Violent Crime

“Pathways to Persistence: Female Offending from 14 to 25” 

Caufmann Elizabeth, Monahan Kathryn C., and Thomas Gile April. (September 2015). Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology.  Accessed June 27, 2017

Study Abstract: While violent crime among females has nearly doubled, research on crime still tends to focus on male offending. To better understand the developmental patterns of female crime, this study identifies the trajectories of female offending from ages 14–25 years and examines the risk factors for persistent offending. Female trajectories and risk factors for offending are compared to those from a matched sample of males. Methods Participants include 172 serious (largely felony level) offending females and a matched sample of 172 males from the Pathways to Desistance study. Group-based trajectory modeling was used to identify patterns of female and male offending behavior (assessed via self-report) across 7 years. Results Findings indicate that there is great heterogeneity in criminal behavior among serious female offenders with roughly 7 % of females’ criminal careers persisting into adulthood. Notable differences in the risk factors for male and female offending trajectories were found. Females who persist in their criminal careers tend to be exposed to more violence in their lives, have more mental health problems, and experience more adversarial interpersonal relationships compared to those who desist. Conclusion Although the pathways of male and female offending may follow remarkably similar patterns, the underlying factors that distinguish among these trajectories are often different for females than for males. As such, there is great need for a more nuanced understanding of the most common precursors to persistent female offending.


The Association of Alcohol and Drug Use with Persistence of Violent Offending in Young Adulthood. 

White Helene, et al. (September 2015). Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology. Accessed June 27, 2017

Study Abstract: This study expanded upon an earlier study, which examined the associations between heavy drinking and persistence of serious violent offending through emerging adulthood (approximate age 25), by examining associations between alcohol, marijuana, and other drug use and disorders and persistence of serious violent offending through young adulthood (approximate age 36). Methods We used official records and self-reported longitudinal data from Black and White men from early adolescence through young adulthood (n = 391). Men were divided into four violence groups: non-violent, desisters, persisters, and very late-onsetters. Multinomial logistic regression analyses controlling for race and incarceration were used to compare these groups in terms of substance use in young adulthood and changes in use from emerging to young adulthood. Results Most previous serious violent offenders did not re-offend in young adulthood. Whereas alcohol use did not differ across groups, persisters and desisters, compared to non-violent men, were more likely to use hard drugs, deal drugs, have a lifetime substance use disorder diagnosis, and show larger decreases in alcohol and marijuana frequency from emerging to young adulthood. None of these measures differed between persisters and desisters except that persisters reported larger decreases in alcohol and marijuana use frequency. Conclusions The findings demonstrated reductions in serious violent offending during young adulthood and suggested that after adolescence, illicit drug use, compared to alcohol use, may play a more important role in initiation and maintenance of serious violent offending. Future research that examines the interrelations of drug use, drug culture, and violence is warranted.


Improving Public Safety and Reducing Recidivism: Police-Corrections Information Sharing and Collaboration.

The Violence Reduction Network (VRN). Accessed April 10, 2017.

Summary: The paper discusses information sharing is critical between local law enforcement and corrections agencies to improve officer safety, reduce recidivism, and improve the economy.

License Plate Readers: A Primer

June 16, 2016. The Violence Reduction Network (VRN). Accessed April 10, 2017

Summary: The primer explains that “The adoption and use of license plate reader (or license plate recognition) systems (LPR systems) by state, local, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies continues to increase. The integration of LPR systems can support and enhance enforcement and investigative capabilities through the collection of relevant data and expedite the time needed to compare vehicle license plates with lists of stolen, wanted, and other vehicles of interest. Examples of LPR system value include improving law enforcement’s ability to recover stolen vehicles, more quickly identifying a vehicle associated with an AMBER or SILVER alert, or identifying a vehicle registered or associated with a wanted individual.” The primer explains how law enforcement uses LPRs, policy aspects to consider when implementing an LPR program, resources available to law enforcement, and sample policies and procedures.

VRN Research Brief- Ceasefire: The Importance Effects of “Pulling Levers” Focused Deterrence Strategies on Crime.

The Violence Reduction Network (VRN). Accessed April 10, 2017

Summary: According to the research brief, “Law enforcement agencies use offender-based policing strategies to address crime by focusing resources and efforts on the small percentage of persons committing the greatest percentage of crimes. These “focused deterrence” or "pulling levers" strategies rely on research that has shown that a relatively small number of offenders are responsible for a large number of the crimes that are committed. Focused deterrence/pulling levers strategies are policing strategies that follow the core principles of deterrence theory.” The brief also summarizes seventeen studies related to violent crime deterrence.

