Research Report Digest, Issue 5

May 2012

In NIJ’s Research Report Digest, you will find brief descriptions of studies in a variety of criminal justice disciplines, such as criminology and forensic sciences, and evaluations of technologies that are used 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 July through September 2011.

Find research reports related to:

Crime


Residence Restriction Legislation, Sex Crime Rates, and the Spatial Distribution of Sex Offender Residences
Author: Kelly M. Socia

This study examined the influence of housing limits on sex crime rates in New York State. It evaluates how limiting where sex offenders can live affects recidivism rates. The study examined the characteristics of counties that passed these policies. It also assessed whether these policies affect the spatial distribution of offender homes in upstate New York neighborhoods, and whether this spatial distribution is in turn associated with differences in county-level recidivistic sex crime rates. Laws ban these offenders from living within a given distance of certain places where children might gather. These policies, first passed in 1995 statewide and in 2005 at the county and local level, have become popular in the United States, but without proof of effectiveness. Little research on these policies exists. Most of it focuses on the unintended results that these policies cause for offenders, typically because of reduced housing choices. Results show that while housing limits are sometimes associated with the within- and between-neighborhood spatial distribution of offenders, there is no effect on recidivistic sex crime rates.

Read the complete report Residence Restriction Legislation, Sex Crime Rates, and the Spatial Distribution of Sex Offender Residences (pdf, 190 pages)

Forensic Sciences


Automated Detection and Prevention of Disorderly and Criminal Activities
Author: Nils Krahnstoever

This report describes a wide range of intelligent video capabilities relevant to law enforcement and corrections. These features can detect many different types of actions and alert operators about the onset of an event, which can enable early detection and possibly prevention of critical events. One of the main technical challenges was to detect events as well as motion and behavior patterns from tracks of people in crowded environments. The technology had to recognize common group and crowd motion patterns, and features such as crowd size, crowd speed, agitation level, and events such as group formation and dispersion. The detection and recognition must occur on noisy data from a video tracking system. A second technological challenge was to set up identity records of people based on their facial images in various environments. Once identity records exist, the systems can record associations between people and then make association graphs that represent the social connections between people. Researchers did a performance evaluation based on the data collected at the 2009 Mock Prison Riot. The analysis shows the current system has a roughly 70-percent chance of detecting disorderly or aggressive events in the prison environment and currently has a 20-percent chance of predicting the event before it occurs.

Read the complete report Automated Detection and Prevention of Disorderly and Criminal Activities (pdf, 128 pages)


Microscopic Analysis of Sharp Force Trauma in Bone and Cartilage: A Validation Study
Authors: Christian Crowder, Christopher W. Rainwater, and Jeannette S. Fridie

The analysis of toolmarks on bone and cartilage created by sharp force trauma (including knife cuts, stab wounds, chop marks, and saw marks) is a specialized examination within forensic anthropology. Previous research in this area has focused on identifying tool class characteristics, but lacks reported error rates for correctly identifying these characteristics. This study produced known error rates involved in discovering two class characteristics of knives based on the analysis of toolmarks on bone and cartilage created by a knife. The two class characteristics at issue were blade serration (serrated, partially serrated, and nonserrated) and the side of the edge bevel of the blade (left, right, or even). Although the partially serrated blades were sometimes difficult to distinguish from the serrated blades, the partially serrated blades did produce distinct signature patterns that were recognized by the experienced observers. When considering serrated and partially serrated blades as one group, the overall correct classification of blade serration for the study was 96 percent, and observer agreement was strong. Edge bevel was assessed with a reasonable degree of accuracy under model conditions (more than 83 percent), but not when bone was the substrate (less than 50 percent). Observer agreement was moderate, suggesting more research is needed to fix edge bevel accurately.

Read the complete report Microscopic Analysis of Sharp Force Trauma in Bone and Cartilage: A Validation Study (pdf, 58 pages)


Quantified Assessment of AFIS Contextual Information on Accuracy and Reliability of Subsequent Examiner Conclusions
Authors: Itiel Dror and Kasey Wertheim

