Research Report Digest, Issue 3
In NIJ's Research Report Digest, you will find brief descriptions of studies in various criminal justice disciplines, such as criminology and forensic sciences, and evaluations of technologies in the law enforcement and corrections fields.
This issue includes reports based on NIJ-funded research that were added to the NCJRS Abstracts Database from January-March 2011.
Find research reports related to:
Financial Abuse of Elderly People vs. Other Forms of Elder Abuse: Assessing Their Dynamics, Risk Factors, and Society’s Response
Authors: Shelly L. Jackson and Thomas L. Hafemeister
This study examined the financial exploitation of elderly people compared to other forms of elder maltreatment in a domestic setting, i.e., physical abuse, neglect and combinations of financial exploitation and physical abuse or neglect (“hybrid” maltreatment). Elderly people who experienced financial exploitation lost a considerable amount of money and other assets, an average of $87,967. Most did not recover any of their lost funds. The researchers learned that adult protective services caseworkers perceived financial exploitation cases as more difficult to investigate than physical abuse or neglect cases. They also believed that police and prosecutors were less likely to pursue financial cases. The researchers made various suggestions about how to correct these problems.
Researching and Rethinking Sex Trafficking: The Movement of Chinese Women to Asia and the United States for Commercial Sex
Authors: James O. Finckenauer and Ko-lin Chin
This report is an analysis of the illicit movement of women from China to destinations throughout Asia and the United States for prostitution. The study focuses on the economic aspects of smuggling, trafficking and prostitution. It also examines the social adjustment and settlement patterns of the women, their victimization and exploitation by traffickers and sex industry operators, and the individual and group characteristics of traffickers and their links with gangs and organized crime. Economic factors were the driving force behind the women’s choices. These women choose to participate in commercial sex for economic reasons. Providing alternatives would reduce the appeal and motivational factors that fuel the sex trafficking of Chinese women.
A Review of Spanish-Language Literature From Latin America on Sex Trafficking
Author: Sheldon X. Zhang
This report compiles and examines publications on sex trafficking by Latin American researchers. It classifies the literature by research orientation (empirical versus not empirical), assesses research methods and designs, summarizes the main findings and policy implications, and includes a bibliography that enables English-speaking researchers to find the literature. Most of the literature (61 percent) came from nongovernmental organizations, and about 12 percent came from academic journals. Analysts from international or nongovernmental organizations composed the largest group of authors (42 percent). Nearly two-thirds of the literature addressed the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Many authors identified multiple factors as causes of sex trafficking, including poverty, gender inequality, patriarchal culture, inadequate employment opportunities, education, drug addiction and various forms of violence.
Read the complete report A Review of Spanish-Language Literature From Latin America on Sex Trafficking (pdf, 111 pages)
Trafficking in Meaning: Law, Victims, and the State
Author: Alicia W. Peters
This report examines anti-trafficking laws and policies in the United States. It focuses on the diverse meanings and effects of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 for criminal justice authorities, nongovernmental organizations and victims of trafficking in the New York metropolitan area. This research examines distinctions between the TVPA as written, as understood by the various actors for whom it has relevance, and as carried out; it examines how beliefs about trafficking and sex intersect with these three angles of inquiry.
Read the complete report Trafficking in Meaning: Law, Victims, and the State (pdf, 273 pages)
The Historically Black College and University Campus Sexual Assault (HBCU-CSA) Study
Authors: Christopher P. Krebs, Christine H. Lindquist, and Kelle Barrick
This study documents the prevalence of sexual assault (rape and other unwanted sexual contact) on historically Black college and university campuses. It also examines associated personal and behavioral factors, context effects, and reporting, with campus police and service-provider perspectives on sexual victimization and student attitudes toward law enforcement and prevention measures. Several practices improved responses to sexual assault incidents. These included having an official sexual assault protocol, referring sexual assault victims to the university’s health or crisis centers, campus law enforcement keeping a publicly available daily crime log, and campus police providing annual crime reports.
Read the complete report The Historically Black College and University Campus Sexual Assault (HBCU-CSA) Study (pdf, 93 pages)
The Greenbook Initiative Final Evaluation Report
Author: ICF International
The Greenbook Initiative (GI) consists of guidelines proposed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges for intervening effectively in cases of domestic violence and child maltreatment. This final evaluation report assesses the extent to which GI implementation helped cross-system and within-system change and practice in child welfare agencies, dependency courts and domestic-violence service providers. The evaluation found that GI sites undertook major collaborative efforts intended to improve practices, services and outcomes for children and families. Despite conflicts, sites reported that success of their collaborations was one of the lasting achievements of the Greenbook Initiative.
Read the complete report The Greenbook Initiative Final Evaluation Report (pdf, 123 pages)
A Randomized Trial of Healthy Families New York (HFNY): Does Home Visiting Prevent Child Maltreatment?
