational Transmission of Crime

A few days ago in class we discussed the intergenerational transmission of crime. I was not able to get into as much detail as I would have liked due to time restrictions and our use of a textbook, but I wanted to provide additional reading materials for those interested in this topic. These could be useful sources if you need to write a research paper on this topic or just have a genuine interest in the topic.

The Need for Higher Pay for Law Enforcement...with a Catch

The Need for Higher Pay for Law Enforcement...with a Catch

 This post is going to make the case for increasing pay for law enforcement officers...with a catch. The catch is that increased pay for law enforcement must be accompanied for increased public scrutiny, accountability, and a concerted push to hire law enforcement that are college educated. We cannot simply increase the pay of law enforcement without simultaneously increasing our expectations. The public must continue to scrutinize their local law enforcement to ensure they are upholding their stated missions and purpose, new measures of police performance must be created that extend beyond the volume of arrests they make, and poor performing officers (some might say "bad apples") must be promptly removed from their positions or switched into non-patrol positions.

Empirical examinations have consistently found that college educations are correlated with improved police performance. Police performance can be measured using a number of indicators such as communication skills, report writing abilities, the number of citizen complaints, receptiveness to new training standards, and even decision-making abilities (See Smith & Amodt, 1997 for example). Many departments have made efforts to increase their recruitment of college educated individuals by offering pay incentives, but this does not go far enough. Some research has even suggested using federal funding to increase the education levels of police officers (See Roberg & Bonn, 2004).

I must point out that individual departments and police administrators should not be blamed for a lack of college educated officers in departments. Like K-12 teachers, police have been undervalued in society for far too long. This means that society must come together and push for increased pay for the entire occupation of policing. That being said, police must realize that with increased pay and benefits comes increased scrutiny and accountability. Training should begin to focus more on deescalation tactics, and community policing should be embraced and practiced in every department.

Another shift needed to aid police departments nationwide would be to change from a crime control model to a treatment model for dealing with drugs in the United States. All it takes is one look at the newspaper's crime section to see that a bulk of arrests are for drug possession and distribution. If heavy handed policing is to be used for drugs, then the target offenders should be large-scale suppliers, not users or low-level dealers. The war on drugs has contributed to more women in prison (See sentencingproject.org fact sheet), more children with parents in prison (See sentencingproject.org fact sheet), and racial disparities across the American criminal justice system (Bobo & Thompson, 2006). All of the negative financial and social costs of the war on drugs, but essentially no positive outcome of the so-called war waged. Instead, it could be argued that police are feared and not trusted because of their role in enforcing failed polcies associated with the war on drugs.

It is time to let police officers be heroes to all of the community, and not the enforcers of failed policies rooted in political propaganda. It is time police officers are expected to have a college degree. It is time we start holding police accountable for poor performance. Finally, it is time we start paying law enforcement officers what they deserve. It is a tough job, with tough hours, and they deserve to be better compensated for their public service.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Peer-reviewed Open-Access Journals

Peer-reviewed Open-Access Journals

One of the favored outlets for scholarly work among criminologists, whether they are faculty or graduate students, are peer-reviewed journals. Many of them exist, and many of them do not have submission fees in the field of criminology. I will write another post at a later date addressing journal submission fees in more detail. Likewise, I will provide my own perception of journal rankings in a later post too. This entry will specifically talk about open-access journals in the fields of criminology and criminal justice. Open-access journals are journals that make their articles available online to the general public as soon as they are published. While some open-access journals charge extreme submission/publication fees or have questionable review processes, there are others that have prestigious editorial boards, stringent review process, and do not charge extreme submission/publication fees. This post will focus on some interesting criminology and criminal justice journals that make valuable contributions to the discipline. 

Open-access journals became more readily available because journals can now be published in their entirety online, without the need of ink, paper, or printing services. Another thing that makes open-access journals attractive to scholars is that they often fill niche areas of interest. Areas of interest that may not receive the attention they deserve in larger journals might find a home in these types of journals that cater to specific areas or methods of research.

