Research Report Digest, Issue 1
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-September
Find research reports related to:
Intersection of Genes, the Environment, and Crime and Delinquency: A Longitudinal Study of Offending
Author: Kevin M. Beaver
The findings show that both the environment and genes substantially contribute to the study of offending behaviors. To stay
informed on the growing body of research that shows strong genetic influences on all types of behaviors and personality traits,
criminology must make room for biosocial explanations of crime and criminality. Biosocial criminology has relevance for explaining
the age-crime curve, racial and gender gaps in delinquent and criminal involvement, and persisting criminal behavior over
long periods. This paper examines the direct, indirect, and interactive effects of five different genetic polymorphisms on
Read the complete report Intersection of Genes, the Environment, and Crime and Delinquency: A Longitudinal Study of Offending (pdf, 430 pages).
Identifying Gendered Trajectories of Offending for a Panel of First Time Youth Offenders: Exploring the Influence of Time-Stable
Author: Cynthia Weaver
Results suggest that prior maltreatment predicted moderate to higher level offending for both juvenile males and females.
Living in a blended family (mother and stepfather or father and stepmother), living with grandparents, and living with relatives
when the first offense took place all correlated with a moderate offending trajectory for boys.
Read the complete report Identifying Gendered Trajectories of Offending for a Panel of First Time Youth Offenders: Exploring the Influence of Time-Stable
Covariates (pdf, 106 pages).
Testing a Model of Domestic Abuse Against Elder Women and Perceived Barriers to Help-Seeking: Comparing Victim and Non-Victim
Authors: Frederick L. Newman, Laura Seff and Richard Beaulaurier
This study examined perceived barriers to help-seeking by female victims of domestic abuse ages 50 and older compared to the
perceived barriers for women in the same age group who had not been victims of such abuse. The analyses found that perceived
barriers to help-seeking involve six factors that are present in distinctive ways based on the severity of abuse, race and
ethnicity, relationship with the abuser, sex of the abuser and age. The six factors are self-blame, secrecy, abuser behaviors,
emotional gridlock (hopelessness, powerlessness, protection of family members and image), informal external responses and
formal system responses.
Read the complete report Testing a Model of Domestic Abuse Against Elder Women and Perceived Barriers to Help-Seeking: Comparing Victim and Non-Victim
Responses (pdf, 119 pages).
Community-Based Violence Prevention: An Assessment of Pittsburgh's One Vision One Life Program.
Authors: Jeremy M. Wilson, Steven Chermak and Edmund F. McGarrell
In 2003, Pittsburgh witnessed a 49-percent increase in homicides, prompting a "grassroots" creation and implementation of
the One Vision One Life anti-violence strategy. This initiative used a problem-solving, data-driven model, including street-level
intelligence, to intervene in intensifying disputes, and seeks to place youth in suitable social programs. This evaluation
found that following implementation of the program, the average monthly number of homicides increased in one of three target
neighborhoods. The average number of aggravated assaults and gun assaults increased in all three areas. The researchers offered
a number of theories about why the program was not as successful as similar programs elsewhere in the country. Prominent among
these is that the community outreach workers may not have focused enough of their efforts on the highest risk people. The
researchers also suggested that the community outreach workers might have had too many disparate duties, ranging from counseling
young people to attending anti-violence rallies. Consequently, they did not have opportunities to specialize in the tasks
that they were best at. This report gives an analysis of the program, which is modeled on similar efforts in Chicago and Boston.
Read the complete report Community-Based Violence Prevention: An Assessment of Pittsburgh's One Vision One Life Program (pdf, 187 pages).
Batterer Intervention Systems in California: An Evaluation
Authors: Dag MacLeod, Ron Pi, David Smith and Leah Rose-Goodwin
This study examined the different ways that courts and departments of probation run batterer intervention programs. It examined
a sample of more than 1,000 men who were enrolled in batterer intervention programs across five jurisdictions in California.
The researchers said they believed that the men in the programs were not representative of the larger problem of domestic
violence. They generally had low levels of education attainment, were poor, majority Hispanic, and had lengthy criminal records.
More than one-third of the men in the sample still lived with their victims. The programs incorporated multiple approaches
to working with domestic violence offenders. There was no statistical association at all between programs and an offender’s
likelihood of re-offense. Offenders’ rates of program completion varied, and the strongest predictors of re-offending following
intake in a program were the individual characteristics of the offenders. Men who were more educated, older, had shorter criminal
histories and did not display clear signs of drug or alcohol dependence had a lower likelihood of re-arrest.
Read the complete report Batterer Intervention Systems in California: An Evaluation (pdf, 151 pages).