Authors: Kimberly DuMont, Kristen Kirkland, Susan Mitchell-Herzfeld, Susan Ehrhard-Dietzel, Monica L. Rodriguez, Eunju Lee, China Layne, and Rose Greene
This study evaluated the effectiveness of a state-administered home visit program, Healthy Families New York, based on the Healthy Families America (HFA) model, in preventing child maltreatment and risk of delinquency. This study presents evidence to suggest that involving families in home visiting services early on promotes positive experiences within the home during the early years of life for both the mother and child. These benefits include healthier birth outcomes, healthy parenting and positive school experiences. Researchers concluded that HFA-based programs can produce lasting effects with a diverse population.
Analysis of Footwear Impression Evidence
Author: Sargur N. Srihari
Crime scenes often include impressions of footwear. The quality and wide variability of these impressions and the large number of footwear outsole designs makes their manual analysis time-consuming and difficult. The goal of this research was to develop new computational methods that will help forensic footwear examiners. The study addressed two scenarios faced by the forensic examiner. First, in the investigative phase, the task is to determine the source of an impression given a known set of outsole prints. Second, in the prosecutorial phase, the task is to decide whether particular impression evidence is from a known suspect’s shoe with a quantification of likeness and uncertainty. The results reported are among the first to achieve automation for matching crime-scene prints to a database of known prints.
Read the complete report Analysis of Footwear Impression Evidence (pdf, 89 pages)
NIJ Controlled Substances Case Processing Study
Authors: Kevin J. Strom, Hope Smiley McDonald, Peter R. Stout, Jeri D. Ropero-Miller, and Jamia Bachrach
This study examined how controlled substances (CS) cases are processed in crime laboratories. It describes the role that CS evidence plays in prosecutors’ charging decisions, pretrial plea negotiations and posttrial convictions. The study also gained descriptive information from U.S. jurisdictions that can be used in identifying problems and developing systemic solutions to backlogs of CS cases and other inefficiencies in these forensic systems. The findings show that jurisdictions vary significantly in how they process and analyze CS evidence. The study identified a need for more uniform procedures and standards for filing and analyzing CS evidence. From a law enforcement perspective, the findings show that policies that are more systematic should be in place for evidence retention and storage.
Read the complete report NIJ Controlled Substances Case Processing Study (pdf, 103 pages)
The Report of the International Association for Identification, Standardization II Committee
Authors: Joseph Polski, Ron Smith, and Robert Garrett
This report presents the findings and recommendations of the International Association for Identification (IAI), Standardization II Committee, which was charged with reexamining the following conclusion about fingerprint matching: “…no valid basis exists at this time for requiring that a pre-determined minimum number of friction ridge characteristics must be present in two impressions in order to establish positive identification.” Based on its research, deliberations and findings, the Committee recommends the IAI replace the 1973 Position Statement, thus changing the official position of the IAI related to friction ridge examinations. The recommended change would read as follows: “There currently exists no scientific basis for requiring a minimum amount of corresponding friction ridge detail information between two impressions to arrive at an opinion of single source attribution.”
Advanced In-Car Video System
Author: Indiana Forensic Institute
The objective of this project was to develop a prototype intelligent in-car video system with higher image quality and machine-based video analysis of the incoming video stream to detect critical events during a routine police traffic stop. Detecting the critical events would result in certain automated decision-making, the simplest of which is to alert police headquarters and call for backup help. Other automated decisions on detection of critical events would include recording the scene with a higher resolution video camera. The project succeeded in building a computer system that analyzes video and identifies certain critical events.
Read the complete report Advanced In-Car Video System (pdf, 38 pages)
Behind the Badge: Management Guidelines for Impacts to Body Armor
Authors: Cynthia Bir, Joe Cecconi, Andrew Dennis, Mary Jo McMullen, and Christian Sloane
This report presents guidelines for procedures to follow when a law enforcement officer has suffered an injury underneath his or her body armor. Over the past several years, an interdisciplinary review panel reviewed the specifics of officers who have suffered “behind armor blunt trauma.” This panel identified some key findings, including the need for routine medical care when an incident has occurred. As part of this finding, a medical subcommittee meeting gathered, and specific guidelines for officer care have been developed. As new information and cases become available, these guidelines will be updated and sent to the larger medical community.
Read the complete report Behind the Badge: Management Guidelines for Impacts to Body Armor (pdf, 3 pages)
Draft Technical Report for SECURES Demonstration in Hampton and Newport News, Virginia
Authors: Michael Litch and George A. Orrison, IV
This draft technical report presents an evaluation and review of the use and initiatives of the SECURES acoustic gunshot detection system in Newport News and Hampton, Va. The evaluation was conducted by an independent third party based on research and statistical data collected during SECURES operation. According to the live-fire tests conducted, the SECURES system accurately detected handguns being fired. In addition, the ability of the SECURES system to find where gunshots were fired was accurate, often localizing the test-shot location within a 10-foot radius. The evaluation also showed there were signs that public awareness of the SECURES system may produce a decrease in the number of gunshot-related 911 calls.
Draft Technical Report for SECURES Demonstration in San Bernardino County - Bloomington Area
Author: Planning Systems, Inc.