Here is a list, in no particular order, of open-access journals relevant to criminology and criminal justice. Brief descriptions of their value or contribution to the discipline are discussed. If anyone cares to add one I may have missed, do not hesitate to comment, and I will be happy to add it to the list. After all, the internet is a large place and I might have missed something.

  • Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice and Criminology - As the name implies, this journal caters to criminal justice and criminology articles that use qualitative research methods. Arguably, this was desperately needed in the discipline because many journals seem to favor accepting articles that use advanced quantitative methods. I strongly recommend this journal.
  • Internet Journal of Criminology - This might be the most interesting journal on the list. It is an intriguing option because it uses an "open" peer review process to review articles. I have yet to see this type of review process with any other criminology or criminal justice journal.
  • International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy - This blind peer-reviewed journal is free to download and also does not charge publication fees. It's website boasts that it provides an outlet for critical studies concerning the challenges confronting criminal justice systems all over the world.
  • The Journal of Criminology,Criminal Justice, Law & Society - This interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal seeks to publish papers about the causes of crime, crime prevention, crime control, as well as papers about the social institutions and individuals involved in the criminal justice system.
  • Crime Science - Crime Science is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that publishes research articles, theoretical articles, systematic reviews, and even short contributions about current policy issues, crime trends, and justice practices. I stumbled across this journal because they have many articles that have been examining the crime decline nationally and internationally.
  • Health & Justice - As the name implies, this interdisciplinary journal bridges the gap between criminal justice research and health studies. It also publishes shorter scholarly contributions as well as meta analyses, as well as original research.
  • Law, Crime & History - This might be one of the most interesting journals I have stumbled across because of how it seeks to bridge the gap between history, law, and criminal justice studies.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mass Incarceration's Toll on America

Mass Incarceration's Toll on America

Mass Incarceration is one of the most important issues discussed in criminology and criminal justice classrooms. What have been the effects of mass incarceration? Did it lower crime? How much does it cost? These are just minor examples of the basic questions a student will be thinking about. So, let's try to address some of these questions and dig deeper into the issue of mass incarceration. 

Firstly, in very basic terms, what explains America's push towards mass incarceration? While many explanations are available to explain mass incarceration United States, the most basic explanation is that policy makers, the media, and the public have strong beliefs that incapacitation and deterrence reduce crime. That is, many believe that the rate at which we imprison people is related to reductions in crime rates. However, in Alfred Blumstein and Joel Wallman's book "The Crime Drop In America," William Spelman clearly points out that violent crime reductions would have occurred without expanding the use of prison. Furthermore, Graham Farrell published a study in 2013 on the crime drop in which he argued that theories of crime drops must pass five basic tests. Of the five criteria for suitable explanations of the crime drop, Farrell noted that rising prison populations only satisfied one. Many scholars have also pointed out that crime dropped in many nations across the world, and prison populations seemed to have not played a role in this trend. For instance, Finland actually reduced their prison population while the United States was busy expanding its own prison population. Other nations had stable prison populations but saw similar crime drops as witness in the United States. The point is that there seems to be strong evidence suggesting that conventional thought concerning incapacitation and deterrence philosophies is wrong. Mass incarceration's relationship with reduced crime rates is nowhere near as significant as conventional thought leads us to believe.

So, deterrence and incapacitation philosophies acted as a catalyst and fuel for mass incarceration. Mass incarceration did not contribute greatly to the United States' decline in crime. Then, what have been the effects of mass incarceration? Well, according to the sentencing project, there are 2.2 million people currently in jail or prison in the United States and incarceration has increased by over 500% in the last four decades. This makes the United States, commonly referenced as "the land of the free," the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world. No other nation incarcerates at a higher rate than the United States. We incarcerate individuals at a rate over 6 times greater than our neighbor to the north, Canada. 

Worse yet, we do not incarcerate on equal terms. As you can see in the graphic below (thank you Sentencing Project), the lifetime likelihood of imprisonment for black men is 1 in 3 compared to 1 in 17 for white men. 

The increasing prison population in America does correlate nicely with something though -- The War on Drugs. As the war on drugs gained steam, prison populations increased.