Crime Places in Crime Theory

Eck, John E. and Weisburd, David L., Crime Places in Crime Theory (July 12, 2015). Crime and Place: Crime Prevention Studies, 4 (pp. 1-33); Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper. Accessed April 10, 2017.

Abstract from study: : Criminologists and crime prevention practitioners are increasingly aware of the importance of places of crime. A place is a very small area, usually a street corner, address, building, or street segment. A focus on crime places contrasts with a focus on neighborhoods…perspectives suggest the importance of places for understanding crime:  choice; routine activity theory; and crime pattern theory. Though these perspectives are mutually supportive, routine activity theory and crime pattern theory provide different explanations for crime occurring at different places. Five areas of research help us understand the importance of places: crime concentration about particular facilities (e.g., bars); the high concentration of crime at some addresses and the absence of crime at others; the preventive effects of various place features; the mobility of offenders; and studies of how offenders select targets. Concern has been expressed that efforts to prevent crime at specific locations will only move it to other, unprotected locations. Recent research suggests that these fears may be exaggerated, and that under some circumstances the opposite effect occurs: instead of crime displacing, the benefits of the prevention efforts diffuse to unprotected locations. This paper concludes with a review of the 14 original articles in this volume.

Human mobility in large cities as a proxy for crime.

Caminha C, Furtado V, Pequeno THC, Ponte C, Melo HPM, et al. (2017). PLOS ONE 12(2): e0171609. doi: (?)10.1371/journal.pone.0171609.  Accessed April 10, 2017

Abstract from paper: We investigate at the subscale of the neighborhoods of a highly populated city the incidence of property crimes in terms of both the resident and the floating population. Our results show that a relevant allometric relation could only be observed between property crimes and floating population. More precisely, the evidence of a superlinear behavior indicates that a disproportional number of property crimes occurs in regions where an increased flow of people takes place in the city. For comparison, we also found that the number of crimes of peace disturbance only correlates well, and in a superlinear fashion too, with the resident population. 

The Relationship between Firearm Ownership and Violent Crime.

Moore, Matthew D., and CariAnn M. Bergner (2016). Accessed April 10, 2017

Abstract from study: Abstract Criminologists and other researchers have attempted to understand whether there is a connection between firearm prevalence and crime. Some experts have argued that prevalence of firearms increases crime, while others have argued it reduces crime. The purpose of this study was to further investigate and clarify this relationship. The current analysis used suicide by firearm as a proxy for firearm ownership. Examining violent crime, homicide, rape, robbery, and assault for 1,997 counties in the United States, the findings indicate that increased prevalence of firearms was associated with increased violent crime, homicide, rape, robbery, and assault. The results of this study suggest that a decrease in prevalence of firearms has the potential to decrease violent crime in the United States.

Pulling Levers Focused Deterrence Strategies to Prevent Crime

Braga, Anthony A., and David L. Weisburg. 2012. No. 6 of Crime Prevention Research Review. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Accessed April 12, 2017.

Introduction from paper: This paper briefly reviews the research on the crime control effectiveness of pulling levers focused deterrence programs. “Deterrence theory posits that crimes can be prevented when the offender perceives that the costs of committing the crime outweigh the benefits (Gibbs 1975; Zimring and Hawkins 1973). Most discussions of the deterrence mechanism distinguish between general and special deterrence (Cook 1980). General deterrence is the idea that the general population is dissuaded from committing crime when it sees that punishment necessarily follows the commission of a crime. Special deterrence involves punishment administered to criminals with the intent to discourage them from committing crimes in the future. Much of the literature evaluating deterrence focuses on the effect of changing certainty, swiftness, and severity of punishment associated with certain acts on the prevalence of those crimes (Apel and Nagin 2011; Blumstein, Cohen, and Nagin 1978).” The study’s chapters include: Identifying Evaluations of Pulling Levers Focused Deterrence Programs; Characteristics of Pulling Levers Focused Deterrence Programs.;  Effects of Pulling Levers Focused Deterrence Programs on Crime. . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Conclusion and Policy Implications; Appendix A: Pulling Levers Focused Deterrence Programs; Appendix B: Results of Pulling Levers Focused Deterrence Evaluations

Focused deterrence and the prevention of violent gun injuries: practice, theoretical principles, and scientific evidence

Braga, Anthony A., and David L. Weisburg. 2014. Annu. Rev. Public Health 2015. 36:55–68. Accessed April 12, 2017