This study examined the impact of using Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS) to help analysts, with attention to biasing effects on experts of AFIS information. The findings show that AFIS affects examiners, but in some ways more than others. No guidelines or stipulations exist about how fingerprint examiners may need to change their decisionmaking threshold when using AFIS. AFIS changes the way that comparisons are presented to an examiner. In non-AFIS searches, an examiner is often presented with a limited set of prints for comparison. In an AFIS setting, on the other hand, an examiner is presented with a ranked set of prints, beginning with what the AFIS algorithm has determined to be the most probable match. Most AFIS “hits” are provided as the top candidate on the list. Although this ranking may be useful information for the examiner, it may also create a bias. This research examined the potential biasing effects of ranking prints in an AFIS list. In the current study, thousands of AFIS lists were presented to 23 latent fingerprint examiners as part of their normal casework. The matching print was included in some of the lists. The position of the matching candidate image varied in the AFIS list, placing it either at the top, near the top, near the bottom, or at the bottom. The data show that the position of the matching print affected latent fingerprint examiners. This happened especially when they had less comparison time, but examiners were not affected by the scores of the matching prints. Mistaken decisions were more likely chosen from the top of the list. Such errors occurred even when the correct match was present further down the list.

Read the complete report Quantified Assessment of AFIS Contextual Information on Accuracy and Reliability of Subsequent Examiner Conclusions (pdf, 61 pages)


The Statistical Evaluation of Torn and Cut Duct Tape Physical End Matching
Authors: Frederic A. Tulleners and Jerome V. Braun

This study examined issues related to duct tape physical end matching. It includes criteria for describing the matching process, a protocol for training analysts in physical end matching, and statistically evaluating the associated error rates and overall accuracy. The research examined 1,800 torn-tape specimens and 400 cut-tape specimens. The study confirmed that it is possible to use physical end matching to identify duct tape samples as matching or nonmatching. Differences between analysts, brands, tape grades, tape color, and method of separation make varying contributions to misidentifications or inconclusive results. Brand and type grade are seemingly more important than color in their effect on an analyst in correctly identifying duct tape end matches. Scissor-cut tapes are seemingly more difficult to analyze than hand-torn tapes. However, there is no significant difference in difficulty of analysis between hand-torn tape and tape cut with a box cutter. Consistent tearing conditions do not influence an analyst’s ability to identify duct tape end matches. This study also showed the importance of peer review in duct tape analysis and its ability to reduce the number of misidentifications by analysts.

Read the complete report The Statistical Evaluation of Torn and Cut Duct Tape Physical End Matching (pdf, 90 pages)

Violence


Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence: Gendered and Contextual Effects on Adolescent Interpersonal Violence, Drug Use, and Mental Health Outcomes
Authors: Emily M. Wright, Abigail A. Fagan, and Courtney A. Crittenden

This study sought to build on research that shows that domestic violence increases the likelihood of negative outcomes for children. The study sought to add to this research by examining the following questions: What are the direct effects of domestic violence on youth’s violence, drug use, and internalizing symptoms? What are the main effects of neighborhood characteristics on rates of youth violence, drug use, and internalizing symptoms? Does the effect of domestic violence exposure vary across neighborhoods?

This study found that youth exposed to domestic violence were at risk for negative consequences. However, the size of these effects was smaller than found in many prior studies. In addition, some of the findings were not consistent with some of the literature related to neighborhood influences. Policy implications stemming from the current project include the need to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence and provide services to children exposed to violence to minimize its harmful effects. Prior research showed that domestic violence increases the likelihood of negative outcomes for children. Yet few studies have examined the multilevel nature of exposure among youth, or explored sex differences in the relationships.

Read the complete report Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence: Gendered and Contextual Effects on Adolescent Interpersonal Violence, Drug Use, and Mental Health Outcomes (pdf, 140 pages)


Teen Dating Violence: A Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography
Author: Priscilla Offenhauer

This annotated bibliography and summary of research identify significant research carried out in the decade since 1999 on the issue of dating violence among high school and middle school youth. The publication includes information about how adolescent dating violence is defined and measured. It examines the prevalence of such violence, the factors that influence dating violence for teens, and the types of programs that might be effective for prevention or intervention. The bibliography and summary cover quantitative and qualitative literature on the definition and prevalence of, as well as risk factors for, adolescent dating violence (also called teen relationship abuse). Commonly researched risk factors, correlates, or predictors of teen dating violence include demographic and community-level factors as well as family level, individual-level and situational risks. The literature survey also encompasses research on the harmful effects of dating violence during the current relationship and in future relationships. Finally, the bibliography and summary cover the literature on the effectiveness of prevention programs and on responses to the issue of dating violence in the law and legal systems.

Read the complete report Teen Dating Violence: A Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography (pdf, 92 pages)

Date Created: May 23, 2012