The public often forgets that many people in prison will reintegrate into society. These individuals will need jobs to actively contribute to society, and their prison records will create additional employment hardships. Likewise, according to the sentencing project, the felony convictions that coincide with prison sentences has resulted in 5.8 million individuals not being legally allowed to vote. Furthermore, mass incarceration in the United States now means that 1 in every 50 children has a parent in prison. This is the very real impact of the combined impact of the war on drugs and mass incarceration -- increased women in prison, racial disparities in incarceration rates, many citizens without voting rights struggling with a multitude of collateral consequences associated with felony convictions, and an substantial amount of children with parents in prison.

Monday, March 20, 2017

APA Citation


One of the most common issues I deal with as a teacher is students needing help with APA citation. APA is the citation style used by the American Psychological Association. APA citation is commonly required in many undergraduate and graduate social science programs. I was lucky and had professors that taught me APA early, and they regularly reinforced the importance of properly citing sources. Truly, APA citation is not as difficult as it appears. All it really takes, is practice and repetition. Occasionally, there will be some harder to cite sources that you come across (citing court cases immediately comes to mind), but those are rare and there are resources to help give you quick answers. I will review those resources shortly.

First, I want to warn against using websites or applications that cite material for you. I will not provide links to these sites because they are unreliable and consistently have errors. Plus, any little change in APA style might not be quickly reflected in these applications. In fact, there are some applications that have easy to spot problems that "out" the students using them when I am reading their papers. Plus, you go to college to learn, so you might as well learn APA citation.

So, where can you go for help?

  • The best overall source for help with APA citation is without a doubt, the APA Purdue OWL (Purdue Online Writing Lab). I consider the Purdue OWL to be the best source of help for APA citation questions. They provide a user-friendly menu to find solutions for your problems, and also provide a "sample APA paper" that is very useful for comparing to your own research paper.
  • Another decent source for help is the APA Style Help page. They also have their own blog.
  • A third resource I have found is provided at Baker College's website. They have a useful APA Guide that includes links to APA tutorials and other resources. Again, I warn against using the links they provide for automatic citation applications.

 To conclude, APA may seem difficult to learn, but it is not ac scary as it may initially seem. While you may not ever truly master the citation style, you can easily learn the basics. As always, practice makes perfect. Thank you for reading.

For more information on my education, research interests, and publications, please check out Daniel Kavish on the web. you can also check out a short biography page for Daniel Kavish here.

Labeling Theory Research

What sparked my interest in criminology was the 2009 ASC (American Society of Criminology) article of the year - "The Labeling of Convicted Felons and Its Consequences for Recidivism"by Ted Chiricos, Kelle Barrick, William Bales, and Stephanie Bontrager about labeling theory and deferred adjudication. It challenged me to think about the deficiencies of conventional theories of crime, the possibilities of different alternatives to incarceration, and the consequences of felony convictions on future educational and occupational success.

Other noteworthy labeling theory research:
 Labeling theory is one of the most interesting theories in criminology and criminal justice. Politicians, the media, and general public tend to believe in a philosophy of deterrence. Thus, labeling theory challenges conventional thought and reasoning concerning the criminal justice system. I encourage readers to check out the labeling theory research listed above. These articles provide a great foundation for undergraduate research papers and serve well as assigned reading for courses about juvenile delinquency and criminal justice sanctioning.

Introducing Daniel Kavish, the criminology blogger!

Hello, my name is Daniel Kavish and this is my criminology blog. You can learn more about me at my personal website. This blog will highlight recent criminology and criminal justice research, provide discussion concerning recent noteworthy findings, and provide critical interpretations of statistics and research. Politicians and the media often cite criminal justice research with little regard for context. It is my hope that this blog will help dispel crime myths, promote critical thinking, and hopefully foster a new wave of interest in criminology and criminal justice. 

This blog will specifically feature posts that highlight resources that will help undergraduate and graduate students properly conduct research. This may include, but is not limited to, providing links to data that may benefit young scholars, sharing and critiquing relevant news stories, highlighting recent criminology research published in academic journals, or providing links to other criminology and criminal justice resources such as conference events, professional organizations, victim advocacy groups, and more!

I look forward to the future of this blog and hope that others find it to be a useful and entertaining resource.