Abstract from study: Focused deterrence strategies are a relatively new addition to a growing portfolio of evidence-based violent gun injury prevention practices available to policy makers and practitioners. These strategies seek to change offender behavior by understanding the underlying violence-producing dynamics and conditions that sustain recurring violent gun injury problems and by implementing a blended strategy of law enforcement, community mobilization, and social service actions. Consistent with documented public health practice, the focused deterrence approach identifies underlying risk factors and causes of recurring violent gun injury problems, develops tailored responses to these underlying conditions, and measures the impact of implemented interventions. This article reviews the practice, theoretical principles, and evaluation evidence on focused deterrence strategies. Although more rigorous randomized studies are needed, the available empirical evidence suggests that these strategies generate noteworthy gun violence reduction impacts and should be part of a broader portfolio of violence prevention strategies available to policy makers and practitioners.

Project Safe Neighborhoods- A National Program to Reduce Gun Crime: Final Project Report

McGarrell, Edmund et al. 2009). National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, United States Department of Justice. Accessed April 12, 2017

Executive Summary from paper: In 2001, the United States Department of Justice developed a major initiative known as Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN was intended to be a comprehensive national program to reduce gun violence at the local level. It was implemented in all 94 U.S. Attorney districts nationwide to respond to firearms crime problems in each respective district. An estimated three billion dollars was allocated through Fiscal Year 2008 to fund local and Federal prosecutors; provide resources for law enforcement; support research and community outreach partners; fund a national media campaign; and provide training, technical assistance, and research functions for the initiative (Office of Management and Budget). PSN built on what were viewed as successful approaches utilized in the Boston Ceasefire project, the ten-city Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative (SACSI), and Richmond’s Project Exile. It was designed as a collaborative problem solving initiative utilizing a strategic research-based model to reduce firearms violence through enforcement, deterrence, and prevention. At the core of the strategy was the increased federal prosecution of illegal gun use and illegal gun possession by prohibited persons. Increased federal prosecution was intended to incapacitate chronic violent offenders as well as to communicate a credible deterrent threat to potential gun offenders. However, it was also recognized that exclusive reliance on increased federal prosecution was of limited utility given the reality that most gun crime is prosecuted in state and local courts. Further, there was recognition of the large variability across communities in the U.S. in terms of the level and nature of gun crime and therefore the program would need flexibility to adapt to local context. To address these issues, PSN was framed on five key components: 1) partnerships; 2) strategic planning and research integration; 3) training; 4) outreach; and 5) accountability. The intent was that these components would maximize the investment of federal resources through a focus on the contexts driving gun crime in particular jurisdictions. Research would assist in focusing resources and local and state partners would bring understanding of local conditions as well as resources to the interventions. The goal was to significantly reduce gun crime. This report presents findings on the development and implementation of these various components of PSN. Additionally, the report presents research findings on the impact of PSN on gun crime at the local level.

Problem-oriented policing, deterrence, and youth violence: an evaluation of Boston’s ceasefire.

Braga, Anthony et al. 2001. JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN CRIME AND DELINQUENCY, Vol. 38 No. 3, August 2001 195-225. Sage Publications. Accessed April 12, 2017.

Introduction from paper: Operation Ceasefire is a problem-oriented policing intervention aimed at reducing youth homicide and youth firearms violence in Boston. It represented an innovative partnership between researchers and practitioners to assess the city’s youth homicide problem and implement an intervention designed to have a substantial near-term impact on the problem. Operation Ceasefire was based on the “pulling levers” deterrence strategy that focused criminal justice attention on a small number of chronically offending gang-involved youth responsible for much of Boston’s youth homicide problem. Our impact evaluation suggests that the Ceasefire intervention was associated with significant reductions in youth homicide victimization, shots-fired calls for service, and gun assault incidents in Boston. A comparative analysis of youth homicide trends in Boston relative to youth homicide trends in other major U.S. and New England cities also supports a unique program effect associated with the Ceasefire intervention.

An analysis of variables affecting the clearance rates of homicides: a multi-state study

Wellford Charles and Cronin, James. October 1999. Justice Research and Statistics Association. Accessed April 12. 2017

Introduction from paper: In recent years, the number of arrests made in crimes known to police has significantly diminished in the United States. The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), which indicate the number of specific crime types reported to police and the number of arrests made for those crimes, have shown a decline in clearance rates since the 1960s. Additionally, various reports from individual law enforcement agencies have also indicated a decline, especially for one of the most serious crimes, the crime of homicide…This study addresses the issue of clearance rates with the expectation that by understanding what accounts for cities having high clearance rates for homicide, we will be able to prescribe changes that other departments could use to improve their rate of homicide clearance. We focused on homicide because it is a type of crime to which substantial police resources are devoted and one that greatly affects the public’s confidence in law enforcement’s ability to deter crime. Large cities were used because of the substantial contribution they make to the total homicide problem in the United States. In 1993, for example, 50.3% of the homicides in the United States occurred in 62 of the largest cities (Maguire & Pastore, 1995). Finally, by closely examining the way clearance rates are constructed in different cities, we hope to offer guidance on the extent to which clearance rates can function as a measure of police performance in dealing with the most serious crime reported to police.