This draft technical report provides a review of the improvements to the technical tools used in placing the SECURES acoustic gunshot detection system in San Bernardino County, Calif. It also reviews the use and initiatives and presents findings from an evaluation of the SECURES placement conducted by an independent third party. Improvements to the SECURES display software provided dispatch personnel with better tools for increasing the accuracy in defining and sending the gunshot locations to patrol units. The SECURES system was used as intended. However, the evaluation was limited. The area in which SECURES was used netted few gunshot alerts.
Final Technical Report for In-Car Video Project
Author: Alabama Department of Public Safety
This report is an evaluation of the use and performance of the in-car video project managed by the Alabama Department of Public Safety. The goals of this project were to increase safety for citizens and officers, ensure officer integrity and increase conviction rates by 10 percent for driving under the influence. The evaluation found the project has been plagued with problems involving defective equipment. Researchers had expected to find improved officer safety. However, the equipment was so unreliable that there was no way to collect enough observational data about officer integrity and use. There was a decrease in DUI conviction rates for 2007 and 2008. However, these findings may be attributed to the general declining numbers of DUI citations as well as other programs that affected DUI case outcomes.
Read the complete report Final Technical Report for In-Car Video Project (pdf, 16 pages)
Standoff Detection of Concealed Weapons Using a Terahertz Illuminator With an Uncooled Imager
Author: Lothar Moeller
The goal of the project was to study and develop the fundamentals of a handheld Terahertz (THz) imager for concealed weapon detection. The project developed for such THz imagers two different kinds of optics, an active illumination scheme and detector technology. Both refractive and reflective lens systems were simulated, made, lab tested and characterized. The project experimentally confirmed that both designs approach the theoretical limit for best performance for spatial resolution. All phases of the lens and illuminator development produced valuable experience, not only by discovering performance limits, but also by exploring manufacturing feasibility. The experience gained through the project is essential in the next design phase for handheld THz imagers. Although a final product is years off, the results show that its availability will become a reality.
Standoff Through-the-Wall Imaging Sensor
This report describes an ultra wide band radar system that can map the inside of a building and find people inside. The small, portable imaging prototype system can be set up quickly and run remotely through either a wired or wireless Ethernet link under battery power for 2 hours. Control and display functions are performed by an off-the-shelf laptop computer. Tests of the system show that it can image the inside of a building and detect motion through multiple internal walls and reinforced concrete outer walls from 30 meters.
Read the complete report Standoff Through-the-Wall Imaging Sensor (pdf, 29 pages)
Cutting Edge of Technology: Enhancing Local and State Law Enforcement’s Understanding and Use of Emerging Technology, Final
Author: International Association of Chiefs of Police
This report discusses the achievements of the Cutting Edge Technology program. It describes the development of comprehensive digital in-car camera minimum performance specifications. In addition, it includes a statistical analysis of the Police Pursuit Database of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Digital video cameras in police care are becoming more common. Assessing the true capabilities of these systems will enable law enforcement agencies to use video equipment that protects officers. Efficient use will collect video evidence that meets court requirements.
Faith-Based Corrections and Reentry Programs: Advancing a Conceptual Framework for Research and Evaluation
Authors: Janeen Buck Willison, Diana Brazzell, and KiDeuk Kim
This study surveyed faith-based in-prison and reentry programs across the United States to identify key program characteristics. Survey findings show varying characteristics among faith-based programs, even among programs representing the same faith tradition. An analysis of the survey responses suggests that faith-based programs are distinguished by the manner and degree to which faith and spirituality are reflected in program identity, religious activities, staff and volunteers and key outcomes. Program outcomes ranked as most relevant to program objectives were the deepening of personal spiritual commitment, reduced offending, and reduced use of drugs and alcohol. Overall, the programs in the respondent sample were most likely to seek partnerships with community-based organizations and the faith community, including faith-based nonprofits.
One Year Longitudinal Study of the Psychological Effects of Administrative Segregation
Authors: Maureen L. O’Keefe, Kelli J. Klebe, Alysha Stucker, Kristin Sturm and William Leggett
This study evaluated the psychological effects of long-term segregation on offenders, particularly those with mental illness, and examined the conditions that existed in the Colorado prison system. The results did not support the hypotheses of the study, which expected there would be a worsening over time in reported behavior and that this change would be worse for inmates with mental illness in administrative segregation (AS). However, significant changes were found to occur over time and they tended to be towards improvement; in addition, the improvement tended to occur more often for inmates with mental illness. When comparisons of the AS group were made to the relevant comparison groups, there was no sign that the segregation group’s behavior and attitudes declined over time in comparison to the general population groups.
Orleans Parish Prison Ten-Year Inmate Population Projection
Authors: James Austin, Wendy Ware and Roger Ocker
This report provides a 10-year projection of the Orleans Parish Prison population to be housed by the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office. Projections could be used to decide the need to build new jails to house people who were incarcerated under current state and local law and criminal justice policies. The current and future size of a jail population is largely the product of several factors that are beyond the control of the Sheriff. Demographic, socioeconomic, crime, arrest, court processing and other factors, contribute to the two major forces that produce a jail population: admissions and length of stay. This report documents those trends and estimates the long-term effects of current trends on the projected size of the Orleans Parish jail population.
Read the complete report Orleans Parish Prison Ten-Year Inmate Population Projection (pdf, 39 pages)