Tribal Crime and Justice
Review of Research on Alcohol and Drug Use, Criminal Behavior, and the Criminal Justice System Response in American Indian
and Alaska Native Communities
Author: Darryl Wood
This report presents a summary and analysis of literature on substance use and alcohol- and drug-related crime in American
Indian and Alaskan Native communities. National surveys show people in these communities are more likely than the general
public to report symptoms of alcohol and drug use disorders as defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Alcohol and drug use among Native American youth has been the subject of much
research, most of which shows a higher lifetime prevalence compared to the general population. A much higher proportion of
crimes where American Indians and Alaska Natives were perpetrators or victims involved alcohol use than illicit drug use.
Read the complete report Review of Research on Alcohol and Drug Use, Criminal Behavior, and the Criminal Justice System Response in American Indian
and Alaska Native Communities (pdf, 111 pages).
Lessons Learned in Implementing the First Four Tribal Wellness Courts
Author: Karen Gottlieb
The "lessons learned" presented in this paper were drawn from the experiences of the first four tribal wellness courts (drug
courts): Hualapai (Arizona), Blackfeet (Montana), Fort Peck reservation (Montana), and Poarch Creek (Alabama). Although these tribal drug courts had distinct experiences in planning and carrying out court procedures and programs, they
displayed a similar pattern of strengths and weaknesses. The first of 10 lessons discussed is to develop a strong structure
for the court team. The responsibility of the team is to integrate the members’ skills and backgrounds in achieving a holistic
approach to treating court participants who have substance abuse problems. The team should consist of representatives from
across the reservation, including tribal elders and others who embody traditional tribal values. The second lesson is to use
the informed consent model for admittance to the court program, which involves selecting referral points and the use of legal
procedures that protect the individual’s due-process rights. The third lesson is to assess readiness for change in potential
participants through legal and clinical screening for eligibility. A fourth lesson is to integrate culture, not religion,
into the court, which involves providing access to holistic, structured, and phased substance abuse treatment services that
incorporate culture and tradition. Other lessons discussed range from overseeing participants during times when illegal acts
are likely to occur to early outreach within the community.
Read Lessons Learned in Implementing the First Four Tribal Wellness Courts (pdf, 60 pages) or an executive summary Process and Outcome Evaluations in Four Tribal Wellness Courts (pdf, 18 pages).
Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Drug Court
Author: Karen Gottlieb
This report presents the method, findings and recommendations of an evaluation of the drug court of the Poarch Band of Creek
Indians, located in southwestern Alabama near the Florida border. The outcome part of the evaluation found no statistically
significant relationship between completion status and recidivism. Graduates were as likely to be arrested again as the terminated
participants. The positive changes — increases in self-esteem and decreases in substance abuse behavior — seen in many of
the participants show that some achieved successful rehabilitation. The drug court’s strengths were determined to outweigh
the weaknesses. In 2005, the program admitted 28 participants with alcohol and drug-related offenses. Fifteen of the participants
graduated, eight were terminated, and five were current participants.
Read the complete report Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Drug Court (pdf, 107 pages).
Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Hualapai Wellness Court
Author: Karen Gottlieb
This report presents the method, findings, and recommendations of an evaluation of the Hualapai Wellness Court (HWC) of the
Hualapai Tribe in northwestern Arizona. The court provided access to holistic, phased substance-abuse treatment and rehabilitation
services for both adults and juveniles that incorporated tribal culture and tradition. The HWC worked from March 1999 through
October 2003, serving 64 adults and 36 juveniles with substance abuse problems related to their offending. The evaluation
found no statistically significant relationship between graduation from the program and later recidivism; graduates were as
likely to be arrested again for an alcohol or drug offense as participants who were terminated from the program through arrest
or noncompliance. However, graduates were slower to re-offend than terminated participants. The recidivism rate for all adults
who participated in the program was 54 percent. Most arrests were for public intoxication. The outcomes for the juvenile Wellness
Court were less clear; 75 percent of the juvenile participants had an arrest after completing the program. Unlike the adults,
there was no difference in time to recidivism between those who graduated and those who did not. There were success stories,
however. Several HWC participants commented that they "slowed down" their alcohol and drug use, and they were not arrested
as often after participating in the program. In addition, some were able to stay on a job and provide for themselves and their
Read the complete report Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Hualapai Wellness Court (pdf, 144 pages).
Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Fort Peck Tribes Community Wellness Court
Author: Karen Gottlieb
This report presents the method, findings and recommendations of the evaluation of The Fort Peck Tribes Community Wellness
Court in northeastern Montana (Assimboine and the Sioux tribes). The court served from February 1998 through September 2003
as a drug court for drug-abusing juvenile tribe members, with a focus on integrating tribal cultural values and traditions
in treatment regimens. Of the first 50 participants, 15 graduated and 35 were terminated for various reasons. Forty-five of
the first 50 participants (90 percent) were arrested on criminal charges, usually disorderly conduct, after leaving the program.