The Dilemma of Predicting Violent Radicalization.

Cécile Rousseau, B. Heidi Ellis, John D. Lantos. Pediatrics Sep 2017, e20170685; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2017-0685. Accessed March 8, 2018

Abstract: Parents, educators, law enforcement officials, and health professionals are all concerned about the violent radicalization of adolescents. Health professionals may be called on to assess teenagers regarding the risk that they will become dangerous. We present a case in which a psychiatrist is asked to do a forensic evaluation of a young adolescent who said troubling things and had some concerning posts on his Facebook page. The evaluation reveals things about both the young boy and his community.

The Impact of the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) on City-Level Youth Crime Victimization Rates.

Petrosino et al. Journal of Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation
Volume 13, Issue 29 (2017). Accessed March 2018 

Abstract: The physical, emotional, and financial costs resulting from youth violence are well documented. This article summarizes the results of a quasi-experimental evaluation study to test a youth violence intervention program in eleven cities in Massachusetts.  In 2011, Massachusetts initiated the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI), which provides a comprehensive public health approach for young men believed to be at “proven risk” for being involved with firearms. The SSYI program components include: (1) Specific identification of young men, ages 14-24, at highest risk for being involved in firearms violence; (2) Use of street outreach workers to find these young men, assess their needs, and act as brokers for services; (3) The provision of a continuum of comprehensive services including education, employment, and intensive supervision. Eleven cities with the highest count of violent offenses reported to the police in 2010 were selected for SSYI funding in 2011 and began implementing the program.Short-interrupted time series design with a comparison group. The observed and predicted trends in monthly violent victimization rates for the 11 SSYI cities were compared to the next 23 cities (as they ranked in reported violent crime in 2010). Using police incident data, researchers examined SSYI's impact on monthly city level violent crime, aggravated assault and homicide rates for persons ages 14-24. Results indicated that SSYI had a statistically significant and positive impact on reducing the number of victims of violent crimes, aggravated assaults, and homicides per month that were reported to the police.  A city with SSYI has approximately 60 fewer victims of violence each year, ages 14-24, per 100,000 citizens over the post-intervention period.

Neighborhood Influences on Violent Reoffending Risk in Released Prisoners Diagnosed With Psychotic Disorders.

Sariaslan Amir, et al. Schizophrenia Bulletin, Volume 43, Issue 5, 1 September 2017, Pages 1011–1020. Accessed March 8, 2018

Abstract: Released prisoners diagnosed with psychotic disorders have elevated rates of violent reoffending risk and their exposure to adverse neighborhood environments may contribute to this risk. We identified all released sentenced prisoners in Sweden between 2003 and 2013 (n = 47226) and followed them up for a median period of 4.4 years. We identified prisoners who had ever been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder (n = 3782) or prescribed antipsychotics (n = 7366). We examined 3 neighborhood characteristics: income, proportion of welfare recipients, and crime rate. By fitting generalized mixed-effects and negative binomial regression models and adopting within-individual designs that controlled for all time-invariant unmeasured confounders within each individual, we estimated neighborhood intraclass correlations (ICCs) and associations between specific neighborhood characteristics and violent reoffending. Neighborhood factors explained 13.5% (95% CI: 10.9%; 16.6%) of the violent reoffending risk among released prisoners diagnosed with psychotic disorders. This contrasted with 4.3% (95% CI: 3.7%; 4.9%) in all released prisoners. However, after controlling for unmeasured confounding, these estimates were not statistically significant (ICCpsychotic disorders = 0.9%; 95% CI: −0.8%; 2.3%; ICCall prisoners = 0.3%; 95% CI: −0.02%; 0.6%). Similarly, none of the within-individual correlations between the specific neighborhood factors and violent reoffending were significantly different from zero. We found consistent results when we investigated prisoners with other psychiatric and substance use disorders. These findings suggest that placing released prisoners with psychotic disorders in less deprived neighborhoods might not reduce their violent reoffending risk, which may also apply to other psychiatric disorders. The assessment, treatment, and community linkage of high-risk prisoners as a strategy to reduce reoffending needs further research.