There was no statistically significant relationship between completion status and recidivism; graduates were as likely to
be arrested for an alcohol or drug charge as were terminated participants. The evaluation recommends that besides offering
participants treatment, wellness courts must offer education, job training and a focus on a positive future.
Read the complete report Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Fort Peck Tribes Community Wellness Court (pdf, 149 pages).
Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Blackfeet Alternative Court
Author: Karen Gottlieb
This report presents the method, findings and recommendations of an evaluation of the Blackfeet Alternative Court. This program
of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana provided substance-abusing tribal offenders with access to holistic, structured and phased
substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation services that incorporated tribal culture and tradition. The evaluation of the
Blackfeet Alternative Court, which operated from January 1998 to September 2000, found no statistically significant relationship
between completion status and recidivism. Graduates were just as likely to be arrested for a drug or alcohol charges after
leaving the program as were participants who were terminated from the program, fled the jurisdiction, or were in the program
when it ended. The court had a strong treatment component that included a full-time chemical dependency counselor, integrating
tribal culture into court actions during its last year, and a residential treatment center for families. The court also had
a team committed to the wellness court idea. On the other hand, a series of setbacks cumulatively undermined the court’s achievement
of its objectives. The setbacks included core team changes, a judge who was not perceived as a team player, appellate decisions
critical of alternative court procedures and acceptance into the program of drug dealers who were not addicts.
Read the complete report Process and Outcome Evaluations of the Blackfeet Alternative Court (pdf, 115 pages).
New Forensics Tool: Development of an Advanced Sensor for Detecting Clandestine Graves
Authors: Arpad Vass, Cyril V. Thompson and Marc Wise
Using a specific and unique database of human decompositional odors, this project developed sensors that can find clandestine
graves. The detector was built with off-the-shelf parts and is designed to detect the major classes of chemical compounds
relevant in human decomposition. It is self-contained, portable and built for field use. The detector provides both visual
and auditory cues to the operator. The detector is called the LABRADOR, an acronym for “lightweight analyzer for buried remains
and decomposition odor recognition.” Batteries, if fully charged, will last up to six hours of constant use. The cost for
a unit is about $1,000-$1,500. The database of odors that emanate from human cadavers was developed at Oak Ridge National
Laboratory with the University of Tennessee’s Anthropological Research Facility, and it continues to be developed for long-term
Read the complete report New Forensics Tool: Development of an Advanced Sensor for Detecting Clandestine Graves (pdf, 39 pages).
3D-ID: Geometric Morphometric Classification of Crania for Forensic Scientists
Authors: Dennis E. Slice and Ann Ross
This paper describes the features of the software titled 3D-ID, which is a cross-platform package that allows forensic practitioners
to use known geometric morphometrics in determining the sex and ancestry of unknown cranial remains. The practitioner provides
the program with the coordinates of a subset of anatomical points recorded from a cranium of interest. The program then extracts
a comparable set of crania of known sex and ancestral classification from a reference database of more than 1,000 people.
It tries to assign the unknown subject to one of the available classes for which there are enough references. Investigators
can then use this information and other sources in their professional assessment of the sex and ancestry of the unknown subject.
This report presents systematic procedures for program setup and system requirements.
Read the complete report 3D-ID: Geometric Morphometric Classification of Crania for Forensic Scientists (pdf, 27 pages).
Geometric Morphometric Tools for the Classification of Human Skulls
Authors: Ann H. Ross, Dennis E. Slice and Shanna E. Williams
This project developed population-specific classifications and associated software to help forensic scientists to characterize
human skulls. The project compiled a population database drawn from three-dimensional landmark coordinate data of human cranial
material that will aid in future victim identifications. It also developed a confirmed population-specific procedure for classifying
unknown individuals. In addition, it developed cross-platform software for use in forensic applications of human identification.
The project compiled a database (n=1,086) of craniofacial three-dimensional landmark coordinate data that will aid in future
victim identification. It also integrated this information into task-specific software for assigning membership probabilities
in previously defined sex and ancestral groups to unknown remains. Three-dimensional coordinates of 75 craniofacial landmarks
were collected from skeletal collections of European, African and Hispanic populations.
Read the complete report Geometric Morphometric Tools for the Classification of Human Skulls (pdf, 59 pages).
Applications of Molecular Genetics to Human Identity
Author: Meredith A. Turnbough
This paper discusses methods for extracting DNA from human skeletal remains. The project focused on developing better methods
for analyzing DNA from degraded, aged, or otherwise compromised skeletal remains. Steps for ensuring that DNA forensic technology
is used to its full potential to solve missing persons cases and identify human remains are explored. The project developed
improved methods for extracting DNA from human bones, including methods of amplifying the total pool of DNA prior to analysis
and using DNA repair enzymes to improve results.
Read the complete report Applications of Molecular Genetics to Human Identity (pdf, 104 pages).
Mass Spectral and Chromatographic Studies on a Series of Regioisomers and Isobaric Derivatives Related to Methylenedioxymethamphetamines
Author: Tamer A. Awad
This paper evaluates methods for identifying MDMA, a drug of abuse commonly known as Ecstasy. It examines ways forensic laboratories
can accurately distinguish the drug from other drugs that have a similar molecular makeup. In the United States, continued
designer drug exploration in clandestine laboratories led to legislation (the Controlled Substances Analog Act) to upgrade
the penalties associated with use of all compounds of a series. Thus, identification of MDMA and similar drugs is essential,
and a significant task for forensic laboratories that are involved in prosecuting these cases.
Read the an abstract of the complete report Mass Spectral and Chromatographic Studies on a Series of Regioisomers and Isobaric Derivatives Related to Methylenedioxymethamphetamines.
Multi-Method Evaluation of Police Use of Force Outcomes: Final Report to the National Institute of Justice
Authors: Michael R. Smith, Robert J. Kaminski, Geoffrey P. Alpert, Lorie A. Fridell, John MacDonald and Bruce Kubu
This study focused on identifying factors related to injuries to police officers and citizens during use-of-force events.
Findings show that the use of physical force and hands-on control increase the risk of injury to officers and citizens. Increasing
levels of suspect resistance were associated with an increased risk of injury to both officers and suspects. The multiagency
analysis showed that the use of pepper spray by officers reduced the probability of injury to suspects by 70 percent, but
increased the probability of injury to officers by 21 to 39 percent. Conducted energy devices (CEDs), such as Tasers, significantly
reduced the probability of officer and suspect injuries, after controlling for other types of force and resistance. Apart
from officer force and suspect resistance, few other factors correlated with injury outcomes. In the multiagency models, male
suspects were twice as likely as females to be injured in a use-of-force event. The presence of a male suspect slightly increased
the risk of injury to officers compared to female suspects. In Seattle, Wash., where officer gender was available for inclusion
in the models, female officers were more than twice as likely as male officers to be injured in use-of-force events. The study
used a nationally representative survey of U.S. law enforcement agencies to provide an overview of how less-lethal force technologies,
training and policies are linked to use-of-force events. Data from three agencies were analyzed separately to identify predictors
of injuries to officers and citizens during use-of-force events. Use-of-force records from 12 police agencies were combined
and analyzed, and a longitudinal analysis was conducted to discover how CED use by two police departments affected injury
Read an executive summary and the complete report Multi-Method Evaluation of Police Use of Force Outcomes: Final Report to the National Institute of Justice (pdf, 173 pages).
Tracking Inmates and Locating Staff with Active Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID): Early Lessons Learned in One U.S. Correctional
Authors: Laura J. Hickman, Lois M. Davis, Edward Wells and Mel Eisman
This report presents early lessons learned from the field, drawn from the experiences of a corrections institution that used
active radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. This research had two primary goals. The first was to identify and
describe all U.S. correctional institutions that have bought or installed active RFID systems. The second was to provide an
objective source of information about the advantages and the challenges of using RFID in correctional settings. In recent
years, RFID, a tool used to track inmates and pinpoint the location of staff in duress situations, has been offered to jurisdictions
to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of correctional management. This technology consists of a device (or “tag”) that
emits radio wave signals within a network of sensors, receivers and monitors that record and display the tag’s unique identity
and location. This information can then be displayed on computer monitors and prompt alerts if one of any number of preprogrammed
conditions is triggered. The location information is archived so it can be played back later for use in post-incident investigations.
Read the full report Tracking Inmates and Locating Staff with Active Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID): Early Lessons Learned in One U.S. Correctional
Facility (pdf, 55 pages).
Evaluation of the Ridge House Residential Program: Final Report
Authors: Janeen Buck Willison, Caterina Gouvis Roman, Ashley Wolff, Vanessa Correa and Carly R. Knight
Findings from this study show that participation in the Ridge House Residential Program, a spiritually based, short-term transitional
housing program in Reno, Nev., did not have a statistically significant impact on re-arrest. Program completion, however,
was associated with a 16-percent decrease in the probability of re-arrest. The study also found that offenders who completed
the program had a lower incidence of property and person crimes. The main goal of the study was to discover the effectiveness
of the Ridge House program in reducing recidivism. Impact analyses compared recidivism outcomes for Ridge House participants
against a comparison group of parolees who were accepted into the program, but did not attend. The study examined recidivism
rates for a sample of 617 parolees (156 program participants and 461 comparison cases) affiliated with the Ridge House Residential
Read the full report Evaluation of the Ridge House Residential Program: Final Report (pdf, 92 ages).
Date Modified: July 11, 2011